Star Trek recaps: Mudd’s Women

Copied from a 9/23/16 Facebook post:

Tonight’s Star Trek episode was Mudd’s Women (Season 1, Episode 6). The first kind of light-hearted episode of the series and maybe the first ever mention of mail-order brides.

I’m sure this episode is horribly offensive by today’s standard (Harcourt Fenton Mudd is selling brides who are secretly made beautiful by an illegal drug) but I think the message pretty much holds up: that ultimately beauty comes from within.

But it’s all wrapped up in 1960s sensibilities. When Evie’s drug wears off and her prospective husband sees that she is “homely” (she’s really not) he wants to call off the deal. Then she takes a dose and gets beautiful again and asks him if he really wants a wife like this one, vain and useless, or a wife who can help him, cook for him, darn his clothes…

For the times I guess that wasn’t outrageous but on a show that features an African American woman in an officer’s role and later showed the first ever interracial kiss on TV it seems a bit old fashioned.

The women, or rather the make-up, fashion and lighting, hold up well though. They were hot in 1966 and they still look hot in 2016. I remember being fascinated by these women but not really understanding why!!! Ah puberty, or more accurately, the years before puberty when everything was really confusing. Mind you I was 6 in 1966 so I guess I’m remembering a re-run a few years later.

Of course it’s not the last time we’ll encounter Harry Mudd (played brilliantly by Roger Carmel who later starred in “The Mothers In Law” alongside Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard. There’s a show you never see syndicated but I seem to recall it was really popular and Arden and Ballard were household names at the time.

Anyway, Harry Mudd is a great rogue… loved that character.

Side note: Tonight I watched on the new magical TV which somehow rendered the show clearer and crisper than I’ve ever seen it. Of course the downside is that you can see how cheap all the props and stuff are.

Star Trek recaps: The Enemy Within

Last summer I started re-watching Star Trek. I’ve seen all these episodes dozens of times, both when it was airing (though I was very young) and in countless re-runs (which are always edited since there are so many more ads today than there were in the 60s), but I’ve never watched them consecutively (at least not since 1966). It was interesting to be reminded that some stuff we identify with Star Trek didn’t exist in the early episodes. For instance Kirk refers to United Space Command (or something) rather than Starfleet or the Federation.

This kind of took me by surprise and at some point I started doing silly little “recap” posts on Facebook. I had a lot of fun writing them and some people seemed to enjoy them, so rather than let them get lost in the dark depths of Facebook history I thought I might re-post them here. Apologies to anyone who has already read them.

Keep in mind while I call these recaps what they really are is just a stream-of-consciousness list of things that stuck out while I was watching them again. I seem to have already lost the first couple, or maybe I only wrote them in my head. Maybe I’ll rewatch them at some point.

Anyway here’s the first one:

Last night’s Star Trek episode (I’m reliving my early 20’s when channel 11 out of NYC ran Star Trek re-runs every night at midnight which was just when I was getting home from work) was The Enemy Within (Season 1, Episode 5). It’s the one where a transporter malfunction splits Kirk into Good Kirk and Bad Kirk.

It’s pretty cool what they do with lighting to make Bad Kirk look so different. OTOH they had a damned lousy body double for when both characters were in a scene. Then there was the poor dog wearing an alien costume, and with no explanation of why Sulu is carrying it around before it too gets divided by the transformer.

Bad Kirk nearly rapes Yeoman Rand and I idly wondered if they would cut/alter that scene if they were re-running the series on regular TV today, or if they’d put up a warning before that scene.

Then there’s a point in the story where an errant phaser blast takes out a conduit the provides power to the transporter and Scottie says it’ll take a week to fix it (Sulu and a few others are freezing on the planet’s surface to lend an air of urgency to what is going on). Then a few scenes later Spock or Mr. Scott just causally mentions that they’ve bypassed the damage and it is no longer an issue. So why put it in at all? Maybe they’re setting up something for a future episode?

Because in the last episode, The Naked Time, at the end they had to jumpstart the Enterprise’s engines and that causes them to go so fast that they start going backwards in time. Then they slow down and go back to normal space, having traveled back in time 72 hours… but then they just drop that plotline and say “Maybe someday we’ll try that again.” Weird.