TOS Final Rewatch 6 - Mudd's Women

"Mudd's Women"
Season 1, Episode 6

That's The Way It Was
Roguish Harry Mudd turns up with a cargo of ravishing space bimbos. That's about it - except for the standard "ship in peril" subplot.

Space Dames
The men on the Enterprise have apparently never seen women before. This is particularly the case with McCoy and Mr. Scott, as the trio of space dames are revealed for the first time.

Exactly what quality do these women have that makes the Enterprise guys trip over their tongues and run face first into walls? They're attractive, sure, but come on.

And doesn't every man ultimately just want "a wife to cook and sew and cry and need?" What about barefoot and pregnant?

In the end, Eve McHuron turns out to be a sympathetic character who manages to combine a measure of brains with bimbo. Alas, we never do find out the fate of her two companions.

Does Not Compute
Computers in the future must speak in a harsh robotic voice. Although there's a TOS episode coming up where this dictum will be subverted.

Mudd's interrogation scene, with the computer contradicting him at every turn, is worth the price of admission.

Say Say Say
"I asked you first." Kirk to McCoy.

"Oh, the sound of male ego." Eve to Childress.

Aside from his appearances as Harry Mudd, Roger Carmel's most substantial recurring role was probably in "The Mothers-in-Law," a late Sixties outpouring of TV zaniness, in which he played a scriptwriter who's married to one of the title characters.

Harry Mudd. Space pirate? Space buccaneer? Space gypsy?

How convenient that a lithium mining planet should turn up just about the time the ship's lithium crystals go haywire.

Uhura foregoes her usual red micro-miniskirt for a gold one.

In Conclusion
As I recalled it, Harry Mudd was a more whimsical character than he seemed to be this time around. Yes, he's kind of buffoonish and provides a few good moments of comic relief. But there's a dark undertone to many of his interactions and, after all, he is a convicted criminal who's not averse to profiting off of those who might be more unfortunate. On the other hand, as one of the women notes at one point, their options for the future on their home planet were no great shakes.

As noted, the scene with Harry Mudd being foiled by the computer is a great one and the interactions between Eve and Childress are not bad either. Compared to most of the other episodes thus far, it's not so bad. The exception would be "Charlie X," which gets my vote.

TOS Final Rewatch 5 - The Enemy Within

"The Enemy Within "
Season 1, Episode 5

Dr. Kirk and Mr. Kirk
So people have a good side and a bad side. Or a dark side and a bright side. Or a raging, sweaty side and a wimpy, dry side. Or something like that. Kirk and a weird little space unicorn dog prove this thesis by going through the transporter while it's on the fritz and being split into two halves.

In the meantime, Sulu and the rest of a landing party are stranded on a planet and night's coming and it's getting dangerously cold and the clock is ticking.

Beam Half of Me Up
Five episodes in and I don't recall that McCoy has launched into any of his anti-transporter tirades yet. Maybe this is the incident that will set him off. And maybe he has a point about having your atoms scattered all over the universe and whatnot. Pretty impressive technology, this transporter doohickey. And yet it is rendered useless by a mysterious yellow powder.

Overactors Anonymous
From the moment he appears, Bad Kirk is nearly bouncing off the ceiling with the sheer force of his overacting.

The transporter accident somehow results in Bad Kirk having more eye makeup than Good Kirk. Did I imagine this?

Good Kirk's performance - not so bad.

The captain's quarters happen to stock theatrical makeup suitable for covering up those nasty scratches on Bad Kirk's face.

Bad Kirk sweats like he's sitting in an electric chair, while Good Kirk is surprisingly fresh and dry. Talcum powder?

Poor little space unicorn dog. Was the Humane Society on hand? Is humiliating a dog a form of mistreatment?

Can anyone on the ship enter (Bad Kirk) someone else's quarters (Yeoman Rand's) at any time? No need to be buzzed in? No lock? Latch?

The gang - even Spock, the great thinker - are slow to put the pieces together, even after encountering Good Space Unicorn Dog and Bad Space Unicorn Dog.

"God forbid I should have to agree with Spock." Good one.

Should landing parties perhaps carry emergency gear that's appropriate to the place they're going?

Dead. Jim.
RIP, weird little space unicorn dog. No humanoids die in this one. The death toll throughout the series thus remains at 18 crew members. No lowdown on where the weird little space unicorn dog came from and since it's not part of the crew it's not included in the tally.

Just Yuk
"The impostor had some interesting qualities." Spock has the final word here, delivering this bewildering and quite inappropriate comment to Yeoman Rand, complete with creepy smirk. I nominate this as the weirdest moment of the first five episodes. Does Starfleet have a human resources department and don't they cover things like this when they have those "don’t be weird to fellow employees" meetings?

Judgment Day
The pop psychology nearly overwhelms the proceedings here. We get it. Good side and bad side. We've all read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or seen an adaption or at least are familiar with the concept. The other major drawback - Bad Kirk's Herculean feat of overacting.

If you can somehow ignore these fairly significant points, it's probably at least a tolerable episode. Yes, one can't help but wonder how a finely tuned instrument such as a transporter can be thrown off the rails so easily or wonder exactly how it separates someone's good and bad side and spits them out, but I guess you can allow a little bit of dramatic license in these matters.

TOS Final Rewatch 4 - The Naked Time

"The Naked Time"
Season 1, Episode 4

What It Is
The "space madness" (uh oh) episode. This is a rare strain of looniness that might make you really angry or perhaps make you cry or long for love. Or maybe it will enhance your Irishness or help you to unleash your inner swashbuckler. Who can tell?

Set Dressing
The false snow or frost on the planet does not convince. One does not get the impression that this it's a cold place.

3-D checkers in the rec room?

Butter knives don't kill people. That's not a slogan - they really don't.

Stylish black T-shirts for Joe Tormolen and Spock. Is Joe the first redshirt to appear in a black shirt?

On "Space Madness"
According the McCoy's explanation, everyone is just kind of drunk?

Everyone lays it on a bit thick with the madness hijinks. Riley and Spock deserve a special merit badge for overacting.

Spock and Nurse Chapel's scenes would probably have been rejected by any self-respecting soap opera for being way too much.

Missed Opportunities
Riley shuts down the engines. The ship is about to fall from orbit and take to a dive to the planet - unless someone can save it. Which seems like a perfect opportunity to have a ticking clock or timer (preferably with a large red readout) that will stop at one second. Or, for added dramatic effect - a fraction of a second.

They're Dead
Thanks to Mr. Scott's trick with antimatter, ship and inhabitants go back in time and have three days to live over. Except for Joe? I bet going back in time will not bring him back from the dead.

Poor Joe Tormolen is the only known casualty here, apparently due to having lost the will to live. Which is a common side effect of getting "space madness" and then getting really angry.

Four episodes down and the Enterprise has already lost 18 crew members.

The first appearance of the Vulcan nerve pinch. Methinks.

Should you be able to run down to auxiliary and "hook everything through the main panel," thus taking over every function on the ship? If yes, shouldn't this access be limited to the highest ranking officers? None of whom have an override command for this?

Closing Time
If watching actors put the pedal to the metal and act themselves into a frenzy is your kind of thing, then this is an episode for you. But it's not for me.

The sheer over-the-top-ness of it all is kind of tiresome, the premise is not necessarily a bad one, although not so well-executed and I would gladly have fired a photon torpedo at Riley to get him to stop singing.

TOS Final Rewatch 3 - Where No Man Has Gone Before

"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
Season 1, Episode 3

What's Going On
Almost indestructible Godlike Beings behaving badly...again. After running into an energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy, two crew members are zapped and become Godlike Beings who can read really fast and stuff and who don't know how to play nice with the other children.

Throwing Back
I'm watching TOS in the order it was broadcast, the way viewers in the day would have (minus the giant refrigerator box console TV and rabbit ears of a fifty-foot antenna on the roof). Viewers who watched the first two episodes must have been thrown off by this one, which was produced much earlier. Get a load of those turtleneck uniform shirts, women in pants, a sinister-looking Mr. Spock, a different chief medical officer, and so on.

Style Council
As noted, pants for the women. Which seems sensible in the professional setting of a starship. But those miniskirts probably attracted more viewers.

I am totally on board with the decision to get rid of the turtlenecks.

Is that a dye job for Mr. Scott, with his impossibly jet black hair?

Glitter eyes. Unsettling, but effective.

Personnel Department
Sulu and Scott are on board for this one. No sign of Uhura and McCoy.

Spock forgets how to use his indoor voice and the eyebrows are pointing almost due north.

The Stuff
That phaser rifle is not a masterpiece of design.

Are those rock outcroppings made of fabric? Paper? A painting? They're certainly not rock.

The conference room littered with colorful floppy disks?

The galaxy's edge is a pleasing shade of pink. The real galaxy probably has no distinct or visible edge, but it's a nice touch.

The Godlike Beings Must Be Crazy
Is it a requirement that Godlike Beings behave badly? Yeah, probably.

How about those blank stares Dehner gets from every single person in the conference room when she argues in favor of Godlike Beings?

Even before going off the rails, Godlike Gary seems like a butthole. "Like a walking freezer unit" and that sort of thing.

Godlike Charlie ("Charlie X") behaves badly but is sympathetic. Godlike Gary is not sympathetic and when Spock suggests bumping him off, it's hard to argue.

Godlike Gary's first shot at paradise on Delta Vega - a drinking fountain and strangely colored plants - isn't much. But you've got to start somewhere.

Casualty Report
Nine dead in the incident at the edge of the galaxy. Three more down before it's all over. Five crew members dead in "The Man Trap." That's 17 crew lost in three episodes.

The supremely logical Mr. Spock is again defeated at chess by logic-deprived Kirk.

Kirk to Godlike Elizabeth - "Nobody but us chickens, Doctor." Come again?

What is your ESP quotient?

Godlike beings engage in a zap battle. Kirk and Godlike Gary do a good old-fashioned, rock 'em sock 'em fistfight. Now, that's entertainment.

The Lowdown
This is an interesting take on what TOS might have been. But the version that came to be works better for me. Maybe just because it's so familiar.

It's hard to know exactly what to make of this episode. There's really not much to it. Godlike Being goes off the rails and is defeated, as he must be. The preceding episode ("Charlie X") did this so well that the current episode suffers by comparison. Godlike Gary is so unlikeable (is it just me?) that the viewer can't help be relieved when he is gone. Although, how a pile of rocks can hold down a Godlike Being, even one in a weakened state, is a question that lingers.

TOS Final Rewatch 2 - Charlie X

"Charlie X"
Season 1, Episode 2

What Goes On
Charles Evan is 17-years old. That's a problem. He is the survivor of a transport ship crash who survived on his own for fourteen years and does not understand how to get along with people. That's a problem. He's also got very special powers and a short fuse. It all combines to create really big problems for the Enterprise crew.

Game Theory
Playing cards have not changed a bit in several centuries. You'd think they might get some sort of space-age update, but no. On the plus side, one day maybe we can look forward to 3-D chess.

Showing shirtless Kirk in the gym in a silk leotard might actually be prohibited under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

In the previous episode, we were treated to an example of Kirk's lame open field running. This time we are treated to some of his lame judo moves. If I have my chronology right, there was apparently something of a craze for judo in this era.

Biology 101
Charlie: Is that a girl? Kirk: That's a girl.

Kick Out the Space Jams
Spock is a veritable fount of emotion as he plays the space lyre and he and Uhura thrill the audience. Uhura flails about some and gets all dramatic and I think I'll just wait for the paperback. That's two episodes in a row now in which Uhura does something besides route phone calls. Yeoman Rand also gets another substantial role here.

Space Eats
Meatloaf still exists in this version of the future. Turning meatloaf (space meatloaf? spaceloaf?) into turkey is not exactly feeding the five thousand and loaves and fishes and all that. But it's not bad, especially in light of some of the less benevolent tricks Charlie pulls off.

Children of the Damned
You can't really discuss this episode without mentioning a similar Twilight Zone episode that aired five years earlier. The resemblances between Anthony in "It's a Good Life" and Charlie in "Charlie X" are numerous and it's hard to imagine that the former didn't have some effect on the latter. "Charlie X" was written by Dorothy Fontana from a one-line summary by Gene Roddenberry. There are no clear indications that he was directly influenced by the Twilight Zone episode and TOS did always reflected a keen fondness for Godlike Being stories. Interesting coincidences that might support the connection between the two include Shatner's starring role in another well-known Twilight Zone episode - "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Also consider that Jerome Bixby, who wrote the story for "It's a Good Life," would later come on board to contribute to four TOS episodes.

Thanks to the Antares boys for dumping off their problem and not having the decency to hint that something might be wrong.

It's not nice to laugh at slurs on Vulcans or anyone else, but "Mr. Ears."

The Thasians didn't realize that Charlie was gone. So much for being all powerful beings.

The Thasians could give Charlie some amazing powers but for some plot-friendly reason cannot take them back. Again, so much for being...

Deduct a few points for the crappy special effect of the Thasian hovering over the bridge.

Here Come Da Judge
I guess there's something that could have been done to improve this episode, but I'm at a loss to figure out what.

Things start out innocuously, although from the behavior of the Antares boys, it's clear that something is amiss. From there, we are fed a series of well-constructed and executed moments that gradually increase the tension. There's the swat and other interactions between Charlie and Rand, the space jam where Spock gets shut down and Uhura loses her voice, the card tricks, and the chess game with melted chess pieces. The last of these and the unexplained destruction of the Antares start to raise some flags for the crew. But it's only after Kirk's "birds and the bees" talk and judo buddy Sam being wished to the cornfield they're on full alert.

Which could have been for nought, if it hadn't been for the efforts of Robert Walker, who treads a fine line between being a scared, maladjusted kid who wants to be liked and a vengeful monster who goes off the rails at the slightest provocation. In many of the earlier scenes, Walker captures the character's awkwardness and social ineptness with such skill that it's enough to make the viewer cringe. Good stuff.

TOS Final Rewatch 1 - The Man Trap

"The Man Trap"
Season 1, Episode 1

Something's Happening Here
Doctor McCoy's old flame, Nancy Crater, and her husband Robert are on an archaeology mission to a deserted planet that was home to an ancient, almost defunct civilization. While there, they run afoul of the last of the former residents - a knuckle-biting, shape-shifting whatzit with a nasty habit of draining people's bodies of salt, killing them in the process. When the Enterprise swings by for a regular medical check-up, it turns out that the Crater's salt supply has run low. Mayhem ensues, with the red shirts getting the worst of the bargain. Would you like some freshly ground pepper?

Check Your Local Listings
What choices would a TV viewer be offered on September 8, 1966, the Thursday night that Star Trek made its first appearance for viewers in the United States. Before Star Trek, you could tune in to Batman, F Troop and Daniel Boone, to name a few. Later in the evening, you might go with Dragnet or The Dean Martin Hour. At 8:30 PM, NBC offered up Star Trek for the first time. Opposite it, on CBS and ABC, were several well-known sitcoms that have survived to this day in eternal syndication and streaming - My Three Sons, Bewitched and That Girl.

The first reveal of the fabled Star Trek bridge opens on a frowny Mr. Spock seated in the captain's chair. Who is the last character we see in the last Star Trek episode? We'll see about that. Uhura soon leaves her temporary post at navigation and wanders over to flirt with Spock. Spock's not having it and shuts her down right away.

How May I Direct Your Call?
As things get underway, Uhura's switchboard is unmanned and she is at the navigation console. If memory serves, Uhura is rarely seen in anything but a redshirt/miniskirt apparatus of decidedly indecent proportions and yet she manages to remain mostly unscathed over the course of the next three seasons. There's the episode where she has her memory wiped completely clean and has to reload her brain from scratch, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. All in all, one of the more (most?) substantial parts for "Miss Uhura," as Spock calls her here. She is mostly relegated to taking calls for the rest of the mission.

Red Means Dead
Kirk's voiceover mentions that he and McCoy are beaming down to a planet that contains the ruins of a long-dead civilization. The redshirt (in a blue shirt) who beams down with them doesn't get a mention and so the pattern for redshirts is set from the start. This is Darnell and while he is not gone in sixty seconds, it's close.

It's not long before we realize something is wrong. Kirk sees Nancy Crater as she would be if she were still alive and McCoy sees her as he knew her in the old days. As for the unfortunate Mr. Darnell, he sees her as a saucy dame, complete with saucy dame musical cues, a good bit of sashaying and foot-long fluttering eyelashes (send the kids from the room, mother). His days are numbered.

"This man should not be dead," McCoy notes after Darnell's low-sodium corpse is examined. Darnell did not get that memo. He is quite dead.

On the next visit to the planet, Green (the redshirt in the gold shirt) is quickly done away with and shapeshifter Nancy "borrows" his body for a while. Sturgeon (the redshirt in the blue shirt - please try to keep up), meets his demise with relatively little fanfare.

What does one do with a dead crew member (or five) over the course of a five-year mission? I don't know think this important administrative detail is ever addressed as the stiffs continue to pile up over the years. But it would be interesting to know.

Down in the Hole
There are a surprising and rather refreshing number of "lower decks" interactions here. We start to get an inkling that a starship is not the sole province of three leading men and a handful of supporting actors. Rand and shapeshifter Green have their interactions and Rand hangs out in Sulu's exotic garden and quarters, which are surprisingly spacious. Apparently square footage is not at a premium on a starship several centuries in the future. There's also a fairly random shot of two crewmen ogling Yeoman Rand and making vaguely lewd remarks. Which probably should have ended up on the cutting room floor, but there it is.

Space Eats
Kirk dines on some yummy Sesame Street shapes. Sulu digs into space celery, among other things.

Cup holders have yet to be invented in this version of the future. Either that or they are not considered appropriate equipment for a captain's chair. One good hit from a photon torpedo and you're wearing your prune juice.

Doctor Doctor
Tongue depressors will never go out of style and it's possible to give a man a pretty complete physical by waving a medical tricorder over his upper back and chest a few times.

"Plum" - Nancy Crater's nickname for the good doctor.

"Dead, Jim." - Darnell's demise results in the first appearance of that immortal phrase, minus a pronoun.

Shapeshifting 101
Everyone on the planet sweats like a horse, although not quite so much for shapeshifter Nancy. Given these circumstances, I might consider bumping off a few people and sucking the salt from their bodies.

Shapeshifters can shift their bodies with surprisingly fidelity to whatever they are mimicking. As a bonus, they can even shift clothing. In the end, it turns out that the actual un-shapeshifted creature looks like Raggedy Ann's corpse on a bad hair day. Maybe they should have passed on the big reveal.

Colors and Stuff
A luridly enticing shade of red, the skies of this lonely old planet. TOS does good skies. The ruins seems very clean, as ruins go, and not very ruined. Vegetation consists almost exclusively of a few scattered clumps of straw.

Say It Again
Early in the episode, Kirk refers to the doctor as McCoy, but "Bones" surfaces before long.

"Dispensary to Captain." Eventually known as "sickbay."

Let's Set a Date
We open on SD 1513.1. I'm almost geek enough that I need to know how star dates work but I cling to some shred of dignity. And yet something pulls at me, some gravitational force that tries to snag me into its orbit. Somebody must have worked this out by now. If not when TOS was created, then afterward, when some fanboy worked out an intricate system of star dates down to the very last femto-second. I will not be assimilated.

Guest star Jeanne Bal's most significant TV role was probably in Love and Marriage. It was a short-lived 1959 sitcom, where she co-starred as the daughter of William Demarest (My Three Sons), a music publisher trying to adjust to modern music.

Look! A female crew member wearing pants. Which would have been an improvement over the micro-miniskirts. But people who catalog this sort of thing claim it never happened again.

The open field running thing Kirk does here and elsewhere in the series might have been a valid military tactic, but when he does it, it just looks silly.

The death toll. Robert Crater and five redshirts.

At the climax of the episode, Spock can't get the phaser away from McCoy. But to be fair, his superhuman Vulcan strength has not been established yet.

Spock's glittery space Band-Aid is a nice touch.

"Let me look at you," Says Nancy to McCoy. Requesting permission to look at someone was actually fairly common in TV and movies of yesterday.

The Verdict
My memory of this episode was that it wasn't very good. It's all subjective, I suppose. But it probably isn't, especially when you stack it up against some of the episodes that followed. Like the very next one - Charlie X - which is quite good. But if you pretend you're watching an old B-movie about a killer critter, with some Star Trek junk thrown in for good measure, it makes for passable entertainment.