|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season Two: Ep. 2.8 “I, Mudd” – (Original air date: Friday, November 3, 1967)

TrekIMudd

Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “I, Mudd.”

  • On this date in history: The #1 songs are still “To Sir With Love,” by Lulu, in the US, and “Massachusetts,” by the Bee Gees, in the UK. There are a few more of my favorites in the US Top-10. “Soul Man,” by Sam & Dave, is at #2. “Incense and Peppermints,” by Strawberry Alarm Clock is at #7, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” by Aretha Franklin, is at #8. A great week for music.
  • Also on this day, Garry Trudeau, a 19-year-old sophomore at Yale University, published an editorial cartoon in the college paper, The Yale Daily News, his first. He would soon create a comic strip that would become Doonesbury after his graduation in 1970.
  • In the teaser of this episode, McCoy and Spock are discussing a new crewman named Norman, who came aboard only 72 hours before (that’s three days to you and me). McCoy thinks there’s something odd about a man who never smiles, never talks about his background, never talks about anything, in fact, other than his job. He’s also missed two appointments for his physical.
  • Spock fails to see why this makes the man odd.
  • Norman goes on alone to show how odd he is by going to the auxiliary control room and knocking out the technician there. From this location, Norman easily takes control of the entire starship.
  • Since this room is so important, you would think it would be more heavily guarded.
  • Norman changes their course and hits several buttons and flips switches.
  • None of this escapes the attention of the bridge crew. Captain Kirk orders security to the auxiliary control room. They arrive and find the unconscious ensign, but Norman has moved on after jamming all the master controls.
  • Norman has moved on to engineering, where he incapacitates most of the crew there and works his magic with the controls again there.
  • Then, suddenly, he emerges from the turbolift onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise, having somehow avoided all security crewmembers. He reveals that he has hijacked the ship and that it is rigged to explode if they attempt to alter the course he has chosen.
  • Norman then opens a panel in his abdomen, revealing himself to be an android. He says the journey will take four solar days.
  • Then he shuts himself off after refusing to respond to any further questions.
  • End of teaser.
  • As Act One begins, the ship is in orbit around an uncharted planet. Four solar days have passed during the commercial break.
  • Norman comes back on-line and instructs the following ship personnel to beam down to the planet: the captain, science officer, medical officer, communications officer and navigator. If they refuse, the engines will be destroyed and they will remain in orbit forever.
  • Probably not. I would imagine that, without power, the ship would eventually re-enter the atmosphere and crash as a fiery projectile.
  • But, Norman does say “please,” which is, after all, the magic word.
  • So, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and Chekov beam down, as directed.
  • Norman informs them that this is a Class K planet that has been adapted for human life through use of pressure domes and life support equipment. There are two identical women in the cavern where the landing party materializes. This is Alice 1 and Alice 2.
  • The Alice series of androids were played by the Andrece twins, Alyce and Rhae. The story goes that the twins were “discovered” by Gene Roddenberry the first night after filming began on “I, Mudd.” Gene saw them walking down a street together during his drive home, jumped out of his automobile and told them that they were going to be on television. The two had limited acting careers, but we’re still watching them today, aren’t we?
  • The landing party is escorted to the throne world, and who should be seated upon the throne other than Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd, who now brands himself as “Mudd the First,” ruler of the world he has also named “Mudd.” He tells Kirk and he and his crew will have to spend the rest of their lives on the planet. And with this new revelation, we end Act One.
  • When we get into Act Two, we find out what’s happened to Harry Mudd since our first encounter with him in Season One’s “Mudd’s Women.”
  • Mudd escaped from prison. He ended up here on this planet, where all the androids are.  I’m paraphrasing a much-longer story.
  • The problem is that Harry has gotten bored and wants to leave the planet. The androids won’t let that happen unless he provides more humans for them to study. So, Harry’s plan is to give Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to the androids, and then he’s going to leave on their ship.
  • That Harry Mudd. Such a scamp!
  • Mudd also reveals an android replica of his nagging wife Stella. He had her made so that he could tell her to shut up whenever he likes and she has to obey him.
  • From the androids, we find out that the androids were created by a race called the Makers from the Andromeda Galaxy.
  • Spock finds a central control room. The android Norman is there but will not help Spock with the controls.
  • Kirk and Uhura get their first look at the “Barbara” series of androids. Uhura asks how long they last and they find out that the androids are good for 500,000 years. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.
  • They also find out that the human brain can be transplanted into an android body, achieving near-immortality. Uhura seems interested in this.
  • After Scotty is brought to Mudd by the androids, all of the starship crew are on Mudd’s planet and the androids are in complete control of the ship.
  • As we get into Act Three, it seems that the crew are being seduced by the android planet. Chekov is making time with two of the Alice sexbots. Scotty is attracted to their advanced technology and engineering. Bones is intrigued by their advanced medical facilities.
  • Kirk rallies the crew to focusing on escape. It’s not easy, but they all come around.
  • The androids double-cross Mudd, of course, and won’t allow him to leave the planet. They were using Mudd for information and understand that he is not a nice person. The androids intend to “serve” the humans, waiting on them hand and foot and providing for all of their needs and desires, until they are completely dependent upon them. The horror.
  • I wouldn’t mind being tortured like that for at least a little while.
  • In Act Four, Spock figures out that Norman coordinates the androids. There is only one Norman. To overcome Norman’s influence over the other androids, the crew enacts an insane plan that involves a fake escape attempt after knocking out Mudd, and then what looks like a community theater improv night involving dancing and mime playing instruments, and face slapping and spouting illogical statements.
  • This is one of the more bizarre sequences in all of TOS.
  • It also goes on for a long, long time. Androids are self-destructing because they can’t handle the illogic. Scott does a dramatic fake death scene, with the others firing at him with their index fingers and making sound effects with their mouths, like children at play. Then the crew playacts building a bomb of some sort, which they then pretend explodes.
  • Then Kirk talks to Norman until his computerized brain is fried as well.
  • Talking computers to death is James Kirk’s secret superpower, after all.
  • The end result is that Harry Mudd’s punishment this time is to be left on the planet with the androids as our beloved crew make their escape. That doesn’t seem like such a harsh punishment until we discover that at least 500 copies of Mudd’s wife Stella have been created and he can no longer order them to shut up.
  • The stereotype of the shrewish, nagging wife probably seemed a little fresher in the 1960s, but feels pretty dated now.

This is one of the “funny” episodes of the Original Series, which are always hit-or-miss with me. This one was heading for a mediocre score of 3-stars until the ridiculous final act, which brought the score down for me. Just a little more silly than I wanted, especially after the execrable “Catspaw” episode.

This one is an underwhelming 2.5 out of 5 stars for me. I know this episode has its fans. I’m not one of them.

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