Star Trek: The Original Series

"Mudd's Women"


Air date: 10/13/1966
Teleplay by Stephen Kandel
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Harvey Hart

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

By way of emergency beam-out, Scotty rescues galactic scoundrel Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) and his mysterious passengers—women who have a hypnotic effect on men—but these people are all obviously hiding something. The plot centers around some dilithium miners who agree to purchase these women from Mudd in exchange for dilithium crystals the Enterprise needs.

Shatner's retrospective comment about "Mudd's Women" explains how "daring" the episode was for NBC in 1966, and how the fact it was even made remains a small miracle because of its implicit topics of prostitution and drug addiction. Well, maybe that's true, but that doesn't make it a good show. Carmel's amusing turn as Harry Mudd is fine and well, and attractive women have always been a Star Trek staple, but the story for "Mudd's Women" is simply not interesting enough to withstand the passage of time—assuming it was ever good in the first place. Given the episode's "payoff" of either choosing a beautiful but useless woman to hang perfunctorily at one's side, or a woman who cooks and cleans, the options seem equally unflattering today. Shatner claims this episode became a fan favorite, but not this fan's.

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Next episode: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

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18 comments on this review

Jacbob T
Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 11:21am (UTC -5)
Well, I have started to watch this episode many times, never to get past Mudd's court martial. In the end Kirk makes a bad choice, and is only able to save his ship because the miners fell for one of his speeches. Eh okay. I still am not sure of what the point of this one was. One popcorn.
Fri, May 11, 2012, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
A snoozefest. The best you can say about this ep is that it got us the infinitely better "I Mudd" a season later. Roger Carmel does the scumbag part perfectly, but the writing just stinks on this one. Music was pretty good though.

Biggest plot hole = Mudd explains his plans in the presence of a security guard. And the guard just sits there. *shakes head*

1 star from me.
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 8:04am (UTC -5)
I think every now and then SOT has some POV problems. We really don't need or want to see what's going on with characters who aren't our own beloved crew...we really just want to see how the crew deals with each other while dealing with the crisis. I know that GR had some other agendas, but ST is always strongest when it keeps its focus where it belongs.
Sat, Aug 11, 2012, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
I'd love to have a talking computer that kept repeating to me the word INCORRECT, every single time.

Speaking of which, what was the point of that computer scene, other than to establish that Harry Mudd was a scoundrel?
Thu, Jan 10, 2013, 3:49am (UTC -5)
The direction was very stylish, warm.
close shots from below of spock ,scotty etc
trying to solve the dilithiium problem, or mccoy and kirk trying to solve the problem of "the women", establish the warm repore between characters very early in the series. Performances excellent all round(well used close ups). Hart's direction excellant, but justman didn't like him(?)...he went one day over schedule.
The story is thin..but thats not the point of this episode. very enjoyable. Many episodes were not directed nearly so well, and many stories were much worse.
Mon, Feb 11, 2013, 12:35am (UTC -5)
I took away that the message of the episode was that beauty is what you make. Believe in yourself, and you'll be just fine. You don't need shallow products or whatever to create some phony sense of self-esteem.

Mudd described the drug as "taking what you have and giving you more of it."

In the end, when Eve took the fake drugs, but still became beauty, it was sort of an obvious way of saying that she was beautiful because she believed in herself rather than relying on some drug.

I think it was really relevant when you realize that most women on television in those days (and even today) tended to be oversexed nymphos with thick layers of makeup and beauty products.

Yeah, I know, that sounds kind of lame. I'm slightly annoyed by myself typing this, but that's what I took from the episode, at least.
Mon, May 6, 2013, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
I'll give this one a little slack, considering how early it was in the series' run.

That said, the ending is just hokey (believe in yourself and your eye makeup will instantly return!). Plus, the fact that the lights on the Enterprise dimmed every time a crystal blew seems pretty unlikely. TOS wasn't known for its good science, but this episode makes the ship seem a lot more rickety than it should. It's not the only episode that does that, though.
Sat, Sep 14, 2013, 10:27am (UTC -5)
I tried very hard to not get annoyed with this episode. I failed.

The makers of Star Trek (and ts fans) always make the claim that they were (are) ahead of their times.... ell in THIS episode they've proven that when it comes to women and male/female relationships, they are stuck in 19th centiry thought patterns and ideas. Sometimes it's disheartening to see how backwards the authors of those shows were in that area - something the writers of the TNG era have proven yet again in the abysmal "Code of Honor" (Yar: "of course I am attracted to ". Head, meet wall.

Clueless. Just clueless. Backwards and disappointing coming from a bunch of SCIENCE FICTION writers. Apparently their "forward" way of thinking did not include relationships between the sexes (or women in general).

Kirk saved this episode, as he is wont to do :)
Sat, Sep 14, 2013, 10:31am (UTC -5)
Sorry about the tyos in my comment above. I hope it is comprehensible. I *was* annoyed. lol
William B
Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Spock helpfully sums this up at the end: "I'm happy the affair is over. A most annoying emotional episode."

I mean, I disagree about the "emotional" part. More later, perhaps.
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 9:09am (UTC -5)
In this episode you have would-be "trophy wives" looking for rich men. Remember, this was still a time when women were often perceived as attending college only to get their MRS degree, that is, to find an educated young man to marry. Now, by today's standards, cooking and cleaning may seem like demeaning roles for a woman to aspire to, but contrast that with the trophy wife, who is only there to be a pretty ornament, pretty but empty. In the end, the miner sees her as more than just am ornament. There's also the idea that a large part of beauty is attitude, and that is quite true. I think it's a better episode than it often is given credit for, but I am judging it by 1966.
Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
I kind of liked what it ended with: that beauty comes from believing in yourself. Though it's a bit odd, as whatever way you look at it, it was conveyed with makeup tricks, and belief in oneself doesn't apply makeup and fancy hairdos. But I get what they were *trying* (badly) to say.

Unfortunately it took an ungodly amount of cringe-worthy sexism to get there. All in all, not exactly a favourite.

Spock suggested a few emotions like enjoyment, though he's never struck me as hardline non-emotional as Data.
Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
One thing I like about this review board is that by reading what others see, it sometimes opens my eyes to a way of seeing a story I hadnt thought of.

I always saw it as beauty comes from the inside and still do, just never thought of it from the angle of prostitution. Which this is.

It is not an overly entertaining ep and i never liked mudd, but it does address enough about the human condition that id want to watch again. 2.5 popcorns for me.
Sarah M
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 12:34am (UTC -5)
I'm usually pretty good at viewing TOS as a product of its time when it comes to the way it uses female characters. It tries more than most productions of its era did, and it generally let its real characters, like Uhura and Chapel, be functional, competent members of the crew who did necessary jobs aboard a star ship. Even having women on board the "Enterprise" was something of a revolutionary idea at the time, so props for that, and I can deal with the T&A and occasionally shallow characterization of Kirk's chick-of-the-week.

I'm not giving "Mudd's Women" a pass, though. And even if you put aside the gender stupidity, the plot is almost non-existent and Mudd is pretty annoying. 1.5 stars is about right.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
Among the other problems with the episode I just didn't think those women were anything to lose your head over. Were they pretty? Sure. Were they Orion slave girl sexy? Not so much. I never got how they could cause such a fuss.

Like someone else said above, the best gift of the episode was the set up for "I, Mudd."
Wed, Nov 26, 2014, 2:29am (UTC -5)
I thought this episode was one of those bad, but entertaining, ones. I like Mudd as comic relief (esp. during the little trial scene with the obstinate computer chiming "INCORRECT". The "police record" is amusing too - it looks so '60s. Like they couldn't have white text on a black background to make it look like something from the future? Oh well, cost-cuts and oversights like that are forgivable.

It's somewhat harder to forgive the overt sexism of all the guys ogling at the women, but it's not nearly as bad as some Star Trek episodes. ("Turnabout Intruder" comes to mind as a particularly one-legged and stupid example, with the idea that women STILL cannot be Captains of vessels in the 23rd Century as "stand-in" for 1960s workplace sexism).

I chuckled a little when Sulu's guiding one over-smitten crew member back to his place on the bridge, and tells Spock that he HAS noticed the women. And yet he's so much more calm and seemingly far less affected than the rest of them? Nice cover, George, I mean, Sulu. :p

Also, one thing that the episode never explains: Why DID the presence of one of Mudd's women cause the medical scanner to "boop-boop" weirdly? I hadn't seen this full episode before, so I thought for sure the drugs they were taking were causing their bodies to create fields that interfered with the ship's functions, causing it to lose even more power. But this Venus drug just gives you "more of whatever you have". Does that include more gut bacteria, more electricity, more energy burning producing more heat, duplicate organs, more excrement? LOL.

And the ending is pretty cheesy. "Think of yourself as beautiful on the inside and you'll have perfect makeup and a neat hairdo on the outside just like that!" But I guess that's about the best that 1966 TV can do for talking about body issues and self-esteem.

Anyway, your rating is fair. It's a good hour for some giggles, but it's not a very good episode.
Tue, Apr 7, 2015, 10:10am (UTC -5)
In today's anti-male pro-female sentiments, it is easy to be dismissive and derisive against Mudd's Women. People seem to fail to see the point of Eve's pivotal speech at the end; a woman who contributes to marriage by cooking, cleaning and "cry and need" is not necessarily oppressed and subservient as we are now taught nowadays, but an equal partner in a relationship with a man. A real wife is irreplaceable. Trophy wives on the other hand, is far from being empowering. She only have her beauty to rely on and beauty fades with age.
Tue, Apr 7, 2015, 10:20am (UTC -5)
This blog have a more interesting view on Mudd's Women, that I think this review do not give the episode much credit for:

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