June 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Weekend Trek “Real Life”

The Doctor tries his hand at being a family man.

Oh hey, the Doctor has a wife for this episode, and she’s played by actress Wendy Schaal.  Schaal, like Robert Picardo, has been in a lot of Joe Dante movies.  I’d have to look to see if they were ever in the same one or even the same scene.

Anyway, this episode is another Doctor-focused one as he tries to learn more about the human condition.  I suppose that is very close to Data’s thing, but in the Doctor’s case, even if he may or may not actually be alive (the show doesn’t really answer a question like that), his desire to learn is more about self-improvement, possibly because he was programmed to do so, whereas Data just wanted to be human.  It’s a slight distinction, and I think in the Doctor’s case, he sees it more as a way to become better at his job if he just understands what people are like when they do the things they do.

Beyond that, I do want to bring up two things beyond that about this episode:  there’s a subplot involving subspace ruptures where the only real goal seems to be to put Tom Paris in Sickbay at the right moment, and it looks like two-thirds of the female cast did their hair differently.  Kes’s hair is down, a look I think is something of an improvement, and B’Elanna has a weird braid on the side of her head, but it blended in so well with the rest of her hair I didn’t notice it at first.  Then again, this episode saw Tom flirt with B’Elanna when he caught her reading a Klingon romance novel.

The idea that Klingons even have romance novels is a nice bit of unnecessary but an amusing little detail.  It’s not laugh-out-loud funny or anything, but you’d never think the Klingons would have such things at first, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.  It’s not like this was Tuvok reading a Vulcan romance novel or anything.

Alright, so how about the rest of the episode since I have been, quite frankly, avoiding the topic thus far.  Well, the Doctor decides to enhance his understanding of humanity by giving himself a holographic family of a wife (Charlene), son (Jeffrey), and daughter (Belle) who are, at the start of the episode, incredibly accommodating like something out of a really old, really bad sitcom.  This is a family with no flaws.  Charlene is an attentive woman and a fantastic cook while the children’s worst argument seems to be who can wish their father a good day first in the morning, and even then, it’s nothing they come to blow over.  It’s almost nauseating, so naturally when the Doctor invites Kes and B’Elanna over for dinner, they tell him so, and he agrees to let Torres make the family more realistic.

That means they argue now.  Belle wants to play a dangerous game.  Charlene has a job and can’t always cook.  And Jeffery wants to be like his Klingon friends.

I actually wanted to touch on the Klingon friend angle a bit.  Setting aside that the Klingons look older (or at least a lot taller) than Jeffrey, this is where a suburban kid adopts another culture for himself in a half-assed way, right?  So…this one might be a bit questionable depending on how you look at it.  Is the episode essentially equating the Klingons and their ways to modern day people of color that a suburban dad might not want his children spending time with?  Because that seems like a not-very-good analogy to make there.  I’m probably overreacting a bit here, but it was a thought that crossed my mind.

Then again, I also wonder if B’Elanna included those Klingons herself because, well…why wouldn’t she?  Is B’Elanna the kind of person who would add Klingons to the mix to make things, shall we say, interesting?

As it is, the episode is mostly fine, but it does have a sad ending as Belle is mortally injured and the Doctor initially decides to just end the program rather than live through her death (even if she isn’t really alive), but he’s talked out of it by Tom Paris of all people who essentially says family is there to help you through the tough times by sharing them, and that’s what the Doctor ends up doing.

It’s not a bad moral or anything, but why the hell did Tom Paris of all people have to tell the Doctor that?  He’s a man who notoriously did not get along with his father, and that’s the only family of Tom’s that the audience knows much of anything about.  I would think pretty much any other member of the crew might have been a better messenger for that concept than Tom Paris, but hey, he was in Sickbay anyway.

Lousy subspace rifts…