by Jeff Bond
“Mudd’s Women” was one of three teleplays considered for Star Trek’s second pilot, after “The Cage” was deemed “too cerebral” by NBC network executives. The others were “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which was filmed as the second pilot, and “The Omega Glory.” “Where No Man…” and “The Omega Glory” both featured strong action/adventure elements missing in “The Cage”—fistfights, heavy dramatic conflict, and space action. “Mudd” seemed an attempt to show that the apparent humorlessness of “The Cage” would not be the template for the series: it’s a comedy with serious overtones.
Guest star Roger C. Carmel makes a great impression as con man Harry Mudd, although his initial “Leo Walsh” persona, complete with an Australian-style hat, a thick accent and a buccaneer’s outfit makes him a bit too much of an obvious “space pirate,” the sort of character you might expect to run into on Lost in Space.
The story is pure western, with Mudd’s mission to “wive settlers” and his “cargo” of beautiful space babes seeming rather incongruous with the technological and social advances shown on the series. It doesn’t help that the women are thinly characterized, with only Karen Steele’s Eve showing any intelligence or independence. Male viewers tend to remember Carmel’s appealing scoundrel and enjoy the eye candy of the women, but this has to be a tough episode for a modern female audience to swallow.
Like other uneven or downright bad first season episodes like “The Alternative Factor,” the strong guest star and the often spellbinding first season production values help carry the episode, especially during its first few acts. Jerry Finnerman’s lighting is particularly evocative, with a number of interesting angles and compositions—he lights Mudd’s big bald head like a moon in eclipse, backlighting the actor in some extreme, dramatic angles. Finnerman is also instrumental in getting across the mysterious effect of Mudd’s women with his patented, gauzy-lensed glamour photography. Carmel is extremely funny, adding a lot of amusing business to his initial scenes, and Shatner’s give and take with the actor is fiery and entertaining—Carmel is particularly good as his false cover is blown during the briefing room interrogation scene.
The comic value of the women’s affect on the male crewmembers pays off in several scenes—I love McCoy’s line “Are you wearing some special perfume or something radioactive perhaps, my dear?” But the downside is the story has to completely sideline all of the Enterprise’s female crewmembers in order to focus on the three feminine intruders—what does Uhura or Chapel think of all this? It’s fun watching Scotty and Kirk deal with the deteriorating condition of the ship (“lithium” crystals being the power controlling, pre-dilithium McGuffins here), and there’s a nice, quiet conference between Kirk, Spock and Scotty on the bridge—when Scotty refers to Mudd as a “jackass” (rather strong language for the time), Kirk says “That’s one jackass that you’re going to see skinned.” Shatner is always good playing Kirk’s awkward reactions to events that don’t jibe with his ship command skills and his reactions to the women are more entertaining than the otherwise stunned and dizzy looks the other crewmembers have.
Unfortunately the story, already on thin ice, goes even further downhill once the Enterprise gets to the Rigel mining colony. Mudd largely disappears from the scene and while Gene Dynarski gives one of Trek’s more subtle and convincing performances as the mining chief, his interaction with Eve isn’t quite enough to hold interest during the story’s final act. Even as a kid the demonstration of the Venus Drug never made sense to me (“So the drug styles their hair, applies makeup and puts a foggy field of distortion around them?”)—showing a placebo do the same thing is even more unconvincing despite the fairly laudable little lesson about self-confidence and loving someone for their inner self on display during the denouement. But Spock probably says it best at the end: “An unfortunate, emotional episode.”
CBS Digital’s work on “Mudd’s Women” provides a new starship for Harry Mudd, an asteroid field and an additional long-distance view of the Rigel mining colony. Mudd’s ship is seen fleeing the Enterprise in the distance on the viewscreen and its layout almost suggests a small, early version of the Voyager design (although the original effects aren’t much to speak of, they’re relatively effective and ambitious, especially the meteor work). We get a far more detailed look at the asteroid collision that destroys Mudd’s ship, although the timing is a little off—when Sulu says “There he goes!” in the original episode we cut to see the ship already flaring into an explosion. In the Remastered version as the line is said we cut to see the fatal asteroid still out in front of the ship and then impacting the vessel. But instead of the optical flare shown in the original episode we’re treated to the disintegration of the ship with parts flying off, followed by a gaseous blue explosion.
The Rigel mining colony shot is an interesting overhead view that gives an idea of the facility’s layout—but this is not one of the digital mattes created for other episodes like “Devil in the Dark,” but more of a computer generated environment with heavy, wind-blown clouds and dust sweeping across it—as such it doesn’t have the painterly beauty and depth of the other matte environments CBS-D has created for the show.
(higher quality version at YouTube)
REMASTERED v ORIGINAL
by Matt Wright
Who couldn’t trust a face like that?
Seasons One and Two discounted at Amazon
The Season Two box set is now available at Amazon for pre-order, discounted to $63.99 (Amazon has a low price guarantee that if they drop the price before ship date of August 5th you will get that lower price). Amazon has also discounted the Season One DVD / HD DVD combo disk is to $96.95 (retail is $194.99).
Seasons One and Two of TOS-R ($96.95 and $63.99 respectively)
First! Mudd rules.
Saw it today, still one of my favs!
Beautiful shots. However, there appears no improvement on the original beauties — because none is needed. ;-)
Good stuff here, though I admit to not being much of a fan of that blue explosion when the asteroid hit the ship.
I note that the planet’s color has been diminished somewhat to a fairly boring brown. Who is to say that the original color was incorrect?
I’m glad they lowered the price of these. i wasn’t going to get them at their old price. BTW, this new format isn’t so hot, just my opinion.
New format of what?
They did okay on this one. I like the blue of the original planet, but the new one matches the planetside set better.
I also like the new matte painting of the mining colony.
Helps to hilight the harsh conditions the miners live in.
I saw this on the DVD set and I must say that I was impressed with the job they did with this episode.
#5 “I note that the planet’s color has been diminished somewhat to a fairly boring brown. Who is to say that the original color was incorrect?”
I’m with Hat Rick. I liked the original BLUE planet better.
I actually prefer the original effects But the new ones are great anyway.
Mudd’s Women was the first episode of Star Trek I ever saw. That was a while ago.
Changes look fine. I just never really liked Mudd until “I, Mudd.”
I remember some “noise” in the 1980’s when Gene Dynarski (Childress) showed up in Season 1 TNG as an Admiral.
what? no review?
i saw it. got a bad copy. it looked terible. contrast was dark. interlace-blur.
i think (not sure) the ship looked fine.
ill agree to that, but the matte even though good was just a bit off to me.
This was one instance where I thought CBS-D nailed each and every shot perfectly.
I saw this on the HD-DVD set, and it looks fantastic. An improvement on the original in every case – in my opinion.
If some prefer the original effects with brightly lit asteroids that look like they came shooting out of a 1950s B-movie and blue-black planet swirls that hardly make the planet seem the inhospitable place the episode portrays it to be, that is certainly their right and choice.
But I am convinced CBS Digital made correct choices in their updates. The new effects will be far more convincing for future Trek fans. I prefer that the youth of today watch the show and enjoy the acting and plot and not be distracted by 40-year-old effects that don’t come close to modern sensibilities.
Missed the broadcast (pun intended), but since I have it on that unique and rare ancient format of lore, HD-DVD, I’ll have to check it out.
You have to admit, the E as rendered by CBS-D has a look that’s not Eden’s or Zoic’s or Daren’s or any other house’s. Very unembellished and “RAW” -in photographic terms.
I guess now I’m finally liking it. Sort of.
Nice job on this one, especially the scenes of Mudd’s small ship doing its little evasive bob and weave. Nice that the star field in the background is moving, too, to reflect that the Enterprise is turning, as well. And its nice that we don’t see the (not small) Enterprise bobbing and weaving.
I loved Harry Mudd’s the man as a menace I wish he could have been in a few more episodes, making difficult for Kirk and company. I slo wish that Him and Cryano Jones could run into each other with Kirk caught in the middle that would have been truly priceless!! This is actually a fun episode and its basically got a good story. it is one of treks more memorable episodes and who can forget at the very end of the episode when Kirk offers to appear as a character witness at Mudd’s trial and Mudd’s replys “they”ll throw away key”! . that is classic all the way.
The Enterprise looks GREAT in this one!!!
I’m pleasantly surprised and very impressed–it doesn’t look fake and plastic-y and completely CGI. It actually looks more tangible here (which is why I LOVE the old model so much.)
Good job, CBS!
The CGI effects in Mudd’s Women were Grade A. I honestly wish I could say the same about all of the other episodes I’ve seen. :-/
I can’t get the video to play or even show. Dead link? Or just me?
As of this writing, still waiting on Jeff’s review. Just saying that in case I duplicate something.
CBS-D stuff looks good. The old asteroid chase was what it was, not horrible but limited by the opticals they used. The new isn’t even up to Empire Strikes Back standards, but it’s good.
As for the ep, I always liked this one. Roger C. Carmel was college roommates with one of my uncles. (Look, if I was gonna make up something it would be better than that!) Anyway — this one also struck me as being true to Gene’s sales pitch: “Wagon Train to the Stars.” Imagine Harry Mudd showing up at the Ponderosa with a wagon full o’ lovelies. Little Joe needs medicine, but Harry won’t hand it over unless Hoss marries one of the gals. The episode basically plays out the same (except Harry’s wagon isn’t hit by an asteroid.) In the first season, you see a few eps that look like they came from other series. “Conscience of the King” especially looks like a retread. Mudd’s Women has enough sci-fi gloss (shiny pills) on it to look like Trek, but it’s really a story that works in any genre. And it works well here, IMHO.
I know it’s early but for the record, I have some observations and research analysis that I want people to look out for when they watch Assignment: Earth this coming weekend. One little interesting blooper/trivia you’ll see is related to Harry Mudd, oddly enough, and I’ve never heard anyone make mention of it. Guess it requires good ears or incredible fanaticism. Or both.
Mudd is by far one of the cheesest lamest characters on Star Trek. Like the Nelix of TOS
Nice work on the asteroids — the field actually looks perilous to navigate through for both Mudd’s ship and the Enterprise. I also agree with the others who have noted that the bobbing and weaving of Mudd’s ship is to good effect.
Oh, and unless the surface soil is black and the skies dark blue overhead, the orbital shot of the planet should not be a psychedelic shade of blue either. It’s called science, folks, and science fiction must rely on it, otherwise it’s fantasy.
Great capture! This is what I am talking about by consistency. The viewscreen was the best I’ve seen it in almost any episode short of making a CG one that isn’t so out of focus. The CG actually wasn’t too video game like and was adequate.
If this kind of care was given to all of the episodes, then I would not be assembling a fan edit as we speak.
Sure wish they would have gone back and re-remasterd some of those older eps. :(
One of the magical moments when I saw Mudd’s Women on HD-DVD was the new CGI of the Enterprise right after Kirk and Mudd leave Childress’ quarters at the end. The combination of the music and the new CGI shot really felt like magic to me. The perfect combination of imagery rendered well and the original harp music.
#5 Wouldn’t what the planet looked like on the surface be a clue?
I saw this one on DVD and it was awesome. They really got the effects right. Just one thing. People are always saying that it is the stories that make the show and not the effects. It is actually a little bit of both. George Lucas once said that “A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.” I agree with him. For example, I did not see the remastered when it was ON TV the first time around. I found out about it much later, and the only thing I had to go on were the effect shots in this computer. Many of them didn’t even have sounds. I kept wondering, how will they look next to the story scenes.
I finally got my answer when the second season came around. The only things that really disappointed me was that they cut scenes out for syndication. That is why I want to see them on the DVD, so I can see the show in its entirety, Effects and story.
I agree that the spot where they landed would indicate that parts of the planet were brown, but let’s take Earth as an example. Much of Earth is forested and much of it is desert. Even so, however, the Earth appears primarily blue with white swirls because two-thirds of it is covered by water. The browns of the land areas are comparatively muted.
If the planet in this episode had only a very small proportion of land to sea ratio, and if the atmosphere or oceans were purplish, then I think it’s possible that the planet as a whole could be more or less purple when viewed from space. I can’t recall if the sky was purplish in the episode, but that wouldn’t have any effect on whether the oceans were.
The planets in our own Solar System have a diversity of colors when viewed from space. Mercury is dark grey, Venus is white (from the cloud cover), the Earth is blue-and-white, Mars is ochre, Jupiter is striped brown, Saturn is tannish, Uranus is a pastel blue, and Neptune is a deep blue. Poor, demoted Pluto (now considered a dwarf planet) is apparently pinkish, as seen in this disco ball-like mosaic of its surface: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/30/Pluto.jpg
For what it’s worth.
I got a chance to see this on my parents plasma HDTV when I went to visit them over the weekend, and the shots looked great. While I prefer the original effects for nostalgia sake’s, not a bad job was done here. The shot of the Big E in orbit at the end was a thing of beauty.
Glad to see they’ve moved away from the “blob of light”, but I’m not sure the new ship is adequate to bring it into the 21st century. Could this be the work of the “b-team” again?
I never liked Harry Mudd until the fourth level of the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary game hah.
harry mudd / assignment eart tie-in goes like this:
A blooper occurs when Nimoy’s sudden hand cramp prevents him from making the correct Vulcan “live long and prosper” sign and he makes the gesture without splaying his fingers, thus his hand looks like the lower part of the state of Michigan…. Lansing is the state capital of MI and Robert Lansing is also the guest star… during the spring thaw, much of Michigan is extremely muddy… animals shedding their winter fur fill this mud with their discarded hair… and Harry Mudd is thus referenced!
That was easy!
Sure wish I could view it… the little circle in the middle just keeps going round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round.. sorry, it hynotized me for a minute there.
Anyway, maybe it will load someday.
This page doesn’t load in IE 7.0, but seems to work fine in Firefox.
Maybe it’s just me… but this effort by CBS is really looking tacky at this point. I, for one, prefer the originals. It’s funny to say, but honestly, they look more real.
By format, I meant when I posted, all the posts were centered in the middle of the screen and I thought this was a new format for the blog. Here we are at 36 and the posts are in their regular place. The video images themselves look great, though.
If the terrain of the surface is a medium tan color, then the orbital shot needs to reflect that. Otherwise, it would be inconsistent. I think the new shots are good and help support the story.
#29 “If the planet in this episode had only a very small proportion of land to sea ratio, and if the atmosphere or oceans were purplish, then I think it’s possible that the planet as a whole could be more or less purple when viewed from space.”
That sounds logical in some ways. But there is one thing you didn’t take into account. Childress mentions that there wasn’t much water on that planet which was why his pans weren’t clean. Then Eve suggests he hang them outside and let the sand wash them. That line pretty much contradicts your theory.
This page doesn’t load in IE 7.0, but seems to work fine in Firefox.
it is not just you, I am having the same problem. In fact, I.E. seems to be going out little by little. I can’t even access my e-mails on I.E. anymore.
Thank you for your response, 38 (eagle219406). I wonder, though, if the atmosphere could nevertheless convey a purple appearance to the planet. Viewed from a certain angle, hazy skies could make things look purple (hence the “purple mountains’ majesty” in our famous patriotic song).
I don’t think that this issue detracts from the value of the remastering, by the way. It’s really more of a nitpick than anything else.
Now here is an episode I never cared for
….the adventure continues…
sorry people…there was a problem with IE7 that is now fixed. Was trying to embed the new ‘high quality’ feature from youtube, but apparently that only works with FireFox. I have added a link to the higher quality version below the video. I also added a review from Jeff Bond.
This was a fun episode for sure. I always liked Harry Mudd. I guess he was much like Han Solo was before he met Luke and Lea. The one thing that always cracked me up was when the computer was reading out Mudd’s “history”. At the end, the computer mentioned he was in for Psychoatric evaluation. The computer says “treatment results disputed”, or something like that. Meaning, not entirely cured!
Loved Mudd’s new ship.
#42..SWEET. thanks Anthony. I can back to my normal “nam de plume” now (no longer confused) :-)
In the planetary orbit shot, are those tan-colored clouds or massive sandstorms?
To those of you who previously denigrated Enterprise for its sometimes clumsy use of sexual innuendo, I submit Defendant’s Exhibit #1: Mudd’s Women.
I remember back in college we had a group of guys who got into the habit of watching Star Trek every Saturday night. I had 5-6 people hooked – until the night Mudd’s Women came on. One fo the guys who hadn’t watched Star Trek before said “boy, some of these episodes were really awful!” I was forced to agree.
What an incredibly ridiculous (and chauvinistic) portrayal of the relationship between men and women. And don’t tell me that we should forgive this one because it was made in the 1960s. Oh well, I guess we can thank portrayals like this for giving us the modern feminist movement. If I were a woman living in that time, I’d be pretty disgusted.
Next time we have a debate about Enterprise and its supposedly poor comparison in relation to TOS, I’ll look forward to calling out anyone who posted praise for this episode. Probably one of the most distasteful of the entire series.
No,…that’s not it. Good try. The opening shot of Gary Seven when he first appears on the transporter pad has the music and the sound effects from “I Mudd”. You hear the machine inner workings of Norman’s tummy with the bed of music they use for both episodes. It’s like they just pulled all the audio from that episode and didn’t notice it, or care. You can hear the Bwee Bwee Bwee underneath Barbara Babcock’s meowing voice over. It’s kind of like Jimmy Page’s guitar solo on “The Ocean” where you can hear the phone ringing in the studio. (None of my ‘lost that high frequency hearing’ friends seem to be able to hear it)
In the original, the mining camp was actually on the other, unseen side of the planet – the appearance of which would have been 100% scientifically accurate if only we had been able to see it.
#46… I grok, brother. I was always trying to convince my parents of the quality of trek, (you would have thought they found P.A.S.T., “Parents Against Star Trek”) but every time I got them to sit down and give it a chance, it was a stinker like “Spock’s Brain” and “Plato’s Stepchildren.” Needless to say it only enforced their belief that a stupid show was taking me over.
The new matte painting was a nice touch but they could’ve animated the little antennae/radar dish/weather vanes on top of the quonset huts to match their spinning we see on the actual set.
Harry Mudd’s new ship looked a bit like the ship from Galaxy Quest!
The early 60s television obssession with how-men-are-different-from-women weighs heavily on this episode. Reminds me of the Flintstones.