The Enterprise encounters an unknown planet which is seemingly an exact duplicate of Earth from the 1960's, right down to the finest detail with one exception: The adults are all dead and children rule the streets after centuries of being alone and in fear of their once abusive adult leaders. Upon further investigation of the planet, the crew contract the very disease that wiped out the adult population and have only days to find a cure.
First of all, let's get the episode's rather absurd and completely useless premise out of the way, which only goes out of its way to hinder the story's credibility. The planet found in 'Miri' was an obvious production decision, albeit a rather clumsy one. My problem isn't just that an exact duplicate of Earth being found in our own galaxy is almost logically impossible (I'm surprised Spock didn't have a fit), it's that we get no explanation or discussion from the characters as to what the hell it's doing there. Furthermore, the whole concept doesn't even have anything to do with the plotline with the exception that it allows the inhabitants to be 'human', and so save money even more without having to design complex alien costumes (not that this stopped them later on). All in all, unnecessary and completely ridiculous, but something that I can overlook, mainly because it is so hardly referenced during the episode: a double-edged sword it would seem.
I must admit however, the change of scenery in 'Miri' is a nice one, and ironically, it did help to make the episode more tolerable than it would have been had it been a planet of rocks and sand (again). It adds a nice feeling of space and kills the claustrophobic atmosphere created by the endless hallways and tightly packed rooms of the Enterprise. Indeed, aesthetically, the entire episode is rather pleasing to both eye and ear, with the brilliant lighting and music working together on many occasions to help build the tension and drama conveyed throughout. Such things I would usually take as granted, but with 'Miri', they really caught my attention during specific scenes.
The main plotlines developed through the episode concern the 'virus' that kills humans once they reach puberty, and how the children have hence grown to be weary of those that carry it: the adults. I found the whole idea of the humans -300 years ago- developing a cure for aging quite plausible, although this is where the concept a duplicate Earth starts to make things even more unbelievable, concerning the fact that people from the year 1665 were scientifically coming up with ways to slow down aging. Ignoring that aspect however, I didn't have much trouble believing in the threat and thought the idea of the slowed down aging process to 120 times slower than normal was an interesting idea, even though it wasn't sufficiently detailed enough during the course of the episode.
As for the children themselves, well… yea, they're annoying as hell. Such dialogue as "nah nah, nah nah, nah" chanting through halls and "mr. lovey dovey! Bonk bonk on the head!" repeated over and over really doesn't progress things much further than showing that yes, these are children. In fact, I found that it often detracted from the seriousness of the situation and often contradicted the idea that the children were feeling scared or threatened by the adult's arrival as shown when the away team first find Miri who is genuinely terrified for her safety. Instead the pack of children is shown as aggressive, who –I guess you could suggest- are defending themselves with straight offence. I could come up with more reasons as to why such things weren't needed in 'Miri' but really when it comes down to it, it was just irritating.
As annoying as the kids were during the episode I cannot blame the actors for such things for they all deliver a perfectly believable performance, especially for young children. Most notable are Kim Darby and Michael J. Pollard who play Miri and Jahn respectably. Pollard really brings out a third dimension to his character, fleshing him brilliantly with his facial expressions and engagement with the stage and other actors. The scenes featuring the children also show some promise with the opening scene of the dying child clutching a bike and the incredibly dumb but humorous 'fight scene' involving a dying girl named Louise who jumps on Kirk for a piggy back ride before being shot. So between confusion and contentment with the episode, I was always quite amused with little moments like these and Kirk screaming 'No more blah blah blah!'.
One of the episode's most interesting and certainly original elements is the 'love triangle' that emerges from Kirk and his competing ladies, Miri and Yeoman Rand. Miri, the child whom has set it upon herself to help the crew find a cure, falls for Kirk when he comforts her in a way that is actually both totally familiar yet out of the ordinary for the captain. It seems almost that he treats her with a little more respect than the other women he encounters among the stars –more than likely because he has no intention of doing anything with her- which results in some touching and down to duplicate-Earth scenes. Both Darby and Shatner play off each other brilliantly and –more often than not- with suitable emotional display. I'd even go on the record and say that this is actually one of my favourites of the captain's relationships, not just because of his mannerisms but because it shows the natural good nature he has with children and develops his character accordingly. Yeoman Rand, who eventually confesses her personal desire for the captain's attention breaks down with the pressure of the virus which threatens her beauty and at the same time, at Kirk being overly friendly with Miri. It's a stark contrast and one well written into the plot showing the insecurity of a woman caused by the complete freedom and innocence about to be lost of a young teenager. As with most ideas, it could have been developed more but we do have is both interesting and insightful and certainly gives us a better glimpse into Rand as a character.
'Miri' is also a great 'trio' episode that showcases Kirk, Spock and McCoy working together both functionally and slightly dysfunctional under the strain of the virus. When things do turn sour towards the end of the episode, things are obviously very tense within the group but I couldn't help but feel it was a little too forced at times. I did however (as I always do), find Shatner's scenery munching to be more than entertaining, always keeping my full attention. I don't care what people say about this guy but I love his acting style, sure it's over the top and enthusiastic, but what's up with that? For a show like Trek that can sometimes be as dry as a cracker, Shatner really brought a great amount of ease into the show that sometimes I miss from the other series. However –and there's always a however- the scene involving Kirk comforting Miri on her contraction of the virus, was a little too enthusiastic and came off as cringe worthy.
The episode closes itself up with three small acts the first of which involves an attack by the children on Kirk that serves as both an assortment of stupid dialogue from the children and a very decent speech from the captain ragarding the morality of their attack. There are moments during this scene that amused me also, being the point where Kirk throws one of the children from a desk onto the floor, the before mentioned, 'No more blah blah blah!' and Kirk showing his wounds to the children and eventually winning them over as a result. The next scene involves McCoy testing his vaccine on himself unknowing of the results which could indeed kill him as Spock implied when stating –hilariously- that the cure could be a 'beaker full of death'. Kelley gives a great snippet of a performance here, bringing the episode's drama and tension to a fantastic climax where the trio are reunited together to see McCoy's sores disappear and the virus defeated. This important scene isn't just good for the episode but for McCoy's character in general, shaping him to be more than a whiney old doctor who disagrees with Spock a lot. Such acts and character traits are developed in other episodes such as in the season 3 episode 'The Empath' where McCoy similarly sacrifices himself for the sake of Spock and his captain.
Finally the crew are back on the enterprise where Kirk cracks a joke that actually made me laugh out loud! A rare thing usually, but nonetheless, it was in good taste and certainly a great way to close the episode and dissolve the tension from the previous 45 minutes. Overall, 'Miri' although based on a completely ridiculous premise, succeeds in all other areas, bringing out new sides of our main characters and an interesting plot that is developed at a perfect pace creating a good hour of TV.