Star Trek: The Animated Series

“Mudd's Passion”

2 stars.

Air date: 11/10/1973
Written by Stephen Kandel
Directed by Hal Sutherland

Review Text

The Enterprise catches up with mischievous galactic con man Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel returns from TOS to provide his voice), wanted for a series of violations of Federation law, just as he's trying to con a bunch of miners with his latest scam — a love potion that makes anyone of the opposite sex fall madly in love with you.

Mudd is thrown into the brig to await charges. While in there, he offers his love crystals to Nurse Chapel, who pines for Spock, and is promised this is the way of snagging the unattainable Vulcan. This distraction allows Mudd to escape from his cell long enough to forge Chapel's ID card, which he intends to use to get off the ship in a shuttle.

At first, the love drug doesn't seem to work, which makes Chapel feel like a gullible fool. But it turns out it just takes a while for the effect to set in for the Vulcan, who becomes increasingly love-crazed for Chapel with each succeeding scene. When Mudd takes Chapel hostage in his escape attempt, Spock gets angry — revealing this episode as the next in the special-episode TOS tradition of Spock Gets Emotions.

Aside from the character assassination that makes Chapel look hopelessly unprofessional in its 1970s-era sexist, tropey way, this is an okay concept for an episode. The gas from the love crystals gets pulled into the ventilation system and unleashed on the ship, turning this into yet another take on A Midsummer Night's Dream where love runs amok. M'Ress puts the moves on Scotty, which is mildly amusing — although the vocal efforts put forth by Majel Barrett on M'Ress are perfunctory at best, here and elsewhere.

Eventually, the chaos of the romp extends to the surface of a nearby planet, which involves some giant rock creatures stomping around for good measure. The sight of a couple dancing in the transporter room is made even funnier by the amateurish animation. Meanwhile, McCoy is bragging about saving everyone.

It looks like Kirk tries to stave off the rock monsters by giving them the love drug, which is a potentially smart strategy on his part, but the rock monster battle is so poorly animated that it's honestly impossible to decipher what's actually happening. Did the crystals even work for a moment to give Kirk room to escape? I sure can't tell.

This is a lighthearted lark, and I could see this maybe working on TOS where you have actors, performances, and comic timing. But on TAS with its stone-faced animated characters, there really is no such thing as comic timing, so this really can't take off to be very much of anything.

Previous episode: Once Upon a Planet
Next episode: The Terratin Incident

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

4 comments on this post

    “If the Enterprise had a heart, I’d save her too.” The sheer lo opines of this series is endearing.

    Meh. This one was escapist fluff. It was watchable and kind of mildly silly/funny. I think the Spock/Chapel interactions would have meant a lot more with real people rather than the cartoon characters. And I tend to find Mudd annoying rather than humorous. I liked the rock monsters--they were hilarious. I don't think Kirk giving them the love crystals made them love each other. They still only seemed interested in pulverizing the humans.

    Nothing much to this one as typical Harry Mudd shenanignas take place. There's a bit of a "The Naked Time" vibe here and perhaps DS9's "Fascination" borrows from this episode.

    The love crystals make no sense -- they do whatever the episode needs. Spock falling in love with Chapel leads to some yuks and when it wears off he snaps at Kirk, criticizing the captain's idea. At least we get Roger C. Carmel's voice as Harry Mudd. The episode is not a comedy technically, though it does have its moments. One never can take a Harry Mudd episode too seriously or feel the ship / crew are in any real danger.

    2*

    Three stars for me, but I’m a fan of Roger Carmel’s Harry Mudd. (Ironic that Rainn Wilson’s time paradox episode in Discovery, a generally subpar Trek, may be the best Mudd outing other than TOS’ I Mudd, nicely showing his piracy in action. But I digress.)

    I like how this episode fleshes out the Chapel pining for Spock thread that grew thicker in the franchise over the decades, but within getting much explicit play in the main series outside of Amok Time. Chapel is a likable character whose yearning heart humanizes her here, which makes it work. And while i agree that the acting on TAS suffers from the lack of facial expression, I love Carmel in this.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index