Saturday, July 14, 2007

"I, Mudd" (TOS)

I can't personally comment on how "I, Mudd" compares to the first episode featuring Harry Mudd, but the comic overtones in this episode seem right on target. Not only is there some great banter between Mudd and Kirk, but the solution to overload the androids involves some all-out silliness that's plain entertaining.

(In fact this episode contributes some great footage to the "Python's Camelot interlude, by Kirk and crew," which I also happened upon recently.)

But aside from all the silliness, it struck me that this episode lays the groundwork for a lot of modern Trek. What I mean is this: The androids in this episode have a kind of collective consciousness that almost anticipates the Borg collective. Norman is basically the Borg Queen of his day. He processes and controls the other "drones." If you can put all the silliness aside and consider the implications of what the androids were attempting to do, their objective to control biological life is ultimately as menacing as the Borg trying to assimilate biological life. It's just handled with a degree of levity that prevents us from feeling that level of peril.

Then place "I, Mudd" (TOS) side by side with "I, Borg" (TNG). The goofy, illogical stunts that Kirk and company use to fry the androids' circuits are the light-hearted precursor to the impossible, illogical diagram Picard and company plan on implanting in the Borg Collective to fry their circuits.

If First Contact had been made in the sixties the Borg Queen would have had a flashing necklace and go-go boots. Picard and Data would do a little jig in the engine room until her head started smoking. Then the whole collective would be reprogrammed to host cocktail parties and nag Zefram Chocrane for drinking too much.

Cinematically it's not quite as interesting as liquefying her organic components and snapping her neck, but, hey, it worked for Kirk!