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

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Old February 11 2013, 03:58 PM   #1
Jeyl
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Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

"Elementary, Dear Data"

Season 2 was off to a bad start with "The Child", but managed to bring itself back up on it's feet with "Where Silence has Lease". A weird way of putting it since that episode was technically a bottleshow, a term used for episodes that take place solely on the ship. Things are looking up for Season 2 and it continues that stride with "Elementary, Dear Data". An episode both visual in it's tale and grand in it's premise. On it's own, a pretty good TNG episode that offers us the first true glimpse of the Data/Geordi relationship that would continue throughout the rest of the series and four movies. Granted this wasn't the best episode about the two, but there will be better ones.

And when I say this isn't one of the pair's better episode, it unfortunately all falls on the writing for Geordi's character. His behavior is just so uncalled for that I just wanted to reach into the screen and smack the heck out of him. Here's why. Data is able to solve all of these Sherlock Holme's mysteries with relative ease, even to the point where he solves them before the mystery has a chance to begin. Granted that's a bit of a let down, but the way Geordi treats it is like.... well, it's like he just stumbled into a group meeting where everyone talks about how blind people have no reason to live. Seriously, he shuts the program off, ignores Data's concern, leaves and actually complains to Data about something Data DOESN'T FULLY COMPREHEND. Geordi is the Chief Engineer and this is how he treats technology that can actually talk back? No wonder the Enterprise D was so screwed under his watch. Now if Data was insistent on running the programs this way and ignored Geordie's advice on letting them play out naturally, I would understand his frustration a bit more. But here? This is their first time doing this sort of thing. There is no reason why Geordi cannot simply tell Data in a friendly manner why he isn't enjoying it.

Which brings me to another point. How can anyone not enjoy Data playing Sherlock Holmes even if he's solving every big mystery by knowing all the details? As an Android who wants to better understand humans, he really looks into the role and actually seems to be enjoying it. His vocal tone is always in character and his apparent pride in solving the case brings about a sense of satisfaction that we seldom see Data experience. And while I may have read plenty of good books in my time, even I will admit that I've never read a Sherlock Holme's story. The last thing I would do is walk out on someone just because he was doing it differently, and if I wanted to see the story play out naturally, I would tell Data in a way he would certainly understand.

Which brings me to my third point. Why go out of your way to create an opponent to fight data when you could simply ask him to withold certain details while the program is running? I mean, how hard is it for an Android to simply 'forget' about Sherlock Holme's mysteries, but not the character?

But than again, we wouldn't have had the awesome and wonderful guest star in probably all of season 2, Daniel Davis as Moriarty. His manners are catchy, his demeanor is threatening and his charm is catchy even I find it irresistible. If only everyone involved with the episode realized that Sherlock Holmes wasn't in the public domain and were willing to spend a 'usage fee', we could have seen a lot more of these Sherlock and Moriarty episodes. I'm just thankful we were able to get at least one more episode with Moriarty in the form of that wonderful episode "Ship in a bottle" four years later.

The only other thing I want to touch upon is what our good friend Maurice Hurley thought of the episode. In the original ending, Picard actually tricked Moriarty into thinking that he couldn't leave the holodeck when in fact he could. Gene cut the ending because he didn't want Picard to come off as deceitful and for once I think this played out a lot better than what Maurice thought it would. After all, this exact same thing would happen in the sequel episode "Ship in a Bottle" and thankfully with much better writing. It's not a deceit to make the villain come off as a loser like how this episode would have ended, but a deceit into giving Moriarty what he actually wanted even though it was all Picard could do for him.

I for one was hoping Moriarty would make a return appearance in a future episode like Voyager where the technology to allow a hologram to exist outside of the holodeck was now a reality. Would have been cool to see him banter along side the doctor as well.

Stinger:
DATA: Then may I say your perturbation becomes you, Inspector Lestrade, whilst simultaneously affording me yet again the opportunity to serve Queen and country.
LAFORGE: Data, Holmes really talked like that?
DATA: Absolutely.
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Old February 13 2013, 11:04 AM   #2
Timo
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

I mean, how hard is it for an Android to simply 'forget' about Sherlock Holme's mysteries, but not the character?
Well, if LaForge himself is into Holmes to any serious degree, he would remember how the stories play out. With Data faithfully reproducing all of Holmes' antics, he'd merely become another NPC in the program, and the program would essentially cease to be interactive, a major blow to LaForge if he is a serious Holmes fan.

It would be a really obvious solution, then, for LaForge to ask for an all-new Holmes mystery. LaForge just worded that request rather badly, assuming the computer could grasp the context. Which the computer generally is perfectly capable of doing; it only becomes a literal-minded moron when the plot specifically calls for this.

Although the very exchange you quote sort of rules out LaForge being a real Holmes fan.

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Old February 13 2013, 01:40 PM   #3
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

This one's okay, but not one that I revisit very often. Probably seen it three times in 25 years.
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Old February 13 2013, 07:04 PM   #4
Lance
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

To some degree I think it's a great shame that the original ending wasn't carried through, as it would have nailed down the old issue about matter being able to leave the holodeck, as well as giving us a more satisfactory ending IMO. To me the episode moves at a cracking pace, but that ending just feels... unsatisfying, for some reason. And on another level it is a rehash of "The Big Goodbye", though possibly "Elementary, Dear Data" is the more polished of the two productions.

Fandom tends to try and nail Doctor Pulaski to a tree for her supposed 'mistreatment' of Data, but this is really the last time she does talk him down, isn't it? It seems to me the whole point of this script is Data and Pulaski coming to something of an accord, 'getting to know each other' as it were, and that after this they're sweet with each other. Diana Muldaur looks fantastic in that nineteenth century costume as well (they all look great in those costumes, but that dress really does suit the actress).
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Old February 13 2013, 08:14 PM   #5
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

Lance wrote: View Post
To some degree I think it's a great shame that the original ending wasn't carried through, as it would have nailed down the old issue about matter being able to leave the holodeck, as well as giving us a more satisfactory ending IMO.
I think that would have made the holodeck way too powerful way too early. If you could create someone as genius as Moriarty and have him be able to leave the Holodeck, what's stopping the Federation from using this technology to real people?
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Old February 14 2013, 02:54 AM   #6
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

Isn't that essentially what happened on Voyager anyway? With the EMH and his mobile emitter? (Admittedly that was Future Tech). I admit, maybe it would have been too much, too soon if they'd implied in way back in TNG season 2.
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Old February 14 2013, 08:15 AM   #7
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

It's funny how this rewatch is making me re-evaluate my "favourites", some episodes I remember as being poor are actually very good and some I remember fondly are now a bit "meh". This one falls into the latter category.

It is half an hour into the episode until we're given any problem for our crew to overcome and, as already pointed out, the resolution seems a little hashed. Picard tells Moriarty there is nothing they can do and that is the end of that.

I too noticed that Geordi acted a little harshly. His mannerisms and treatment of Data reminded me of a little boy with a "It's my ball, I'm taking it home" mentality. It is also a little worrying that a simple slip of the tongue can create such a potentialy fatal problem on the Enterprise.

What was the purpose of getting Worf "suited-up"?

I'll skip my usual nit-picks as this episode is well documented, but one observation. When Picard enters Moriarty's lair and Pulaski gets up from the couch, the way she does so makes it appear that she's been getting "stuffed" with more than just "crumpets".

London and the period costumes looked great in HD though I doubt I'll be watching this one again any time soon.
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Old February 14 2013, 07:39 PM   #8
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

MikeS wrote: View Post
London and the period costumes looked great in HD though I doubt I'll be watching this one again any time soon.
That seems to be the general consensus given how it took about two days from the start of this thread to get a reply. I wonder if next week's episode will fair differently.

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Old February 15 2013, 12:28 AM   #9
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

Actually I really like this episode. Certainly better than next week's episode, which gets my vote for worst of the series.

I'll nitpick about one exchange I could have done without:
TROI: Captain, I'm sensing something from the holodeck. It's as if a unifying force or a single consciousness is trying to bring it all into focus.
DATA: There can be only one explanation. In programming Moriarty to defeat me, not Holmes, he had to be able to acquire something which I possess.
PICARD: Exactly what?
DATA: Consciousness, sir. Without it he could not defeat me.
Yeah, like nobody's ever been beaten at a game by an unthinking machine.

It seems unlikely that the Enterprise computer would have the ability to create a consciousness that can be sensed by Troi (who, it should be noted, can not sense Data).

If all we had to evidence Moriarty's consciousness were his own argument, it would invite interesting discussion about what consciousness is, how (or whether) its presence or absence can be assessed from the outside. Unfortunately, the episode has Troi give us all the answers. Moriarty is sentient and Sirus Redblock isn't.

Last edited by Captrek; February 15 2013 at 02:13 AM.
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Old February 15 2013, 04:05 AM   #10
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

The second episode in a row that was the 'best TNG episode to date'.

The premise is a little silly but they approached it so well you forgive.

Probably the first episode in the series where they just decided to have fun. I suppose you could come up with an explanation for Moriarty being sensed by Troi. If you've read the sequels to Ender's Game, I bet Troi could sense Jane.
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Old February 15 2013, 11:17 AM   #11
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

Jeyl wrote: View Post
" In the original ending, Picard actually tricked Moriarty into thinking that he couldn't leave the holodeck when in fact he could. Gene cut the ending because he didn't want Picard to come off as deceitfu
Was this filmed, or was it changed before filming?
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Old February 15 2013, 01:22 PM   #12
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

I liked it somewhat but at this point I felt like we were taking one too many trips to the holodeck well. After "11001001" and "The Big Goodbye." I was never a fan of holodeck episodes in the first place.
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Old February 16 2013, 12:32 AM   #13
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

FreddyE wrote: View Post
Jeyl wrote: View Post
" In the original ending, Picard actually tricked Moriarty into thinking that he couldn't leave the holodeck when in fact he could. Gene cut the ending because he didn't want Picard to come off as deceitfu
Was this filmed, or was it changed before filming?
I believe Picard admitting he tricked Moriarty was filmed but cut after the fact.

A good fun episode that really should have been terrible. Americans doing Victorian London? We should have been knee deep in painful Dick Van Dykes (for an idea of what this episode could have been, look at the Oiiiiiiriish holodeck episodes of Voyager with their rubbish take on another part of the British Isles many Americans- or rather American TV producers- think they know really well without having anything resembling a clue).

it's helped partly by Spiner not even attempting an accent (he's ultimately just speaking in a faster more confident way than normal, though oddly Geordi doing a really bad James Mason impression actually suits the character) and Davis being, as said, really good as the villain.

Worf's costume, and his reaction to Picard's hat, is silly, but funny as well.

I do however think this is where the ball is dropped with Pulaski's character, as fun as Moriarty stuffing her with his crumpet is.

Right from the off, she's had a storyline that's clearly intended to have her be mistrustful and dismissive of Data before growing to like him. And this is effectively the big change in their relationship. She sets him a mocking challenge and he meets it with near instant success. And indeed, after this episode there's not problem between them or bulling from her to him.

But, not only does the fact that Data almost immediately solves the "Proper" mystery of the man being strangled with his wife's hair get kind of lost within the overall plot to the point viewers would be forgiven for not noticing it, Pulaski herself never seems to find it out. Indeed, after the Lastrade scene there's not another mention of this aspect of the plot as Moriarty's menace comes centre stage.

Within the episode itself that's not a huge problem as the Moriarty stuff is far more interesting, but the rest of the season treats the Pulaski/Data thing as having been resolved when it never would be properly on-screen.

There really should have been a brief scene at the end of the episode where she did apologise (or at least as close as she could get, she's not really the "I'm sorry..." type) and acknowledge he was capable of the intuative leaps she didn't believe he could achieve which would then lead to a formal thawing of their relationship. I think fandom would remember her better if there had been that pay off.
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Old February 16 2013, 03:21 AM   #14
Captrek
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
Right from the off, she's had a storyline that's clearly intended to have her be mistrustful and dismissive of Data before growing to like him. And this is effectively the big change in their relationship. She sets him a mocking challenge and he meets it with near instant success.
No he doesn’t. He actually concedes defeat. Picard has to get involved to resolve the situation.

But, not only does the fact that Data almost immediately solves the "Proper" mystery of the man being strangled with his wife's hair get kind of lost within the overall plot to the point viewers would be forgiven for not noticing it, Pulaski herself never seems to find it out.
That murder was not the proper mystery he was supposed to solve. It was, as he said, an independent program.

That scene presents a few questions about how Data knew what he knew.

How does he know the victim and the killer spent the day together in a tavern drinking gin? How does he know the killer was motivated only by fear and self-protection? How does he know the killer is the victim’s common law wife? Finally, how does he know that it’s an independent program and not part of the challenge the holodeck created for him to solve?

I’m wondering whether it’s based on an actual Sherlock Holmes mystery. That would answer all these questions.
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Old February 16 2013, 07:56 AM   #15
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Re: Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

Captrek wrote: View Post
inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
Right from the off, she's had a storyline that's clearly intended to have her be mistrustful and dismissive of Data before growing to like him. And this is effectively the big change in their relationship. She sets him a mocking challenge and he meets it with near instant success.
No he doesn’t. He actually concedes defeat. Picard has to get involved to resolve the situation.
I actually like inflatabledalek's interpretation of this. It had never occured to me. Data does solve the "independant program" and then thinks he can defeat Moriarty by pretending to admit defeat himself. And as correctly pointed out, Pulaski seems to afford Data alot more respect after this episode.

It would appear that by re-writing the end to make Picard seem undeceitful, Gene did more damage to the interpretation of this episode than expected.
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