Star Trek: The Original Series


2 stars

Air date: 10/27/1966
Written by Adrian Spies
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise encounters a planet that is an exact duplicate of the Earth, but a place where all the adults are dead, leaving behind children who age incredibly slowly ("one month every 100 years"). The problem: These children all have a disease causing them to die the moment they surpass puberty. The other problem: Kirk and the landing party have now contracted the disease, and must race against the clock in finding the cure before they die. Unfortunately, it's not much of race. "Miri" feels long, slow, and surprisingly uneventful (to the point where Kirk's speech near the end is particularly hard to sit through), and has far too many lapses in logic to make the emotional core ring true.

The notion of an "exact duplicate of the Earth" is put to absolutely no interesting use, and exists, apparently, for no other reason than so the plot could have a setting of "Earth, 1960." I had too many questions involving the children, like, just how is it they've managed to survive so long, yet don't have the capacity to grow beyond their childish ways? That's the paradox, and the story even acknowledges it at one point, but not effectively or believably on the given terms.

Still, just to hear Spock ominously say, "Without [the computer analysis of the vaccine], it could be a beaker full of death" [cue music of doom], makes it almost worth the hour spent.

Previous episode: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Next episode: Dagger of the Mind

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32 comments on this review

Tue, Jul 17, 2012, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
I liked the "And I do want to return to the ship, Captain," Spock moment.

Another great moment was when McCoy tests the vaccine on himself and collapses. Spock runs to him and can't really do anything, but just stays with him. Then he's got that great line, "I will never understand the medical mind." It's a good Spock-McCoy moment, building up that third side of the triangle.

By the way, should this be a vaccine? Shouldn't it be an antidote? Isn't it a little late to vaccinate them against the disease?
Tue, Jan 8, 2013, 12:42am (UTC -5)
I wonder how many exact duplicates of Earth are located in, say, the Klingon Empire. 'Cause there's plenty in Federation space.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 4:13am (UTC -5)
I thought this was one episode I basically would have to suffer through - annoying children, an unbelievable plot set on a planet that looks like earth ca. 1960 - but it turned out I liked it much more than I expected. Particularly I enjoyed the scenes with Miri and Kirk - her infatuation was completely credible and well acted and he showed great character in dealing with her. I guess I still remember what it's like to be a young girl with a crush. Sometimes plots and scenes that deal with females motions come across as incredibly awkward or even silly in Star Trek (I won't make a guess as to why that is....), but this was well done by all involved.

But weren't those kids just terribly annoying! Kirk is a much better human than I could ever be. I would have left the annoying brats to die (kidding... sort of...)
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 4:14am (UTC -5)
*with females motions*

make that "female emotions". Sorry.
Sat, Oct 5, 2013, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
This is also the episode that gave us Kirk's immortal line "No Blah Blah Blah!" which rivals "Brain and brain, what is brain?" for the best of the worst lines of the entire series.
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
The episode was Ok overall.

But what bugs me the most is the whole "exact duplicate of Earth" thing, which they never even tried to discuss further, let alone explain. I mean the continents were the same and everything, and they commented on it leading up to the opening credits. . .and then they never discussed it again. Why?

Why not just have the same plot on a planet that happened to NOT be an exact duplicate of Earth? And the children could be aliens that are only slightly different from humans. Just seemed odd that they introduced and hilighted this huge plot detail and completely left it alone.
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 10:02am (UTC -5)
I found this to be an excellent episode. Very grotesque, creepy and horrific, especially for 1960s TV. Note too that the episode's post apocalyptic zombie themes predate even Romero's "Night of the Living Dead".
Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Agreed... the whole creepy kid thing worked well to me. I can see where many would be put off by this ep and rate it low but its always been 1 of my favorites. Somebody should take clips from this and set it to a rob zombie song. Id pay 99 cents for that. 3+ stars.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
Minus the unnecessary and bizarre duplicate Earth thing, I liked "Miri" pretty good. It was well-acted, especially by the two lead children.

In fact, it might be one of the best children-focused Trek episodes in all five series.

I liked how our crew encounters all sorts of dangers -- beings of godlike powers, but also a wild band of kids could bring them down if they didn't keep up their guard.
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Actually Jammer, the psychology and brain makeup of children is demonstrably, significantly different of that of adults. Even after 300 years, their society might still differ from what we would expect of adults...though I agree this episode doesn't render the concept in a way that rings true.
Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 3:47am (UTC -5)
Just watched this episode. I, too, was annoyed by the whole unnecessary "duplicate earth". And also pretty annoyed that the entire crew left their "cell phones" when they walked out of the room. Really?!?!

But other than those two things, I liked it overall. Though there were times they didn't ask questions that I thought they should. Also… seemed like the Doc would have been more involved with things, but perhaps I'm nitpicking now.

That said… I seem to remember running into a bunch of kids like this in Fallout 3 (or maybe New Vegas). Not sure if it was a direct homage to this episode, but I found it interesting.
Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
Captain I was always trying to get you to look at my legs, captain look at my legs!!! (Kirk looks upon legs with diease with doom music in background)......oh the burdens of being the captain!!!! Makes me laugh everytime!!
Mon, Mar 23, 2015, 10:42pm (UTC -5)
I should have listened to Jammer. I am doing a selective rewatch of the series with my kids, using these reviews as a guide, but I think there was something in the premise and in the comments that gave me hope that we should try this one. But both my kids fell asleep halfway through, and I had to fight off the drowsiness myself. Just slow and boring.

Also, the interaction between Kirk and Miri was kind of creepy; and Yeoman Rand exuded all kinds of sexist stereotypes.

The only thing that really held my interest was that some of the kids looked familiar. Particularly Miri and the older boy; and to some extent the bucktoothed younger boy.
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 2:06am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc: Funny you mention that; one of the little girls was Bill Shatner's daughter.

See Memory Alpha, "On the Set":
Sat, Apr 18, 2015, 11:56am (UTC -5)
I'm re-watching TOS , and started with the most well-regarded episodes and with my personal favorites. Now I'm going through the rest of the not-so-hot episodes. This one is dull and creepy, with an "ick" factor regarding Kirk's manipulation of Miri's crush on him. Looks like he's grooming her for something. I agree with others that the "duplicate Earth" thing was a clanger--all they had to do was say the planet was an M-type, and they could have made it look a little like Earth without showing the continents…and it would have been fine. Also thought that all four leaving their communicators in the empty room was an obvious device to move the plot forward. The crew never would have done that. (And didn't the two redshirts have communicators? Where did they go, anyway?)

But it's worth watching, sort of, for Spock's line about the "Beaker of Death!!" Hahahahaha.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 11:22am (UTC -5)
I pretty much agree with what others have said--I'd just like to point out that Miri is played by the talented Kim Darby, well-known for her Oscar-worthy performance in "True Grit." I think her nuanced performance shines in this otherwise tedious episode.
Sun, May 29, 2016, 12:04pm (UTC -5)

"I wonder how many exact duplicates of Earth are located in, say, the Klingon Empire. 'Cause there's plenty in Federation space."

The writers created the fictitious "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development" to "explain" why all the aliens were humanoid and all the "town" location shooting ("Miri," "Return of the Archons," "The City on the Edge of Forever") was done on the studio's back lot. Notably, this "Hodgkin's Law" was never mentioned in any of the subsequent incarnations of Star Trek.
Sat, Jul 16, 2016, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
I'm with Jammer on this one; this episode is slowwwww. Everything was boring, whether it be Bones and Spock trying to find a cure or Miri crushing on Kirk or the other "kids" (seriously, the oldest one looked about 30 years old) threatening Kirk. Yes, this is probably a matter of preference, but I think part of the problem was that the plot can't really sustain a full episode.

For the overall plot, it's a tale as old as dirt. Seriously, mankind tries to gain godlike powers and fails miserably; just how often can you find that story? That's not to say that you can't come up with a new version of this plot, but the show doesn't actually do anything with it, given that everyone's dead. None of the children seem to know anything about what happened, so we don't see any insight into the people who worked on this doomed project. Ever read the Bible story about the Tower of Babel (another example of this plot)? It's about 8 sentences long. That's pretty much the extent of the depth we have on this story. It's understandable, given the approach this episode has. But it means that the sci-fi concept of "and man grew proud" has all the merit for this episode as the infamous "dual earth" part of it.

What about the planet of children aspect? Well, the kids were freaking annoying. Was their plot regarding attacking the Enterprise crew worthwhile? Was Kirk convincing them to stop antagonizing them really a worthwhile plot? Honestly, it all just felt like padding. We didn't really see enough of them to get a true Lord of the Flies like atmosphere, so never felt like enough of a plot. They are antagonistic because, well, grownups are scary I guess, then kidnap Kirk, then listen to Kirk. Hooray, I guess?

That leaves the finding a cure plot and the Miri crush plot. The first is necessary but frankly boring (not sure how to make it more exciting, but some more interplay between Spock and Bones would have helped, showing them working together despite their animosity. I guess the drama about McCoy testing the cure on himself redeems it somewhat.). The second is a little bit disturbing, given the age of Miri (emotional and physical age, that is). I guess they tried to just play it off as cute, but, it still didn't seem to be able to carry an episode. Miri has crush, then gets jealous, then does something stupid because of the jealousy, then gets better. That's about it.

So not the most exciting stuff here. And that's not to factor in all of the oddities of the episode as well. Yes, everyone mocks the mirror Earth thing, but what a coincidence that the children survived all along at the city that sent out the distress signal, and was also the city that had all the research to find the cure! Also, pretty useful, plot-wise, that one kid got the disease just before the Enterprise arrived so we could see what would happen and create some mystery, and that Miri was just about to get the disease too. What are the odds? Also convenient that Rand came along for absolutely no reason other than to get Miri jealous. Did she or any other yeoman ever go on another away mission? Also, what's with the security guards? They just disappear and reappear at random times throughout the story. Are they not cool enough to get communicators of their own? Pretty convenient that they weren't around providing security when the kids stole the communicators, and also convenient that they didn't have their communicators with them wherever they were.

One last point that was never brought up during the episode, which did seem kinda curious. These kids are 300 years old. The brains of children are, of course, quite adept at learning. Have they really just been playing games for 300 years? I realize that there are no adults, and that they probably weren't that mature when this plague started, but no one tried learning how to be an adult in all this time? There wasn't a quiet kid who liked school in the bunch? I wonder how a 300 year old child would really act, because I doubt it would be like this. Oh well, can't fault the episode for not going in that direction.
Wed, Aug 31, 2016, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
I quite liked this episode, but the oldest male "child" looked about 30!
Thu, Jan 19, 2017, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
Just saw the episode for the 2nd time in the last 3 months or so. I liked it more the 2nd time than the 1st time but it's not a particularly strong episode.
The kids are annoying and I'm not sure why they need to band together under the leadership of the oldest male kid.
I liked the Kirk-Miri-Rand subplot and Kirk reasoning with the kids with Miri's help. Rand has played a high-profile role in the first few episodes of Season 1 - she's a good actress though not particularly useful.
Of course, plenty of questions about what 300-year-old kids would actually be like - maybe the virus prevented them from learning and maturing despite still being in kids bodies? It would have been good to get more insight into the grown-ups who created the virus.
Anyhow, 2.5/4 stars for me -- interesting idea, some good parts but kind of a slow episode with not that much happening.
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 12:30am (UTC -5)
I would venture to guess those complaining about the Miri-crush on Kirk as "disturbing" or "creepy" are a) men (who have no idea what this feeling is, because they conveniently forget when they had this exact same thing when they were young teens with a very good-looking adult woman in their life) and/or b) have never worked with kids of that age before (as a teacher, etc.), because a young girl getting a puppy-love crush on an older man, especially one she looks up to, is entirely believable, real, and occurs every day with human beings. The "disturbing" or "creepy" part would be if the man used that crush to take advantage (romantically, of course, or even with just plain power-abuse, like using her infatuation to con her out of money, etc.), which Kirk patently does NOT do in this episode.

So, I guess, I'd just say to all the witch-hunters: pack your torches and pitchforks and go home, because every interaction between an adult male and a female child is NOT the sick and perverted fantasy created by your own minds that you think it to be.
Fri, May 5, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Sometimes the best part of watching TOS is that it’s like attending a reunion: all these familiar people that I haven’t seen in forever. In this particular episode: Kim Darby and Michael J Pollard. (Michael J Fox at one point claimed that he took the middle initial J because of Pollard. I think Darby was probably about 20 here, and Pollard not quite 30.)

I think the crush is believable And Kirk handled it okay. And yes, a duplicate earth, if you’re going there, you should use it better. As a kid, I watched TOS occasionally in its original run and then in syndication. And seeing it all these years later, it’s clear that TV storytelling has evolved and that some stories don’t hold up. And yet they’re still better than some stuff that’s being created today. And knowing what I know now and didn’t then, I was awfully worried for those red-shirts when they started wandering about on their own.
Sun, Jun 11, 2017, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
I think this episode is pretty good (probably 2.5 stars).

As others have pointed out, the "duplicate earth" thing is probably unnecessary and no attempt is made to explain it. Also, I too found it implausible that 300 year olds would still act like children, even if they are in the bodies of children. Of course, we are dealing with an alien race (even though they look just look humans on a duplicate Earth) so their psychology may be somewhat different. Even Kirk contradicts himself in this episode, saying at one point that children need guidance and that they were dealing with children - immensely old children perhaps, but still children. Then at the end of the episode, when Rand expresses concern leaving the alien "children" to fend for themselves, Kirk says there are "children - hundreds of years old. They'll be fine." (I'm paraphrasing, I don't recall Kirk's exact words, but I'm sure my point is made.)

Interesting bit of trivia: Two of the guest actors in this show are Grace Lee Whitney's sons, and as mentioned by a poster above, Shatner's daughter appears in this episode. She's the little girl Kirk is carrying toward the end of the episode.
Daniel B
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 2:14am (UTC -5)
So, they want to know how to make it so this disease doesn't kill kids when they hit puberty. Why not just study this Jahn guy, since he's clearly way past puberty and he hasn't been afflicted yet?!
Fri, Aug 25, 2017, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Did I miss the explanation for how this second Earth came to.... be?

Kirk flirting relentlessly with Miri. That's not creepy. (come on I do know these crushes happen but the adult reciprocating and calling them pretty? I'm pretty darn sure they didn't intend it to come across this way, but eww)

Once she starts "becoming a woman" he immediately sets her to work cleaning desks and sharpening pencils!

"I never get involved with older women" doesn't help him either.

And indeed a rather slow episode.
I do like the Spock+McCoy moments though.
Trek fan
Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek does the zombie apocalypse in Miri, but ekes genuine warmth and drama out of it. Great episode that Leonard Nimoy once called a lovely and sensitive story, and I agree with him. It's also perhaps the first in a long line of "Kirk, McCoy, and Spock get stranded and must work together to survive" shows -- in this case with Yeoman Rand and two red shirts for company. I give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

Great guest stars here in Kim Darby (True Grit!) and Michael J. Pollard, who effect memorable characters. And I must say, rewatching these early episodes, that Grace Lee Whitney has real personality and chemistry as Yeoman Janice Rand -- she's very feminine but with a fiery personality that comes through when her eyes flash. She and Shatner play well off each other, continuing to keep their relationship on a professional level even at this point where it's clear that they both have feelings for each other, and I can see why Whitney was brough back for several cameos in the Star Trek movies after leaving the show prematurely in Season One.

The Spock-McCoy stuff is fun to watch, with McCoy's selfless humanism coming through in his willingness to test the "beaker of death" (love that Spock line) on himself and Spock's dry humorous-yet-reverential comment (McCoy has clearly earned his respect, almost against his own better judgment) later about "the medical mind." In this case, Kirk kind of stays in the middle while they fight things out, and it's fun stuff. Spock's line "and I *do* want to return to the ship" is also a great one in a particularly well-written script.

No Sulu, Scotty, or Uhura in this one, unfortunately, but we hardly notice since it's a McCoy-Spock-Kirk show. Side note: While it's true the women characters on TOS often serve food and coffee, as Rand does in her capacity as yeoman, it's also noteworthy here that Uhura's assistant/backup comm officer is a white man -- it's not strictly a "woman's job" to run the communications system. Little touches like this one remind us how TOS often subverted gender and racial divisions right under the noses of censors -- and why some families refused to watch the show in the 1960s because of its racial and gender integration.

But above all else, the story to "Miri" is an endlessly fascinating classic Sci-Fi yarn, inviting us to consider the moral implications of pushing science beyond moral limits for the sake of human vanity -- the idea here is to that people of present-day Earth (circa the episode's air date) accidentally wiped out the whole planet's population while pursuing a medical means of prolonging life indefinitely. Far from creating the Zombie apocalypse through a nuclear war, the people of this alternate earth created it through self-improvement medicine, and it's really clever how the disease partially succeeded by elongating the life of children until they reach puberty and are hyper-accelerated into a zombielike adulthood that kills them.

So there's kind of a space allegory about puberty here, too, playing on adolescent fears that adulthood will kill us because we're not ready for it. And the traumatized "elderly children" (love Kirk's "never date older women" quip to Rand at the end regarding Miri's crush) are clearly terrified and in distress, leading them to attack Kirk out of fear and confusion. All of this stuff, including Miri's girlish crush on Kirk and Kirk's efforts to earn her trust for the sake of the landing party, is astonishingly well-observed in human terms. There's even some real emotion in the Kirk-Rand scene, and in the escalating conflicts among the landing party when the disease wears them down, as things gradually start looking desperate. Very nice to see a real sense of danger on Star Trek, a hallmark of TOS.

As for the alleged plot holes, I really have to say with all due respect -- as a lifelong Star Trek fan who has seen every episode and movie of every series -- that I think we fans really start to lose the point when we insist on a line of dialogue to explain away every little uncertainty or unresolved thread in an episode. The point of TOS is to provide an abstract allegory, to raise more questions than it answers in order to make viewers think, and it's far more nourishing to the imagination to leave certain details (like what did the kids eat to survive?) unexplained rather than invent a technobabble solution -- see TNG, Voyager, and Enterprise for over-explanations if you're more concerned to harmonize the fictional universe of this franchise into a coherent self-contained bubble than to think about the big issues it raises. Watch TOS if you're more concerned to wrestle with big questions as you get to know a very warm and lovable cast of characters -- questions like how to care for traumatized children while working harmoniously with different personalities to save yourselves from the Zombie apocalypse that killed them and fend off a girl's first crush. And questions like whether there are any moral limits to risky procedures to prolong life, beauty, and other passing things which make us who we are as human beings.
Trek fan
Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
PS -- And I almost forgot to mention the most sumblime Shatner moment in the episode: His showdown with the "Lord of the Flies" gang at the end while they hold Rand hostage is a classic. It even gets scary when the kids start beating him, a rare shocking moment on Star Trek when you see Kirk's life is possibly in danger from a distressed group of children who have bruised and bloodied him. But Shatner is brilliant in this one, playing it straight, and his desperation escalates gradually in each scene of the story -- he progresses from amused to concerned, from irritable to despairing, and finally from desperate to heroic with great believability. It's probably one of the strongest Kirk character arcs of any episode in the series, when you think about it, because Shatner really gives you a sense of Kirk's helplessness in this one.
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Yes, indeed, Spock's comment about "a beaker of death" always prompted my friends and I to yell at the screen, laughing as others have for its over-the-top drama, but also because, "Dammit, Spock, it's an Erlenmeyer flask!"

Surprised that Spock didn't also hold an A-7 Expert Classification in Chemistry. He was, after all, the flagship Enterprise's Science Officer, not just its Computer Science Officer.

Great points about going out of its way to tell us, "Another Earth!" and then drop the meme completely. I guess I'd understand if I was ever tasked with cranking out an episode a week for national broadcast. I wonder if original scripts (before editing) exist. Seems like such a cavernous hole, more of a "collaboration" error than one of originality.

I liked the episode, the acting, Rand's part, and the Spock-McCoy development.
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Surprised at the negativity here. I've always regarded this as one of the better episodes from the season; it's like a creepy, post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies, with some very graphic Zombie make-up effects thrown in.

Some have complained about the episode being set on Earth. I thought the writers did this deliberately, the episode like a giant metaphor for our earth dying when man leaves aside his youth, love and innocense for adult forays into greed and desire.
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, 5:34am (UTC -5)
What a prize for the Federation, another Earth to colonise.
Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
Anyone else see Kirk toss that bucktooth kid to the floor? That looked pretty real.
Dr Lazarus
Wed, May 16, 2018, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
This episode just gives me the opportunity to say what my main pet peeve of Star Trek.

It is noted this was a M-Class Planet. Then they follow it up with a planet with a Earth-like conditions, climate, water, and oxygen just like Earth. Isn't that what a M-Class planet means?? There is no reason to say it is just like Earth. That's what the classification is for. Speaking of which, what planet have the crew ever visited that wasn't M-Class? Even the frozen planet in the Episode where Kirk was split into two Kirk's in a transporter malfunction, was Earth like. In Siberia.

Bonk, Bonk.

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