Here comes the camp.
This episode begins with the Enterprise chasing a small spaceship that continues to evade and rejects all communication attempts. After the captain of this small ship is beamed aboard the Enterprise, one can't help but wish Kirk had just let the thing go.
The bombastic visage of Harry Mudd stand's out even against our crew's brightly colored Starfleet uniforms. He's a space pimp, we find, that dresses in a puffy pirate shirt and sports a thick, curvy mustache. The minute he beams in, one may feel this episode to be a bit ... silly.
And yeah, it's silly. From the beginning, to Mudd's siren-like trio of babes strolling the corridors of the Enterprise, entrancing the male crewmembers. It's all goofy. I wish I could say it was just the aesthetic of the period. I wish I could say the sillyness applied only to how these characters look. The problem is, it touches every aspect of this show.
The plot inches along in a unmotivated, droning fashion. There are a few scene-to-scene cuts that felt completely arbitrary. Even the ending "twist" or "thematic wrap up" feels ill concieved and almost tacked on.
You see, we find that Mudd's women are not, in fact, as beautiful as they seem. They're hyped up on a space-drug that preserves their beauty. So Kirk decides to take advantage of this addiction, and put on a display of his phsycological bad-assery. He switches their pills for placebos, and the girl doesn't notice. Her demeanor changes, she becomes confident, and "beautiful" of character.
Boy did he show her! Well. I guess. I just didn't see the space-whore's lesson learned as a compelling climax. In comparison, the justice being served to the schemeing Harry Mudd seems almost thrown in.
The writing of this episode seems exploitive of it's (pretty simple) concept. It doesn't elevate itself to the high drama we know it's capable of, and the ideas themselves aren't that lofty or effectively communicated. Since the content of this episode almost entirely surrounds the specifics of this "crazy space encounter", you're not left with much else to tide you over.
Stay tuned tomorrow for "The Enemy Within", an episode with a reputation that precedes it.