TNG 2.15 – Pen Pals

Carrot fingers. That is all.

Memory Alpha says: Data makes contact with a young girl from a pre-warp civilization on a planet facing imminent annihilation. The Enterprise must wrestle with the moral dilemma of violating the Prime Directive or standing by while Data’s friend dies. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review

I just sneezed and now everything smells funny.

Okay, whatever that was about: this episode is one of those ones that makes you think how absolutely weird it is that Data is not only a Starfleet officer, but is considered mature and competent enough as a Starfleet officer to be third in command of the Federation flagship, and yet nobody seems to have any real cognitive dissonance about how much like a young child he behaves in this story. Data was, what? Twenty-eight or nine by now? It makes sense for him to have an odd way of looking at the world, but not for him to completely overlook the number one rule of his job just because he was curious. Innocent and naïve, yes, but this goes beyond innocence into tomfoolery. Meanwhile we see an actual child, Wesley Crusher, being put in charge of adult officers.

Also, this episode is about the Prime Directive, so it’s going to be annoying. Here we go.

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TNG Episode 2.09: The Measure of a Man

In which Bruce Maddox  just does not know how to express his Data crush appropriately.

Memory Alpha says: The Enterprise must defend Data’s status when Starfleet demands his reassignment for study.  (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review

I should reserve judgement on ‘best episode of season two’ when I’m not even half-way through, but oh gosh, this episode, you guys. It has so many of the best things about TNG. It has Data being smart and adorable and vulnerable and a challenge to the status quo by his mere existence. It has Picard being his dad and protecting him and getting to make a fiery courtroom speech all Crusading Silver Fox DA. (The episode was written by a former attorney, and only got a chance because of the writers’ strike, so it’s an ill wind that blows no good.) It has the staff poker game. It has a goddamn admiral. It has O’Brien. It has a guy called Bruce, which is probably the name, of all names, that I find most intrinsically comical (second place probably goes to Fred). Sorry, people called Bruce. So, despite my recent lassitude and ennui, I think it deserves a full write-up and will endeavour to deliver. (If I later bail out and revert to bullet points, sorry, people called Bruce and everyone else.)

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TNG Episode 2.06 – The Schizoid Man

In which it becomes ever more clear that Data comes from a family of assholes. (Not you Juliana. You’re okay as far as I can tell.)

Memory Alpha says: An away team discovers the dying Doctor Ira Graves, who claims to be Data’s “grandfather.”  (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Okay, getting back into this thing. Usually when I cover a Datasode, I am inspired to write out a full summary with commentary interspersed, but I am still rusty and so I’ll just use bullet-point form today.

Is this the first episode in which Data is possessed? I want to say yes. He does seem to be unusually prone to it, no doubt partly because Brent Spiner is good at acting out multiple personalities and so writers enjoyed giving him that to do. So anyway, establishing/reinforcing a trend, and also reinforcing the ‘Tin Man’ cracks at his expense. (On the other hand, the actual Tin Man of Oz is not, strictly speaking, an artificial man or robot – he started life as a Munchkin whose body parts have been entirely replaced by tin prosthetics, so that he is in effect a sock made up of darns with none of the original fabric left. You could have a nice long nerdy chat about who Data most closely resembles, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and/or Tik-Tok. Baum certainly found this character type interesting enough to create multiple variations on it; I haven’t mentioned Jack Pumpkinhead or the Flying Gump or Scraps the Patchwork Girl.)

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TNG Episode 2.04: The Outrageous Okona

In which I question the Star Trek writers’ understanding of the term ‘outrageous.’ Also ‘comic.’

Memory Alpha says: The Enterprise-D crew rescue a roguish freighter captain whose ship is malfunctioning, but his presence drags them into an interplanetary feud. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review:
Literally all I can remember about my first viewing of this episode is ‘You’re a droid, and I’m a noid,’ and thinking ‘well that’s not very funny.’ Bullet points, ho!

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TNG Episode 2.03: Elementary, Dear Data

In which Geordi is a fun ruiner. He ruins people’s fun.

Memory Alpha says: The Enterprise is threatened when a character in Data and La Forge’s holodeck simulation becomes sentient. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Here is the single strangest thing from the Memory Alpha entry for this episode: the equation on Moriarty’s chalkboard is a reference to the characters Ataru and Lum from Rumiko Takahashi’s manga series Urusei Yatsura, about an obnoxious teenage boy who is pursued by a mad alien princess in a tiger-skin bikini who wants to be his bride.

I just don’t know how to process that. But, okay, Rumiko Takahashi is an excellent artist and writer, and my favourite of her series is Maison Ikkoku. (You should have figured it’d be the one that is most like a comedic soap opera.) And I guess it’s no less cracky than the Ren & Stimpy tributes in early DS9. Read the rest of this entry »

TNG Episode 1.13: Datalore

In which the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.

Memory Alpha says: Enterprise explores Data’s home planet, Omicron Theta. They find his brother, and the dark secret he carries. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Of course I’ll have a lot to say about this one, because it’s the first really Data-centric episode, and to me TNG is a show about Data. It also introduces one of my favourite characters, and one I feel is sadly underused, Data’s villainous older brother Lore. In the early planning stages, the new android was going to be female (a gynoid, really) and a love interest for Data (so, um, presumably not his sister, although I suppose if you want to be really rational about it it’s not exactly incest if there’s no DNA or shared experience of a familial relationship involved) but Brent Spiner suggested the ol’ evil twin routine.
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