Star Trek: The Original Series

"I, Mudd"

***

Air date: 11/3/1967
Written by Stephen Kandel
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An android commandeers the Enterprise, taking it to a planet inhabited by androids—which is also where the devious Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) now resides. Prohibited from leaving the planet by the androids unless he finds them new subjects to observe, Mudd intends Kirk and his crew to replace him. Unfortunately for Mudd, the androids decide to still prohibit him from leaving, finally forcing Kirk and Mudd to team up in an attempt to escape.

"I, Mudd" is a lighthearted comic romp featuring the lively scoundrel in a far more entertaining episode than "Mudd's Women" from season one. Mudd and Kirk's verbal jousts are right on target; Mudd's handy-to-muzzle "wife android" is a funny gag; and an ending where Kirk & Co. engage in ultra-bizarro behavior to overload the androids with illogical slapstick and circular reasoning is amusing through its desire to go for broke. Goofy, yes; believable, not really—but I laughed, and that's the only test probably required in this case.

Previous episode: Catspaw
Next episode: Metamorphosis

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19 comments on this review

Strider
Tue, Jun 19, 2012, 9:56am (UTC -5)
Why is it always so easy to take over the Enterprise? I mean, even Harry Mudd can just an android to snatch command away from Kirk. It just shouldn't be that easy.
Moonie
Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
I'm finding it really, really difficult to get through season 2. Sigh.

Chris
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
I, Mudd was just late 60's sexist tripe. I didn't laugh once because it was ridiculous in a badly written kind of way.
redshirt28
Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Usually one has to be in the presence of others to feel embarrassment, I was embarrassed at myself just to be watching it alone. The slapstick sequence was the worst trek ever produced, actors/characters nearly desroyed any credibility for me to continue enjoying this show.
I kindly give this zero stars.
William B
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
I'm more with Jammer on this one than the commenters. Definitely the episode is sexist, particularly in the contrast between the method of seduction for Chekov (hot chicks forever!) and Uhura (you can be a hot chick, forever!). However, while obnoxious, I think the sexism in the portrayal of the androids themselves comes straight from Mudd himself, who is a scoundrel whose self-worth is tied to how many women he has around him whom he can treat as objects. Mudd is viewed as a lowlife, and one who is easily and quickly recognized by the androids as a poor specimen of humanity. The "seduction" of McCoy and Scotty, on the other hand, is through technology -- labs, engineering -- and so there is some breadth in the android society giving them what they want.

I enjoyed the lightheartedness with which the crew launched their assault of irrationality on the androids, and I think there was some amount of meta-joke in there somewhere -- the way they point their fingers and make phaser whirring sounds, for instance, is only marginally more difficult to accept as "real" than the plastic guns with low-quality special effects they normally do. But anyway, creativity, humour and play are useful weapons against the threat of technological servitude, right?

The episode is inessential; we've already had a look at what 24th century pimp/bastard Mudd is like ("I, Mudd"), episodes about massive computer control ("Return of the Archons"), Kirk Outsmarts The Computer With Logical Paradoxes ("The Changeling"), the crew is stranded on an apparent paradise and has to give it up for freedom! (lots...I guess "This Side of Paradise" most notably) and so on. But I find it fun -- a low 3 stars seems fair to me.
William
Tue, Sep 9, 2014, 12:08am (UTC -5)
I love William B's use of "assault of irrationality." That's what it was.

Just to see the crew burst into a Cossacks dance ritual for a few seconds was worth one star. I low 3 stars from me too.
mike
Sun, Aug 16, 2015, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Absolutely tedious. Watching Kirk and company merely confuse the androids to death was like watching high school improv. How could androids understand that humans were illogical and irrational but yet so easily mind-f*cked by them? I felt like I was the one whose brain would short out.
Gul Sengosts
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
A plain zero from me. Even worse than the first Mudd episode, it fails on every level, I don't want to summarise because it would take hours and would be pointless. It's just plain bullsh*t and nonsense from start to finish. On top of that, it's so tedious, it just won't end. It feels longer than any Star Trek feature film.

This is rock bottom, one of the very worst moments in Star Trek history, and that's saying something.
DutchStudent82
Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
I would rate this one at two stars, somewhat fun but far from great.

this eposide was at least somewhat plausible, unlike most TOS episodes, st least the writers came up with a decent story that was possible-ish.

What looses it points is :

VERY much sexism, one thing I generally hate about TOS

Kirk outsmarts the computer [TM] AGAIN!! please that gets old to fast!

and again they destroy one species.. and a perfect opportunity to actually learn something (more advanced = new gadgeds + prime directive)

Maq
Thu, Dec 10, 2015, 7:20am (UTC -5)
Now reviewing all TOS in the proper sequence I had my doubts if I really shoud watch another Mudd story. I did not like the first one so much. Luckily I did. I had 50 minutes of funny entertainment. A complete contrast to the Domesday machine. Still it worked. It is good that not every episode tries to be comic but every now and then something in this style is refreshing.

Sexsistic, yes ! But it is funny and partly reflect the time in which is was created.

What really puzzled me was how they came back on the ship again. As I understand someone must man the Transporter and all staff was transferred to the planet.

Emma
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Well, from a purely nostalgic point of view, this was one of my favourite episodes when I was a kid watching the re-runs in the 80's. As an adult I'm currently re-visiting each episode with fresh eyes and it's remarkable to realise how much goes over your head in your youth! ;) :D Yes, this is a silly episode but somehow fun and let's not forget that TNG, DS9, Voyager episodes etc...did sometimes also have their moments of comic relief too - thank goodness! :D
SouthofNorth
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Okay ... okay ... it's silly and all that but really, how can you hate an episode with the line:

"Scotty! Scotty's dead! He had too much happiness; but now he's happier because he's dead!"

I give it 3 out of 4 just for that.


Baron Samedi
Sun, Aug 28, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
This was hilarious. Not "good" in a strict sense but so ridiculous that I'd recommend it. I feel like it went through a cycle where it was amusing when it came out, then became dated and "bad-bad", and now is "good-bad" due to the campiness and ludicrous dialogue. The acting throughout was hysterical by the whole cast - including the regulars and the guest actors. I love the earnestness of TOS, as well as each episode's attempt to tell a unique story. The fact that the episode is trying to be lighthearted and funny makes puts this in a separate class from something like "Spock's Brain", which I always felt like I was laughing at rather than with.
Skeptical
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
I'm not really seeing the value of this episode. I think William B's thoughts are closest to mine: it's a retread of episodes as to make it "inessential" as he said. There are only two unique items here and neither one works I think. The first (well, second) is the farce at the end. Humor is often in the eye of the beholder, so if you thought it was funny, so be it. I wasn't exactly laughing through it. For one thing, why was it so, well, choreographed? The purpose was to act illogical, and they didn't have much time to do it. Are you really telling me that Kirk planned out all the bizarre little items down to the smallest detail, like the bizarre bomb skit or Bones and Scotty doing a little curtsey? Doesn't it make more sense to just tell everyone to act illogical on their own and hope to confuse as many fembots as possible that way? It seemed a little too cute for my taste. The other aspect of it that bugged me was that, interspersed between all the farce, there were a few speeches that almost seemed earnest, regarding mankind's desire to be free and to work, even if it meant struggling at times. You'd think this was the theme of the episode, but it was placed smack dab in the middle of a giant display of illogic and was treated as part of the illogical farce. What are you trying to be, profound or silly? It struck me that they were trying to do both at the same time, and thus it was just awkward to watch rather than reaching either of the two goals.

The other aspect that stood out to me simply wasn't well fleshed out. And that was the android's stated means of conquering the universe by serving humanity. It's a good story, and could be used to great effect. While This Side of Paradise considers the perils of utopia, that episode showed simply a "natural" utopia. Norman's conquest here made utopia seem more sinister, more akin to Brave New World than This Side of Paradise. Which is interesting, since it runs up against Roddenberry's TNG-style utopia. After all, the utopian ideal is much the same: between the replicaters and the holodeck, we can have everything we could ever want. All that machinery is there to serve us. So would we then, in the Roddenberry utopia, end up being "conquered"? Maybe, but the episode brings up the idea and then runs away from it so fast that we never really explore that plot element. It would have been better than spending more time with Mudd's harping wife, that's for sure.
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Skeptical,

I believe the point of the episode is this: that paradise for humanity comes as a result of focusing on humanity, not on machines. Mudd's moral 'crime' here is wanting technology to serve him so that he doesn't ever have to do anything for himself, whereas the Trek vision says that technology should free man up so that he can improve himself. Mudd doesn't want to improve himself; he wants to wallow in luxury. To some extent I think this is a real question to be asked of humanity in the face of technological paradise: wouldn't some people prefer, exactly as Mudd does, to be little better than pigs at the trough rather than spend their new leisure productively? This episode doesn't address how to deal with that possibility, but does strongly suggest that there is something inherently dangerous in using technology as a way to surrender our will. This is a theme touched upon in various science fiction stories, such as Dune for instance. Mudd does exactly that, and the episode plays out as a cute display of what happens when human beings take a back seat to machines; it not only renders them powerless, but also makes them more like machines as well.

As for the ending where illogical behavior breaks the computer, I'd like to think that the energetic display is meant to play as a piece of human creativity at work, which serves as a counterpoint to the slovenly Mudd whose greatest desire is to never have to think. Purely logical statements are easy to come up with; to play a mix of logic and illogic requires thinking on your feet and inventing, like a comedian. The power of the creative mind is, indeed, the ultimate refutation for anyone who thinks the greatest joy would be a life of sloth.
Skeptical
Sat, Jan 14, 2017, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Oh sure, you could make that argument, that technology can be liberating or captivating depending on how you use it. But my point was that the episode didn't bother exploring that concept, which I thought was more interesting than anything else that was shown. For example, both Bones and Scotty were tempted by advanced technology on the surface, allowing them to improve themselves in their fields. Which sounds like something that is a worthwhile goal, but wasn't in this situation. These and other contrasts weren't explored to the extent that I thought they should have been. Hence why I thought the episode was weak.
Peter G.
Sat, Jan 14, 2017, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
I don't think "I, Mudd" is Shakespeare, but at the same time I do recognize that science fictions writers often use the premise itself to do the talking, rather than shoehorning their message into the actual dialogue so that it's spelled out for the audience. The very fact of a guy wanting an army of slave-robot-vixens at his beck and call and ended up enslaved by it speaks for itself. The style of the piece is more farce than anything, and my family always viewed it as a fun episode. But I guess my point is don't confuse the style with the substance. It can play as silly and not 'address' the issues it contains directly, but that doesn't mean the issues aren't there to be seen.
Rahul
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
This was one weird episode. I thought it was quite silly. But it is very different from almost every other TOS episode. If the main purpose is to show a different side of the cast (humor), even then I don't think it works ("...Tribbles" is far superior). The idea that being served by technology and mankind stagnating when not having freedom wasn't well developed. I think there is a point to this episode but it is lost amid all the stupidity.
Harry Mudd is an entertaining character but the whole episode, I felt, was being acted tongue-in-cheek. Kirk never really seemed truly angry at Mudd. It was more like seeing an old friend.
The ending with overloading the androids with logic is a low point for Trek. What is it supposed to prove?
I guess it's a question of taste. Others might find a nugget of value in "I, Mudd" but I don't. I give it 1.5/4 stars -- what's entertaining is Mudd, the premise and story for the episode is very weak. A forgettable episode.
robert april
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
terrible tedius and boring from start to finish what a waste of celluloid

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