Sunday, June 22, 2014

Star Trek: S1E6 Mudd's Women review

Well congratulations, Star Trek. It took six episodes to get here. You did a pretty good job. And then I met Harry F. Mudd. I'll let you guess what the F. stands for.

The Venus drug? Excuse me? Let's try that in French, see how mad I am in a different language. Excusez moi? Nope, I wash my hands of this enormous nonsense, which combines a basic "beauty is on the inside" morality play with some colonial-era frontier sexism. Roomie's sitting over there not quite clear on why I'm annoyed, which I'm going to chalk up to having watched this at a younger age or in a different mindset.

For me, this is just plain sexist. Simplistic, reductionist, however you want to position it, this episode is a tremendous heap of junk. Why the blazes would Eve agree to be marketed as a sex object in order to... what even was the point? Were they offered money by Mudd? Did he promise them good lives? That planet's a windblown, empty hellhole whose population (three!) consists of impatient, randy, sexist douchemonkeys who are all on board with flesh capitalism. Boy it's a good thing there weren't four, or you might have had to sell off a woman who isn't a one-shot character! So no, I don't get what the incentive was, especially for Eve who the script takes time to tell us about.

Yes, I get that the show is like 40-50 years old, but we had been doing pretty well up until now. I don't understand how the women aren't basically chattel in this whole scheme, how it's any of Mudd's business or how he persuaded them to let him be their pimp and wife-delivery scheme. I don't really want to, either, because at this point I already feel like I put more thought into the plot than the writers did.

Maybe I'm misreading. Maybe I'm cranky because the pain was quite severe during the episode and my next T3 isn't for another 18 minutes. Maybe I'm not being as fair to the era as the show needs me to be. But you know what? I don't think any of that (well I am in pain but I don't think that matters). I think this was just a short-sighted episode cribbed from some Western novel or frontier adventure idea that forgot that a modern society from even the era in which this show was made, let alone the supposedly more advanced society that Enterprise comes from (which is on Earth), should be more equal and a hell of a lot less sexist.

So this is what we're calling a crash point. When we hit a crash point, I'm going to stop watching straight through and switch to only a pre-made list of episodes based on recommends from the forum, the comments and of course my friends. I may come back at some point to watch the rest, but for the moment I think I've seen Star Trek's low point.

21 comments:

  1. Ok. Just whatever you do don't skip the Tribbles episode.

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  2. I'm pretty sure the tribbles episode would be on anyone's highlight list.

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  3. Okay, I couldn't remember the Mudd episodes except that allegedly the bit about Spock's odd heart placement was in there, so I looked it up on a Star Trek wiki:

    "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.'"

    "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'."

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  4. Also, it's not just you. I've always considered this one a really stupid episode with no value whatsoever. The only good thing that came from this was Harry Mudd showing up in a much better episode later on.

    I'd also recommend that you avoid "The Alternative Factor" and possibly "Miri" later on in Season One, and that you watch none of Season Three except the following:

    Spectre of the Gun (maybe)
    Elaan of Troyius (maybe)
    The Paradise Syndrome
    The Enterprise Incident
    The Tholian Web
    Day of the Dove
    Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
    That Which Survives (maybe)
    Requiem for Methuselah (maybe)
    All Our Yesterdays

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    1. Actually, now that I think about it, Elaan of Troyius probably shouldn't be on that list, as it has problems with sexism.

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  5. Stearns's season 3 list is fairly solid, I think.

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  6. Most of Season One except the ones I mentioned (I really should have warned you about "Mudd's Women," and I'm still kicking myself for not doing so) still holds up pretty well. Season Two doesn't have anything truly horrible, although "Wolf in the Fold" and "Patterns of Force" aren't all that good. I've heard "The Omega Glory" isn't well thought of, but I think it was pretty good.

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  7. For the rest of Season one:
    Balance of Terror
    Space Seed
    The Devil in the Dark
    Errand of Mercy
    City on the Edge of Forever

    There are some other good episodes, but this would be my recommendation.

    Season 2:
    Amok Time
    mirror, Mirror
    Journey to Babel
    The Doomsday Machine
    Obsession
    The trouble with Tribbles
    The Ultimate Computer
    The Immunity Syndrome
    Assignment : Earth

    Season 3 as above.

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    1. You put The Devil In The Dark on your list.

      I like you.

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    2. Ooh, I forgot to include that one. Yes, that is a very good episode and should be on the list. Only downside to that one is the silly monster costume, but it's still better than rubber forehead aliens.

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    3. the Galileo Seven is a good choice as well.

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    4. Everybody always forgets about "The Conscience of the King".

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  8. My thoughts on the first two seasons:

    Remainder of Season 1:
    Balance of Terror
    The Galileo Seven
    The Menagerie
    Arena
    Tomorrow is Yesterday
    Space Seed
    Errand of Mercy
    City on the Edge of Forever

    Season 2:
    Amok Time
    The Doomsday Machine
    Mirror, Mirror
    Journey to Babel
    The Trouble With Tribbles
    Obsession
    The Immunity Syndrome
    The Ultimate Computer

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  9. Classic Star Trek is very, very sexist, yes. It's a shame because it's ahead of its time in a lot of other ways.

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  10. After how many episodes would he be ready to watch 'Galaxy Quest'?

    GP

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  11. I don't blame you for disliking the show on account of the retrograde attitudes. You were clearly brought up right. :)

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  12. I watched this straight through as a ten year old (yes, I'm that old, Star Trek was shiny and new and oh my God I loved it so! Spock was my hero! Kirk, not so much, sexist womanizer and cheater on his ship that he was), so I am not the best person to tell you what episodes to keep or skip, though I would say you need to watch what Kurt Brown said above, definitely.

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  13. Oh! I should say watch "Arena", which is a take-off on a classic Frederic Brown short story, which I recognized when I first watched it as a kid. The opening is a tad grittier than usual for Star Trek, and I suppose you might think the climax is silly, but it's still classic sf.

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  14. Star Trek (the original series, anyway) is famously very hit or miss, so I think a pre-selected list is a good idea, yeah. There are a lot of other shows on your list that have a bad episode or two, maybe even a rather offensive episode, where I'm not so sure that immediately jumping to a pre-selected list will be workable, though. Not all shows are as episodic as Star Trek - plus, most of the time a really bad episode ends up left in the dust, easily forgotten, as the show improves or that show probably wouldn't have ended up on your list. Maybe a "do not watch" episode list makes more sense in such cases.

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  15. Dude, I'll say it again - Space Seed, then straight to Wrath of Khan.

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