Tag Archives: TOS

Star Trek: The Original Series – Miri – a review.

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Disclaimer: This review is for an episode about a deadly disease but it has no connection to the current pandemic. It has just been in draft for – well for far too long.

In this episode we visit a science fiction staple of a post apocalyptic world – given what has been shown in the media lately (This was in reference to the WW III talk at the start of the year) we might be living in a post apocalyptic world by next Tuesday.

One

This episode has a fantastic teaser. Unfortunately it seems to be a teaser for another episode. The Enterprise discovers a duplicate of planet Earth in deep space. However after the teaser this plot point is discarded and we just have the story.

This is like doing a private eye show and having the client who hires the detective be big foot and, after the initial surprise that a Sasquatch wants to hire a detective, it’s completely forgotten the rest of the episode.

SFdebris (Miri – review)

I think that SFdebris’ summation of this really says it all. It is a mystery to me why this plot point was put into the episode. Obviously budgetary, and technological issues too, prevented TOS from having truly alien aliens. I understand that an it is simply a fact that aliens have to look completely human. However the planet can look any way they want.

Two

It’s dead.

Doctor McCoy (Star Trek: The Original Series: Miri)

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Rand and two red shirts beam down to the planet. Surprisingly, and this is a bit of a spoiler, the red shirts survive this mission – I guess they must have had heart attacks at the shock sometime after they returned to the ship.

The landing party encounter a young man. Although adult in size he has the mind of a child and starts sobbing over his broken tricycle. The man quickly has a seizure and dies.

Interestingly, and I don’t know why, McCoy refers to the man as ‘it’. What McCoy does discover is that the metabolic rate of the man is very high as if he aged decades in just a few moments.

Three

The landing party enter one of the buildings where they meet the titular Miri (Kim Darby). Kirk shows a complete lack of awareness of himself. Miri is terrified of them. And rather than giving her some space, and backing off, he continues to walk towards her… while holding a gun!

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Now we can argue that she probably didn’t know it was a gun but even so.

I wonder what happened to her – that she should be so terrified of us.

Doctor McCoy (Star Trek: The Original Series: Miri)

Miri starts to open up to the landing party. They find out that there was a plague on this world. The strange thing about it is that only the adults were effected and the children were left to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile Spock leads the guards to try and discover any other signs of life. They hear children chanting but can see no sign of them. I find this scene to be very effective. It is just children chanting but it manages to be chilling.

Children, Captain, lots of them. We couldn’t begin to get close to them. They just to scurry away. Like animals.

Mr Spock (Star Trek: The Original Series: Miri)

Four

Well Kirk is Kirk and is able to charm any woman, because it was the 1960s, and so soon it is quite clear Miri has taken a liking to Kirk.

As he takes her hand she notices that Kirk has the first signs of the disease…and cliffhanger.

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We come back from the commercial break, I only note that as episodes are built around them, to a captain’s log. Each member of the landing party is showing signs of the condition – with the exception of Spock of course but what did you expect?

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They find a laboratory covered in cobwebs, so this planet has spiders too, and begin to look for a cure to the condition.

Aboard the Enterprise we are told that some crewmen have volunteered to beam down to assist. Kirk says no to this despite the fact that with the transporter and has-mats it could be done completely safely. However Trek never likes to use has-mats or space suits.

Five

Intermediate experimentation report project on life prolongation.

Captain Kirk (Reading from a file) (Star Trek: The Original Series: Miri)

With the discovery of this file the landing party start to piece together what happened on this planet. I will tell you now ahead of time – they tried to make people live longer and ended up killing everyone!

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This seems to happen all the time in science fiction people make an effort to do something wonderful and every body dies!

Luckily the Enterprise has 23rd century technology and therefore has a much better chance of solving the dilemma – also character shields.

As they piece it together though they discover a flaw in their assumptions. If all the adults died then how are there still people on this planet?

How do they keep the line going?

Doctor McCoy (Star Trek: The Original Series: Miri)

They find out that the life prolongation project did work. Miri is actually over three hundred years old. Unfortunately there was a slight snafu – the process may extend life but it kills with the onset of puberty. And as the landing party are all much older than children they are, to use a technical term, fucked.

Six

They talk to the other Grups with these little boxes. Now, if they didn’t have those little boxes, they’d be all alone, huh?

Jahn (Star Trek: The Original Series: Miri)

The other children, believing the landing party to be dangerous, decide to take action – they distract the landing party and steal the communicators.

One thing Star Trek didn’t predict – people’s obsessions with their phones!

It is curious to me that this is as big a problem as it is. When the Enterprise realised they couldn’t communicate with the landing party couldn’t they have beamed down more? Of course taking that option would undermine the ending. However should it be undermined?

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Let me explain. Not having the communicators means they can’t be sure that the cure is a cure and it could be a ‘beaker full of death’ (Language that is far too flowery for Spock.) And so McCoy takes a chance with it. Except we know McCoy isn’t dying!

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Yes. This is a bit of a ridiculous thing to point out but sometimes that is the point of a review. Obviously the cure works and the day is saved.

Seven

Kirk is able to convince the children that they can be trusted. They come back with him to the lab where the blemishes on McCoy’s skin slowly fade away.

The Enterprise leaves a team on the planet with more personal being sent to help this world recover.

Concluding Thoughts.

It is difficult to know what to say about this one. The story is interesting on construction but the misleading teaser is disappointing. Still this is an enjoyable outing.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Gene Roddenberry: Section 31 and the Perfect Human.

20140202_221815As a Trekkie I’m of course indebted to Gene Roddenberry for creating the universe of Star Trek. However my favorite Star Trek series is Deep Space Nine and it contains many elements that Roddenberry would have hated.

The Star Trek universe is supposed to be ideal. Humans are supposed to be perfect. He saw a world without hatred, racism and war. That’s a fantastic vision of the future but it may not be terribly realistic – and creating a story without conflict is difficult bordering on impossible.

Things are only impossible until they’re not.‘ – Captain Picard.

Racism was present in TOS. Most notably in Balance of Terror. How this episode came to be written is something of a mystery to me. In this episode the Enterprise becomes the first ship to get a visual of the Romulans. They find out they look like the Vulcans and Lt. Sties starts to think that Mr. Spock is a spy.

‘Leave any bigotry in your quarters. There’s no room for it on the bridge.’ Captain Kirk.

I realise its odd to praise an episode for bigotry but let me explain. I firmly hope that we can one day come to a ‘perfect’ future. We may well be able to do away with war and famine in the years to come. We all know that there is enough food to feed everyone. Also, and I know its hard to believe, we are in the most peaceful period in history.

However the instinct that lead to prejudice won’t magically evaporate. I’m not an anthropologist but it seems fairly clear that for a lot of history anyone not like you was a threat. Britain has been invaded many times not to mention the countries we’ve invaded. You only need to look on Wikipedia at the pages for various countries to see how many of them have had to gain, through conflict or diplomacy, their independence. Thus even if we have a ‘perfect’ world those instincts would remain – and would show themselves in extreme situations.

“There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy” Alfred Henry Lewis.

The thing about Star Trek is that only humans seem to have achieved this perfection. Its great to have such principals but if others in the galaxy are ruthless you might need to be too. The Klingons in TOS were written as an evil empire that killed civilians. It was perhaps for that reason that Section 31 was created.

Section 31 was introduced in Deep Space Nine but retconned to have been their from the beginning of the Federation. This doesn’t really present a continuity error as they are a secret organisation. They are the self appointed guardians of the federation. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect Federation principles. Sloan, one of their agents, describes it to Doctor Bashir.

Federation needs men like you, Doctor – men of conscience, men of principle, men who can sleep at night. You’re also the reason Section 31 exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn’t share your sense of right and wrong. Sloan

Roddenberry would have hated the idea of Section 31, especially after you know what, and I’m not defending that. However its hard to imagine the Federation without some form of covert group. The questionable history of the CIA is well known but spying can also be of use.

...tonight I know how many missiles the enemy has and…our guesses were way off. And we were doing things that we didn’t need to do. We were building things that we didn’t need to build. We were harboring fears that we didn’t need to have. President Lydon B. Johnson, 1967

Section 31 are extreme in places but their existence isn’t unbelievable.

Let’s make a deal, Doctor: I’ll spare you the ‘ends justify the means’-speech and you spare me the ‘we must do what’s right’-speech. You and I are not going to see eye to eye on this subject, so I suggest we stop discussing it. – Sloan

In Roddenbury’s mind humans will always do the right thing. This however presents a problem. The no-win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru. What do you do when faced only with bad and worse choices. Neither action or inaction is acceptable.

You were The Doctor on the day it wasn’t possible to get it right.The Doctor

In that case we have to make the best of the bad choices. Most of us won’t ever have to face that situation. In Star Trek though we’re talking about Starfleet personal its part of the job. This brings me to ‘In The Pale Moonlight‘.

“I was going to bring the Romulans into the war.” – Sisko.

In this episode Sisko faces that choice. In his mind he either brings the Romulans into the Dominion war or the Federation is defeated. That defeat would lead to millions, maybe billions dead. In one episode we see Weyoun casually mention irradiating Earth’s population. Sisko didn’t hear that but its safe to assume he knew what the Dominion would do if they won. Sisko tries to bring the Romulans into the war legitimately but when that fails he is prepared to use any means necessary.

I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing – a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. – Sisko

In the Pale Moonlight is my favorite episode of Ds9 and maybe all of Star Trek. It is extremely well executed but of course Roddenberry would have hated it.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know what Roddenberry saw when he first thought about  Star Trek. Lets say it was the perfect society. The crew of the 1701 represent all of Earth. They show us that we can all work together and that things will be better tomorrow than they are today. How much did he see other than that? He wouldn’t have bothered to invent all the nuanced details. He wouldn’t have known about Section 31 because no-one did at the time of TOS. Roddenberry saw the perfect future but perhaps that was just the outside. The side that the Federation shows. At the end of the day although these humans are ‘perfect’ they still carry weapons wherever they go, they have a ship that can render a planet uninhabitable, and every week a crewman is killed by an unforgiving galaxy.

I realise I’m describing this as if Roddenberry had a vision. As if he saw the universe and wrote it all down. It is like that sometimes with creating fiction. You don’t see everything though. The Federation may be largely the ideal place to live but every society is going to have its less savory aspects. I believe that Roddenberry saw the dream society but didn’t think to look behind the curtain. We can strive to be good but there are times when its not possible.  Captain Kirk doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario but they do exist.

I never took the Kobayashi Maru test. What do you think of my solution? Spock.

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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