Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 8 (Miri)

For many Star Trek episodes, there was a message.  You could tell that the script was trying to tell you something, even if you couldn’t tell what that message was.  There were a few missteps over the seasons, though.  Star Trek had 79 episodes over its run, not including the episodes from The Animated Series.  The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager each ran for seven seasons and Enterprise had four .  There are bound to be a few stinkers  I’ve always thought of Miri as being one such case.  It’s not so much that it’s bad, but rather that I could never find any redeeming qualities.

The episode starts with the Enterprise finding an exact duplicate of Earth.  The atmosphere is the same.  The outline of the continents is the same.  Kirk leads a landing party that finds buildings to be the same to 1960s Earth.  They soon discover that there are no adults.  The only inhabitants of the duplicate Earth are children.  The reason?  The local population had done experiments to prolong life.  It worked, but it only prolonged the life of those that had not reached puberty.   Anyone past that stage died.  Once the children enter puberty, they will also die.

To make matters worse, the virus is still around.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the landing party have contracted it.  The good news is that they realized what happened before beaming back up.  The bad news is that they now have a very short period of time to find a cure.  (Spock doesn’t seem to be affected, but might be a carrier.)

Even as a young kid, I never really understood how there was a duplicate Earth.  Yes, there are lots of planets.  Some might look vaguely like Earth.  I get that aliens have to be humanoid in order to save money.  Apparently, using Earth as an alien planet was done with similar motives.  It meant not having to design a new planet or have new buildings.  No official explanation is given, though.  (Having a duplicate Earth was used several more times in the Original Series, but never in any of the spin-off series.)

Also, working against the clock tends to be somewhat cliché.  You think there’d be some protocol about taking air samples before sending an away team.  You know they’re not going to kill off three main characters.  I mean, that’s what security officers are for.  Right?  So, it’s just a question of how it all plays out.

My big cliché oversight is how the children survived that long.  It’s implied that they would be roughly 300 years old.  Even canned food goes bad.  Even assuming they had a lot of food stockpiled somehow or could grow their own, children tend to have medical issues.  It’s hard to believe that even a small group of children never broke a bone or something.  (For that matter, there’s no mention of other groups of children.)

This was a weak episode.  It was difficult for me to see any moral lesson with it, except that getting what you want can sometimes be perverted into a curse.  If it was, it was subdued.  The main focus seemed to be finding a cure for the infection.  It would have been interesting to revisit the planet in another episode.  I know that there were books written around it, but we never hear from the duplicate Earth in any of the series.  (Maybe, instead of the Wrath of Kahn, we could have had the Wrath of Jahn?)

This is one of those episodes that someone will probably explain to me one day and it will all make sense.  Star Trek was notorious for having to work within budget constraints, which explains a lot, like why so many episodes took place on the Enterprise and why so many buildings looked similar to Earth‘s.  There just wasn’t the budget to build new buildings.  It’s still Star Trek and I will watch it when it comes on TV, but it’s not going to make my top ten.

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