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Starfleet Meets Falstaff
on July 30, 2002
Neither of these episodes could be taken seriously if your life depended on it, and they know it. They're just pure fun.
"Tribbles" must have been a working vacation idea for the cast, who get to spread their comic wings for a change - and pretty well, at that. Shatner has always had a flair for comedy, and does a fine job here. Leonard Nimoy was always a natural straight-man, and very funny whenever he got to display offense at injured pride - his best moment in this one is being caught responding to the cuddly loveableness of the furry little title beasties. James Doohan also proves to have a fine flair for the funny, and gets ample opportunity to prove it, upholding the fine honor of Starfleet to Klingon barbarians in a bar-fight, and greater pride in the honor of the Enterprise, itself - at Captain Kirk's expense. The always entertaining William Campbell, seen in the title role of "The Squire of Gothos" the preceding season, guest stars here as a snidely prissy Klingon, and Stanley Adams is more enjoyable than usual in his standard fat Falstaffian fool/con man role.
"I, Mudd" finds the Enterprise again encountering another con-man of its past acquaintance, Harcourt "Harry" Fenton Mudd, who is even more Falstaffian than Stanley Adams. Harry's gotten himself made into a king - on a planet he can't leave! The inhabitants are all directionless androids, built long ago to serve their makers, who fled millennia ago after discovering paradise wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Harry's enjoyed the endless schmorgasbord of brothel delights the mechanical lassies among them have to offer, but is restless to con and swindle his way across the galaxy again. In an effort to escape, he has the androids' leader, Norman, hijack the Enterprise to his planet, planning to give its crew to the androids in place of himself - but the androids plan to keep Harry, too, and additionally to use the Enterprise to go about the solar systems looking for other races they might "help." How does one beat such ruthless machine logic? Why, by a pure assault on reason, of course, which manifests itself in Monty Python-ish silliness, that is highly entertaining to watch.
"I, Mudd" benefits from the clever casting of sexy twins Alyce and Rhae Andryce as same-model identical androids, enabling them to double and triple for each other in convincing fashion. The set design is minimalist and effective. A very funny cameo appearance by the shrewish harridan Mrs. Harry Mudd is worth the price of admission, alone.