Wednesday, August 15, 2007

TOS Rewind #8: "Miri"

10/20/2015 Update:  We recorded a new podcast for this episode. Check it out here

Today's episode:  Miri (10/27/1966).  The drink:  a rye Manhattan (very tasty).

When I was growing up, I used to think the episodes where they visited "alternate Earths" (yes, there was more than one) were kinda cool.  Maybe I latched onto the idea of seeing our world in a different state or something.  Nevertheless, it was intriguing, in a post-holocaust kinda way.  Now, I understand their need to have a story that allowed the use of existing studio backlot space and costumes, but did they really need to have it be a planet that was identical to Earth?  It seems a bit silly and unnecessary, considering they didn't have the time to actually explain it.

Bonk Bonk!

Once we get past that premise, the mystery of why the adult population is all dead is interesting and has some degree of suspense as the landing party begins to contract the disease.  The part of Miri (Kim Darby) is well acted and the mob of small children is actually somewhat menacing at times.  Check out the part where one of the kids gives Kirk a good whack with a hammer or when the kids shower Spock and the Red Shirts with rocks in an alleyway.  The subplot of Miri having a crush on Kirk is kind of sweet, but could also be interpreted as icky.  Shatner does attempt to make it as sensitive and un-creepy as he can, despite the obvious problem with the script.  Of course, one of the funniest things in this one is where Kirk yells out, "No more BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!"  Classic...and speaking of amusing things, there's the line where McCoy snarks about never having seen a worse collection of bad architecture.  This almost seems a dig at the fact that they were shooting on a generic studio backlot with its inevitable collection of differing styles, like the building front that looks like a stable from a western.  And this is supposedly the 1960s on this planet...right.

The writers were, besides trying to save money, attempting to interject a message about the dangers of medicine going too far to prolong human life.  I find it interesting that this episode ran right after "What Are Little Girls Made Of," which also has a similar idea about using technology to cheat death.  I doubt there's any real connection there; the network people probably didn't give anywhere near that much thought to what order the stories should go.  In the end, while this one has its moments, it really feels compromised on a number of levels.

And now, hello Eric!


This is going to be a shorter review, primarily because “Miri" is not among my better liked original Star Trek episodes. It’s not a complete bomb—the basic story premise is interesting—but the execution leaves something to be desired.

Doc and I actually had a brief chat about this episode and agreed that a major flaw is the “duplicate Earth" plot device. Not only is it a lazy way to reduce production costs (no special efforts for art direction or special effects), but it’s also ridiculously implausible. I’m sure that if the entire (presumably infinite) universe was the search base, there would be a possibility of finding an exact duplicate of Earth somewhere. In our own galaxy, however,
the odds have to be so astronomically slim that it’s, for all intents and purposes, impossible. And it’s hard to be a self-respecting viewer and accept this kind of disregard for science. That’s not to say that Star Trek hasn’t frequently played fast and loose with
science, but I find this instance particularly annoying.

One thing I did like about this episode was Kim Darby’s performance— she did a convincing job despite being much too old for the role of Miri. Michael Pollard, who played Miri’s friend Jahn (the ringleader of the kids) did a good job as well. He was also too old for his role, but in both cases, their acting was good. It occurs to me, though, that one reason their performances stand out is that the rest of the acting was pretty much underwhelming.

My final complaint has to do with the relationship that was portrayed between Kirk and Miri. It appears that Kirk was using her and the fact that she had a crush on him, which would be despicable if she were a grown woman, but the fact that she was an adolescent girl makes it particularly reprehensible (and slimy). I may be misinterpreting what was portrayed, but even if that’s the case, I still found Kirk’s interaction with Miri unsavory.

But that’s enough criticism. Even Shakespeare had flops.

Next time:  “Dagger of the Mind"