Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Discussion in 'Enterprise' started by WesleysDisciple, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Where was I doing that? What I meant was that Phlox's bottom line was let nature choose. On rereading what I said, I can see that I might not have been clear that I was speaking to what Phlox considered the ultimate issue to be.

    Phlox never really took any other stance, is what I meant.
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What Phlox is essentially doing is passing the buck.

    "We shouldn't choose because we might choose wrong."

    Which is just terrible. Allowing billions to die on what might happen in a thousand years. Plus it completely dismisses the Menk as a factor, they've grown fat and happy living with the Valakians. And they may find themselves in a world of hurt when Valakian society crumbles.

    No one checked with the Earth government on how to proceed, no one asked the Menk how they felt about the Valakians dying out.

    Archer and Phlox alone choose for this world.

    What a clusterfuck...
     
  3. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    No.

    They simply didn't commit their involvement beyond the point of no return. There's still plenty of time for a cure to be found by other parties, for other powers to intervene, for Earth's government to overrule Archer's decision of what sort of aid to provide, etc.

    By easing their suffering, perhaps Archer even improves their chances of finding a cure on their own.

    Had Archer given them the cure, that would have been an irrevocable choice.
     
  4. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    It would have been the same as Picard letting the planet in "Pen Pals" die off, which also had a distress call from someone else. Letting nature take its course is not a good thing in times like this.
     
  5. TiberiusMaximus

    TiberiusMaximus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Well said. That's probably the crux of my issue with the episode. I simply can't make what Archer and Phlox did seem like the right decision in my mind.

    On another note, this seems like the most civil "Dear Doctor" thread I've ever been in. Although, it is only three pages in...
     
  6. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    no, that's not what happened. A decision not to get involved would have meant not working on a cure at all and leaving the area. They WITHELD a cure that they already HAD-That's a decision by omission, no different than having a bottle full of water and denying it to a man dying of thirst on the street, or denying a life preserver that you're carrying to a drowning man in the waters below. And then Archer tried to rationalize denying a cure on the basis of picking a species that Phlox felt "deserved to live more" was somehow NOT playing God, when really his decision was the very definition of "playing God."
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You know perfectly well I'm saying nothing of the kind. I'm saying fiction is allowed to make breaks from reality, and that Star Trek has already made many breaks from reality that are far more ludicrous than this particular one. I just don't understand how one can accept evolutionary impossibilities like humanoid aliens and interspecies hybrids yet be so adamantly unwilling to accept the questionable evolutionary theory of this episode. It's a contradiction in terms to object to the idea Phlox expresses as intolerably fanciful while treating the very existence of Phlox himself, an even more fanciful premise, as an acceptable break from reality.



    Because that was a pop-culture invention based on a '60s Time-Life book illustration speculating about what humans might evolve into in a million years. UFO reports have always shown a marked lack of imagination, with descriptions consistently copying whatever the dominant mass-media image of aliens was at the time -- little green men in the late '40s, scary monsters in the B-movie '50s, idealized humans in the early '60s when TV aliens were just actors in funny costumes, etc. By the '70s the "Grey" image had gotten into pop culture and movies like Close Encounters and reinforced it to the point that it became self-perpetuating.

    (Just to clarify, the mythology of the "Roswell UFO crash" didn't arise until the late '70s and early '80s. When it actually happened in 1947, "flying disc" was just a term people used to mean "unknown round thing in the sky," and hadn't yet taken on the "alien spaceship" connotation, so there was no contradiction when the military said they recovered a "flying disc" one day and identified it as a weather balloon the next day. So it was a minor, forgotten incident. But decades later, a UFO researcher dug up the report and imposed her latter-day assumptions about what the term "flying disc" meant, and thus mistakenly concluded that the military had admitted finding an alien vessel and then covered it up. Hence a new myth was born.)


    Seriously? You need to ask?


    While there might be some possibility of a real form of effective transluminal propulsion analogous to warp drive, the particular way it's portrayed in Star Trek is a substantial departure from reality. I was using shorthand to convey that.


    But there's a difference between a story where you disagree with the characters' choices and a bad story. If anything, many of the best stories are the ones that challenge our morals, that face us with characters making choices that we feel are wrong or that make us uncomfortable. As I've said, I'm not crazy about the decision the characters make in "Dear Doctor," but I still think it's a good episode, partly because it dares to be challenging and take us out of our comfort zone.
     
  8. TiberiusMaximus

    TiberiusMaximus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    I personally think the way their decision is presented in the episode does make it a bad episode because it seems to be portrayed as absolutely right with no ambiguity whatsoever.
     
  9. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, but I don't think the writers were consciously making a "break from reality" here. Humanoid aliens, warp, teleportation, they're all plot devices without which a space opera such as Star Trek couldn't function, and our dogmatic acceptance of these "ludicrous" concepts is crucial for our immersion in these stories. Theory of evolution is no such concept. This is a real-life scientific concept, a well defined one, and Dear Doctor presented a fake version of it.

    In order to suspend disbelief in this case, we need to assume that the theory of evolution in Star Trek, and the one in real life are not one and the same. It's almost like saying that Humans of Star Trek breathe methane gas instead of oxygen, and we're fine with it.

    It's okay, I was joking there. Interesting observations nevertheless.

    Yes, I do. I'm a hardline skeptic by nature, but I don't dismiss parapsychology lightly. I guess I may have read too much Erich Von Daniken garbage as a kid.

    A good dilemma story is the one that makes you think and prompts brainstorming, like "In The Pale Moonlight". Thousands of Trekkies out there are still debating over Ben Sisko's crime out of necessity. Does the end justify the means? Can he REALLY live with it? The debate will go on forever, and we'll never get the definitive answer.

    But this? Phlox was exposed as an ethically bankrupt dilettante, and Archer was an irresponsible schmuck for not seeking second opinion. There's no ambiguity here. There's no dilemma. There's just ignorance.
     
  10. jespah

    jespah Commodore Commodore

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    I'd have liked to have revisited the planet - or perhaps have gotten perspective from Daniels. E. g. those Menk sure are a great addition to the Federation! Or, the Menk are a buncha homicidal maniacs! Or, pity Phlox went stark raving mad about this decision 8 years later but they covered it up by faking Tucker's death!
     
  11. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Nah, they just "evolved" into Pakleds, the laughing stock of the galaxy. :lol:
     
  12. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The decision made in Dear Doctor was morally repulsive, they condemned millions of innocent people to die based on their butterfly effect anxiety.

    They also turned the prime directive from a political non-interference principle that it was in every episode except Pen Pals and Homeward to a smug 'Callous bastard' rule.

    They made the prime directive into the one part of it that isn't a good idea.

    As for humanoid aliens. A) The Chase explains that. B) How do we know we didn't evolve the human from just because it happens to be the most efficient form for an intelligent being on an Earthlike planet? For all we know the humanoid form is a genetic imperative. Now, sexually compatible, yeah that's stupid.
     
  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    ^ This events in this episode predated the prime directive.

    The more I read objections to the episode, the better I think it is.
     
  14. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, they pulled the prime directive out of thin air, and made it seem like the main motive of the prime directive was actually the stupidest fringe case, instead of what it really was, a moral imperative not to manipulate politics of other countries for your own interest.
     
  15. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    yep. Considering the end decision, nothing was going to salvage the episode, but if they'd actually portrayed it with ambiguity, like maybe we're supposed to think Archer made the wrong call, that would have been interesting. Actually, the original ending would have been more interesting and much better in the sense it would have at least let Archer off the hook.


    Instead, as you write, there's no ambiguity. We're clearly meant to think that the right decision was made, and Archer is well on the way to realizing the wisdom of a future PD. It's absolutely terrible instead of just mostly terrible.
     
  16. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm with you on this one. I thought the PD speech felt a bit forced into the script, especially when Archer says "some kind of...directive." :rolleyes: The fact that they chose not to share the cure didn't really bother me story-wise. In fact, I found it rather interesting (though I didn't agree with the decision). But I can certainly understand why some would be bothered by it.

    Now it would have been far more interesting to me if Phlox stayed completely silent about the fact that he found a cure, and then the episode could have ended on a deliberately dark note. He almost didn't tell Archer about it anyway. It would have been better to me if the writers took that one step further. Ah we'll.

    I thought the episode was okay overall. I didn't love it, but I don't hate it so much that I'll stop watching altogether. I have enjoyed reading all of your thoughts!
     
  17. rramarr

    rramarr Commander Red Shirt

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    There was no prime directive written at the time and Archer was acting on his compassion. The eventual directive states, "No starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society." Can we read that to exclude administering a cure as opposed to giving the science behind producing it?

    I think this episode was locked into conflict with what we know would eventually happen in the ST lineage as opposed to how it would have been handled if there was no precedent canonical ST.
     
  18. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    What boggles my mind is how Phlox, the head doctor onboard the Enterprise, is the one who suggests allowing nature to 'take it's course'. I'm sure that there are a lot of doctors who practice such methods when a patient is ill or in critical condition. Don't give them any drugs, don't patch up their wounds. Let nature take it's course.
     
  19. WesleysDisciple

    WesleysDisciple Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Would like to note Picard DID chose to allow a race to die out once.

    But worfs brother prevented it.


    Personally while I disagree with the prime directives harsher uses... I do like seeing it employed, as it creates conflict, between their professional ethics, and conventional morality.
     
  20. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    And in Season 2's "Pen Pals", after much discussion with the crew, he decides to not let the race on the planet die out.