Well, that should make a certain Englishman happy…
How Navaronegun envisions @Pod…
Written by: Adrian Spies
KIRK: Earth-style distress signal. SOS.
FARRELL: I’ve answered it on all frequencies, sir. They don’t reply.
SPOCK: Not a vessel, a ground source. The third planet in this solar system, according to my instruments.
FARRELL: Directly ahead. Definitely an Earth-style signal.
KIRK: We’re hundreds of light years from Earth, Mister Spock. No colonies or vessels out this far.
SPOCK: Measuring the planet now, Captain. It’s spheroid-shaped, circumference twenty four thousand eight hundred seventy four miles. Mass six times ten to the twenty first power tons. Mean density five point five one seven. Atmosphere oxygen, nitrogen.
KIRK: Not the Earth, another Earth. Another Earth?
Captain’s Log, stardate 2713.5. In the distant reaches of our galaxy, we have made an astonishing discovery. Earth type radio signals coming from a planet which apparently is an exact duplicate of the Earth. It seems impossible, but there it is.
After watching the episode, and eagerly looking for some reason why, I still cannot understand why Spies/Fontana/Gene made the decision to have this planet be an exact duplicate of Earth. It almost completely kills the suspension of disbelief right there. It adds nothing to the plot. The planet could have been “A world very much like 20th Century Earth” and have created the exact same effect. This is a real weak spot in what, after re-viewing, I found to be an episode I had seriously underrated in my perception of The Original Series.
The beginning of the episode establishes the theme that will unwind in three strands throughout the episode. The loss of childhood and innocence. This happens in three spheres. Specifically Miri loses her eternal childhood and innocence. The child survivors do so as well by the end. The planet, Another Earth, lost its innocence through the knowledge (science) that allowed it to attempt to change the fundamentals of existence; end aging and death, with apocalyptic consequences. Mankind cannot “play God” (interesting coming from Gene, a dedicated Atheist). The disease itself kills the minute innocence is lost, at puberty. This shot was quite the foreshadowing metaphor.
The Science in this episode was quite well done; it was fairly cutting edge that the research to end human aging was the result of a chain of specific mutations brought on by the infection of test subjects by a specific sequence of viruses, making it extremely hard to detect. That is pretty good for 1966. It’d be pretty good today.
The sets were effectively used; Desilu’s Forty Acres Backlot and interiors were all used as Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show. These were successfully dressed to eerily give the effect of a desolate urban area, hundreds of years after an Apocalypse. Fallout Boy ™ would have approved.
The sets, combine with some unique shooting of the landing party exploring really established a sense of invisible peril that really permeated the whole episode.
The First threat is the unseen children, who after we meet Miri, we discover are out avoiding the “Grups”. That threat is present, but not the immediate problem.
The second threat is the discovery of the disease, and the one week clock the landing party has to develop an antidote. These two plotlines combine to create tension and keep the story moving.
I really think that without these two talented guest stars, the episode doesn’t work. Miri has to be able to express the complicated emotions of a young girl becoming a woman, who betrays the crew, but is still sympathetic and lovable. Pollard has to be a menacing foil who incites violence, but is simple and essentially guileless. A tough act. They both pull it off. Not surprising since Darby played the female lead in True Grit two years later, and Pollard received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in Bonnie and Clyde the following year.
AHA! This photo proves it! Undershirts! Never noticed this before! Uniform mystery-solved!!!
A Crux of the plot essentially centered around Miri’s realization of her womanhood and her misreading Kirk’s gentle kindness as the seeds of a romantic love. As well, Miri also confuses Kirk’s compassion for Rand, who is near her breaking point, for a betrayal of sorts. She is confused by her emotions. She betrays the crew to the Lord of the Flies youngsters, inducing them to kidnap Rand (after the kids had already stolen the communicators). Miri wanted to eliminate a rival, but is quickly convinced by Kirk that her survival, and that of all the children, depends on getting the communicators back to finalize an antidote McCoy and Spock have been working on.
This leads to an interesting climax. Kirk is essentially beaten by the children at one point, off screen while one little one watches creepily. It is a frightening shot.
After being beaten, Kirk shows…compassion.
And McCoy, no communicators available, tests the antidote on himself.
All in all this episode surprised me. Shatner was, once again, fantastic and the stellar actor of the regulars, and Grace Lee Whitney really gave a standout performance as well. Memory told me that I wouldn’t like the episode. The Introduction almost lost me. But it was well told, well shot, and well cast. It used good literate science, and the premise was excellent science fiction. The violence, when used was more misguided, and used by immature children. And it wasn’t used to resolve anything. in the end compassion won. Very Star Trek. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad, which is what i thought I’d be getting.
Navaronegun’s Running Re-View Rankings ™
Ooh, professional looking! Well, I haven’t watched yet so I’m not going to read - wouldn’t want to prejudice my opinion. I’ll post my impressions tomorrow.
I don’t think TOS has yet explained the rolf of Dilithium (or Lithium) crystals. What’s great is you see them in glass cabinets and things, which makes the later stated role of them being where the matter/antimatter reaction takes place quite hard to believe!
All the lists said to skip this, but I didn’t. I kinda wish I had?
Another dying civilisation!
The way Kirk flirts with the young girl is really, really creepy. Especially as it’s mostly just ordering her around. She seems to like it, though.
After 300 years, why are the kids such roving “bonk-bonk” dumb-asses?
I like how at the end of the episode the Enterprise just blasts off to warp, leaving the last surviving members of an alien duplicate of Earth, and all they had to say was “We left a medic and some teachers are on the way”… wtf?!
Why would they just leave their communicators? I’ve never seen them be so forgetful in other episodes.
These are all much more important questions than “will Kirk survive?”, which was the focus of the episode, when what I wanted was “WHY IS THERE A DUPLICATE EARTH WITH PRECISELY 6 MONTHS OF FOOD LEFT?”. Surely that’s a significant point that needs to be explored? Who made this planet? How? Parallel/Convergent evolution is one thing, but THAT’S CLEARLY THE AMERICAS. (I even went and looked at the old effects, to make sure the CLEAR OUTLINE OF THE USA wasn’t just something they did in the new FX, and nope, it’s quite literally Earth).
Bones has an undershirt but Kirk doesn’t. It looks like Kirk (and therefore Spock/Scotty’s) is just a bit of black cloth on the edge of their neck. Is it because of Bone’s medical “smock”?
I really like the way they film this and position the actors and things in the scene. I was watching it on a TV, so I’m not bothering to take screenshots, but in practically every frame I saw, everyone is “set out” in their own area of the screen and in the depth. And when the actors move they try to preserve their own “space” on screen. And the show rarely cares to preserve positional continuity between one shot on the next.
It gives it a really nice “fictional” and cartoony kind of feel that I think works well with the sci-fi nature of the show.
It’s a shame the story is
a) awful and lazy with barely any thought put into it other than “hey wouldn’t it be great to have a civilisation full of kids?” or " Lord Of The Flies: In Space!"
b) a crime against sci-fi
c) completely undermining of what we know Starfleet will become
1996 TV Guides’s Listing for ‘The Man Trap:
Normal-eared William Shatner, playing a no-nonsense space ship captain!
I know I posted this in another thread, but every time I see something described as “no-nonsense” I think of Mr Show.
All right, back to business - as established by Navaronegun and Pod, this week’s episode is “Miri”. Well, let’s start with the good. For the first time, I’m seeing an episode that I don’t remember ever seeing before. That made this one a fun exercise in not knowing what was coming. I did like the premise of the episode, slowly uncovering that what was going on was a disease that attacked people at the onset of puberty. This was interesting, and made me feel smart when I put the pieces together before the crew of the Enterprise. The feral kids were legitimately creepy at times, and their chants of going “bonk bonk” on Captain Kirk after they lured him away from the others was simultaneously silly and a little chilling. I did dig the Fallout vibe that the set had - when the blotches first showed up on Kirk, I thought they were radiation burns, lingering from a nuclear war.
But now, the bad. Mainly, this episode just doesn’t come together. It’s got some interesting parts but they just don’t make a cohesive whole to me. Just like Mr Gun and Pod, I spent the episode waiting for some payoff to the fact that all this was happening on an exact duplicate of our planet, but it never comes. Want to know why there’s another earth hanging out here, many light years from our home? Joke’s on you, sucker!
While there should be suspense in the encroaching disease among the planet-bound crew, it’s just boring. Watching these people stare into microscopes and snipe at each other is not fun. We know they’ll figure things out. The late game drama of Bones injecting himself with the untested vaccine seemed like an extra-cheap ploy too. Come on, you’re not killing Bones. You’re no George R. R. Martin, Mr. Roddenberry. Let’s just get this over with.
I’m not prepared to call the episode awful, though. If I were keeping a rating system, it would probably fit under mediocre. I just wish it had done something more with its premise. And I wish they could have had a little more faith in their audience to not put everything on this weird, duplicate earth.
I agree. It’s a major fall-down. And doesn’t add anything to the plot. I really don’t understand what they were thinking. The do it again in S3 too. But that is to pull off a historically parallel planet. This one makes no sense. Nothing is gained by doing it. And they have human-inhabited planets all the time that are “Earth-like”, with indigenous populations. It is a head-scratcher. I also think the story was fairly average, and the kids do get silly sometimes. The two Guest Stars really save the episode there.
I spent the episode wondering where I knew Jahn from, and checking Pollard’s IMDB page, I know him from something like a million things!
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1967:
Been years since I saw that. Oddly enough, the first thing I remembered when I saw the credit was from Scrooged.
Kim Darby (Miri) helped the Duke win his only Oscar.
Also forgot to mention that this is the first episode involving Yeoman Rand where she is not the subject of unwanted advances or flat-out sexual harassment. OK, she’s captured and tied up by a bunch children, but we’ll take our progress in baby steps if we have to. And the whole business with Rand trying to get Kirk to look at her legs, well … I guess next time the Enterprise runs out of crystals, they can just power the damn ship with all the sexual tension the crew appears to constantly operate under.
Yeah, I actually thought that was a powerful scene. The character made an admission under extreme emotional duress, and while suffering the effects of a disease. And it still wasn’t that overtly sexual. And really, he was just compassionate. Like he was with Miri. They all pulled that off pretty well, and that was a tricky needle for them all (including Darby) to thread there. And they all did it. Kudos. It was the writing that let them all down this episode. Spies/Fontana/Gene. The direction, sets, effects and acting were all well done. The kids were the weak spots, but child actors always are. That creepy scene where Kirk gets beaten while the one girl watched it off screen was freaking inspired by Vincent McEveety, but I mean he does “Dagger of the Mind”, “Balance of Terror”, “Patterns of Force” and “Spectre of the Gun” later (pretty good episodes in terms of performances and cinematographic techniques). He did a lot with a little with this script. Using the camera as the anonymous hiding “other” spying on Spock was pretty effective and innovative.
Eh, if you say so. I found it a little silly and overwrought myself.
With a grain of salt. I don’t like her acting. I don’t think she is good at her craft. The fact that she “acted” at all in that scene impressed me. Darby can act circles around her, as can Shatner. I really won’t miss her when she is gone.
They’re in deep space. Give them some latitude (or whatever the metric equivalent is). Seriously as a young person, I only watched Star Trek for the sexual tension and scantily clad aliens.
They can have all the latitude they want, as far as I’m concerned! What happens in deep space can stay in deep space. At least free up their minds to get some work done and stop mooning after each other.
While I liked the science in this episode, I hated the kids. But I hate children in TV and movies in general. Also, whenever Kirk meets an alien society, he needs a love interest. And in this episode it’s a young girl. Eew.
To me this feels like a third season episode. A bad third season episode.
What has really stood out to me in this re-view, is how there are a lot of episodes, early that I had somehow relegated to the third season, in the legends of my mind. The writing is really uneven this first part of the first season. Of these 8 there are only 3 that I think will be in my Top 25. And none of those in my Top 10.