Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, January 16, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Three "Elementary, Dear Data"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Three "Elementary, Dear Data"
Production Order: 29
Air Order: 29
Stardate: 42286.3
Original Air Date: December 5, 1988

I'm gonna beat you over the head with something that I beat you over the head with a lot.


No, not Jack Crusher's death.
The connection between MLK and Nichelle Nichols.



Yeah, I know. I talk about this frequently.
But is so freaking important that it bears repeating often.
And it's ephemera, an overlooked piece of history, some bit of trivia to so many, but the absolute world to others.
You probably know the story well now - MLK runs into Nichelle Nichols, and he tells her how his family enjoys the show, and she admits that she's thinking of leaving to go back to the theater. He asks her not to leave the show. She reconsiders and decides to stay. The butterfly effect continues. A young Whoopi Goldberg sees Nichols on television and runs through the house to tell her mother that there's a black woman on tv and she's not a maid.
Not a maid.
Is she front and center of every episode? No, she's typically sitting off to the side, rarely seen on away missions, and her voice becomes a pleasant familiar sound in the background. Sure, she's basically the lady who answers the phone on the Enterprise, but she's highly educated, speaks multiple languages, and manages (through the films) to reach the rank of Commander. She's not wandering the ship, scrubbing the floors. She'a an active and respected member of the crew, friends to many without boundary of gender or race. And if you land on her bad side, you're probably going to end up on the wrong side of a phaser.


And the censors let Star Trek get away with making a black female a badass because, you know... it's science fiction. But it opened the door, just a little. We quietly got several more black crew members...red shirts on security, members of away missions, a black female science officer with a white male assistant.
And then Daystrom.
Really, they could have chosen anyone to play the complicated role of Dr Richard Daystrom, as the character didn't have anything tying him to one race or another. They elected to go with tall, imposing William Marshall to play Daystrom. There's both a quiet dignity and a ferocious storm about him. You are both impressed and afraid of this man, and Marshall is excellent. I cannot imagine anyone else as Daystrom.



It goes on. There are more added, usually in the background, going about the business of running a ship... maybe some of them get lines. But not one of them is a servant. All are there by choice, on the flagship of the Federation. A black starship captain in the second film...


A black female starship captain in the fourth...


A black engineering chief, whose name appears in the opening credits of episode of the next show...


A woman who appears briefly in an otherwise crappy episode, but whom Picard praises as "making captain faster than anyone in Starfleet history"...



Back around to the little girl who declared that the woman on television was no maid...


To the headlining character of an ensemble...


And what does this add up to?
Representation counts, friends.
For some, that first step is seeing someone like themselves do it first. They build on the work of those pioneers, improving and enhancing, and encouraging others to do the same in their own fields. While we've come a long way, we still have a long journey ahead of us, and it is more important than ever that we represent the wide variety that humanity has to offer on our television programs, in our literature, sciences, arts.
And it seems as though Gene Roddenberry knew this. When the comments came back from his early shows, there were several criticisms: get rid of the female first officer, the guy with the ears, and the black communications officer on the bridge. Gene sacrificed Number One, giving her actor another, smaller part. But he gave them the middle finger when it came to the other two: for better or for worse, Uhura was staying. It was important for people to see her on the bridge, as part of a team, and not as a second-class citizen.
Everyone is equal.
Everyone gets to play a part.
We know that this was what Gene wanted, as his vision for the future. We know that this was part of what made the franchise so popular then, and why it continues to be popular now. It's a vision of the future in which we've set aside petty, skin-deep differences in favor of working together, a vision which so many people of today want for us as a species tomorrow.
It was Gene's dream for this to come true, and it seems it was also Martin's as well.


*******



Picard's Log 42286.3: "Arrived at a meet-up with another ship, the Victory, like three days early. Nothing to do, so smoke 'em if you got 'em, Also, for no reason at all, here are the coordinates of where we're waiting in space."

(Seriously, there was no reason to include those coordinates. They don't actually come into play. At all.)

While we're getting this log, we're following Data through the corridors, presumably to see what mechanical dude does in his spare time. He goes into Engineering to meet up with Geordi, who is chilling with a model ship, the Victory.


Geordi made it by hand to give to the Victory's captain, and he talks briefly about how he's fascinated by old-school technology. While Data is interested, he wants to know why Geordi called him down there. It seems that Geordi has figured out what they can do with their spare three days: he wants to go romp in the holodeck with Data, playing Holmes and Watson.
"Sweet," agrees Data.
No music! Opening credits!

When we return, our boys are wearing replicated cosplays, and Data asks the holodeck to choose a Sherlock Holmes mystery at random for them to solve, with himself as Holmes, and Geordi as Watson. They enter, and marvel at the detail. Data fagirls, identifying objects and telling Geordi which story they're from. Geordi asks what his role is in this this, and Data replies that Watson is Holmes' friend, and the dude who writes down a record of the mysteries that Holmes solves. Data plays the violin. Geordi is amazed, because I guess he forgot that Data picks up this kind of thing easily?


There's a knock at the door, and Data says it's Inspector Lestrade.
Now, I love me some Holmes, but there are two things I hate about the different iterations of this character and his mysteries: bumbling Watsons, and bumbling Lestrades. Neither of these men were idiots, please don't portray them that way.
So Geordi lets Lestrade and some other guy in, and Lestrade starts telling Holmes-Data that there's a case he can't solve, and could Holmes please help, but Data interrupts to give his audience all of the clues. Among other things, they're looking for an incriminating photograph. Data ends his monologue by ripping open the lining of the coat on the guy with Lestrade, revealing the photo they were looking for.
"This dude is a spy!" announces Data.
(A quick aside here: maybe it's some human nature thing that I don't get, but if you're not supposed to "be" with someone, why the holy hell would you take a photo with them? It's asking for trouble. Sooner or later, someone will find it, and you'll be screwed.)


He's interrupted when Geordi snaps shut the journal he had been writing in.
"Fuck this shit. I'm out."
He scoops up his hat and leaves.
Data follows him out, chasing after Geordi like a hapless spouse who has earned themselves a night on the couch.
They continue the discussion in Ten Forward. (Gotta make use of that new set, man.)
Geordi is pissed off because he wanted to solve a Holmes mystery with Data, but Data has them all memorized. Data was having a good time giving out the answers, but Geordi was annoyed because the legwork of solving the crime wasn't there. Data isn't quite getting the gist that jumping to the end wasn't as fun for Geordi.
Then, because she's a giant asshole who can't mind her own beeswax, Pulaski butts in from the bar.
"It's no good," she says in amusement. "He's never going to get it because he isn't a human."
And Data, rather than shrugging it off like he usually does, calls her out on that shit: "Am I so different from you, Doctor? Are you able to cease thinking on command?"
Good for you, Data. You don't have to take that.


This is where she'd typically give an apology that isn't an apology, but more of an annoyed sigh because now she has to change her back-asswards thinking. Instead, she answers his question by talking about why she's superior to him. Unfortunately, this leads to a lesson moment, and I'm none too pleased that she delivers it, and then is backed up by Geordi. Basically, she's talking about how failure is how one learns, and why Data is not going to learn because he never makes mistakes. (That last part is untrue. Data is just as capable of making a misstep as anyone else.)
Geordi defends his friend: "Deductive reasoning is one of Data's strengths."
"Yes, and Holmes as well," she replies. "But Holmes understood the human soul, and Data will never do that."
Bitch, did we read the same books? Because Holmes did not understand the human soul. Holmes had problems with shit like that. Holmes understood motivation and the criminal mind.
"Now you're just being unfair," says Geordi, because she fucking is.


Pulaski: "More bigoted bullshit because I think I'm right, blah, blah, blah."
Geordi: "Hey, what if we programmed the holodeck to come up with something new in the Holmes style? Then you wouldn't know the outcome, and we could solve it together."
Pulaski: "No, I don't think so. He's artificial and not human, so he won't be able to do it."
Data switches back into the Holmes persona. "A challenge! Very well, I accept."
Then he says the most illogical thing ever -


WHAT? NO!
Data, that's like asking your bigoted, homophobic uncle to watch Will & Grace with you, or inviting your least-favorite internet troll to go to Comic-Con with you on your dime. Why the hell would you ruin your fun detective party by inviting the wettest of blankets to come along?
Also, you jackass, that means that he rest of us have to spend the next 35 minutes with her, 
Data hates us, you guys.
Anyway, fun rollicking music, and commercial break.

Back at the holodeck, Data asks the computer to create a new Holmes-style mystery, but not one that was written by Sir Arthur Conn Doyle.
Also, mumbly-mumbled admission that Diana Muldaur looks spectacular in period clothing.


The program finishes its work, and they go inside. Let's stop and admire this, shall we?
They crew actually built this Holmes-era street scene by hand, from the ground up. It cost 200-grand, and it shows. (Unfortunately, the powers that be decided that they had spent too much on this episode, and cut one day of filming to try to save money, resulting in a bit of a filming scramble.)


Our trio admires the sophistication of the holodeck, and a boy runs past them. A man yells out to stop the boy, but Data says it's a distraction. He leads them to a nearby building and points out a red-headed guy coming in their direction.
"That guy was coming here, to the Red-Headed League, and would have been killed like this!"
Data pulls a bell-pull hanging on the porch, and a snake falls out of the sky.
Pulaski calls Data a fraud, because he recognized parts from several different Holmes stories and put it all together.
Are you kidding me, lady?
Screaming fraud is crap. In order to commit fraud, Data would have to have knowingly lied to you in order to gain something. He did no such thing. While you are correct in stating that he put all of those elements together, he never lied to you about it. None of this is Data's fault. It's the fault of the holodeck for not following directions - Geordi and Data told the holodeck to create an entirely new story in that same style, but not written by Conan Doyle. All of those elements had been written by that author, the holodeck had merely rearranged them.
And she's so smug about calling him on what she perceives to be hypocrisy. This woman is a 24th century troll.


Again, she gets all robophobic, and tries to convince Geordi, going so far to refer to Data as "our friend." Bitch, you are nobody's friend, and I'm surprised that they put up with you.
But Geordi recognizes that none of this is Data's fault. He goes to the front of the holodeck (how the hell can he tell?) and calls for the arch of the room. It appears, complete with inner control panel.
"Okay," he tells it. "We need a mystery in the Holmesian style, but it needs to be completely original, with a villain that can defeat Data."
(I guess the computer is aware of Data and his capabilities?)
I hope you're paying attention, because this guy sure is.


Up on the bridge, Worf notices something.


Has your Holmesian sense of deductive reasoning set in yet? Because this is our Disable the Ship.

Back in the holodeck, Geordi has sent the arch away, and they take another look around. Pulaski says that their surroundings are slightly different, though I don't see it, so I guess we'll have to take her word for it. They walk away.
"Are you alright, Professor?" a prostitute asks the guy who was watching before.
"I feel like a new man," he says. Then he calls out, "Arch!"
The arch appears. That's pretty bad news bears. An NPC should not be able to do that.
The arch then asks if he wants to input any commands.
"Not at this time," he replies, and it disappears.
The prostitute freaks out and runs away.
"Freaking sweet," says Moriarty.


Data and Geordi are walking around sans Pulaski, and you almost hope that they ditched her somewhere, but then they hear a woman scream, and go running back to where they were a moment ago.
"She's been kidnapped!" says Data.
"Naw," replies Geordi. "She's hiding somewhere, and she's gonna keep screwing with you, then tell everybody later how she fooled the mechanical man."

I'm left to wonder... would Pulaski really be that petty? Part of me says no, but a big enough part says yes that I can't rule it out, and that's pretty sad.

Anyway, Data finds one of her shoes (is that really that common? Seems so cliched, kidnapped people losing shoes - do they really come off that easily?). He then goes on to describe the two guys that took her, based on clues he picked up from their footprints.
Then he makes this Holmes pun while holding Pulaski's shoe:

Har, har.


Playful music! Commercial break!

Data and Geordi fly to another street, then Data stops to listen to footsteps ahead, making more deductions.
"Did you read that in a Holmes story?" Geordi tests him.
Data seems mildly disappointed that Geordi would ask that, and briefly drops the Holmes persona. "No, I deduced it." He then goes on to explain how he reached his conclusion as to why he thinks Pulaski has been bound and gagged, and is being carried by her captors.
Lestrade  runs up to them and asks them to follow him.
They come up on a crowd, and it's announced to Data-Holmes that a murder has been committed.


Data glances at the scene and says, "No, this isn't worth my time. You do this one, Lestrade. I have to find the kidnapped doctor."
Geordi jumps into the circle and tries to use the Holmes method of figuring out how the guy was killed, but when Lestrade asks data if that's correct, Data replies that it's not, and that dude's common-law wife killed him.
The camera angle here is awesome.


Data spots Moriarty watching them from a doorway before he disappears inside, and he excuses himself from the crowd as the wife is arrested. Geordi grabs Data's arm as they walk toward the place where Moriarty left.
"Dude, if that wasn't connected to us, is the computer running it's own shit separately to our story?"
"Looks that way," says Data.
Geordi is excited, because this means that Data has no clue what's going to happen next.
"So how do you know where we need to go?" Geordi asks.
"Moriarty has Pulaski. He wants us to find him, so he's being obvious. He's the only person that our kidnapper could possibly be."
"Sweet!"
They go into a warehouse, and Geordi is afraid it's a dead-end, but Data finds some scratches on a wall, and when Geordi examines it with his VISOR, they find that it's a hidden door, the backside of which is a sweet bookcase. They step into a parlor with a laboratory set-up off to the side. 


Moriarty appears. "Welcome, Holmes... but not Holmes. And Watson, but not Watson."
"Data, what the fuck?" whispers Geordi. "How does he know we're not Holmes and Watson?"
"Dunno," says Data. Then he asks Moriarty, "Is Dr Pulaski here? Did you hurt her?"
"I will if I have to," answers Moriarty. "But I need some answers. Like, why are you guys acting so weird? There's something going on."

That's some tragic guy-liner right there.

"For instance, there's something called a computer, which controls the whole world, it seems. Arch."
The arch appears.
"The hell?" demands Geordi, still whispering. "NPCs cannot call the arch!"
"The arch tells me things," says Moriarty, sounding like a kid in a horror film. "It says the world outside is different than I think it is, and it has this shape." He draws on a piece of paper and gives it to Data. "Tell me what that is, Holmes."
Data takes the paper. "Shit!" And he runs out, leaving Geordi to follow after him.
Data stalks back out to the street and calls for the exit.
"What the hell is going on?" demands Geordi.
"Computer, shut down the holodeck," Data barks at the control panel.
"Access denied," replies Majel.
"Why?" demands Data.
"Protocol is overridden," she answers.
They glance back inside. Still running.
"Bullshit," says Data. "We gotta go see the captain."
"Why?" yells Geordi, as they stride through the corridor. "Why won't the holodeck shut down, and what's on that paper?"
Data stops to give it to him.
"WTF?" demands Geordi. "That is not possible."


"Who has control of the holodeck?"
"Moriarty," replies Data.
"Is the doctor safe?"
"No."

Dramatic music! Commercial break! Like we care if she's killed by a holographic psychopath!

Later, our boys are in the observation lounge with the senior officers.
Picard casually asks the computer why the holodeck can't be shut down, and she replies that the protocols have been overridden... by Geordi.



"The hell?" demands Geordi.
Picard waves it off and asks for the whole story. Geordi says that he and Pulaski asked the computer to make a Holmes-type story with a villain who could defeat Holmes.
"Holmes?" asks Picard.
"Oh, wait... no. I told it to make us a villain that could defeat Data."
Picard swears.


I love it that that's the word they choose when Picard swears. It's common enough that people know what he's saying, but not so common that the censors would axe it. I'm also fairly certain that Picard would not say that word in English, but would totally do it in French.

Data tells Picard that Moriarty is able to call for the arch.
They discuss how that shouldn't be possible, but that Moriarty's 19th century brain would need to be augmented with 24th century knowledge in order to defeat Data.
"I'll take a team of security Golds in with me and phaser our way in to get the doctor," suggests Worf.
"Naw," says Data. "He turned off everything else, which means he probably turned off safety measures, too. He could most likely kill us."
"Particle beam?" asks Riker.
"Yeah, a particle beam would destroy everything in the holodeck," replies Geordi. "But it would also kill Pulaski."
Picard asks the computer to check on Pulaski, and the computer replies that she's on the holodeck, but fine.
Troi says that she senses that something is happening on the holodeck, and Data theorizes that Moriarty had to gain consciousness in order to brain-battle Data.


The ship rocks. When prompted, the computer says that some of the controls for the ship were just transferred to the holodeck.
"Well, fuck," says Picard. "I think I should get changed and go in with you."

Back in the holodeck parlor of James Moriarty, the same shaking has just occurred, and an astonished Pulaski sits nearby, asking him how he made the room shake.
"Not sure," he replies, throwing a lever.
Something I never noticed before: there's a set of Industrial-era machinery in the middle of the parlor that hadn't been there before. It was created as period counter-part when he transferred some of the ship's functions to the holodeck. Oh, you sexy, show.
He sits next to her for a civilized cup of tea.
I love the British. "I'll most likely kill you later and destroy everything you know and love, but in the meantime, let's have some fucking tea."



Anyway, he tells her that the computer tells him that they're all traveling in a huge vessel. She plays dumb. (Interestingly, the one time we've heard the computer answer his questions, it was in Majel's voice, but he refers to to it as "Mr Computer.")
She tells him that he seems much different than the Moriarty she read about, and when he asks if she's afraid of him, she answers no.
"You should be," he says simply, though without malice. He's also distracted, and playing with his hands in his lap.
He calls for the arch, which seems to be the first time she's seen him do that, as it raises some alarm with her. He's figured out the control panel touch pad, but can't seem to remember the last of a command to type in, so he gets rid of it.
Pulaski stands up. "I'm gonna get going, thanks for the tea."
"Where will you go?" he asks, standing next to a chalkboard with a drawing of the Enterprise. "Here?" He points to it.
"Yes," she replies. "Do you want to go with me?"
Look at you, Clever Clogs. If he leaves the holodeck, he'll disappear.
"Maybe later," he answers. "Right now, you're going to hang out with me, because I'm using you as bait to lure in your captain, Jean-Luc Picard."
She feigns ignorance again.


Worf gets out of the lift in period clothing, and he looks like the world's scariest butler. Imagine that - Klingon butler. Like Mr Belvedere, but with a terrifying knowledge of weaponry.
"I'm sorry I used the wrong fork! OMG, please don't bat'leth me!"


Picard looks fine as hell. That sapphire is really his color.


Data and Picard go inside, leaving Worf to stand by in case they need help (guess they have their comm badges?). Oops, looks like all the shit is getting fucked up. Like, you;re just going about your business, slowly dying in the toxic environment that was London in the late 19th century, and a fucking grid appears where the sky should be. That's some Truman Show-level shit right there.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!


Some creepy douche bag attempts to rob Picard at knife-point.
"No, I don't think so," says Picard calmly, and he nods at Data.
Data knocks the knife from the guy's hand, then grabs dude's thumb between his own thumb and forefinger and squeezes.
The guy drops to his knees and practically sobs while Data and Picard discuss the fail-safes being turned off.
"Oh, right," says Picard after a moment, and tells Data to let the guy go.
The artful dodger scampers away.
They make their way back to the warehouse with its slick bookcase entrance and there's a funny bit there where you can see Pulaski chilling on the couch, stuffing pastries down her gullet.


She drunkenly stumbles upright and assures him that she's fine, if a little stuffed.
Moriarty and Picard introduce themselves, then Moriarty pulls the lever and the whole ship rocks.
"Okay, look," says Picard. "You're imaginary, created for a game, to defeat this man next to me. And when the game is over, you'll cease to exist."
Data holds out his hand. "You win. You're the smarter guy. Put 'er there, pal."
"I'm not falling for that!" says Moriarty. "You can out your hand down, Data. Also notice that I didn't call you Holmes."
He has his hand on the lever again, just to show how badass he is.
"Anyway, I'm different now than I was before." He shakes the ship again.
"Okay, you have my attention," says Picard. "What do you want?"
"The computer says I'm only energy," explain Moriarty. "I want to be more than that."




Picard struggles to figure out how to describe things from the 24th century in 19th century terms. "Okay, look. Where we come from, we've figured out that energy and matter are interchangeable. We can swap it out in some cases. But you can only exist here, on the holodeck, as a holographic image."
"So if I leave...?"
"You won't exist anymore," says Pulaski.
"Are you sure?" asks Moriarty. "Like, really, really sure?"
"Really, really sure," answers Picard.
"Okay, what about Data? He's a machine, right?"
"No, Data's more than just a machine," Picard assures him.
(ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION, PULASKI? EVERYONE ELSE GETS IT.)



Moriarty looks Picard square in the face and says that he doesn't want to die, that he is no longer the evil character programmed by the holodeck.
"But you don't know how to convert energy into matter, do you?"
"No, that's beyond me," Picard answers. "And I don't want to kill you."
Moriarty, accepting his fate, tells Pulaski that she is free to go, then he calls for the arch and returns control of the ship back to the bridge.
In an offer that's probably much nicer than he deserves after kidnapping someone and taking over a ship, Picard tells Moriarty that they'll save his program and hunt around for someone who can make him into matter. Moriarty is grateful, and tells Pulaski that maybe he'll get to see her again.
Then he drops this, and I really just can't even:

Is that innuendo, or...?

So Picard basically saves Moriarty to a flash-drive and closes down the program.

Later, he goes down to Engineering to see Geordi.
Geordi is feeling kind of maudlin, because his model was damaged a bit when Moriarty shook the ship. He's also weirded out that he kind of created a new life-form because he used the wrong phrasing with the computer, and it didn't have the best consequences.
"Naw, we're good," says Picard cheerfully, which is not really a resolution to anything.
But the Victory has arrived, so who cares?



So here we are again with an episode that I would consider to be "mixed bag." While they're certainly better than season one, season two's episodes so far have still been mostly middle of the road.
Here's some good stuff:
Firstly. I'm a Holmes fan in all it's iterations. I like to compare and contrast them because they deal with a basic set of characters, and each takes a slightly different spin. Bonus points for this version: neither Watson nor Lestrade seemed too stupid to be able to find their own ass with their hands. It helps of course that Geordi was playing Watson, and Geordi is no slouch. (I love Basil Rathbone's version. I do. But the treatment of Watson there makes you wonder sometimes how that guy ever got a doctorate.) This Lestrade, while not as smart as some other portrayals, didn't make him out to be some kind of inbred idiot. And while I'm aware that he's meant to look less intelligent overall than Holmes. there's no need to make him a complete dumbshit. I have enough working knowledge of the formation of Scotland Yard to know that almost anyone could become an investigator, but FFS, the guy was really only coming to Holmes when he's totally stumped on something. Dude could handle most of his own cases just fine, thanks. And this Lestrade wasn't awful, what little we saw of him.

Then we come to our sci-fi: holodeck computer that doesn't exactly malfunction ends up giving consciousness to a fictional holographic image, and that holographic image makes the plea that we get when dealing with the concept of The Other. We've seen what happens before to The Other when people are split or cloned, and it becomes apparent that one must cease to exist. Here, there isn't an original to deal with, Moriarty simply springs to life as part of the program, and the computer chooses to "upgrade" him by giving him a sense of self-awareness. (Ten bucks says, in-universe, Picard immediately reports this bug to Starfleet intelligence, and protocols go into place which keep the computer from creating more life accidentally in this way.) Picard's solution (to offer to put him on ice until other plans could be made) becomes all the more interesting when you consider that the episode almost didn't happen that way. In the original script, Picard realizes that Moriarty can indeed leave the holodeck, based on the fact that the drawing left the holodeck in tact, which meant that the holodeck could convert energy into matter, the way that the transporter does. he then lies to Moriarty and says that it isn't possible, trapping Moriarty in the bowels of the holodeck programming. The script was changed because Gene thought this made Picard deceitful, something he felt was wrong for Picard's character. The drawing remained in the second script, but went unexplained. The thing is, this is not the first time we've have ambiguity with the holodeck. Many things have left with humans... Wes falls into a stream in "Encounter at Farpoint" and leaves holodeck wet. Picard walks out into the corridor with lipstick on his face. And Wes (again) throws a snowball at his set dressing companion, which leave the holodeck and hits Picard square in the chest. But when other holodeck characters seemingly become self-aware (The Big Goodbye), Picard explains and then demonstrates that they will cease to exist outside of the holodeck. They don't believe him, step into the corridor, and disappear. It's a bit inconsistent all around.
Sci-fi: good try for this episode?

Finally, we come to my complaint, and it's effing Pulaski again. This whole thing started when Geordi and Data were arguing in Ten Forward and she shoved her nose in to make bigoted comments about Data... again. So far, three episodes into this season, and each one has featured Pulaski way more than they ever featured Crusher, and each one has featured her making nasty remarks to or at Data.

From tng-confessions.tumblr.com

And then we get to jump into this shit: she's a McCoy clone. The writers went out of their way to make her a grouchy older doctor who hates the transporters and is set in her ways. I know they were trying to go for a triad like they had with Kirk-Spock-McCoy, but that's just not going to work here. Our Spock-like character is Data, who is far more naive than Spock, and actually yearns to be more like humans, not less. In TOS, Spock and McCoy played off each other like The Odd Couple, each flinging insults at the other, but always with the knowledge that they were actually fond of one another. Here, there is no frenemies dynamic. Data is a well-loved character, and Pulaski rolling up and hurtling a bunch of insults at him just leaves him baffled. He does not insult her back. That would be out of character. So she tosses out a bunch of robophobic comments and generally ensures that she's unlikeable. Now we have to deal with that third: who is Kirk? The whole relationship rests on the fact that Kirk is friends with both Spock and McCoy, very different people. They were envisioned as being parts of Kirk's personality in human form, and he would go to them both when he needed advice, his logical half and his emotional half. So who here is Kirk? It is not Picard, who plays no or little part in these conversations. It has to be Geordi, which makes no sense, because he is not even a little bit like Kirk. He is besties with Data, but not friends with Pulaski. In this episode, he agrees with her once, but then sides with Data twice. In TOS, Kirk often finds himself defending his friends against that other friend, but here, the balance is off. What's more, these three do not fit into the McSpirk triad because our main pair, Geordi and Data, fit much more comfortably into the comparison of Sulu/Chekov. This leaves Pulaski with no friends to defend her position or to shrug it off when she makes robophobic comments and say, "That's just the way she is." Nope, everyone on the E puts her into her place, stating how awesome and efficient Data is at his job, making her look even more like a dick.

Bottom line: not a bad episode, and the choice of actors for Moriarty was top-notch, but the whole thing was tempered quite a bit by the fact that Pulaski continues to be nasty toward Data, and then we had to see quite a bit more of her this episode than in the previous ones.



Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date:2
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date:3
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 2 (this whole episode is about Data being an android)
To date: 6
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 4
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 1
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 1


Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:



Fun Facts:

- The idea for this episode came from the episode "The Big Goodbye," where Data compares Dixon Hill to Holmes.
- The Holmes mysteries referenced for this episode are "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," and "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League." The idea to use Moriarty as the villain that the computer comes up is based on "The Final Problem." Geordi asks the computer to make an opponent who would be able to defeat Data. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, tired of the Holmes stories and looking to kill him off, created Moriarty as an equal to Holmes for just such a purpose.
- Rob Bowman chose to direct this episode because he really wanted "The Big Goodbye," but missed the opportunity.
- A sequel was planned, but did not come around until the sixth season. Show producers thought at the time of writing tat Sherlock Holmes had passed into public domain. They were thereafter contacted by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to let them know that such was not the case. It took four years for Star trek to secure the rights to make the "sequel" to this episode, "Ship in a Bottle."
"Elementary, Dear Data" was nominated for two Emmys: Outstanding At Direction, and Outstanding Costume Design for a Series.


Bratty is a goofball.


7 comments:

  1. I love your mini-essay at the top, but Uhura wasn't in the pilot (well, not the first one). What Gene really told to let her go at some point?

    Picard might not say "Shit", but Patrick Stewart certainly does. I heard it in an outtake.

    This episode took place over the course of three days?

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    1. Now that I think about it, she wasn't in the pilot... though I do recall them asking Gene to get rid of her very early on. Hell, it might have been almost any time. The powers that be at CBS were such dicks.
      No, it takes place over the course of one day, then I guess they skipped forward in time to the rendezvous with the Victory.

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    2. Okay, fixed it. God, my head is so full of Star Trek trivia, but I can't seem to keep it all straight. I should probably take a leaf from Holmes' book and get rid of some stuff... but I'd like it to be things like "how to file taxes," or "renewing your license at the DMV." :P

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    3. Yes, but my mind keeps going back to CBS because they're the final answer in "Who Owns This Shit Now?" So TOS was owned by Desilu, Lucille Ball's company,and Paramount. It aired on NBC, as did TAS. Paramount was owned by Viacom, and when Viacom and CBS split, CBS got the rights to Star Trek. So in my mind, Star Trek is completely associated with the logos of Paramount and CBS (the mountain and the eye-thingy), despite the fact that NBC actually did the original airing of TOS and TAS. They actually still receive royalties from the syndication airings of TOS as well.
      Sorry, this week has been absolute shit and I can't think straight to save my life. :P

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  2. I wish there were some explanation for why Geordi's slip-up was a unique circumstance. This episode makes the ship's computer too powerful. I mean, Voyager's EMH was an amazing achievement, but this episode suggests he could have been created just by telling a holodeck to create a medical doctor best able to devise a treatment for any illness or injury presented to him.

    I'm glad they didn't go with the original ending, and not just because it seems like a jerk move on Picard's part. There's no reason why the holodeck shouldn't be replicating simple objects that can be carried out of the room, like drawing paper, snowballs. and crumpets. It's less stuff to simulate, especially since it would otherwise have to be simulating texture, temperature, and taste (!) with light and forcefields. (Though that would be quite a dieting aid if it were simulating those crumpets.)

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    1. Right? Like even just a log entry, about how the "problem" has been reported to Starfleet and will be taken care of, and probably studied for future use.
      And then a question arises - was that purely the holodeck computer? Worf reports a power surge, so was that a random occurrence, like a lightning strike, or was that the computer drawing extra power to give to Moriarty? And how exactly does a computer imbue matter with consciousness? The Binars upgraded the holodeck computer in unknown ways to create Minuet, a better form of NPC, but later took it away, as Riker could not find her again later. But now another question arises - are Minuet and Moriarty on the same level? Minuet was aware of herself as a holographic image, but never seemed to want more than that. Surely Voyager's Doctor has the same level of consciousness as Moriarty...
      Fuck. Did I just convince myself to write a comparative essay on the awareness of holographic NPCs?

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