(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise rescues a con man named Harry Mudd who is trafficking in mail-order brides.
The USS Enterprise chases an unregistered starship, a small Class J cargo ship. Fleeing, the ship approaches an asteroid belt with a Shiller rating of three-five. The small ship's peril increases further when its desperate speed causes its engines to overheat.
As the cargo ship drifts into the asteroid belt, the Enterprise is forced to extend its shields around the ship, and this extreme power expenditure destroys three of the ship's crucial lithium crystal circuits. Montgomery Scott manages to beam the ship's master and three women off just before an asteroid destroys the vessel with a dead-center hit.
The ship's master, speaking with a broad Irish brogue, identifies himself as Leo Francis Walsh. He claims he avoided the Enterprise out of fear that it was a hostile vessel. In the transporter room, Scott and McCoy are immediately transfixed by the three women, as are many of the male crew members, as the women saunter through the ship's corridors. Walsh, who comes off as charismatic but does not successfully conceal the fact that he is a con man, plays up the women's effect in a manner suggestive of a pimp, but notes that Spock, being half-Vulcan, is immune to their charms. Walsh and his women are led by Spock to Captain Kirk's quarters after the captain demands that Walsh be there whether he can walk or not. Kirk is enraged by the irresponsible actions of Walsh, who explains that the women, Eve McHuron, Magda Kovacs, and Ruth Bonaventure, are not so much crew as cargo.
Still insisting his name is Walsh, the cargo ship captain tries to blame Kirk for the accident. Kirk has him confined to quarters pending a formal hearing. Meanwhile, all ship's power is being channeled through a single lithium crystal circuit and the crystal has a hairline fracture at its base. The bypass circuits were also burned out in the rescue attempt. Repairs are needed, and that means a visit to the nearest source of crystals, the mining colony on Rigel XII.
Before the ship's hearing, Walsh meets with the women and coaches them on their testimony, advising them not to lie, but mysteriously ordering them not to submit to a medical exam. At the inquiry, Kirk learns that the women are to be wives for settlers on Ophiucus III; each voluntarily left a situation in which her marriage prospects were slim or non-existent. Leo Walsh is revealed to be intergalactic criminal Harcourt Fenton Mudd, and his Irish brogue promptly disappears. Mudd has a long history of convictions for smuggling, transport of stolen goods, and purchasing of a space vessel with counterfeit currency, and has been sentenced to psychiatric treatment, the effectiveness of which is in dispute. His ship's master's license has also been revoked. Kirk decides to hand Mudd over to legal authorities as soon as possible. Toward the end of the hearing, the final lithium crystal fails and when Mudd overhears Kirk's orders to contact the miners on Rigel XII, he begins to plan how the situation can work to his advantage: the women can work their charms on the "lonely, isolated, overworked, rich lithium miners," and get a much better deal for themselves. Mudd himself dreams of taking over the Enterprise with all his new fortune and loudly announces that the next orders Kirk will be taking will be from Mudd himself. Strangely, he delivers this whole speech in front of Vinci and another security guard.
Using their allure, the women learn about the miners; there are three of them, one for each woman. The mystery of the women deepens when Ruth sets off an alert on McCoy's medical scanner in sickbay. McCoy wonders whether they're actually as beautiful as they seem, or whether there's something else responsible for their allure. Eve visits Kirk's quarters, whom Kirk views lying on his bed. Eve claims she's feeling harassed by the men on board, but is unable to go through with her flirtation, blurting out that Mudd put her up to it. She flees to Mudd's quarters and tells him she's feeling ill, saying "It's time." Magda manages to obtain a communicator from Lieutenant Farrell; Mudd uses it to contact the miners before Kirk, and hammers out a deal. But back in Mudd's quarters, the women begin physically breaking down, turning terribly old and haggard. Just in time, Mudd finds a pillbox he had hidden in his mattress, and gives one pill to each of them, immediately restoring their youth.
As Eve is turning the crystalline "Venus pill" over in her hand, Spock is examining a burned out lithium crystal. The miners come on board the Enterprise, but when Kirk offers them an equitable price he learns they really want to barter. They want to look at Mudd's women, and maybe trade for them. On top of which, they want Mudd released and the charges dropped. Shocked and annoyed, Kirk refuses the offer, but Mudd figures Kirk will have no choice soon enough, as the ship's functions are starting to shut down without the crystals and the Enterprise will begin to spiral down toward Rigel XII. As Mudd notes to Kirk, he has no choice; he must acquiesce to the miners' demands.
Kirk, Spock, and Mudd beam down to the forbidding surface of Rigel XII, where the women are now living it up with Ben Childress and the other miners, Herm Gossett and Benton. Childress keeps Kirk waiting for the crystals, and the miners start fighting over Ruth and Magda. Eve, already conscience-stricken about the deception, runs out into a storm. Childress goes out to find her, and the two go missing as the Enterprise, still without the crystals, begins to run out of energy. Back aboard ship, Kirk snaps at Scotty, but apologizes, and Scotty tells him the ship has approximately five hours of power left.
Childress finds Eve and brings her back to his quarters, and the Enterprise locates them through the heat of a cook stove in his hut; Eve is cooking for Childress. Kirk and Mudd prepare to beam down. Childress and Eve begin to warm up to each other as Eve proves more resourceful than Childress expected. But soon Eve's looks begin to fade again and Childress comments on this. As they start fighting, Kirk and Mudd arrive, and explain about the Venus drug, which Childress had heard of but thought was only a legend. He and the other miners are dismayed to learn that Mudd has sold them a bill of goods: the women's natural beauty and allure has been enhanced by the Venus drug. Two of the miners have already married Mudd's women, the ceremonies having been performed through subspace radio. The chief miner is angry, and Eve berates him for being more interested in the pill than in a real woman. She takes the pill and turns beautiful again. Childress isn't happy because her beauty is a fake, but Kirk reveals that he switched the pill with a placebo, colored gelatin. Eve's beauty is the result of her own self-confidence. Childress is happy about this, and asks her to stay and talk. Mudd asks to be left behind on Rigel XII but Kirk turns this down Mudd's, offering instead to appear as a character witness at Mudd's trial. Mudd ironically comments, "''They'll throw away the key''."
"Amen to that, Scotty."
- - Scott and McCoy, after Mudd's women walk out of the transporter room
"But men will always be men no matter where they are."
- - Mudd, to his ladies
"Is this your crew, captain?"
"Well, no, captain. This is me cargo."
- - Kirk and Mudd, on the ladies
"Captain James Kirk, the next orders you're taking will be given by Harcourt Fenton Mudd!"
- - Mudd
"Blast that tin-plated pot!"
- - Mudd, after the computer contradicts him during the interrogation
"I wonder what makes it do that!"
- - McCoy, after Ruth sets off some unusual readings on the biofunction monitor
"I read once that a commander has to act like a paragon of virtue. I never met a paragon."
"Neither have I."
- - Eve and Kirk, in his quarters
"You'll find out that ship's captains are already married, girl, to their vessels."
- - Mudd to Eve, on Kirk
"Take it. It's not a cheat. It's a miracle for some man who can appreciate it and who needs it."
- - Mudd to Eve, on the Venus drug
"Oh! The sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it's still the same song."
- - Eve, to Childress
"Agh, if we only had those crystals…"
"But we don't! I didn't get them! I should have found a way! Satisfied, Mr. Scott?!?"
- -Scotty and Kirk
"Is this the kind of wife you want, Ben? Not someone to help you, not a wife to cook and sew and cry and need, but this kind. Selfish, vain, useless. Is this what you really want?"
- - Eve to Childress, after taking the pill
"There's only one kind of woman."
"Or man, for that matter."
"You either believe in yourself, or you don't."
- - Kirk and Mudd, after revealing Eve swallowed a fake pill
"Don't you think you could possibly by accident arrange to leave me behind here, on this planet? That would be punishment enough…"
"I can't do that, Harry. But I will appear as a character witness at your trial… if you think that'll help."
"They'll throw away the key…"
- - Mudd and Kirk
"Ever try considering the patent medicine business?"
"Why should I work your side of the street?"
- - McCoy and Kirk
"The fact that my internal arrangement differs from yours, doctor, pleases me no end."
- - Spock to McCoy, on the location of the Vulcan heart
Story and script
- The origins of this story can be found in Gene Roddenberry's early 1964 series outline, Star Trek is..., as a story proposal entitled "The Women". That synopsis reads, "Duplicating a page from the 'Old West'; hanky-panky aboard with a cargo of women destined for a far-off colony."
- This story outline was a candidate for being the first Star Trek pilot, alongside "The Cage" (which was eventually chosen) and "The Perfect World" (which became "The Return of the Archons"). (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed., p. 132) In the revised story outline for this episode (dated 23 July 1964), there were five women, rather than three.
- This story was later also one of the candidates for Star Trek's second pilot episode. The other candidates were "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (which became the second pilot) and "The Omega Glory" (filmed near the end of the second season). (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 65-66; The Star Trek Compendium, p 17)
- NBC did not choose this episode as the second pilot mostly because they were worried about the central theme of "selling women throughout the galaxy" and the guest stars being "an intergalactic pimp" and "three space hookers". (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 65-66)
- Teleplay writer Stephen Kandel recalled of this episode, "Gene had the idea of using a personal enhancer-allure drug, and I provided the character [of Harry Mudd]. We spent an afternoon talking about it, and out of the conversation evolved the story idea and then, of course, I wrote the story. Gene went over it in great, meticulous and obsessive detail, and then I wrote the script." (Starlog issue #117, p. 44)
- In a story memo excerpted in The Making of Star Trek, associate producer Robert H. Justman wrote, "On page 55 we see Benton riding a digging machine toward his cabin. Let's eliminate this device right now."
- A lengthy monologue in which Harry Mudd attempted to persuade Uhura into taking the Venus drug was also excluded from the episode. The scene's removal was because it was deemed too wordy and long. (Starlog #127, p. 33)
- Roger C. Carmel was extremely disappointed by the deletion of this monologue, later describing it as "wonderful". He explained, "I remember being very disappointed because I felt the monologue was very effective and very much to the point of the show's philosophy." He nevertheless liked this episode, just as much as he liked the second season outing "I, Mudd". (Starlog #127, p. 33)
Cast and characters
- This episode marks the first of three appearances of Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd. He reprised the character in TOS: "I, Mudd" and TAS: "Mudd's Passion". Rainn Wilson took over the role for Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Short Treks.
- Although Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Rand) does not appear in the episode, she was on the set during filming, trying to observe everything and get comfortable with the sets and the mood. (The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy [page number? • edit])
- Eddie Paskey appears in green coveralls for the only time in the series, as "Connors" in sickbay.
- The velour uniforms used in this episode had shrunk since they were first used in "The Corbomite Maneuver". According to Bob Justman and Herbert F. Solow's book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story [page number? • edit], the velour uniforms shrank every time they were cleaned. The actors' union requirements specified that the costumes had to be cleaned daily.
- Although Karen Steele and Maggie Thrett were given makeup and facial appliances to make them appear ugly as the Venus drug wore off in Harry Mudd's quarters, Susan Denberg appears not to have been similarly made up; her hair was simply disheveled. (citation needed • edit)
Sets and props
- The quarters used by Mudd and his ladies is the set for Kirk's quarters, with all of the furnishings removed.
- This marks the first appearance of the sound stage cyclorama used for different planets throughout the series, which was lighted with different colored filters, to give an appearance of many unique-colored atmospheres. Associate producer Robert Justman came up with this idea after realizing that reusing the same cloudy background from the two pilots, over and over again, would result in all planets looking the same. Justman personally decided the backdrop colors for each episode. Problems often arose when the colored gels either faded or burned up after a short while in front of a hot light, and the burning gels made an unbearable odor on the set. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 117) The backdrop lighting used in this episode for Rigel XII, with tornadic streaks in it, was also utilized in "The Enemy Within".
- The elliptical shaped playing cards on which Eve plays solitaire in Ben Childress' home, can be seen in the Enterprise recreation room in later episodes ("Charlie X" and "The Conscience of the King").
- Harlan Ellison visited the set during the filming of this episode. Ellison was writing his first draft teleplay for "The City on the Edge of Forever" at the time in an office at the Desilu lot. Associate producer John D.F. Black couldn't find Ellison in his office and was angered when he finally found him on Stage 10, posing for photographs and eating lunch with the cast and crew. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed., p. 508)
- Jerry Finnerman was encouraged to be creative in choosing dramatic lighting and camera angles. Bob Justman recalled that he said to Finnerman, "We're all in outer space, Jerry, and we're in color. NBC claims to be the first full-color network, so let's prove it for them. When you light the sets, throw wild colors in – magenta, red, green, any color you can find – especially behind the actors when they're in a close shot. Be dramatic. In fact, go overboard. Backlight the women and make them more beautiful. Take some chances. Nobody can tell you that's not the way the future will look. How can they? They ain't been there yet." Bob Justman was very pleased with the final results in this episode. He stated, "Guest stars Karen Steele, Maggie Thrett and Susan Denberg, good-looking in real life, looked even more radiantly lovely and ravishing as they worked their magic upon Captain Kirk and crew – after Jerry worked his magic upon the three actresses." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 113)
- The production of this episode went a day over schedule. According to Bob Justman and Herbert Solow, this was due to the intricate camera setups used by director Harvey Hart, which had good results but were too time-consuming. Hart also made things difficult for the editors by "camera cutting" the show, leaving few choices of shot available. Due to these factors, Hart was not invited back to the show. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 203)
- This and TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" are the only episodes where the crystals that power the Enterprise's engines are called "lithium". Throughout the rest of the series, the crystals are called "dilithium."
- This episode's final scene aboard the bridge is the series' first suggestion that Vulcans have a different arrangement of internal organs than Humans. Specifically, McCoy places the Vulcan heart at roughly the place of the Human spleen. This is later made more explicit in TOS: "The Omega Glory".
- At one point, Scotty states that the weight of the Enterprise is "almost a million gross tons." However, the Starfleet Reference Manual by Franz Joseph states that the weight of a U.S.S. Constitution-class heavy cruiser is 190,000 tons.
- The preview contains a Captain's Log recorded solely for the preview: "Captain's log, stardate 1329.1. The Enterprise brings aboard the survivors of an ill-fated vessel."
During the syndication run of Star Trek, the following scenes were typically cut from broadcast
- A lengthy scene of Spock leading Mudd and his women through the corridors of the ship including closeups of the women's backsides.
- Extended dialogue from Mudd's hearing.
- A longer search by Harry Mudd for the Venus drug in his quarters.
- Extended scenes of the party on Rigel XII.
- Eve running out of the party into the wind followed by her struggling against the elements, and Childress then searching for her.
- A more lengthy transformation of Eve when she takes the fake Venus drug.
- Upon its initial airing, this episode was generally well received. Stephen Kandel later noted, "We got a lot of favorable response." (Starlog issue #117, p. 44) Roger C. Carmel likewise said about the episode, "It was a pretty big success and they got a lot of positive reaction from it." (Starlog #127, p. 33)
- Regarding the script, Herb Solow commented, "It was very well written, it was fun, and it featured three beautiful women-hookers selling their bodies throughout the galaxy. It later became a standout and much-loved episode in the series." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 65-66)
- NBC Program Manager Jerry Stanley recalled that "One of the problems we had was in trying to talk [Roddenberry] out of some of his sexual fantasies that would come to life in the scripts. Some of the scenes he would describe were totally unacceptable". William Shatner noted "that NBC allowed "Mudd's Women" to be produced at all is still a minor miracle". (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, pp. 143-144)
- However, in A Star Trek Catalog, editor Gerry Turnbull criticizes the episode as "uneven," noting that it "swings wildly between tragedy and comedy".
- Author Paula M. Block pointed to this episode as one of the most prominent examples of sexism in The Original Series, criticizing the "How to Marry a Millionaire mindset" shown. She commented, "Take Eve, the most rational of the three women. After spending most of her life cleaning up after a bunch of unappreciative male siblings, all she wants is the opportunity to connect with a good man. Even after learning that she doesn't need the Venus drug to appear desirable, Eve can't foresee a future that doesn't involve snaring a man. The thought of serving aboard a starship never occurs to her – except perhaps as the captain's wife. So she consigns herself to life on barren Rigel XII, cleaning up for another unappreciative male (miner Ben Childress) and listening to the winds blow day and night." (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, pp. 039, 126)
- "The Women" story concept appears in Star Trek is...: 11 March 1964
- Story outline "The Women" by Gene Roddenberry: 20 July 1964
- Revised story outline "Mudd's Women" by Gene Roddenberry: 23 July 1964
- First draft teleplay by Stephen Kandel: May 1965
- Second draft teleplay: June 1965
- First draft teleplay by John D.F. Black: 17 May 1966
- Revised teleplay by Black: 23 May 1966
- Final draft teleplay by Roddenberry: 26 May 1966
- Additional revisions: 31 May 1966, 2 June 1966, 6 June 1966
- Filmed: 2 June 1966 – 13 June 1966
- Day 1 – 2 June 1966, Thursday (Half Day) – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge
- Day 2 – 3 June 1966, Friday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge
- Day 3 – 6 June 1966, Monday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Transporter room, Kirk's quarters, Turbolift, Corridors
- Day 4 – 7 June 1966, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Kirk's quarters, Turbolift, Corridors
- Day 5 – 8 June 1966, Wednesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Sickbay, Briefing room
- Day 6 – 9 June 1966, Thursday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Mudd's quarters; Desilu Stage 10: Int. Ben Childress' home
- Day 7 – 10 June 1966, Friday – Desilu Stage 10: Int. Ben Childress' home, Miners' dwelling, Ext. Rigel XII surface
- Day 8 – 13 June 1966, Monday – Desilu Stage 10: Int. Ben Childress' home, Ext. Rigel XII surface; Desilu Stage 9: Int. Mudd's quarters
- Score recording: 7 September 1966
- Original airdate: 13 October 1966
- Rerun airdate: 4 May 1967
- First UK airdate: 9 August 1969
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax/VHS release: 28 February 1985
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3, catalog number VHR 2244, release date unknown
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.2, 8 July 1996
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 2, 17 August 1999
- As part of the TOS Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS Season 1 HD DVD collection
- As part of the TOS Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- James Doohan as "Scott"
- George Takei as "Sulu"
- Jim Goodwin as "Farrell"
- Nichelle Nichols as "Uhura"
- Gene Dynarski as "Ben"
- Jon Kowal as "Herm"
- Seamon Glass as "Benton"
- Jerry Foxworth as "Security Guard"
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
- Frank da Vinci as
- Robert Justman as Enterprise engineer (voice) 
- Eddie Paskey as
- Ron Veto as Harrison
- Unknown actor as
- William Blackburn as the stand-in for DeForest Kelley
- Frank da Vinci as the stand-in for Leonard Nimoy
- Eddie Paskey as the stand-in for William Shatner
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- "Mudd's Women" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Mudd's Women" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Mudd's Women" at Wikipedia
- "Mudd's Women" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
- "Mudd's Women" original and remastered screencaps at TrekCore
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