May 18, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Elementary, Dear Data”

Data's holodeck game threatens the entire ship!

Does the holodeck ever work right?  Every time a member of the crew uses it, something seems to go wrong.  And the bigger the challenge to the holodeck, the bigger the thing that can go wrong.  Such is the problem when someone tries to find a program that can challenge Data.

Jimmy and Tom have some thoughts on an episode that Tom thought was the first one to feel like a good episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“Elementary, Dear Data”

A holodeck program set up to challenge Data threatens the entire ship!

jimmy:  Have I mentioned being tired of Pulaski’s hating on Data routine?

tomk:  Maybe once or twice in passing.

jimmy:  That said, I don’t think Data proved her wrong in this one.

tomk:  Not really.

Then again, even though Geordi takes responsibility for what happened, it wouldn’t have if Pulaski hadn’t been egging them on.

jimmy:  Good point.

It did make me wonder what makes Data more alive than Moriarty?

Just because he can leave the holodeck?  A fish can’t leave a fish tank…is it not alive?

tomk:  The fish won’t physically cease to exist out of water.

jimmy:  That’s true.

And we’ve seen lots of examples since of holograms having free run of a ship. I’m guessing Picard never keeps his promise though.

tomk:  We may have to wait and see.

As I see it, Moriarity  is a new life form. The show finds those from time to time and usually in Data-based episodes. The crew first needs to determine if he even counts as alive. And it looks like the answer is “yes”.

jimmy:  And no one is overly concerned that the ship’s computer created a new life form with ease

tomk:  Well, Geordi was.  A little.

jimmy:  He was more concerned about his model boat.

tomk:  And Picard’s temper.

jimmy:  For a while there I was wondering if Picard would appear at all.

tomk:  Picard has to. You can’t expect a doctor and an engineer to solve problems.

jimmy:  And an android…who apparently doesn’t know about boats with sails.

tomk:  Well, Data has better taste in detective fiction than Picard. Holmes is much classier than Dixon Hill and his blue gun.

jimmy:  Heh.

To each their own I suppose.

tomk:  The holodeck did seem a lot more elaborate this time around. Considering how much of the first two episodes were set either on the Enterprise or a ship of the same design, I think I know what they were saving money for.

jimmy:  Well, it’s not a real holodeck. You wouldn’t think those sets from the 1800s or whatever would cost that much. Maybe it was the unnecessary costume changes for Picard and Worf.

tomk:  The show probably didn’t have a huge budget, though it was clearly bigger for season two. Regardless, any time you need to build a new set that won’t get much use costs money, as does additional costumes and extras.

jimmy:  And pay that random engineer to flirt with Data.

tomk:  Someone had to.

It makes up for all the abuse Pulaski dishes out.

jimmy:  She didn’t seem to mind sharing a few crumpets with Moriarty.

tomk:  Well, you tell the holographic supervillain he isn’t alive and see what happens. She wouldn’t pull her Data-bashing stunts on Lore.

Then again, she ate holographic crumpets?

jimmy:  As Picard explained, they are still matter. Probably same as ordering them from the replicator.

tomk:  Well, then does the food disappear when they leave the holodeck?

jimmy:  It does. Like Chinese food that way.

tomk:  Ok. Do the books in Holmes’s study have words in them?

jimmy:  According to Black Hammer, no.

tomk:  This isn’t Black Hammer. Unless Worf is Barbalien, Data is Talky-Walky, Riker is Col. Weird, Picard is Abraham Slam, and Pulaski is Madame Dragonfly.

jimmy:  Honestly, I would imagine the books have words when they need to. And don’t otherwise…?

tomk:  Hmm.  Jimmy has theories.

I suppose next you’ll give me your ideas on how Geordi can write so fast on a journal even if he can’t see it

jimmy:  We never saw the journal. It was probably just a bunch of squiggly lines. How would he know how to write anyway.   I’m sure it’s not a required class at the Academy.

tomk:  I now wonder if anyone hand writes anything. Thanks a heap, Jimmy.

jimmy:  Exactly. See what I mean?  Picard probably does.  I mean, he knows 500 year old Navy slang.

tomk:  He learned that from Dixon Hill.

jimmy:  So, do you think Pulaski is wrong about Data?  Maybe he didn’t prove her wrong with the Holmes/holodeck scenario, but surely in the season plus of episodes Data has used deduction and logic to solve problems. Granted, Pulaski missed the majority of that time. Still, a quick scan of ships logs…

tomk:  Pulaski is just intolerant of artificial people.  She just sucks.

jimmy:  Tom, I don’t know where you learned language like that.

tomk:  You alright.  I learned it from talking to you.


tomk:  However, in all seriousness, I think this was the first episode of this rewatch I felt like I really liked.

jimmy:  I think I’ve liked others overall more than you, but I can see that.  There’s definitely a better classic TNG vibe to this one than a feeling of “they’re still trying to find their footing and Riker’s beard” or “this feels like a recycled/unused TOS script”.

tomk:  Yeah, this did really feel like a TNG episode.

Data and Geordi did some stuff together.  Picard’s authority saved the day,  The threat was real but beaten by talking things out rather than letting Worf go in shooting.  And so forth.

jimmy:  Worf wasn’t even allowed through the door. And he got all dressed up and everything.

tomk:  He was quite snazzy-lookin’ in that suit.

jimmy:  You say that about all the Klingons dressed in late 19th century attire.

tomk:  Well, there are so many and they can really pull that look off.

Gowron is quite dashing.

jimmy:  I rest my case.

tomk:  You rest your case?

jimmy:  Case closed.

tomk:  Well, I guess you won again.  Have a platinum star.

jimmy:  This is getting to be like taking candy from an android.

tomk:  Lore?

jimmy:  Oh, you don’t take his candy.  What are you nuts?

tomk:  You need to be more specific on androids to steal candy from.

jimmy:  In any case.  You’re usually full of these trivial tidbits…why did that flirty engineer look so familiar? 

tomk:  Um…it was your cousin?

jimmy:  Barbara?

tomk:  Um…yeah!

Also, the guy who played Moriarity is from Arkansas, not England.

jimmy:  Those cheeky bastards!

tomk:  But I did think it was interesting to see Data try to play a holodeck game.  He seemed so excited to go before almost ruining the whole thing for Geordi.  And then Pulaski just has to throw her two cents in…

jimmy:  To your first point, for an android without emotions, he once again shows a wide range of them.

tomk:  Data’s emotions are somewhat limited, but he does seem to have them.  He mostly gets excited sometimes to learn something.

Spock showed emotion from time to time too.

jimmy:  But Spock technically had them.  I don’t think Data is supposed to have them at all.  But maybe they are simply rudimentary as you’ve said.

tomk:  Or he’s programmed to react in small ways to show interest.

jimmy:  Now you get a platinum star.

tomk:  I just gave you the star!

jimmy:  No.  This is a, uh, different one.  Yeah.  That’s the ticket.

tomk:  Hmmm. I suppose that’s technically possible…

jimmy:  Speaking of technically possible…the computer’s creating a holodeck person that can become self aware and take over the ship seems unlikely.

tomk:  Oh, you and your computer science knowledge!

jimmy:   Sorry.  And I know, I know, it’s just a show.

tomk:  You really should relax.

jimmy:  Maybe a trip to the holodeck…

tomk:  Where you can become your favorite detective.

jimmy:  At least I’ll be voiced by Ryan Reynolds.

tomk:  While looking like Hugh Jackman?

jimmy:  Hey!  It’s my holodeck program!

tomk:  Right. Your holodeck program.

Do you think Pulaski learned any lessons out of all this?  Besides “mind your own business when two guys who clearly just left the holodeck are talking about their problems.”

jimmy:  I highly doubt it.

tomk:  You sure don’t like her very much.

jimmy:  It’s mostly her treatment of Data that I don’t like.

tomk:  Well, what else is there?

jimmy:  That’s pretty much all she’s been used for thus far.

I suspect it is the desire to recreate the Bones/Spock dynamic from TOS as you’ve said.

tomk:  And not very well because Data isn’t that much like Spock.

jimmy:  No. Pulaski has the crotchety down though.

tomk:  But crotchety isn’t really a good fit for this show.

jimmy:  It’s gonna have to be until season 3…

tomk:  Well, if she fit in better, both on and off camera, then she may have stuck around.

jimmy:  Perhaps. But she’s here now and we have to deal with it.

tomk:  Do we?  Do we really?

Wait, yes we do…

jimmy:  So we’ve established that you hate Pulaski; Data loves Sherlock Holmes; Geordi loves boats that he’s never been on and that Worf looks good in a 3 piece suit. Anything we missed?

tomk:  I am more indifferent to Pulaski.

She just isn’t Crusher.

But that seems about it.

jimmy:  I’m mostly indifferent too except for her always making me want to give Data a hug.

tomk:  Good thing Data doesn’t mind that much. Shall we move on to a Pulaski-free episode?

jimmy:  I’m fine with that.

tomk:  Then we will boldly go where Joe Piscopo has gone before.


Next:  “The Outrageous Okona”