Published Nov 3, 2023
Revisiting 'I, Mudd'
It's time for a look back at one of Star Trek's iconic episodes.
By David Tilotta and Curt McAloney
It’s got the second appearance of the gregarious Harcourt (Harry) Fenton Mudd, hundreds of duplicate androids, and a nice plot that involves our Enterprise crew — forced off their ship by the androids and held hostage on a planet — overloading a giant hive mind with illogic in order to free themselves.
Since today is the anniversary of the first broadcast of “I, Mudd,” we thought we’d coordinate all units and stroll down memory lane.
In broadcast order, from the beginning of the series, “I, Mudd” was Episode 37 and it followed the second season’s “Catspaw” – the previous week’s horror-oriented offering.
Advertising for the episode was handled by both the Desilu Studios and the NBC Network, and a storyline note for the episode resulted in a paraphrased television listing, as seen in the image above.
The novelty of using twins to represent the many androids was heavily promoted prior to the episode’s broadcast. Several focus articles were written specifically about it, including the above, which appeared in the October 14, 1967, edition of TV Guide.
Note the error in the identification of the twins. The pictures in the upper right and lower right of the last page were flipped and needed to be switched to correctly match the text.
Mudd the First
The role of Harry Mudd was played on The Original Series with joie de vivre by Roger C. Carmel.
Carmel would go on to portray Mudd a third time when he voiced the character in The Animated Series episode, “Mudd’s Passion,” and his reportedly planned fourth outing in Star Trek: The Next Generation was cut short when he unexpectedly passed away in 1986 (at the age of 54).
Currently, the character of Harry Mudd is delightfully played by Rainn Wilson in the series, Star Trek: Discovery.
The Twins, Twinned and Twinned
As mentioned previously, twins were used to represent several of the android series, and the producers were lucky enough to find four sets of them. Each set was used to represent any of the 500 androids by simply changing their numbered necklaces (called 'badges' in the script). This trick was done often and gave the impression that any one set was more than just two individuals.
However, there was one instance in the episode where it was useful to show more than two androids in one of the series simultaneously, and for this feat, they turned to an optical effect.
This shot, with its six Alice Androids, was created by combining three optical elements, each containing actors Alyce and Rhea Andrece and photographed separately into one element using an optical printer. If you look very carefully at this composite, you can see the vertical matte lines between Alices 2 and 3 and Alices 4 and 5 (from left to right) that separate the three shots.
Interestingly, the final draft script for “I, Mudd,” (dated July 31, 1967, and written about two weeks prior to the start of filming) populated the planet with only the Alice and Stella android series. Specifically, that script specified that the Alice series had 207,809 duplicates while the Stella series only had one.
Also, in this early draft, all of Norman’s part was originally Alice One’s and Chekov’s was Sulu’s. (Other than that, it’s essentially the same as the shooting draft — the revised final draft — dated August 4, 1967.)
Enticing the Crew – A Deleted Scene
Every episode of The Original Series had one or more scenes that were deleted or trimmed as they were being assembled, and “I, Mudd” was no exception.
The partial deleted scene shown below comes from Act III of this episode and it was intended to show more of Kirk’s crew being cajoled into staying on the planet. The accompanying text comes from the shooting draft of the script, and we’ve paired it with retouched images from the film frames of the lost scene.
Note that the director, Marc Daniels, chose to stage this scene somewhat differently than what was called for in the script.
INT. LOUNGE AREA – (SMALL REDRESS)
CAMERA OPENS TIGHT on an Enterprise CREWMAN, stretched out on a chaise lounge. He is eating grapes. CAMERA PULLS BACK as we see an Alice #73 handing him a filled goblet of wine. CAMERA PANS so we see and Enterprise CREW WOMAN, seated with an ecstatic look on her face, as back of her, a Male Android, with a shoulder badge #114, industrially massages her back.
There is a sound of gentle MUSIC as CAMERA CONTINUES TO PAN, and we see another Enterprise Crewman, leaning back with his eyes closed, as another Alice #500 plays a stringed instrument… and yet another Enterprise Crewman is being handed a plate of interesting looking food by a smiling, lovely member of the Barbara series #321 of Androids. GOING TO A FULL SHOT, we get the impression that each and every one of the Enterprise crewmen is very, very happy.
Mudd in His Eye?
We’ll close this article by leaving you with a frame from a blooper that occurred in the third act. There was no sound with the film, unfortunately, so there’s no way of knowing exactly what occurred that caused it.
However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t use our imaginations to fill in the blanks.