Sunday, November 10, 2013

Star Trek: The Animated Series Episode 10--"Mudd's Passion"

His name is Mudd...Harry Mudd
Given third season producer Fred Freiberger's stated objections to comedy in Star Trek, its no surprise that Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd, essentially a comedic character, did not return during the show's third season.   On the other hand, according to Trek wiki Memory Alpha, there were plans for a third appearance by Mudd in an episode to be entitled "Deep Mudd" which were scrapped when Mudd's portrayer, actor Roger C. Carmel, was unavailable.  Nonetheless, had Trek continued beyond its third season, it is probably inevitable that the show's only recurring "villain" (although perhaps "pain in the tuchus" would be accurate) would return to plague Captain Kirk and his crew.  Mudd, after all, was part of Trek from almost the very beginning.   As revealed in The Star Trek Compendium, when NBC ordered a second pilot produced, Gene Roddenberry submitted three story proposals.  While the network rightly decided to greenlight "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the other outlines were for "The Omega Glory," which was ultimately produced for the second season, and "Mudd's Women," Harry Mudd's debut, which became the fourth episode, counting the two pilots, produced and the sixth to air. Thus, when the advent of the animated series granted the series, as Dorothy Fontana phrased it in the DVD's special features, the "fourth season" that they had once been denied, it almost went without saying that Harry Mudd's long delayed return would follow.
Returning along with Harry Mudd were Roger C. Carmel to provide the character's voice and Stephen Kandel, writer of Mudd's previous two appearances as well as the aborted "Deep Mudd."
As "Mudd's  Passion" begins, the Enterprise is on its way to the remote mining planet Motherlode, where their "old friend" Harry Mudd is attempting to sell a love potion to the miners there.  Kirk and Spock take Mudd into custody and throw him in the ship's brig until they can turn him over to Federation authorities for trial.  Along the way, the ship is diverted to investigate an enigmatic Class M planet orbiting a binary star. 
Meanwhile, Mudd cons nurse Christine Chapel using the love potion to help him steal the nurse's Starfleet I.D. which he uses to escape the brig and steal a shuttle.  Taking Christine hostage, Mudd descends to the seemingly uninhabited planet, which turns out to be inhabited by giant carnivorous rock-like creatures which attack Mudd and Christine.
Back on board ship, it turns out that, to the surprise of everyone, most especially Mudd, the darned love potion actually works.   Spock falls madly in love with Christine, while the rest of the crew begins acting oddly after the potion gets into the ship's air supply through a ventilation shaft.
Kirk and the love struck Vulcan beam down to the planet to recapture Mudd and rescue Christine.  Kirk distracts the giant rock creatures by feeding them the last of Mudd's love potion, allowing the foursome to escape back to the Enterprise. 
Once back on the ship, Mudd goes back to the brig, while the effects of the love potion prove only temporary, leaving those affected with symptoms resembling a hangover and the side effect of temporary hatred for the former object of their drug induced affections.   Oddly, Spock seems immune to this side effect, or at least able to do a better job of containing his anger than he did of hiding his amorous feelings for Chapel.
Once again, this episode proved better on rewatching than I'd originally remembered it.  There are actually a couple of lines in the script that made me laugh out loud.  Fred Freiberger would have hated it. 
One thing in the script that surprised me was Scotty's reference to feeling like he had a hangover even though he hadn't drank any Scotch.  Its certainly not the type of line you'd expect to hear in a typical Saturday morning cartoon.
Overall, "Mudd's Passion" is one of the better installments of the animated Star Trek and a fine vehicle for the return of everyone's favorite interstellar con man, Harcourt Fenton Mudd.

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