In this week’s reader, J.R. Jones uses the new Trek movie to write a nice appreciation of the original series.
One episode that never fails to freak me out is “Miri,” broadcast in October 1966. Again a landing crew from the Enterprise beams down to a strange planet to find all the adults dead, this time from a horrible plague. The children are fine, but once they hit puberty their immune system gives way to the disease; they begin to collect awful blue sores, go insane with rage, and finally die. Kirk and company, infected with the plague and cut off from the Enterprise, implore the children to help them, but the kids are naturally suspicious of grown-ups—or, as they call them, “grups.” From there it’s only a short leap to “The Deadly Years,” broadcast in December 1967. This time the Enterprise officers beam down to a planet and contract a radiation sickness that causes them to age 30 years in a day. Kirk grows so forgetful that he’s relieved of his command and must collaborate with the similarly doddering Spock, McCoy, and Scotty on a serum that will reverse the aging process.