Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, May 30, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Thirteen "The Big Goodbye"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Thirteen "The Big Goodbye"
Production Order: 13
Air Order: 12
Stardate: 41997.7
Original Air Date: January 11, 1988




Riker's Log 41997.7: The E is going to talk to the Jarada (harada), a giant insect race. They can conduct the talk in English, but Picard has to greet them in their own language, and if he mispronounces anything, he's fucked. Turns out this language is hella complicated, so he's been studying for days.

Picard and Troi are in the ready room, and she's drilling him. He goes over the material like he's cramming for exams, and she suggests that he's over-studying. He wants to continue on, but she reminds him that the re-fit on the holodeck is done, and the new program he wants to try out is already loaded. Picard is pretty stoked about this program, so he takes her advice and takes a break.
Quickest, easiest introduction of a B-plot ever. Thank you, Star Trek!

Picard's Log: No date is given, or "supplemental" added. This is just straight exposition to remind people who never watched TAS or don't remember the first episode of TNG, where the holodeck is introduced. (Actually, Yar uses it again in that racist POS episode "Code of Honor" to demonstrate the holodeck's training capabilities.) Anyway, if you needed a refresher course on the holodeck and what it does, Picard's weird log is here to save the day.



So the program that Picard is into is Dixon Hill, a private eye from 1941, and he marvels at the freaking hallway when he walks into the holodeck, because I guess it's kind of impressive that some poor lady janitor is mopping the dirty floor. He goes into the office, and Hill's secretary laughs at his uniform, because Picard didn't bother to change before he entered the program. It's quitting time for the secretary, because she fills in Picard on some stuff while grabbing her coat and hat, letting him know that there's some chick in his office.

The chick in his office is supposed to be sexy and mysterious because she smokes and has nice legs. She also comments on his uniform and says, "At least you're ready for Halloween," which confuses the hell out of Picard. I guess they don't have Halloween in the future. That makes me less sad that I'll probably die before the Singularity occurs. A world without candy and costumes sounds pretty dull to me.



Anyway, the broad with the cigarette says that someone is trying to kill her, which is why she's here to see Dixon Hill/Captain Picard.
Intriguing music! Commercial break!

Picard's Personal Log: "Squeeee! This is so awesome!"

The dame names off several suspects as to who her would-be killer might be, one of them a guy named Cyrus Redblock. This Redblock dude seems to think that she has something that she swears she doesn't have, then she asks his price. Picard states that he can be bought for twenty bucks a day, plus expenses. She fronts him a Benjamin, but failing to find pockets on his uniform, tucks the money into the top of his shirt before kissing him and leaving.
Picard looks around the office, pretty much smiling at everything like a little kid at comicon, and takes a look outside at the period cars in the street. Sadly, whoever designed this holodeck program put Dixon Hill's office in the middle of an intersection, so whoever is driving that car is probably going to die in a fiery crash in a moment.


Picard calls for an exit, and it's a side exit, as opposed to the one he came through the first time. This has actually caused a bit of back and forth in the "behind-the-scenes" sections of IMDB and Memory Alpha: is this particular holosuite set in a corner space, allowing two different exits? Or is that the same exit he came through initially, and the program has shifted to accommodate it, making it in front of him, no matter how he moves? This topic will come up later again.
Anyway, as Picard is about to leave, there's a knock at the office door, and he calls out that he's just leaving, and the visitor will have to come back later, as he isn't properly dressed. He leaves without freezing or saving the program. Does it continue to run in his absence? I guess so, as the person at the door enters to find no Picard. Once he's left the holodeck completely, he saves the program at the outside panel and turns it off.
He then goes to the observation lounge, where it appears that he had a senior office's meeting scheduled. Picard straight-up fangirls about the holodeck, and seeing cars in the street. When Worf asks what a car is, Data supplies the information, stating that they were often used in "teenage mating rituals." Wes seems very interested, and you know he's probably going to the holodeck later to see what kind of simulated strange the computer can come up with.
Crusher wipes lipstick off his face, which technically should not have been there after he exited the holodeck. Simulated lipstick is simulated. he invites her to go back with him, in full period dress, and she happily accepts. But then he says he wants the ship's historian Whalen to tag along, and she is less pleased.


"Oh, yeah, hey," he says suddenly. "We were supposed to be talking about the Jarada."
There's some more exposition about how shitty it is to talk to the Jarada, because they're such sticklers for accuracy in that greeting. Data keeps trying to talk about how the last captain fucked things over. he wants to run the tape of what happened.
"It's cool," says Troi. "Nobody needs to see it again."
Later, Data asks Geordi about it, and they end up on the subject of Dixon Hill being like Sherlock Holmes. Data decides to check it out, and asks the computer in his quarters for Dixon Hill stories.


I really like this shot of Data, showing the back of his head, and his reflection. Also, the Dixon Hill stories are listed as having been written by Tracy Torme (son of Mel), who was a Star Trek writing staffer, and who wrote this episode. As he made up the character of Dixon Hill, (jokingly) naming him as the author is not incorrect. Data then proceeds to read all of the Hill stories in like.. seconds.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Eleven hours to go until we meet with the Jaradans. Gonna go play with the holodeck some more."

Picard is now dressed to the nines, in a trench coat and fedora, as is the historian Whalen. They are expecting Crusher, but when the lift opens, out walks Data in period dress, and asks to join them. Picard and Whalen agree. Rudely, they do not wait for Crusher.
They enter the holodeck, and there's a cool shot  of the holodeck entrance and corridor beyond. Someone even remembered to replicate the scene in the water reflection below.


Also, check out Brent Spiner in a suit - Damn, Daniel!
Our boys go to the nearest newspaper stand, and it seems the guy running the place knows Hill, so he gives Picard a paper for free, saying he can catch him next time. Picard leafs through the paper. They talk about DiMaggio's hitting streak. Data knows baseball stats, so he chimes in. The newspaper guy thinks Data is weird, and Picard fumbles an intro, saying Data hails from South America.
The newspaper guy gets his own Sassy Moment:
"Yeah... he's got a nice tan."
Picard sees that the woman who hired him has been murdered already. He's disturbed.
"She's a page in a book," laughs Whalen.
Some goons show up at the paper stand.



It's Hill's cop friend, and the cop friend's new partner, who is apparently a giant douche bag. Lieutenant D-Bag asks about Data, and the newspaper guy gets a second Sassy Moment:
"He's from South America - can't you tell?"
Anyway, Lt D-Bag is hauling in Picard for the murder of that chick, because they found Dixon Hill's business card in her purse. It's also because Picard can't produce an alibi for the time of the murder, but still - accusing someone of murder because they had a copy of your business card? That's some super-shitty detective work.
It seems the E has entered Jarada space. A scary probe enters the ship and scans everything, including the holodeck panel, which shorts out and causes the doors to open and close several times.
The Jarada call the bridge: "Enterprise! Where is your captain? He needs to greet us!"
"Hey. This is Number One," replies Riker. "Picard isn't here at the moment."
"OMG, so rude!" yell the Jarada. "We're totally offended."
"Ugh, go find the captain," Riker tells Geordi.


Crusher, looking hella fly, enters the now-busted holodeck, whose doors are still malfunctioning. She somehow knows to go to the police station, though I have no idea how she found that out. It's possible that the holodeck figured out  that all human occupants want to be in the same place at the same time and simply presented her with the police station, but it's never explained.
She encounters Data and Whalen, who tell her that Picard has been accused of murder and is being interrogated. She gets excited and wants to know why they aren't being interrogated as well - "why does he get to have all the fun?"
Whalen says that Picard is having the time of his life.


Picard really is having the time of his life. The cops are attempting to grill him, but he just keeps grinning and talking about how awesome this program is.
Geordi has gotten to the holodeck, but the panel is dead. He calls the bridge to tell Riker that he can't call Picard, end the program, or open the doors. The others are basically trapped inside.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Enterprise Log, supplemental, Riker reporting: "Holodeck busted. Can't get a hold of the captain."

Well, that was weird. Sure, it's just a recap of the last few moments that happened before we went to commercial, but the ship itself has a log? Who normally makes that log? Why was Riker not making his own log, as before? I've never heard of a log for the E itself. I wonder if we'll see it again.

Then we get another anomaly: the first (and only) time that Yar is put in charge of the bridge. 
Riker decides to go down to the holodecks to see what he can do. Wes volunteers to go along, as he's studied the holodeck manuals, and Riker tries to make him stay on the bridge. Troi points out that Crusher is also trapped on the holodeck, and Riker acquiesces.
On the holdeck, Picard is still being interrogated, but now he's kind of over it. He has to get back to the bridge soon for his meet and greet with the Jarada. Hill's cop friend, McNary, says he'll see about Picard getting out of there.



In the waiting room, Crusher watches the lady in pink apply face powder from a compact and check her hair. Like a kitten learning how to groom herself by watching mama cat, Crusher also takes out a compact and checks her reflection. She catches the eye of a cop behind her, who tells her that the things he'd like to say to her can't be said in mixed company.
Ew.
He offers her gum, which she takes, and a ticket a dance for the next night. She swallows the gum, presumably (again) because they don't have such a thing in the twenty-four century.



Out in front of the holodecks, Geordi has taken the panel apart and is inspecting it. Wes immediately takes out some kind of microscope-like diagnostic tool and looks through it. Riker asks if he can help, but Geordi says they have to go through each tiny part, checking to see if something is wrong. ladies and gentlemen, our ship is officially disabled!



Lt D-Bag leaves, and McNary tells Picard that they're letting him go, but he better not leave town, because they know he's dealing with Redblock, and that's bad news bears. Picard seems to genuinely like McNary, and they discuss Picard having dinner with McNary's family. The friendly cop offers Picard a cigarette, which Picard takes one drag off of, then hacks up a lung while he stomps it out with his shoe. Did the holodeck really allow him to experience the full danger of an actual cigarette? Or did it simulate something that he would cough over, but which does not contain the chemicals?
He exits the interrogation room, and there's a nice moment where he sees Crusher, and compliments her on her outfit.


She asks to see his office before they leave the holodeck, and Data and Whalen says they'd like to see it too. This whole time, Data has been affecting a weird "gangster" accent, peppered with 1940's slang, and Crusher rolls her eyes at him.
When they get to the office, Felix Leech is waiting for them. Whalen recognizes him from the Dixon Hill novels. This is the same guy who walked in earlier before Picard shut off the program, and whom the secretary, Madeline, had mentioned having called several times.
Leech accuses Picard of avoiding him. Picard politely tells him to GTFO, because they're busy and don't have time to continue on with the story right now. Leech pulls a gun. They all put their hands up, but grin at one another, because isn't this fun?



Leech says Picard was hired to find an object, and he wants it now. Picard says "why the hell not?" and says they have a few minutes to spare and can play a bit more. Whalen affects Data's "1940's guy" accent and mannerisms, and tells Leech that he'll never find the object. Leech shoots him, and Whalen is blown across the office and onto his back. Crusher actually claps. But then Whalen sits up with a bloody gunshot wound, and suddenly this is not fun anymore.
Whalen confusedly asks how this is possible, because the stuff in the holodeck is not real. Then he collapses.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


A panicked Crusher tells Picard that they need to get Whalen to sick bay. Leech threatens them with the gun again, but Picard is immediately over this shit, and punches Leech. Leech the Whiner yells that Picard will pay for doing that, but honestly, this guy is about as weasley as you can get, so I don't know what he plans on doing. Leech runs from the office. Picard yells for the holodeck exit, and none appears. Solving one small mystery (but creating others), Picard tells Data to check "the other exit" in the hallway. Data reports back that the holodeck is malfunctioning and not showing the exits.

A conversation between the bridge and the corridor outside of the holodeck reveals that they have now reached the Jarada homeworld, and that the insect-race will be expecting Picard's greeting, but that they must stall, because looking for the malfunction is something that can't be rushed.

Crusher is attending to Whalen, and asks for more light. A small gag occurs here where Data picks up a floor lamp and carries it closer to her, only to accidentally unplug it. Puzzled, he checks out the lamp while Picard picks up the plug and moves it closer to Crusher. Picard plugs it in as data flicks at the light bulb and it turns back on again. It's not funny, but you nod your head like, "I see what you did there."
Guess who's back? That little shit-eater Leech, and a couple of goons. Leech is grinning like the little sidekick of the school-yard bully. "You're gonna get it now."
The dude in the bowler hat is Redblock.


Redblock is looking for the mysterious object, and tells his boys to move Whalen into the next room and turn over the office to look for said object. He then allows Leech to pistol-whip Picard. McNary comes in and is quickly overtaken by that other goon in the blue shirt, who steals his gun as well. So now we have a dying man, some jerks with guns, and no way to leave this nightmare.
Picard has reached the end of his rope.



"You know what? I'm not Dixon Hill. I just look like him. And we're not from around here. We're from someplace else entirely. And none of you are actually real."
"That's dumb," says McNary. "Who's going to believe that?"
"Fine, let's do an experiment," says Redblock. "We'll kill someone. That will prove if we are real."
"I want to kill everyone!" yells Leech, waving his gun. Dude, this guy has little dog syndrome, bad.
"Naw," says Redblock. "Kill the chick."


"Okay, I have the object!" says Picard quickly. "But I'm not gonna give it to you until Leech puts the gun down."
"But I reeeaallllyyy want to kill her," whines Leech.
Redblock says maybe later.
"Also, you have to help us save Whalen," Picard adds.

On the bridge, Riker has decided that maybe he can just talk to the Jarada and tell them that Picard is delayed, but when he tries, they get back a high-pitched noise. The Jarada do not want excuses, it seems. Just Picard.
He calls Geordi instead. Geordi says that Wes has found the problem. They are surrounded by a legion of gold-shirted engineers, all crowded around Wes.
Wes replies that he has a solution, but if they don't do it right, the program could abort and everyone inside could disappear.
Um, that doesn't science. Like, at all. I know you guys are going for suspense, but if the program aborts, you aren't going to lose Picard, Crusher, Whalen and Data. They are all real. You're gonna lose Redblock, Leech, that third guy, and McNary. If Wes works his magic, is the holodeck gonna fill with acid, or something? Get real, Star Trek. You can't set up the parameters of something, then claim that some other, not feasible thing could happen later that's completely outside of those parameters.
What am I saying? This show does that all the time.


Picard tries to tell Redblock that he needs help getting Whalen to sick bay. Data, trying to be helpful, gives a long-winded explanation of things, and Leech begs Redblock to let him kill Data.
Do it. I fucking dare you. That shit will not go as you planned, Leech.
However, it's moot, as Wes tweaks something, and they suddenly find themselves in a snowstorm.


Gee, friends. Are we reminded of another time when Enterprise crew members got stuck on the holodeck in a snowstorm?



They're immediately snapped back to Dixon Hill's office, each hat brim covered in loose snow. The exit in the office appears. (Wes, Geordi, and that legion of gold shirts are not outside the door, confirming that there are two exits to this holosuite.)
Then, instead of going through the exit and taking Whalen, Picard stands there and talks to Redblock.
"Look, see? This is the door into our world, and if you let us take Whalen to sick bay, I'll come back with your item."
Man, I know Redblock and Goon #2 have guns, and that little fucker Leech is itching to kill somebody, but fucking walk a round to the panel and shut that shit off!
Of course Redblock is having none of this. He doesn't trust Picard to come back.


"You can't go with us," says Data, "if that's what you're talking about. You don't exist. You'll disintegrate."
Redblock doesn't buy it. He tells Goon #2 to shoot everyone and hide the bodies, because he and Leech are going to go plunder Picard's world.
And then, in a move that also does not science, he and Leech step into the hall... where there is no holo-projector and no grid to support them. They're out there for a hot minute, too... until they finally, slowly, disintegrate like Data said they would.


Data steps forward and takes the gun from Goon #2, pinching the chamber closed with his fingers. Then he punches the guy after getting permission from Picard. He carries Whalen to sick bay, Crusher at his heels.
Picard says goodbye to McNary. It's bittersweet, as Picard genuinely enjoys McNary's company. McNary gets existential:
"When you leave, will I cease to exist? Will my wife and kids be waiting for me when I get home?"
"I don't know," says Picard sadly.
He leaves, and the holodeck goes dark.


Picard rushes onto the bridge in his suit and hat. He opens hailing frequencies and spews a lot of gibberish. After a moment, the Jarada answer back, saying that he has honored them. Everyone on the bridge applauds.



Riker asks Picard how the Dixon Hill program went.
"Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to die there," he responds.
Data takes his place at the conn, and Geordi asks how it was. Data starts to give a film noir description about hard rain in San Francisco, but Picard tells him to knock it off.


Then Picard puts his hat back on, and tells Geordi to "Shtep on it."


Like most of season one, this episode is alright. Okay, maybe it was pretty good. Gene Rod said he wanted a gangster episode, and Tracy Torme, who had a thing for noir, gave him what he wanted with a slight twist. TV Guide tried to critique this episode as being the same as TOS' "A Piece of the Action," but Torme dismissed that as being TVG seeing three-piece suits on Star Trek and thinking they were the same. I have to say, I agree with Torme. "Action" featured a "gangster planet" of humanoid aliens who had formed their culture around the gangster culture of the United States in the 1920s, whereas "Goodbye" takes place on the holodeck, in the setting of fictional San Francisco in the forties. "Action" is a light-hearted gangster romp, meant as a "goofing off" episode. While "Goodbye" was also a goofing off episode, it was blended nicely with the crime novel noir genre, making it darker and a bit more serious. The danger seems more real than in "Action."
My obvious issues with this episode have to do with science and the holodeck. Now here's the thing: I'm totally willing to engage in suspension of disbelief, if you can explain it satisfactorily. I don't need to know all of the science, just enough so that what you're selling me makes sense. I'll absolutely buy that by the twenty-fourth century, we have the technology to build these rooms where anything I can imagine can be programmed in, and I can explore the little world in that room. Good to go. But if you tell me that it's all a trick of the light and projectors and special moving floors, then I'll expect that things created in that environment cannot exist outside of it. Things like lipstick and gangsters should not exist beyond the exit.
While it didn't bother me in the same way, that second exit was strange. In all of the holodeck situations we've seen before now, the suites had one exit only. The suite in question, 4J on deck 11, would had to have been set at the end of the row, on the corner, for there to have been an additional exit off the side. We only see the one exit initially, right next to the lift in the corridor. But the second exit is around the corner in a different corridor altogether, and while the only map I could find of deck 11 indicates that the room was indeed a square one with exposed corners in the corridor, I can't tell if that's the room we're looking for or not.
Interestingly, this is the only episode in which a second exit appears for a holodeck suite. All future holodeck suites will have one exit only.


All in all, this was a fun episode, without a lot of extra thought required, or a Hmm Moment at the end.


Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0 (An almost here. Troi intervened on Wes' behalf)
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy NPC Moments: That newspaper guy got 2!
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0 (But Data does read at an amazing rate, and he almost, ALMOST told Redblock and Co that he was an android)
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0, though she gave Riker a thoughtful look


Fun Facts:

- Numerous film noir references are made during the holodeck scenes of this episode, including  character names and set design. The plot for the Dixon Hill novel used to create the holodeck program is based on the film "The Maltese Falcon."
- The title of this episode is most likely a mash-up of the Raymond Chandler novels "The Big Sleep" and "The Long Goodbye."
- Torme and director Joe Scanlon initially wanted to film the holodeck scenes in black and white, but they were overruled by Rick Berman and Robert Justman, who insisted that real people could not be altered in that way by the holodeck.
- Budget restrictions kept the Jarada from appearing on-screen. Torme was disappointed, as his descriptions would have lead to wasp-like people with a hive-mind.
- Dixon Hill's secretary Madeline will appear in two more Dixon Hill stories on TNG.
-The discussion of Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak is time-accurate. DiMaggio hit 37 games on June 25, 1941.
- William Ware Theiss won an Emmy award for this episode for outstanding costuming. This episode also won a Peabody for outstanding excellence in television broadcasting.
- Quite a few of the cast members listed this episode as their favorite. Wil Wheaton thinks it's because everybody likes to act in period clothes.


*******

And now, rather perfectly suited for a noir episode, is the most mysterious tea ever.
"Would you like some tea for your cough?" asked Gimli.
"Yes, please," I replied.
I was going to go for just plain old store-brand black, but Legolas used his tall to grab down the wooden tea box, and Roomie found a tiny, shiny black bag with a silver label that said Savoure "Raspberry Mango."
"Hell yeah, that!" I answered.
A loose-leaf, it's dark and opaque like coffee when you brew it. It smells divine.
"I don't like raspberry teas," remarked Legolas. "They never seem sweet enough, so I sweeten them, and then they're too sweet."
 The bag doesn't specify a leaf base, but my best guess is black, based on the slight bitter aftertaste.
I add honey. Legolas appears to be correct. First too little, then too much. But I am okay with too sweet here. The tea tastes like mango and raspberry separately, but also like a raspberry truffle at the same time. I look up the company online and get a Yelp review saying that the tea shop is closed. They have no website. Others claim that the shop merely moved to a different part of town. All links clicked lead to maps with the question, "Is this your business? Click here to add information!" Nothing is given freely. Other links are included for different tea shops simply because the word "tea" appeared in the search bar.
"Did you mean "savory tea"?" Google inquires.
No, Google. No.
"Where did you get this tea?" I asked Gimli.
"Oh, I think a friend gave it to us," he replied, head elsewhere.
Sooo, a tea shop, possibly in some town on the West coast, which may or may not be open in the downtown area now, or may be operating under a different name, with no website.
This tea is delicious, but that does none of us any good.






Five-week-old Charlotte

3 comments:

  1. It's funny how the show's creators didn't originally think they needed a regular engineering character, and already we've had several episodes that revolve around engineering, and now we've got the ship's pilot drafted into fixing a holodeck panel instead of manning his station in a tense situation.

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    Replies
    1. Right? We've seen three or four separate engineering chiefs, explained away as being different shift leads, yet none of them seem to have stuck. They keep going back to Geordi. It makes me wonder if they did that on purpose from the beginning, or if Geordi ended up in that spot enough times that they finally just said, "Screw it. Put the pilot in gold and promote him." I mean, I've known people who switched majors in college because the second major was clearly where they belonged, but did Geordi really make it all the way through the Academy and multiple assignments, still out-shining senior engineering officers, to the point that they'd call on him to fix things over engineering chiefs?

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  2. Why does Data have to read? Can't he just upload the stories into his neural net?

    Voyager will later establish real people's appearances can be altered to appear black and white, though that might be a later innovation.

    Also, it seems later episodes tend to have the holodeck characters ignore the clothing of the real people.

    This episode is pretty fun but not terribly important. Well, more important than other holodeck episodes. It does plant the seed for a scene in First Contact.

    Season 1, overall, seems to be a lot better than most people seem to think. I recently finished Netflixing the entire Star Trek franchise (minus the reboot films), and, while this season is a bit hazy to me by now and seems a bit hokier, it's still plenty enjoyable. Maybe it's a bit blasphemous of my part, but I find it more watchable than most of TOS.

    Charlotte is sooo cute! Possible caption: "Taco is 4 me yes? Is in front of me but not in my mouth. Plz fix thank u."

    ReplyDelete