Episode of the week: 2x03 "Elementary, Dear Data

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    "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.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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. :devil:

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This one's okay, but not one that I revisit very often. Probably seen it three times in 25 years.
     
  4. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    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).
     
  5. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    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?
     
  6. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  7. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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". :rommie:

    London and the period costumes looked great in HD though I doubt I'll be watching this one again any time soon.
     
  8. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    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.

    ;)
     
  9. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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:
    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: Feb 15, 2013
  10. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  11. FreddyE

    FreddyE Captain Captain

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    Was this filmed, or was it changed before filming?
     
  12. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  13. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  14. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No he doesn’t. He actually concedes defeat. Picard has to get involved to resolve the situation.

    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.
     
  15. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  16. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always took it that there were actually two different thing going on in the holodeck: the murder was the actual crime Data was supposed to solve (which he does) whilst Moriarty's machinations were separate, once he's self aware the computer has nothing to do with his actions so It's still doing It's own thing.

    Otherwise the inclusion of the murder is totally random and doesn't have anything to do with anything.
     
  17. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No. The murder was an independent program. The opponent with the ability to defeat Data was Moriarty, not the woman who killed her husband. Data and Geordi were puzzled that the holodeck was running a program that they didn't tell the computer to run. Data didn't even want to waste time on it; he stuck around and solved the murder only to humor Geordi.

    The point is that Data, Geordi, and the Enterprise crew are not the only ones who can access the computer and run programs. The murder mystery program was initiated by Moriarty, who was probably experimenting to see what he could do with the computer.
     
  18. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Data conceding defeat was a strategy to try to end the program by ending the story. The murder in the street was not Data's main challenge. It was a distraction programmed by Moriarty so he could nab Pulaski.

    For the deceitful ending to work they would have had to spell it out that Moriarty intended to play out his character in real life. The way they played it, it seemed like Moriarty was not ruled by his character's criminal programming, so deceiving him would come off more as depriving a sentient being of his right to freedom.

    Also I'm really glad they didn't set the precedent that holographic matter could exist for real. That would have been a plot killer in later episodes.
     
  19. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    His right to freedom? More like his right to life, since his program wasn’t going to be kept running. Even if one expects him to remain a villain after leaving the holodeck, that doesn’t give Picard the right to kill him, does it?
     
  20. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, but if it were clear Moriarty were going to go out and kill people, and they let him go, it would make them responsible for everything he did.

    It'd be like that episode of Stargate where they let Nirti go.