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. Kirk and his team also learn that they have been infected with the same deadly virus that has 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 probably 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.
Anyhow, 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.
In addition, 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: Captain 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 is very good, too, as the young (okay, he doesn’t look like a teenager) leader of “the lost children.” Soon after shooting the episode, Pollard landed his most famous role, the dim-witted Moss in Arthur Penn’s classic Bonnie and Clyde, and received an Oscar nomination for his fine work in the movie. Most of the kids who appeared on the episode were the children of the show’s actors and crew members (only actor Nimoy refused to allow his kids to be on the show).
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 (by Vincent McEveety, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again) and well-written (by Adrian Spies, Dark of the Sun) episode. It’s also 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. Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.