Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I Wouldn't Examine That Dream Too Closely: Star Trek, Episode 11, ''Miri''

We recommence our (unforgivably long-paused) exploration of Star Trek today with:
  
  
  
  
Is there any Trekkie anywhere whose favorite episode is "Miri"?  I'm sure there must be, and I'm equally sure there must be one or two somewhere whose rock-bottom least favorite episode is "Miri."

In both cases, I'd hoick a skeptical-Spock eyebrow.  I find this to an undistinguished but inoffensive episode.  There are pros and cons alike, and I'd like now to run through a few of each.
  
Pro:
  

"Not THE Earth; another Earth!"



  
  
The episode's opening pre-credits segment is very effective.  The Enterprise picks up radio signals of what seem to be human origin; and, tracing them to their source, Spock discovers what Kirk refers to as "another Earth," a planet that does indeed seem to be precisely that.  As cold-opens go, this one is pretty hot.
  
Con: the episode completely fails to capitalize upon the another-Earth concept.  Apart from the weirdness of there even being a planet in deep space with continents seemingly identical to those on Earth, the idea is never explored.  Instead, the episode gets bogged down in the disease angle and in the children-who-are-centuries-old angle. 
  
Pro:
  
  

  
  
Two years away from her breakthrough role in True Grit, Kim Darby is excellent in the title role.  She's so good it feels as if the episode wasted her. 
  
Pro:
  
  
 
 
Michael J. Pollard was a mere one year away from his breakthrough role, in Bonnie and Clyde.  He doesn't have a huge amount to do in "Miri," but he's weird and memorable and aggravating in the role of Jahn.
  
Con:
  
  


Apart from Miri and (arguably) Jahn, most of the Onlies are kind of horrendous, especially the one with the ginormous teeth, who is about as galling an on-screen presence as any in the entirety of TOS.  I'll grant that this might work in the episode's favor in some weird way, though.  Let me attempt an explanation.
  
"[T]his one begs to be read as Freudianly as possible," says McMolo in his writeup of the episode.  "Fear of puberty and sex externalized and STDs - it's not even below-the-surface on this one; it is the surface. But it doesn't go much further than that."  
  
I tend to agree, and if so, then I've got to admit the possibility that these kids being gross, annoying monsters is helping the story, not hurting it.  The thesis of this aspect of the plot seems to suggest that being trapped in a state of adolescence for three hundred years would lead to some grim stuff.  Childhood is meant to be a temporary thing; turn it into something nearing eternity, and you've got the stuff of nightmare.  This is the story of Peter Pan's Lost Boys as told by someone who thinks "we don't wanna grow up" is a bad way to look at life.
  
There's something there, I guess.  Still, I'm marking this down as a con, if only because that "bonk-bonk on the head!" kid needed to be bonked on the head his own damn self.
  
William Shatner may well have agreed with me on that.  During the big climactic scene, he grabs the kid off the top of a desk and literally slams him onto the ground.  I'm surprised the kid didn't suffer a broken bone or two:
  
  



  
  
And all the "nyah-nyah!" stuff, too, is awful.
  
Pro: visually, it's a nicely-directed episode.  It's obviously a backlot, but director Vincent McEveety shoots it well.
 
Pro: we get a vigorous Kirk Speech.
  
  
"Alright; you want a foolie?  All right.  I dare you; I double dare you!  Look at the blood on my face.  Now look at your hands.  Blood on your hands!  Now who's doing the hurting?  Not the Grups.  It's you hurting, yelling, maybe killing; just like the Grups you remember and the creatures you're afraid of.  You're acting like them!  And you're gonna be just like them unless you let me help you!  I'm a Grup ... and I want to help you.

  I'm begging you: let me help you ... or there won't be anything left at all."
 
 
Shatner is good here, although some of the material he is given to say -- "No 'blah-blah!'," he has to angrily say as a refutation -- is truly terrible.  He does everything with conviction, and makes the most of it.

That's the end of the pros and cons.  Or of my listing them, at least; I'm sure there are more that could be singled out, but my interest in doing so has waned.  Instead, let's start to shift in a different direction.

One aspect that interests me is the fact that once again, the episode is putting unwise science on trial.  As was also the case in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and "Dagger of the Mind," scientific attempts to exceed conventional ideas about what it means to be human are looked down upon as being not merely dangerous, but potentially catastrophic.
  
Here, the calamity that befell this weirdly Earthlike planet is the direct result of attempts to prolong the length of human life.  We'll see plenty of examples of this kind of thinking in Star Trek: the notion that if one tries to exceed one's lot in life via "unnatural" means, one is begging for trouble and likely to get it.  This is (as I have likely pointed out before) arguably a somewhat odd stance to take for a show in which people have figured out how to exceed the speed of light, how to deconstruct a person at the molecular level and then fax the molecules to a new location for reassembly, etc.
  
I don't think it's a self-contradictory stance, though; not necessarily.  I think what TOS preaches is that massive scientific advancements are certainly possible, and are often preferable, but should perhaps always be conducted only with a high degree of care and skepticism.  CAN you prolong life to such a degree that one lives several centuries as a child?  Well ... yeah, in theory.  
  
SHOULD you, though?  What might the consequences be of such an action?  Even if you eliminate from consideration unforeseeable side-effects, is it a good idea to flash-freeze a human being's adolescence?
  
James T. Kirk has an answer for us:
  
  
"Eternal childhood, filled with play," muses Janice.  "No responsibilities...

...it's almost like a dream."
  
"I wouldn't examine that dream too closely, Yeoman," Kirk rebuts.  "It might not turn out to be very pretty."
  
  
This scene offers a nice and very subtle bit pertaining to the Kirk/Rand (non-)relationship, which has been a substantial element of Star Trek up to this point in the series.  It's especially prominent in the episode "The Naked Time," in which Kirk -- robbed temporarily of his ability to easily govern his emotions -- talks to the walls about his feelings for his Yeoman.  He can't be with her -- or with any woman -- due to his job.  And it's more than a job, obviously.  It's a career; a way of life, a philosophy, even.
  
Still, it isn't without its downsides.  "This vessel," he laments in that episode while suffering from the effects of the virus; "I give, she takes.  She won't permit me my life; I've got to live hers."  This all culminates in a melancholy moment in which Kirk, just beginning to recover from the virus, reaches out to touch Janice's face while she isn't looking; he pulls away before he makes contact, though, and she turns to look at him, unaware of what has transpired.  A moment has been lost; the moment was never truly possible.
  
In "Miri," in the scene I just talked about above, I believe Grace Lee Whitney plays things in such a manner so as to underline the idea that Rand knows how Kirk feels about her, and knows that it is the crushing weight of his captaincy that is keeping them apart.
  
"Eternal childhood, filled with play.  No responsibilities," she says wistfully, and her eyes move to Kirk, whose back is turned to her; "it's almost like a dream," she says to her Captain, whom she can never be with in the way she wants to, in the way he wants her to be with him.

This shit is honestly kind of heartbreaking.
  
"Miri" is essentially the end of Janice Rand on Star Trek; that, too, is heartbreaking.  Not half as heartbreaking as the real-life story of how that came to pass, however.  We'll be saying quite a lot more about Grace Lee Whitney further into this post, folks, and let me go ahead and warn you: it's going to be hard to wrestle with.
  
I've been wrestling with my inability to wrestle with it for months.  You may have noticed that the last time I did a TOS writeup was in April of 2018.  I wouldn't say it was a conscious decision to wait nearly a year to dive into "Miri," but it's a fact that for a long while, I didn't know how to approach the topic of what happened to Whitney during the filming of this episode.

How to say what needs to be said here?  How to even know what that is?  How to honor Whitney's memory?  How to avoid being accused of being insensitive to assault victims?  How to avoid being insensitive to assault victims?  How to avoid being sensationalist and/or exploitative?
  
None of these are easy questions to answer.  And I'm not sure I've adequately answered a one of them.  In the end, all I can do is be myself, and have the responses I have.  If I make mistakes, hopefully I can learn from them; if others justly call me out for it, hopefully I can learn from them; if others unjustly call me out for it, hopefully I can be patient and avoid making the problems worse.
  
We'll see, I guess.
  
And hey, why not go ahead and get there now?  I've got a bit more to say about the actual episode, plus I'd planned to delve into a few behind-the-scenes books before tackling this; but I think it makes sense to go here first:
  
  


In what may be a sign from the universe -- or from the Great Bird of the Galaxy, at any rate -- that I should skip this entire thing, that image of The Longest Trek refused to load for a while.  I ended up having to copy it into a new folder and load it from there.  Blogger does that sometimes, but it was especially resistant this time.

Undaunted, I proceed, and will now tell you the story of the rape of Grace Lee Whitney after filming for the week wrapped one Friday.  She never names her attacker; she refers to him only as The Executive.  I will let her words speak for themselves; some sections have been omitted, and when you see a page-break within a quote, that's what that indicates.
   
 
The party was in full swing when I stepped out and made my way to the ladies room.  A few minutes later, as I was walking back toward the party, I heard a male voice call, "Grace Lee!  Wait up!"
     I turned.  It was The Executive.  He was smiling and his face was a little flushed.  He'd had a few drinks, just as I had.
     I returned his smile.  "You want to walk me back to the party?" I asked.
     He waved his hand dismissively.  "The party's breaking up.  I wanted to talk to you.  I have some ideas for changes we could make in the show—changes that would affect you.  I'd like to get your thoughts on those ideas before the next production meeting."
     "Oh?"  I was intrigued.  "What kind of changes?"
     "I think Yeoman Janice Rand has been under-utilized.  The character has been developing some interesting possibilities in the past few episodes.  I have some ideas—  Why don't we find a place to sit down and talk about it?"
     "Well..."  I hesitated for the briefest moment, a thrill of excitement at the thought that The Executive wanted to talk to me about my character.  I was always looking for ways to advance my career, to enlarge my part and get more lines.  He had reached the very thing that made me tick: my ambition.  "Where would you like to talk?" I asked.
     "How about the E building?  We can find an empty office over there."
     I'd had a few drinks.  My inhibitions were down and my judgment was impaired.  "Fine," I said.  "Let's go."

The building was unlocked and we walked right in.  The Executive put his arm on mine as we made our way down the darkened corridor.  There were lights on in some of the offices, but the building was quiet, empty and mostly dark.  There was no one in the building but The Executive, me, and possibly a janitor somewhere.  The Executive opened a door, flipped on a light, and ushered me in.  He indicated a chair for me.  I was alone with him, but I didn't care.  We were one big happy family on Star Trek, and I trusted him.

The office had a private wet bar.  He went and poured a couple of drinks, not bothering to ask if I wanted one.  He knew I did.  He handed me a glass, then sat down behind the desk.
     We talked.  And we laughed.  And we drank.
     He told me about upcoming scripts, and suggested story angles that could bring out a stronger relationship between Yeoman Rand and Captain Kirk.  He put himself in Kirk's place, saying, "Now I'm the Captain and you're the Yeoman.  What would Rand say to Kirk in this situation?  Put yourself into the role.  Pour your heart out to me."  And we did some very sexy role-playing—purely across the desk, about 10 feet apart.  In my mind, we were simply improvising with the characters to explore the Kirk-Rand relationship for story possibilities.  In his mind, I later realized, it was all part of a carefully laid strategy.
     "You know," he said after we'd been talking a while, "the thing that is so fascinating about Janice Rand is her repressed desire—her hunger for sex."
     "Not sex," I said.  "Love.  She loves the Captain."
     "Same thing," said The Executive.  "She wants the Captain so badly, but she represses it.  She doesn't admit it—not even to herself.  We all know what she really wants—but she herself doesn't know.  She denies it.  Janice Rand can't face her own desires, her own sexuality."
     "Absolutely," I agreed.  "That's the key to the character."
     "And you're just like Janice Rand."
     "I'm—  What?  What did you say?"  I was vaguely aware that our discussion had just turned a sharp corner.  But the buzz in my brain prevented me from grasping where The Executive was steering the conversation.
     "You're hungry inside," he said, "just like Janice Rand.  Hungry, needy, full of desire.  But you repress it.  You bottle it up.  That's not healthy, Grace."
     There were no alarms going off, no warning bells.  I just laughed, settled back, and smugly replied, "I'm not bottling up anything.  If there is anyone who is completely uninhibited, it's me."
     "Oh?" he said lightly.  "Well, good, then.  Let's see how uninhibited you are.  Undress for me."
     "What?!"  I burst out laughing.  "You're kidding!"
     The Executive rose and came around the desk, towering over me.

He was still moving toward me as I tried to back away from him.  I only succeeded in backing myself into an adjoining room—a meeting room with a sofa, a few chairs, and a table.  The only way out of it was the doorway I had just come through—and The Executive blocked my path.  He followed me into the meeting room, closed the door, and locked it with a key.
     He continued undressing himself.  "Now," he said, "you're not going anywhere.  So take off your clothes."
  
I had known this man for a couple years, and had never known him to be violent.  A womanizer, yes, but not a monster.  This night was different.  This night, he was drunk.  We both were.  Not so drunk that we didn't know what was happening, not so drunk that we wouldn't remember it all later.  But he was clearly drunk enough that has personality was altered from that of The Executive I had known all these months.  He was angry with me—and, I think, angry with himself.  His carefully plotted "seduction" wasn't going the way he had planned, and he was growing impatient and frustrated.
     
I tried to do what he wanted me to do, so I could get it over with.  I knew, deep down inside, that I was finished on Star Trek.  At that moment, however, I didn't care about that.  Nothing else mattered—not my tarnished virtue, not my career, not my role on Star Trek.  The only thing that mattered was getting out of that room alive.
     But he wouldn't let me get down off the table.  He wasn't getting aroused—and that made him even more menacing.  "Come on!" he demanded.  "You're supposed to be the sexpot!  Make me want you!  Come on!"  I didn't know why he couldn't get aroused—I tried.  I really tried.  Was it that he'd had too much to drink?  Or that I had argued too long with him, and he was just too angry to get aroused?  Or that he'd had too many women and he just couldn't get it up anymore?  Or—
     Or was it me?  Was there something wrong with me?  After getting up on that table and dancing for him, was I just . . . disappointing to him?
     "Please," I begged.  "Let me down.  Let me out of here.  Please."
     He groaned in disgust.  "All right!" he said fiercely.  "Get down!"
     I got down off the table.
     "But," he added, leaning back on the sofa, "we're not done yet.  When we're done, you can go.  Now...come here."
     He wanted me to go down on him.  I pleaded.  I protested.  But in the end, I did what he told me to do.
  
Whitney, finally free, gets into her car and leaves the Desilu lot.  Rather than going home, she goes to the home of her best friend on the production: Leonard Nimoy.


I went in and sat down in his living room and poured out the whole story to him.  Poor Leonard!  I'm sure that large parts of my story made no sense to him at all—but he sat there and listened while I dumped all my pain and fear in a big, jumbled pile on the floor.  I don't remember crying—I think I was in too much shock to cry.  I just sat there, feeling numb inside, while the story spilled out of me.  Leonard was very kind, a wonderful listener—but he was also completely dumbfounded by what I told him.  He didn't know what to say.  How could anyone know what to say in such a situation?

(It seems worth reminding everyone at this point: the introduction to this book was written by Leonard Nimoy, who refers to her within it as "Amazing Grace."  If you're like me, you take this to be an endorsement -- from no less a personage than Leonard dadgum Nimoy -- that at least some of this book's events absolutely DID transpire.  This, obviously, lends credence to Whitney's story.  We live in dangerous times for such issues, but for my part, I am inclined to believe her even without Nimoy's backup; with it, my belief becomes even greater.)

The story continues, picking up the next Monday morning (the party had been on a Friday night) in the makeup room while the makeup people do their best to try to cover up Whitney's tear-swollen face, which was a wreck from a weekend's worth of emotional meltdown.


The Executive came over to me, took something from the pocket of his coat, and held it out to me, cradling it in both hands.  "This is something I made for you," he said, "and I'd like you to have it."  I looked at it.  It was a polished gray stone, like you might find in a river bed, but smooth and shiny as glass.  It was not large—you could place it in your palm and close your fingers around it.
     I put my hand out and he placed the stone in it.  I looked up at him and eyed him very closely, checking him out.  He seemed harmless—but something felt very wrong.  The most awful feeling swept over me, a replay of a feeling I had experienced in the office that night: a sense of impending doom.  A little hoarsely, I whispered, "Thank you," but there was no gratitude in my voice.

I went through the rest of that day with a sinking feeling that I had shot myself in the foot—no, in both feet.  Getting ahead in Hollyweird is often a matter of knowing who holds the power, then finding a way to get close to that power, and even in bed with that power.  I had refused to get in bed with the power.  It might have been a morally defensible choice—but it was tactically stupid, in terms of my career.  Inwardly, I kicked myself for not playing along, because in the end I was just as violated and exploited by this man as if I had—yet I had no career advancement to show for it.  Bad move, Whitney, I thought.  You've done it to yourself again.

On one level, perhaps, the stone was an apology, an attempt to make amends for the violation—but it was never accompanied by the words, "I'm sorry, please forgive me."  In fact, the incident was never mentioned between The Executive and me again.
     The shock waves of that incident, however, were far from over.  I didn't realize it then, but those shock waves would continue reverberating in my life for a long time to come.
     In fact, the worst shock of all was just a few days away.
     The next day, Tuesday the 30th of August, we wrapped the final day of shooting on "Miri."  Then began a two-week hiatus for Labor Day before we were to begin shooting the next episode, "The Conscience of the King."
     Just a couple days into that hiatus—I think it may have been Thursday, September 1—I was in the kitchen of my Sherman Oaks home.  I was alone, fixing lunch for my two boys (they were playing outside or in some other part of the house).  The phone rang.  It was Alexis Brewis, my agent.  "Grace," he said, "are you sitting down?"
  
"Well,," Alex explained, "I'm told it's a creative decision.  The producers feel the romantic relationship between Kirk and Rand is becoming too obvious, and it limits the story possibilities.  Apparently, they think Captain Kirk needs to be free to have affairs with other women on all these different planets.  If the relationship between Kirk and Rand is too intense, it looks like he's two-timing Janice Rand.  The viewers will get mad at Kirk and tune out.  At least, that's what they tell me."
     The explanation tasted bitter in my mouth.  I couldn't help noticing that the reasoning behind it was completely the opposite of what The Executive had said to me the previous Friday night—about how the Kirk-Rand relationship could be strengthened, and about all the wonderful story possibilities that would result from expanding my role.
     Feeling physically sick inside, I asked, "Does this mean I'm through?"
     "You have a contract for thirteen episodes.  You have one more episode to shoot.  You can finish out your contract, and then you'll be through."
     And then you'll be through.  It sounded so final.  Like the ultimate rejection.  Or like death.

I was one of the first actors signed to do Star Trek, and I had signed as a lead, not a featured player.  The pre-production publicity shots for Star Trek showed three characters—Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Yeoman Janice Rand.  In the closing credits, my name was on the same card with DeForest Kelly (Dr. McCoy).  Creator Gene Roddenberry's original vision of the show's chemistry was built around a nucleus of four characters—Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Rand—much as "Gunsmoke" was built around the nucleus of Marshall Dillon, Doc, Chester, and Miss Kitty.  That's exactly how Gene explained it to me from the very beginning.  So for me to be dropped from the show was a major shake-up—a sudden disruption of the chemical balance of the show.

Star Trek made its network debut the following week, on Thursday, September 8, 1966.

As part of NBC's publicity blitz for its new space series, I had given lots of interviews and posed for lots of photos.  The media loved me.  I was scheduled to do a number of talk shows, including "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.  Suddenly it was all canceled.  No more interviews, no more photos, no more talk shows.  It was as if I had suddenly become poison—no one wanted to talk to me anymore.  The sense of rejection was shattering.

So I drank even more.  I ran away from everything.  I his from everything.  The pain was so intense, I wanted to check out.  I wanted to die, so I tried to drink myself to death.

I had thought that Star Trek was going to make me rich and famous, so I hadn't even bothered to ask for alimony in the divorce settlement.  When I called my ex-husband and told him I had been written out of the show, he said, "Good.  I'm glad you're out on your ass!"
     The one person who really reached out to me after I was written out of Star Trek was Leonard Nimoy.  He was the only one who really knew how much I was hurting.  No one but Leonard knew what had happened to me that horrible Friday night, after the wrap party.
     Leonard called me one Saturday and asked if I needed to talk.  He was very worried that I might kill myself.  So he picked me up in his car and we drove up to Santa Barbara.  We spent a couple hours walking on the beach.  That day, as he had always been, Leonard was a good listener.  I certainly couldn't have been easy to listen to—I was so full of fury, resentment and suicidal feelings that I know I was miserable to be around.  I literally didn't care if I lived or died.  I told him I wanted to kill myself, but he reminded me that I had to live for my two boys.  He said he knew I was going through incredible pain, but he promised I would get through it if I didn't give up.
     I had the stone with me—the polished stone that The Executive had given me in the makeup room.  As Leonard and I walked, I took the stone from my pocket and bounced it in my hand, thinking black thoughts about The Executive.  "He never even said he was sorry, Leonard," I reflected bitterly, my eyes stinging.  "He never even acknowledged what he did to me.  He just gave me this lousy stone.  That's how cheaply he bought me off!  A worthless stone and a phone call to my agent—and I'm gone as if I never existed."
     A dark rage came over me like a wave of emotional nausea.  On a sudden impulse, I threw the stone as far as I could.  It splashed into the rolling surf of the Pacific Ocean and disappeared.
     We walked a little further down the beach.  At one point, Leonard paused, bent down, and picked up something from the sand.  He held it out to me, and I saw it was a stone, slightly larger than the one I had just thrown away.  It was black, very smooth and shiny, and naturally polished by the ocean.  It was beautiful.  "Here," he said, handing it to me, "let me give you a new stone."
     I kept that stone in my garden for many years, and often thought of Leonard's kindness to me that day.

A number of years ago, I was offered a considerable sum of money by a major New York publisher to write a book and tell this story—if I would publicly name the man who did this to me.  I refused to do that.  It wasn't because I was so noble and wanted to protect him.  The fact is, there were two reasons I refused to name him: One, I am a recovering alcoholic, and in order to keep my sobriety, I must take a continual, day-by-day moral inventory of myself, and I must make all amends to all persons I have harmed—even those who have hurt me.  I must not harm others.  So I refused to hurt this man or his reputation.  And two, I was afraid of him and what he might do to me.
     Today The Executive can no longer hurt me—but I still refuse to name him.  This book is my story, not his.  Naturally, I can't tell my story without disclosing some of my interactions with other people—but I'm not going to tell anyone else's story or damage anyone else's reputation.  Ask me about my life and my story, and I'll be happy to share it all with you.  Ask me the identity of The Executive, I will not answer you.  So please respect my wishes.  Don't ask.


Indeed I will not.  Grace Lee Whitney passed away in 2015, so I don't even have the option.  If I did, I would not exercise it; but I'd be very curious to know whether the cultural landslide of Me Too and Time's Up might not have changed her mind.

Regardless, no matter how one views these incidents, Whitney's story is a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking one.  Further commentary about it on my part seems ill-advised, so we'll leave off here: I cannot help but wonder what impact it would have had on Star Trek had Whitney/Rand remained on the show.  Even that line of thought is problematic.  It indicates that my concern here is less for what happened to Grace Lee Whitney than for what happened to Star Trek.  I'd like to plead innocent to that charge; I'm not sure I can.

But how could I?  After all, I've been entertained and (to at least some degree) enlightened by Star Trek for literally as long as I can remember.  What if that happened in part because of the fact that Grace Lee Whitney was raped and then, in effect, tossed out of the car onto the side of road?  What if it was Rand's removal from the show that bought it its longevity?  If so, should I -- if only indirectly -- be glad for it having happened?  What a horrifying thought that is.  But IF Rand leaving the show is part of what allowed it to flourish, and IF the show was/is indeed a major part of my development, then mustn't it be true that what happened to Whitney is partially responsible for who I am?  Did she, in that office, become a partial catalyst for my very identity?

These are big questions.  Perhaps they are ridiculous questions.  Part of me hopes they are; if they aren't, I fear what that means.

I haven't found the answers to any of my questions here; I didn't expect to.  I expect never to find answers to most of them.  I also expect never to stop asking them of myself.  The things we say and do to one another matter, and while Grace Lee Whitney is well beyond the point of help, I do believe I owe it to her memory to do some tiny thing to help ensure her story is not forgotten.  Not just her, either; Yeoman Rand herself deserves to be remembered, and I believe Whitney would want her to be.

By the way, all the quotations above come from the first chapter of The Longest Trek, spanning pages 1-16.

Let's shift back toward "Miri" the episode.  As we do so, let me pose a question I actually do have an answer for: does the knowledge of Whitney's assault and firing change the way I watch Star Trek?

It does not.  Maybe it should.  I don't know.  All I know for sure is that even as I watched "Miri" itself, knowing what I was going to be writing about in this post, I watched it not as a document of a moment in time in which a very bad thing happened to a woman, but as an episode of a television series I've been enjoying since a very young age.  I am, quite simply, incapable of NOT seeing it in that manner.  You might just as easily expect me to think in a language other than English.  Not happening; even if I learned another language, I'd think in English, certainly on the automatic level.

If I were to learn to speak another language, however, I might be able to consciously direct myself to think thoughts in it from time to time.  Similarly, in reflecting upon "Miri" I can consider the ways in which it echoes some of the events we've been speaking about.  There's nothing as creepy here as the scene in "The Enemy Within" involving Rand's near-rape by aggro-Kirk; in hindsight, that episode is almost certainly the one which suffers most from a knowledge of Whitney's behind-the-scenes time on the series.

No, there's nothing like that.  Still, a few things stood out.  For one, the story is framed as a large-scale societal tragedy on the Earthlike planet; this is the tale of how one group of people (the Grups) abused their power and inadvertently made things very awful indeed for another group (the Onlies) that ought to have been able to rely on them to do better.

Is it a stretch to connect that to Whitney/Rand?  Of course it is.  But bear in mind that to some extent, drama is -- or can be -- about the negotiation of power between those who have it and those who do not.  Star Trek is often about the exertion of Captain Kirk's power upon those beneath him in stature, and there are times when his choices maybe feel a bit on the iffy side.  We'll get there; suffice it for now to imply that there might be a sort of I'm-more-powerful-than-you-therefore-I-know-what's-good-for-you aspect baked into the show's core.  I don't mean to imply this is a negative thing; to some extent, storytelling itself can probably be thought of as an offshoot of this impulse.

Another thing worth considering: the weird byplay between Kirk and Miri during the episode.  It's kind of gross that Kirk uses his masculine wiles to get what he wants to get from Miri.  Nothing untoward happens.  Not precisely.  But psychologically, it's kind of present via implication, which is bad enough.








What's that got to do with Rand?  Well, nothing.  It just adds a bit to the potentially skeevy atmosphere of the overall episode.

Which, if I'm not mistaken, is probably the one in which Rand has the most screen time.  She doesn't actually have a huge amount of dialogue, but she is in a LOT of the scenes.  If you were looking to back up Whitney's assertion that the show was intended to revolve around the interactions between Kirk/Spock/McCoy/Rand, this would likely be your prime exhibit in presenting evidence.  She was more integral to the plot in both "Charlie X" and "The Enemy Within," but I think the argument could be made that "Miri" presents her as being more integral to the series than those episodes did.

This, of course, makes the knowledge of what happened in that office even more unbearable.  It's almost as if The Executive -- whoever that may have been -- had had a hand in building up Rand's role until it was at its zenith, and then picked that time to pounce, perhaps hoping that Whitney would be on a high from her lofty placement and perhaps therefore more amenable to a bit of celebration.

Then there's this scene:


As the madness that results from the virus is becoming more pronounced in all of them, Rand reacts strongly to Kirk accidentally knocking something out of her hands and breaking it.  She runs away, and Kirk chases.

What comes next is this astonishing moment in which Rand shows Kirk just where the lesions from the disease have spread to.  Her femininity has been aggressively tainted.

Kirk's reactions are somewhat inscrutable.

Interestingly, all of this is observed by Miri, who is obviously very jealous of the attention Kirk is giving Rand.  (A jealousy that is arguably an echo of an earlier scene in which Rand seems somewhat jealous of the attention Kirk is giving Miri.)  The implication: Miri wishes Kirk was concerned with her.  She wishes she was in Rand's place in that moment, even though the emotions being expressed are negative.  It's the attention that matters to Miri, not the activity.

Note the between-her-legs placement of the lesion on Janice's hand.  I'm just sayin'.  And speaking of saying things, here's what Janice says right around this point: "Back on the ship, I used to try to get you to look at my legs.  Captain ... look at my legs."

If you are inclined to do so, you can look at this as being dialogue written by a male writer -- either credited screenwriter Adrian Spies or one of the uncredited rewriters, John D.F. Black or Gene Roddenberry -- and put in the mouth of a female character, who is effectively saying "Yeah, you know what, I am asking for it, and you keep not giving it to me!"  I don't believe that's what is being said here; but it would be an easy conclusion to draw, and if you take that idea and expand it into the real world, it obviously becomes real creepy real fast.

Impossible not to wonder: what day was this scene filmed on, in relation to the Friday on which the assault took place?


"I never get involved with older women, Yeoman," Kirk says as a punchline later, at the end of the episode.


There's a lot of psycho-sexual content here; recall McMolo saying it's not below the surface, it IS the surface.  I'm sure there's a rich read along those lines waiting to be written; I'm not the guy to do it, and so I've settled for merely pointing at a few things and making exclamatory noises.

Which is exactly what I'll do with these before-and-after comparisons of the original effects to the Remastered effects:



original

original

Remastered

Remastered

original

Remastered

original

Remastered

original

Remastered


The Remastered shots look pretty good in this one, I have to admit.  But so do the original effects shots, so I continue to be unconvinced that the Remastered project was either necessary or especially fruitful.

And with that, we move on to find out what is divulged about the production of the episode in:




There's a lot of interesting stuff from the making of this episode, not the least of which is the fact that writer/producer Gene Coon was hired at around this time.  Coon would go on to be a highly significant creative contributor to the series, and indeed must by just about any standard of measurement be considered one of the Hall Of Fame personalities for the original series.  Among his creations: the Klingons themselves.  But we'll get there.

There's some history of who Coon was, and it's interesting.  For example, he'd worked prior to Trek on both McHale's Navy and The Munsters, but didn't receive much credit for either.  In the case of the former, he could be considered the show's creator because he heavily revised the concept into the comedy the show became between conception and production; but only the guy who came up with the non-comedic concept got that credit.  The inverse was true on The Munsters; Coon came up with the concept, but some other producer came in and changed some things and got credits as being the creator.  Such is life in Hollywood.  (Our evidence continues to mount that this is a place where people are not always treated terribly well.)

More anecdotes:

  • 284 -- Screenwriter Adrian Spies was a well-regarded dramatic writer who knew nothing about science fiction.  Nevertheless, he got along well with Roddenberry and the production, and responded to the changes that Gene suggested.  Roddenberry, for example, came up with the word "grups" so as to make the kids more alien.  "I immediately liked it," says Spies (pronounced "spees").  "That's an example of a creative producer at work.  He had good ideas and good contributions."
  • 286 -- Interestingly, Spies' initial drafts were considered by both Roddenberry and then-producer John D.F. Black (whom Coon would soon replace) to be a bit too heavy on Janice Rand.  Both men felt she was too "chummy" with Kirk and that the relationship would be better-served by making it more subtle.
  • 287-88 -- As revisions continued, Spies struggled with the science-fictional elements, and Roddenberry insisted that he simply treat it as a dramatic story.  Make sure the characters work; the sci-fi elements could be added in later by another writer.  To this end, Spies was encouraged to think of Kirk as a "20th Century Naval Captain" and Spock as a "half-Chinese scientist" (!).  Spies never did quite get it, though, and eventually accepted another assignment on another show, leaving Roddenberry and Black to do rewrites on "Miri."
  • 292 -- The kids were, in large part, nepotism hires.  Two of them were Roddenberry's daughters, two Whitney's sons, two Shatner's daughters, one the nephew of director Vincent McEveety.  Another was Phil Morris, the son of Greg Morris from Mission: Impossible.  The younger Morris would go on to rather a good career on television, including playing the Martian Manhunter on Smallville and Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld.  Oh, and he popped up in various Trek shows and movies from time to time, too.  Cool!
  • 292 -- This was the final episode for Jim Goodwin as Lt. Farrell.
  • 293 -- McEveety on Kim Darby: "While Michael J. Pollard was an absolute professional, the opposite was true of Kim Darby.  She was extremely strange.  She had a neurotic and very, very bipolar kind of personality.  She'd do a scene and I was happy with her performance -- very happy, I thought she was wonderful in that respect -- and then she'd go off and cry like a baby afterwards.  I'd never know why and, after a while, I didn't care.  Total emotional nonsense."
  • 294 -- Some of this seems to have stemmed from the fact that Darby had become unrequitedly smitten by William Shatner.  "I always fell in love with my leading man," she says.  Well, who can blame her?
  • 294-95 -- The exterior scenes were filmed at Desilu Culver "40 Acres," which had once been RKO "40 Acres."  Among the films and shows also shot there: this is where Atlanta was burned to the ground for Gone With the Wind, and where Mayberry was filmed for The Andy Griffith Show.
  • 296 -- The episode premiered at the same time as the first ever showing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  It got clobbered in the ratings ... but nevertheless commanded a 25.4% share, which means that a quarter of all televisions in America were estimated to have been tuned in for "Miri."
  • 308 -- Around the time of "Miri," Star Trek began to have significant budget problems.  Gene Coon being hired to take John D.F. Black's place was part of this; he made much more than Black had made.  Also, DeForest Kelley was proving to be popular enough to need to be in every episode, whereas he was originally intended to be only in some.  There was also a call for more from Scotty, Sulu, and Uhura.  Comparatively, casting director Joe D'Agosta felt that Grace Lee Whitney offered little; he wrote a memo to Roddenberry recommending that her option be dropped.  Roddenberry agreed, which surprised Bob Justman: "He was against losing her and was surprised, as he saw it, that Roddenberry made no effort with Solow and Wietzman to fight for Grace Lee Whitney.  Her agent got the news from Desilu Business Affairs.  Yeoman Rand was not being written out, she would simply disappear."  [I forget who "Wietzman" is; sorry about that.]
  • 309 -- Cushman cites a memo written from Roddenberry to Coon on October 28, 1966 (just a few weeks after Whitney's dismissal): "Bob Justman and I both think we should look for an opportunity to bring Grace Lee Whitney back as 'Yeoman Rand' in some upcoming episode."  Cushman then offers a tantalizing, but unexplained, assessment: "But a certain power-that-be did not want this."  He offers no clue as to whom he is referring, nor indeed any clarity as to whether he is referring to some specific or is simply making an educated guess.

We now turn our energies to the novelization version by James Blish, in a segment I like to call


 

I'm still unrepentantly proud of that title.  Any time I can work in a good pun, I'm jolly over it.  Why, just the other day I decided that if I had the energy to do it, I could almost certainly hit the big time by launching a tattoo service that tattoos "hair" onto the skulls of ashamed bald men.  These would be referred to as "tattoupees."  Give me my gajillion dollars now, please.

No gajillion dollars seems likely to accrue via Blishful Thinking, but that's okay, because it is its own reward.

Blish's "Miri" appears in:




As has been the case more often than not with these Blishful Thinking comparisons, the prose version of "Miri" is really a rather wonderful revelation.  It includes some massive differences from the filmed episode; let's discuss them now:
 
 
  • Though she is not present in the episode itself, it is Lieutenant Uhura who detects the signal from the planet.  Makes sense.  Poor Lieutenant Farrell has been deprived of a job!  (Not of an appearance, however; he remains the point of contact person on the ship later, and is obviously in command while Kirk and company are away.)
  • A huge difference comes early on when we find that while the planet -- 70 Ophiucus IV (the fourth planet of the 70 Ophiucus system) -- is "remarkably Earth-like," there is no indication that it is AS much so as in the episode.  More importantly, we get a paragraph's worth of information via the library computer on the inhabitants of the planet.  These, it turns out, are literally humans: colonists who fled Earth five hundred years previously, running away from something called the "Cold Peace."  They established what was allegedly the first extrasolar colony from Earth, and though a human expedition tried to visit once, they were fired upon by the settlers and after that "were left alone to enjoy their sullen isolation."
  • The "another Earth" angle is mostly gone, and so too is the idea that the planet's surface looks like 1960s Earth.  Instead, the architecture here "was roughly like that of the early 2100s, when the colonists had first fled."  I prefer all of this; but I don't hold it against the filmed episode, which did, after all, have to contend with restrictions that Blish was free from.
  • Miri here is more self-aware.  She knows the illness is already happening to her; she knows what it means, too, and says that that's why she can't hang around with her friends anymore.
  • Spock is not immune in this version.  The lesions spread more slowly on him, but he definitely gets sick, and pretty much right away.
  • McCoy has lab animals beamed down from the ship to experiment upon!
  • There is a shitload of science in this short-story version.  Whether it's persuasive or gobbledygook, I do not know; but Blish presents it nicely.
  • As always, Blish restricts the point of view to that of the main character, namely, Kirk.  I remain fascinated by how well this works.  Blish handles it deftly, jettisoning everything he needs to; and anything vital which has been tossed out, Blish seemingly finds a way to reintegrate it.  I'd love to be able to compare the specific screenplay drafts he worked from, to try and suss out precisely what is invention/alteration on his part and what is difference via earlier draft than the final filmed product.
  • Miri is more mercurial in the short story, in a way that kind of reminds me of what Vincent McEveety said about Kim Darby's mood swings.  Her actual performance lessened that quality, which is rather fascinating.
  • Janice Rand's role is reduced a bit, and she is presented as a bit more emotional and prone to outburst.  She does have a version of the "look at my legs" scene, but it is framed differently.  In the episode she is clearly suffering -- as are they all -- from the onset of the early stages of the madness; in the short story, however, she is just upset and rattled and spills acid on herself, prompting a near-meltdown.
  • Sensibly, McCoy has the crew change out of their uniforms into lab clothing, so that if contaminants are spilled upon them, they can get them off quickly.
  • There's an odd running gag in which the portable computer which is sent down from the ship is mentioned as having a cat's brain inside it.  This is presented (I think) as an inside joke shared among the crew, which is very odd indeed.  My assumption is that perhaps during the early computer days of the time the short story was written, there were real-world jokes about how computers ran off the disembodied brains of lab animals.  I can imagine scientific types fucking with people who didn't know any better in a manner such as this.  But that is speculation on my part, and perhaps nothing more.
  • Miri seems to know more here about the theft of the communicators (and, in this versions, phasers and tricorders as well), and it is implied that she may have had the idea herself.  Maybe even that she executed it.  The goal: to get Kirk to stay on the planet.  In any case, there's no Kirk Speech delivered to a crowd of Onlies in the short story; but there is a brief speech in which he talks Miri into getting back one of the communicators, without which they are all as good as dead.
  • Louise -- the infected girl who Kirk phasers when she attacks him -- is not seen here, because that scene does not happen.  However, when Jahn finally shows up he has a phaser strapped to himself, and reveals that he used it on Louise.  "I had to," he explains.  "She went grup all at once, while we were playing school."
 
 
Great stuff.  If you're a Trekkie who has never read these Blish books, I really cannot recommend them strongly enough.
 
And now, as is our normal way of ending these posts, I present leftover screencaps with Blish-prose enhancements:


"Any SOS commands instant attention in space, but there was very good reason why this one created special interest on the bridge of the Enterprise.  To begin with, there was no difficulty in pinpointing its source, for it came not from any ship in distress, but from a planet, driven out among the stars at 21-centimeter frequency by generators far more powerful than even the largest starship could mount."





"The landing party materialized by choice in the central plaza of the largest city the screen had shown—but there was no one there.  Not entirely surprised, Kirk looked around."

"By the dust-choked fountain near which Kirk stood, another antique object lay on its side: a child's tricycle.  It too was rusty, but still functional, as though it had been indoors during much of the passage of time which had worn away the larger vehicles."

"They whirled to face the terrible clamor.

A humanoid creature was plunging toward them from the shell of the nearest building, flailing its arms and screaming murderously.

It was moving too fast for Kirk to make out details.  He had only an impression of dirt, tatters, and considerable age, and then the thing had leapt upon McCoy and knocked him down."

"Kirk struck, almost at random

The blow hardly seemed to connect at all, but the creature sobbed and fell to the pocked pavement.

He was indeed an old man, clad only in sneakers, shorts, and a ripped and filthy shirt."

"Kirk was face to face with it—an ancient face, teeth gone in a reeking mouth, contorted with wildness and hate, tears brimming from the eyes."

" 'Grups always die.' "



"He looked down too, already more than half aware of what he would see.  Across the back of his hand was a sprawling blue blotch, about the size of a robin's egg."


"McCoy had taken biopsies from the lesions; some of the samples he stained, others he cultured on a variety of media.  The blood-agar plate had produced a glistening, wrinkled blue colony which turned out to consist of active, fecund bacteria strongly resembling spirochetes.  McCoy, however, was convinced that these were not the cause of the disease, but only secondary invaders."

"But in a minute Miri was back, the cloudburst passed as if it had never been, looking for something to do.  Mr. Spock set her to sharpening pencils, of which the ancient laboratory seemed to have scores.  She set to it cheerfully—but throughout, her eyes never left Kirk.  He tried not to show that he was aware of it."



" 'We had fun.  There wasn't anybody to tell us not to.  And when we got hungry, we just took something.' "



" 'We could have fun—until it happens.' "




"Only an idiot isn't afraid when there's something to be afraid of.  The man who feels no fear isn't brave, he's just stupid.  Where courage comes in is in going ahead and coping with danger, not being paralyzed by fright.  And especially, not letting yourself be panicked by the other guy."



" 'If it's true that the spirochete creates the mania, we can possibly knock it out with antibiotics and keep our minds clear for at least a little while longer—' "



"Kirk felt even more out of it than Mr. Spock; he had neither the medical nor the statistical background to understand what was going on.  He simply stood by, and did what little donkey-work there was to do."

" 'It's a shame,' Spock said, 'that viruses aren't as easy to mix as metaphors.'

At this point Kirk knew that he was on the thin edge of hysteria.  Somehow he had the firm impression that Mr. Spock had just made a joke.  Next he would be beginning to believe that there really was such a thing as a portable computer with a cat's brain in it."

" 'If this lab was like every other government project I've run across, it had to have order forms in quintuplicate for everything it used.  Somewhere here there ought to be an accounting file containing copies of those orders.  They'd show us what the consumption of given reagents was at different times.' "

" 'When we get back, sir, you'd better put in for a dry-eyes Yeoman.'

'Your application for a transfer is refused.' "

"The movement turned them both around toward the entrance to the lab.  Standing in it was Miri, staring at them with her fists crammed into her mouth, her eyes wide with an unfathomable mixture of emotions—amazement, protest, hatred even?  Kirk could not tell."

" 'That's either the antitoxoid,' McCoy's voice was saying from an infinite distance, 'or it isn't.  For all I know it may be pure poison.' "

"Kirk went back to looking at McCoy, and Miri joined him.

He realized dimly that, for all the trouble she had caused, her decision to bring the communicators back had been a giant step toward growing up.

It would be a shame to lose her now, Miri most of all in the springtime of her promise—a springtime for which she had waited three sordid centuries.

He put his arm around her, and she looked up at him gratefully."

"A procession of children was coming into the room, led by Miri.  They were of all sizes and shapes, from toddlers up to about the age of twelve.  They looked as though they had been living in a department store.  Some of the older boys wore tuxedos; some were in military uniforms; some in scaled-down starmen's clothes; some in very loud and mismatched sports clothes.

The girls were a somewhat better matched lot, since almost all of them were wearing some form of party dress, several of them trailing opera cloaks and loaded with jewelry.

Dominating them all was a tall, red-headed boy—or no, that wasn't his own hair, it was a wig, long at the back and sides and with bangs, from which the price-tag still dangled."

" 'I will bet you a year's pay,' Spock said, 'that the antitoxoid is fatal in itself.' "




" 'You're on,' he said.  'The disease certainly is.  But if I lose, Mr. Spock, how will you collect?' "

"They left the system a week later, having given all the antitoxoid the ship's resources could produce.  Together with Farrell, the erstwhile landing party stood on the bridge of the Enterprise, watching the planet retreat.

" 'I'm still a little uneasy about it,' Janice Rand said.  'No matter how old they are chronologically, they're still just children.  And to leave them there with just a medical team to help them—'

'They haven't lived all those years for nothing,' Kirk said.  'Look at the difficult thing Miri did.  They'll catch on fast, with only a minimum of guidance.' "
 
 
But does it still end with a joke about not getting involved with older women?
 
It sure does.
 
*****
 
Well, folks, this was a rough one.  Not the episode; the writing of this post about it.  But we have to take the bad with the good, I suppose.  And speaking of bad, next up is an episode deemed by at least one Trekkie I know to be a serious contender for bottom-of-the-barrel status.  Next time, we will see if we can catch "The Conscience of the King."

11 comments:

  1. (1) Okay, so who was The Executive? It's a shame this seems to have gone to the grave with everyone involved.

    (2) Your question of does it change the way I view Star Trek is indeed an important one. Let's say the executive was Gene Roddenberry. I know everyone has said that it wasn't him, but for the sake of argument. (And he creepily fits so many of the details, right down to the "justification" for a conspiracy of silence around it all. I just don't see that happening for John DF Black or some unnamed executive at Desilu. Maybe in 1966, but not later. And if it WAS John DF black, then sheesh, screw Roddenberry for working with him again on TNG, wtf, or Nimoy, or anyone involved in this story. Anyway, there are questions there.) It would absolutely impact how we view Star Trek, if it was Gene. Even me, whose TOS-tourette's is pretty incurable. Because that would be too huge/ too franchise-spanning, too much. And yet, I have to ask myself: why isn't it already? I don't know. It's impossible to come to any conclusions with so many unknowns or after so much time, except one: the conditions for this sort of thing in Hollywood are sickening, right down to now. Not just Hollywood. (I just finished "Low Men in Yellow Coats" so of course Liz Garfield comes to mind as well.)

    (3) Tough to segue out of that one. It IS weird, though, how aspects of "Miri" mirror details of the script. That adds a strange factor to evaluating the stuff between Kirk and Rand in this episode. And like you say, if Rand's departure made the show better - and it can be argued that it did, or at least change the dynamic of Kirk better - it adds a FURTHER element of weirdness to things. Thanks a lot, "Miri!"

    (4) This is one of those early 80s round my grandparents dining room table Trek on at 5 pm kind of episodes, and it scared the crap out of me. But, I didn't want my parents to tell me I couldn't watch Star Trek anymore, so I just pretended it didn't. But sometimes when I rewatch I can still (now I treasure these moments) taste some of that early fear and horror I felt, especially when that first mutie comes running out when Kirk et al are looking at his tricycle. (And Kirk BELTS him one!)

    (5) That Kirk throwing the bonk-bonk kid to the floor thing always makes me laugh-cringe. Man!

    (6) Blishful Thinking: I think I prefer the planet being descended from Earth colonists to being some "Alternative Earth syndrome" set-up.

    (7) Oh, that screencap (just after the caption that begins with ""Only an idiot isn't afraid ..."of Miri screaming and Kirk looking back, eyes wide, mouth agape, is priceless.

    (8) That joke at the end is very ill-considered, for sure. Not quite as bad as the one that ends "The Enemy Within" but sheesh.

    Okay, you made it! And welcome back. Maybe you'll be the one to change my mind about "The Conscience of the King."

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    Replies
    1. (1) It's a shame in the sense of it sucks if anyone reads the account and draws the wrong conclusion about who it is. For my part, I have to confess that when I read Whitney's account, my knee-jerk reaction was to think it had to be Roddenberry. But other details -- such as the memo he sent to Gene Coon stating that they should bring her back to the show -- make me doubt that. Mainly, I am trying not to get wrapped up in amateur sleuthing over the incident, because that way lies mistake and error and injustice. But it's very difficult not to wonder.

      (2) I've been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately. The fresh allegations -- if "allegations" is even the right word -- about Michael Jackson come to mind. No way for me to be certain, but it sure does *seem* to be the case that that dude raped a few children. Actual children. With his dick. Now, it don't get no whole lot worse than that. And yet, does that stop me from enjoying the hell out of "Rock With You" or whatever? It does not. Maybe it should; I don't know, someone else is going to probably have to be in charge of judging me for me. But it doesn't. Why? Likely because I've got literal decades of loving much of his music built up. It's just part of. That music, purely AS music, is an unqualified good as I see it.

      "Star Trek" is the same. I simply don't have it in me to see that as a thing I should shun. If it turned out that Gene Roddenberry was the literal devil and that he began work every day by making smoothies out of kidnapped babies, I don't think it would change my feelings about "Star Trek." It might change my feelings about my feelings about "Star Trek," though, you dig?

      In any case, all of this came to my attention well after the point of there being anything that could be done about any aspect of it.

      The thing that I think it does make me do is push me toward being more supportive of people who are struggling with this sort of abuse-of-power issue these days. Which is weird, because that feels a bit like joining a mob. But in actuality, it's just a recognition that the types of power imbalance which can and do result in what happened to Grace Lee Whitney are dynamics that ought to be questioned at the least, and possibly dismantled. Which, frankly, is kind of a Trekkian -- if not Roddenberrian -- ideal in the first place.

      (3) Right?!?

      (4) The scene of the first Grup running out of the building and attacking McCoy is surprisingly intense. So is the later one where Kirk phasers her. I can absolutely imagine a kid just making himself be okay with it so as to not have his parents confiscate the entire series; that's commitment, young McMolo! This is precisely the sort of thing that would have scared me to death when I was a kid, but I cannot remember it actually doing so. This seems like an episode I may have only seen once or twice; I may be misremembering, but it just seems knowing my predilection toward being scarred by things that I'd have had an intensely negative reaction.

      (5) It's a good thing kids are made out of rubber.

      (6) Me too. It made so much more sense that I think I may have breathed a literal sigh of contentment when I read it.

      (7) I was absolutely floored by that one. And then when I read that section of the short story, I knew exactly what to do with it.

      (8) Nowhere near as bad, true; but kind of indicative of the same mindset, and it's that mindset (carried to an extreme) that casts a pall over this entire post. As a joke in an episode of television from 1966, I can live with it. It's iffy, but it's a product of its time, and is therefore useful and instructive in a way. I continue to wish there could be a sequel to "Mad Men" that was just the story of the making of TOS.

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    2. (1) Very difficult indeed. My gut reaction is there was more to the story than what was reported in that chapter. But like you say, amateur sleuthing for long-gone crimes that no one ever confessed to or ever named names means the trail's pretty cold and that way lies error and worse.

      (2) I have not seen it, but I did read this which made me think it wasn't worth seeing: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joevogel/2019/01/29/what-you-should-know-about-the-new-michael-jackson-documentary/

      I imagine everyone will have to make up their own mind about that one. But to your point, yeah, I get you.

      We're all kind of figuring out what to with art by artists who turn out to perhaps have one too many demons, have abused their celebrity power one too many times (and is once enough? Probably. Are there gradations of abuse? Absolutely. Is there context we'll never know? Also absolutely.) I take it on a case by case basis.

      We also live in a weird era where victimhood has currency. But like someone once wrote, it was a clickbait-y culture before clickbait was even invented as a term, and that has its own impact on people's morals, impulses, behavior, and like you say, which dynamics are considered acceptable.

      Big issues. I think you did a good job here bringing things up without falling into any holes.

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    3. (1) I'm sure there is more to the story. There's pretty much always more to the story, it seems to me. One of my guesses is that the behind-the-scenes conversations about jettisoning Rand were probably already happening prior to the assault; her fate may already have been decided, even. Not that that makes any of it better; just makes it a bit different.

      (2) I haven't seen it, either; no interest. Thanks for that article. Very interesting. Certainly this Robson guy has some questions to answer. There's zero doubt in my mind that money is responsible for his lies; whether the lies came years ago or are coming now, his accounts certainly contain lies. What's a guy to believe? I'll just put my trust in the court system, which long since exonerated Jackson. Weird dude, clearly; but that's no crime.

      Case by case is the only way to go on this sort of thing. I'm very happy to never have been an R. Kelly fan.

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    4. (2) By the way, in looking back over some of my previous comments, I'm not sure I was clear enough in terms of where my feelings lie regarding the Jackson case. When I wrote that it seems like he raped a few children, I'm referring to the conventional-wisdom manner in which the media has portrayed him; whether he did or didn't, I think he's clearly had his reputation tarred and feathered in that way. That may not even be the media's fault as much as it is the public's fault for encouraging the media to explore that story. I don't know; another very grey area.

      But my personal feelings have always been that he was probably innocent of those charges. Too many kids were speaking up at the time and saying no way did anything like that happen. their motivations can be questioned, of course; but surely if these things happened, there would have been some compelling evidence of it. Apparently there was none. Or at least, the jury in charge of determining that felt there was none.

      Good enough for me. And yet, even I always have that set of ideas pop into my mind when the subject of "Michael Jackson" comes up. Doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the music itself, but any consideration of the man always includes a mental squinting of the eyes.

      Bottom line is, it was his fault. No grown man, even one whose whole shtick was projecting childlike innocence, should ever have (a) wanted to or (b) been allowed to have children sleep over at his house at all, much less in the same bedroom, MUCH LESS in the same bed as him. No good could possibly ever have come from that. Jackson paid the price for that series of bad ideas; his memory continues to pay the price.

      But do I myself think that he raped a bunch of kids? I do not.

      And there you have it, a view from the peanut gallery.

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    5. I agree: probably innocent of that crime; definitely guilty of a stunningly bad optics/management-of-perceptions.

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    6. Looking back over it -- this was a high-quality conversation. I'd much rather live in the world where no such conversation is needed, of course, but that's a pipe dream.

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  2. I'm going to rewatch "The Conscience of the King" for the first time in years when you get that one up here.

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    1. Nice! I'll try to bring my A-game.

      Hopefully that's going to be relatively soon. I'm working my way through a set of non-fiction books by Lee Gambin that I'm doing a tandem review of, then I want to screencap "From Russia With Love" for the Bond blog, and then it'll be time for another TOS post.

      I'm eternally frustrated by how slow I am at all of this.

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    2. Blogging is sometimes a painstaking business indeed. Only so many hours in the day and all that. I look forward to all of that you mention, though.

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