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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old March 25 2013, 05:13 PM   #1
Jeyl
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Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

The Measure Of A Man

If Star Trek: The Next Generation was going to prove to the world that it could be both a Star Trek show while not adhering to the old ways of The Original Series that had plagued it during the first season, "The Measure Of A Man" is undoubtedly the episode that makes that statement.

Melinda M. Snodgrass started her career by studying law and working as a lawyer for many years before she went on into writing. Her first experience in writing for Star Trek came in the form of a 1984 novel, "The Tears Of The Singers". So when the time came where she wrote a story set in The Next Generation, she decided to make it a court room drama. Doesn't sound very much like a Star Trek story until, but having Data be the center of attention and asking the questions "Is Data, an Android, his own being or is he property that we can do with as we please?". Well, the results spoke for themselves. "The Measure Of A Man" would become one of TNG's most critically acclaimed episodes in it's entire seven season run and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for "Best Episodic Drama". Even our "Bane to human existence" Maurice Hurley called the episode "Stunning".

I know there are many who look at this episode as a great tale of what it means to be human, but I personally see it as an episode that explores how we as a race take our own humanity for granted in determining what has rights and what does not. Concluding that an android has no rights is one thing, but this still applies to humans even today. Just look at how America treated woman and other non-caucasion races just a century ago. It's true that "what it means to be human" element plays a lot in Data's stories, but the points that are brought up in this episode aren't points that argue Data is human, but a new form of life. Despite what many episodes would say, Data does display a sense of want, fear and curiosity while at the same time performing feats that a normal human couldn't. In the end, we don't accept Data as human, we accept him for who he is. Picard makes this point clear.

Picard: You see he's met two of your three criteria for sentience, so what if he meets the third, consciousness, in even the smallest degree? What is he then?

It's also worth mentioning that the Season 2 BluRay set contains not one, but two versions of the episode. The Extended Edition is so well remastered and re-edited that the new footage look and feel like it was always in the episode to begin with. The new character moments are sincere and in my opinion adds something to this episode. Definitely my preferred version of the episode.

It's comforting to know that Star Trek stories like "The Measure of a Man" are still looked back on with fondness. With new Star Trek material being reduced to one story every three to four years with nothing but wall to wall action stories, it's nice that we can have episodes like "The Measure Of A Man" that can tell a story with no action and no crazy antics while still being a great story that is without a doubt a STAR TREK story.

Stinger: Your Honour, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life. Well, there it sits. Waiting.

Last edited by Jeyl; March 25 2013 at 06:47 PM.
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Old March 25 2013, 06:41 PM   #2
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

Possibly my favorite episode!
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Old March 25 2013, 07:10 PM   #3
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

Every time I see this episode now I will be watching the extended version because it adds so much more to what already was a brilliant episode.
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Old March 26 2013, 01:16 AM   #4
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

I posted about this when I saw it in the theater...I was really amazed that the episode was even better. It made my top 10 list after that. I have only one qualm, they said the slow filming pace and amount of dialogue is why they had the extra footage, well it seemed that maybe they could have picked up the pace of the episode a bit, there are lots of pauses.

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Old March 26 2013, 04:54 PM   #5
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

I asked last week which version of this we would be watching and reviewing. No answer, no problem, I have had great pleasure watching each version of this episode. CBS have outdone themselves here - it's great to see how 45 minutes worth of television is put together - what makes the final cut and what (unfortunately) ends up on the cutting room floor. I also loved hearing the stand-in voices for the logs and computer in the hybrid version. That said, I think I will stick to the 'as broadcast' version in future as I think that what was cut isn't really missed.

Some observations;
* The first time we see a poker game? What is that visor that Data wears for anyway?
* I'd have loved to find out more about Picard and Lovois' history. I love her line "It brings a sense of order and stability to my universe to know you're still a pompous arse"
* Never noticed the reference to the Borg before now - there is continuity in early TNG if you look hard enough!
* The scene in Ten Forward with Picard & Guinan talking about slavery is perhaps my favourite of the entire series run.

One negative of the HD upgrade is the vfx. I've been saying this all through season two, it may be a sign of how much CBS spoiled us in the first season but it is a shame that one of the best episodes of TNG's run will always have the undetailed two-foot Enterprise orbiting a space station.

Didn't Voyager try and emulate Measure of a Man using The Doctor? I remember that falling flat.
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Old March 26 2013, 09:09 PM   #6
DalekJim
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

The first truly outstanding TNG episode, love it. As courtroom dramas go though, I prefer The Drumhead. More intense.
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Old March 26 2013, 09:13 PM   #7
yousirname
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

I do like to argue, and a huge part of arguing is thinking ahead. So every time I see Riker turn Data off, I think to myself that if I'm Picard, that's when I get up and knock Riker out with a hypospray, then wake him up with another and be like, the defence rests, yo.
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Old March 26 2013, 11:50 PM   #8
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

yousirname wrote: View Post
I do like to argue, and a huge part of arguing is thinking ahead. So every time I see Riker turn Data off, I think to myself that if I'm Picard, that's when I get up and knock Riker out with a hypospray, then wake him up with another and be like, the defence rests, yo.
Yeah, I'll admit, afterward I immediately thought of a Vulcan neck pinch. That, and assault charges, but that would be a bit much when they're all friends.
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Old March 27 2013, 04:46 AM   #9
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

DalekJim wrote: View Post
The first truly outstanding TNG episode, love it. As courtroom dramas go though, I prefer The Drumhead. More intense.

Fully, FULLY agreed. That episode fleshed out more of the legal system of starfleet, as well as involving high-ranking starfleet officers.
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Old March 29 2013, 08:44 AM   #10
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

yousirname wrote: View Post
I do like to argue, and a huge part of arguing is thinking ahead. So every time I see Riker turn Data off, I think to myself that if I'm Picard, that's when I get up and knock Riker out with a hypospray, then wake him up with another and be like, the defence rests, yo.
Brilliant.

Agreed that The Drumhead is a great show and is usually the one that makes my "top 10 lists". But Measure of a Man was the first and you always remember the first fondly.
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Old March 29 2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

One extra thing I like about this one, presumably because of the author's background, the legal stuff feels much more solid than in just about any other Star Trek court episode. I've no idea if it follows real world logic, but it all seems to make sense in the context of the fiction in a way few of the other similar episodes manage, the only real conceit you need to make is that deciding on a definition of sentient life would probably be such a big deal it would actually take months to come to court and involve a lot more people than seen here. But the episode is good enough and it benefits enough from putting Picard and Riker against each other (and even if the haste is pushing it the reason for them being defence and prosecution feels sound) to make it easy to ignore.

The only real niggle, and it's a tiny one, is that Picard really should have made more of the fact that once Star Fleet accepted Data for entry into the academy they effectively acknowledged his sentience unless they give commissions to rocks as a matter of course (though that could explain things about a few of the regulars across the various series. ZING). It's something the prosecution might have been able to refute, but it's a surprise it didn't at least warrant a mention.

Though if I were being really, really, really needlessly bastardly picky I'd say the actor playing Maddox is a bit too young to have assessed Data at the academy, unless he was a proto-Wesley.

Other than that, extraordinary stuff.

As for the extended cut- They're all nice, competent scenes (with two exceptions...) but it's easy to see why they were cut as none of them really add anything that's desperately missed from the final edit.

The first of the two exceptions is Maddox crashing Data's party, a wise cut as it makes him a bit too much of a moustache twirling villain with his goading. He works much better as someone who isn't really evil (even if he is a bit smug), just lacking in the perspective on Data our regulars have gained.

The second is the extension to the final scene where Data's extra dialogue makes Riker seem a bit thick. Data explains why he doesn't have any resentment, Riker doesn't get it so Data has to explain it again using simpler words. Poor old Riker.
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Old April 1 2013, 12:44 AM   #12
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

@yousirname

Boom!

Last edited by Moriarty; April 1 2013 at 12:49 AM. Reason: I wanted to reply to an individual comment but accidentally made a general comment.
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Old April 3 2013, 01:22 AM   #13
Danny99
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

It's a pretty weak episode until the Picard/Guinan Ten Forward scene and the court room scene that follows. The rest of it is just sort of flat. But we do get introduced to one of my favorite Admirals: Clyde Kusatsu as Nakamura.
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Old April 3 2013, 11:26 PM   #14
Trek or Treat!
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

yousirname wrote: View Post
I do like to argue, and a huge part of arguing is thinking ahead. So every time I see Riker turn Data off, I think to myself that if I'm Picard, that's when I get up and knock Riker out with a hypospray, then wake him up with another and be like, the defence rests, yo.
No need to assault the advocate. One could make the point that the 21st century survivors in The Neutral Zone were turned off, placed in storage, and turned back on in a manner very similar to what we've seen with Data and Lore.
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Old April 3 2013, 11:44 PM   #15
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x09 "The Measure Of A Man"

Well, yeah. But my way's more dramatic.
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