Most US "hour long" shows ran to about 42 minutes today. Back in the 1960s, it was around 50... and to be honest, the increase in commercial time for American does have some advantages...
This episode begins with a space chase that showcases a big red light on the helmsman's console that flashes when the Enterprise overloads its engines to save the ship that it is pursuing from a killer asteroid field. It should have frankly been flashing up for writers when they made this dragged out mess of an episode.
The ship is destroyed, but the crew manage to rescue the 'captain' of the vessel and his 'cargo', three women dressed like they're going to a party at a Bond villain's mansion. The late William Theiss (who, I've discovered, actually died of AIDS, a truly horrible way to go) is well known for his half-way-to-a-Janet-Jackson designs for female guest characters on Star Trek, but he also gives us this Space Oddity.
The captain is a con artist (something we learn via a hilarious scene with a computer lie detector that reminded me of a scene in The Simpsons) by the name of Harry Mudd. He looks like he's going to a 70s disco night on a cruise ship... my own ancillary research confirms the term 'disco' was already in the English language by this time.
The women turn out to have a strangely hypnotic effect on nearly the entire male crew of the ship (the good old lack of focus trick appearing again), bar Mr Spock and it's clear from the get-go something is dodgy.
The recovery of the crew has resulted in the ship wrecking its "lithium crystals" (something that will later get a retcon to the fictional 'dilithium') and needing to go to a mining colony to get some more. Unfortunately we then proceed to get some dragged out scenes involving some very boring miners (no pun intended) and some bad orbital physics... unless the transporter can't work very high above a planet's surface.
I'm going to devote my last comment to the Captain's Log. A great tool for exposition, but sometimes it seems that there's no conceivable way Kirk would have time to make the entries.
There's a well-worn plot here that's for sure, but it's packed with more padding than my Warhammer 40,000 miniatures. There's not a great deal good in this episode and I was bored by the end of it.