Stardate 2713.5. The crew of the USS Enterprise comes across a planet that is an exact replica of Earth. Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his team are beamed down to the surface of the planet only to discover that a group of children are the planet’s only inhabitants. The landing party also learns that they have been infected with the same deadly virus that killed the planet’s entire adult population.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“A child entering puberty on this planet means a death sentence.”
Although Miri suffers from the TV show’s budgetary constraints, the episode’s premise is surprisingly pertinent to modern eyes. The crew of the Enterprise isn’t fighting intergalactic beings. The crew is fighting a virus that is shockingly similar to COVID-19: the super-bug disproportionately affects the older population.
The episode was inspired by William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies (it also has a touch of Milton’s Paradise Lost). Like Golding’s book, Miri is critical of humans (the virus was created in a lab by unethical scientists) and I think this is why the episode offended some people — Miri was one of a handful of Star Trek episodes that was boycotted by viewers who found the program’s subject matter inappropriate for children.
Written by Adrian Spies and directed by Vincent McEveety (The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again), Miri is the kind of episode I like best: There is a problem that seems unsolvable and our heroes use all their unique skills to decode the puzzle. It’s the kind of group brainstorming that I’ve always found irresistible. I also liked the idea of seeing the crew members racing against time to find a solution to the problem.
Furthermore, Miri demonstrates that conflict in personal and professional relationships is perfectly natural. It has been said that we fight with the people we love the most: Kirk gets really cranky and starts yelling at everybody, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) turns very snappy too, and even Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) gets a bit frustrated.
Movie buffs will recognize some familiar faces among the guest actors. Kim Darby, who is best known as Mattie in the original True Grit (I also love her in the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark — the TV movie gave me nightmares as a kid!), plays the title character, a teenager who helps the crew of the Enterprise. The actress is very good as the shy girl who slowly emerges as the heroine of the story.
Michael J. Pollard plays the teen leader (okay, he doesn’t look like a teenager) of “the lost children.” Soon after shooting the episode, Pollard landed his most famous role, dim-witted Moss in Arthur Penn’s 1967 groundbreaking crime drama Bonnie and Clyde, and received an Oscar nomination for his fine work in the movie.
Child actor John Megna (To Kill a Mockingbird and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte) plays a troublemaker who is a bad influence on the other kids. The rest of the kids were played by the children of the show’s actors and crew members — the two little girls are Shatner’s real-life daughters, Lisabeth and Leslie Carol. Citing privacy concerns, actor Nimoy flatly refused to allow his kids, Adam and Julie, to appear in the episode.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I might be tempted to complain about a few things (the cheap-looking sets are an eye-sore) if I didn’t think Miri was a well-acted, well-directed and well-written episode. It was also very interesting to see how a science fiction TV show handled the concept of a dangerous virus spreading quickly through an entire planet, something that has unfortunately become a reality. Recommended. Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.