"Miri was a great love story with beautiful performances, and it's definitely my favorite episode."
-Director Vincent McEveety (Starlog Magazine #144, p.90)-
The fearless Captain James T. Kirk leads members of his crew into the great unknowns and the always stunning set productions found in Star Trek: The Original Series. Welcome to Miri, an eerie instant classic.
The Enterprise receives a distress signal, an Earth-style signal. It's not Earth, but "another Earth." We beam down to this Blue Planet's exciting offerings in the form of Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One, Episode 8, Miri. Captain's Log 2713.5.
The Enterprise has arrived at a planet that is an exact duplicate of Earth. It is mid-1900s approximately, 1960 according to Spock. Spock, Yeoman Janice Rand, Leonard "Bones" McCoy and Captain James T. Kirk have beamed down to the planet complete with two unsuspecting Red Shirts.
A deformed, mentally deficient, child-like man attacks Bones. Kirk introduces the fellow to the classic Original Series five-finger fist sandwich. Before you know it Bones reports, "it's dead." Bones pulls up just shy of the immortal "He's Dead Jim." It hasn't happened just yet. It was interesting how Bones placed down a broken child's bike almost respectfully, gingerly and with genuine affection almost sensing a loss of innocence in the air and establishing the mood of the story the creators have planned.
The set designs of the old American town are brilliant, replete with details like broken, warped tricycles and old pianos. It's really a sight to behold. Kirk and company find a young teenage girl terrified and hiding inside a closet. They attempt to calm her and ease her fears. Miri, as she will be called, refers to people called the "Grups." "What are Grups?" inquires Kirk. Grown-ups infers Rand. The Grups got sick and died after "the awful things." Bones suspects it was a "plague." The Onlies [or children] were unaffected, but why?
Spock and the guards are searching for others when they are bombarded and pelted by stones and the sounds of impudent children. Spock reports back and the crew hopes Miri will take them to their infirmary. Kirk implements the Kirk charm factor with Miri so she will trust him. No one can resist Kirk's charm. He was doing the Jedi mind trick long before the Jedi bringing the ladies to their knees. An infected piece of skin appears on Kirk's hand and Miri is visibly fearful of his fate.
The "blue splotches" begin appearing on everyone, but Spock. Bones requests additional equipment. Kirk orders that under no circumstances should anyone else beam down. Kirk is intrigued by Spock's immunity. Bones explains the "bugs" don't care for the "Green bloods." The unaffected Spock comes across a lab project dubbed Life Prolongation. The project began 300 years ago. All of the adults are dead, but the children live inevitably becoming adults. Spock is putting it together. He points out "glandular changes" that occur during puberty.
Though certainly not intended, Kirk's way with the ladies does leave one to wonder if he might make a play on Miri. Update: Good news, the Red Shirts are still alive.
The Life Prolongation Plan was implemented to achieve the equivalent of one month in the aging process naturally over the span of 100 years. Spock surmises the kids could be "immensely old." Bones suspects a child entering puberty on this planet could be a "death sentence." Although horrible when the end comes, one might argue the trade off isn't half bad. Immensely old or not, Kirk knows these people are still children. Kirk continues to play on Miri's fondness for him to get whatever information he needs. That Kirk is a shrewd operator and perhaps a little inappropriate in his efforts.
We eventually meet the head of the child gang, John, played with eerie, creepy ease by Michael J. Pollard. Together, the kids and John remember "the way it was" in the "before time." John puts the fear of the Grups into them. They peer out the window and see Kirk approaching closer with Miri. The kids scatter and hide. The score is terrific throughout the series pumping in just the right amount of suspense and tension along the way. Kirk is attacked by an aging, dying girl. He is forced to stun her. She dies just the same and he cannot understand why she has died. His phaser was not set to kill.
Back in the makeshift lab our heroes continue to study the gravity of their situation, which grows more dire with each passing day ravaging the away team. There is a fear of growing mad from the virus. The older the victim the more rapid the progress of the disease. Spock is a carrier and cannot return to the ship either. The team is uncertain about what it is they are fighting. Affected systems will signal the end through pain and dizziness. The team has come to the conclusion they have seven days of life remaining.
Those pesky, ill-mannered, parentless children of the corn types have returned with their taunting noises, the kind of noises that could drive one to madness. The men run out and John, the weird child leader, slips into the lab and grabs the communicators escaping back into the vent. The crew need their communicators to survive. They have three days left. They will need them to acquire information.
Tempers are rising as a result of the strain of the virus. The team is growing short with one another. Miri is concerned for her new found friends. Here's one of those unforgettably classic scenes.
Bones, making headway, is onto something and it appears they have a chance. Miri slips away and returns to John. Miri convinces the kids to lure Yeoman Rand away, seemingly out of jealousy. Her feelings for Kirk are crush-like, like a student on a teacher. "Mr. Lovey Dovey" as the Captain is called will get a "bonk bonk on the head." Do you remember that classic line. Star Trek TOS is one of those series where not only are titles of the episodes instantly recognizable, but lines of dialogue are iconic. I remember being terribly annoyed by those strange children, but those lines remain burned within my crystallized faculties of intellect.
Bones and Spock work diligently to ascertain what the proper dosage of vaccination will be required to survive. Kirk asks Miri where Rand has gone. They need the communicators. Bones needs verification on the vaccine without verification it could be "a beaker full of death." Kirk knew how to amp up the tension. The crew of the Enterprise knew how to bring stakes to the brink. A frustrated Kirk makes one last play on Miri.
Intense stuff on Star Trek TOS. This was an episode to adore for many of the reasons I have noted. Oh and here is a glimpse of those crazy kiddies helmed by the wonderfully weird performance by Pollard. It's a fantastically bizarre character portrait for sci-fi fans to enjoy and one that mirrors his appearance one year earlier in Lost In Space, Season One, The Magic Mirror.
Meanwhile in this ghost-like town that fuses '60s era cars with a wild west feel, somewhere, the kids are playing games with Rand as their hostage. Miri arrives with Kirk to find Rand tied up. It's tough dealing with this incessant bunch of mini-rabblerousers. Kirk makes every effort to reason with the unreasonable. He needs those communicators. Grups and Onlies will both be history. He is attacked by one of the kids. John is rallying his little band of idiots as he smiles from afar. You have to admit, Star Trek really captures the unnerving, unsettling quality of a band of child kooks. Outside of a rampaging army of toy clown dolls, I'm not sure there's anything much scarier than obnoxious, dirty children. This is just one example of Star Trek's ability to capture a true sense of alienness within its stories. This one in particular is dripping with threat and menace. You always felt transported to some place foreign and bizarre in some way and life was hanging in the balance.
It gets worse, the kids attack. The kids begin to beat Kirk who is bloodied, but still standing. Kirk warns them they are next. They will get the disease too. The food is gone. Miri pleads with them all. Kirk serves up a bit of reverse psychology bringing to their attention the blood on their hands. They are hurting the Grups. It is the Onlies that are harming Grups now.
Bones looks at the serum and makes a command decision risking it all and injects it into his bloodstream untested. He yells for Spock and falls unconscious. Three hours remaining. Kirk succeeds and obtains his communicators from the children. In an emotionally resonant moment, Spock informs the Captain that Bones has taken a chance for everyone. He has risked it all. He is a hero. The blue splotches fade from his face. This has all of the appeal of the Kirk, Spock and Bones triumvirate we would come to love.
William Shatner holds his daughter, Lisabeth Shatner, in Miri. Leslie Shatner also appeared among the rabble in the episode. Grace Lee Whitney and Gene Roddenberry's children were also included. John is a little punk ass whipper-snapper. The crew returns to the Enterprise. Space Central is contacted and teachers and others will go to the planet to help the children. Bones suggests truant officers. Such decisions would no doubt be in violation of the Prime Directive. Rand indicates Miri really loved Kirk. "I never get involved with older women." Very clever James. Miri is a classic if for the sheer fact alone that I remember it so vividly and for the infamous "bonk bonk on the head." Further, as I mentioned, it is the finest Kirk, Spock and Bones collective entry to date. Perfection. One more thing - those two Red Shirts - still alive!
Writer: Adrian Spies. Director: Vincent McEveety.
Dead Crewman: 0.
Dead Crewman To Date: 10.
Babe Alert: 0.
Babe Alert To Date: 9.
Actor footnote: Kim Darby [Miri] [1947-present]. American. Miri features one of Darby's most memorable performances. She also featured in True Grit  with John Wayne, Norwood , The One And Only  with Henry Winkler, Better Off Dead  starring John Cusack, Teen Wolf Too  with Jason Bateman and Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers . These are just some of the highlights. She also featured in The X-Files, Season Seven, Episode 10, Sein und Zeit.
Actor footnote: Michael J. Pollard [John] [1939-]. American. He appeared one year earlier on Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 21, The Magic Mirror, a terrific entry in that series with an equally enjoyable, if similar, performance.
Director footnote: Vincent McEveety [1929-present]. American. McEveety directed six episodes of Star Trek TOS. He directed three classics from Season One: Miri, Dagger Of The Mind, and Balance Of Terror. He handled Season Two's Patterns Of Force and The Omega Glory. Finally, he delivered the classic Season Three entry Spectre Of The Gun. It's safe to say McEveety helmed and delivered some of the most memorable entries in the Star Trek cannon.