I, Mudd


I, Mudd

by an old nemesis, Harry Mudd. But who is really in control? Find out when we put “I, Mudd” into the Mission Log.

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  • Tenzin Goldstein

    I think I need to space these podcasts out more (I’m binge listening), because I’m starting to only hear “this side of paradise, sexist, this side of paradise, sexist, etc.” haha 🙂

  • In 1996 – The two episodes about Harry Mudd

    were bundled together into “The Mudd Pack” on VHS

  • Scott Newland

    It had been decades, but I rewatched “I, Mudd” before the podcast – I’m glad you don’t pick and choose episodes because it’s great to consider all of Trek, good and bad. This episode is easily, for me, among the worst handful of shows from the original series, full of cringeworthy scenes and huge plot holes – only partially offset by some of the better bits of humor. But your discussion of it was wonderful! The idea of humanity’s needs being provided for by android servants, and the whole idea of controlling a society through “bread and circuses” raised a lot of food for thought. Like: What is “happiness” and is it a static destination? I tend to subscribe to Picard’s quote in the First Contact movie, something like “we work to better ourselves”. I think that this is the “self-actualization” you mentioned, and I need to look into those ideas that you say Abraham Maslow codified (I hadn’t heard of him before). Again, thank you for your insights and for helping to illuminate the different things that these shows tend to bring up!

    • Really appreciate it, Scott. We know there are a lot of people who look at an episode like “I, Mudd” and just think it’s fun – no reason to look too deeply at it. We get it, but we wouldn’t be doing Mission Log justice if we didn’t pick it apart to see what makes it tick (or what doesn’t in this case). Cheers.

  • James W. Maertens

    I agree this is meant to be a silly episode, but for me the tie-in to “I, Robot” is the key. In Asimov’s robot novels the robots evolved from looking like machines to looking human, and their prime directive to never harm their masters led to the robot-androids taking over the government of the planet for humanity’s own good. It was, as I recall, a benevolent dictatorship, in Asimov’s stories, but Trek sees that scenario as a loss of personal freedom too dear to pay. If Norman had had any sense, he would have never revealed he was an android and just carried out the plan with Kirk and his crew. The idea was (as in Dr. Corby’s plan) to infiltrate the human population and take over for their own good.
    This is played out again and again in TOS: Landru, Vaal, Corby’s androids, the Central Brain computer in “Spock’s Brain,” Daystrom’s M5, the Eminiar VII computers, and on and on. The message: we cannot sacrifice personal freedom for peace and security if it means turning our lives over to let computers run them. That was taken very seriously at the time of TOS. The question then was: are computers advancing so fast that we are going to lose control of them and they will take over. Consider the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, ten years later, and one of my favorite movies, Colossus, the Forbin Project (1970). The title “I, Mudd” strikes me as a humorous nod toward “I, Robot” rather than “I, Claudius.”

    • jayoungr .

      It could even be said to show up in “Court Martial.” The court was ready to accept the computer’s testimony as infallible and destroy Kirk’s career on the basis of it, giving up human inquiry. This also throws a different light on Cogley’s plea for humanity in his summation speech.

      There’s also probably an element of “robot” standing in for “communism,” at least in some of those episodes.

  • jayoungr .

    I didn’t think Norman’s use of “myself” signaled that he was “developing a sense of self.” I thought it meant that he was adjusting his speech patterns because he was speaking to organics rather than other androids. You say it was “played as a moment”; I thought it was just hammering home “Hey, he’s not human, even though he looks like one” for viewers.

  • Gene C. Fedderly

    In “The World of Star Trek”, David Gerrold captures a bunch of these tropes that the lesser episodes shared in a fictional outline called, “Green Priestesses of the Cosmic Computer”. In particular, of course, is the defeat of the computer using logic/illogic because the designers were no much for the cleverness of Starfleet officers. Hilarious stuff.