"The Doctor Who / Dax Effect" in VOY

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by NewHeavensNewEarth, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    We all know that in Doctor Who, every so often the Doc "regenerates" into a different form and we get a new actor. In VOY, Robert Picardo faithfully & skillfully played the ship's Doc from beginning to end. No hate for that. Just as a purely hypothetical question, if Picardo had wanted to move on and quit VOY, could you have accepted another EMH Doctor - even several EMH Doctors over the course of the show?

    With VOY's technobabble, it wouldn't be hard to conceive of a reason: "The Doctor's matrix has become unstable, and we need to reinitialize his program. Parts of the Doctor will remain, but even things like his appearance and personality subroutines might be affected. It might happen repeatedly over the course of years, in fact. The program was made only for emergencies, and this is the result of overuse way beyond its original design."

    Throughout VOY, the Doctor changed his appearance several times for several different reasons, and it demonstrated that it was a simple process for him to do it.

    In DS9, Dax presented a special set of situations that involved previous lovers and all kinds of nuances that got explored to varying degrees. A similar concept could've been used with this - if the circumstances had required it. Again, Picardo did a fine job, this is just a hypothetical for fun.

    Piggybacking on thread "The Worf Effect," who would you have put in the Doctor's role if a "regeneration" were required? Not just your favorite Trek character, but what species or other categories would you draw from for additional interesting stories from Sickbay?

    P.S. This show had a whole lot of Roberts on it!
     
  2. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not Andy Dick, and def not holo bashir.

    In-universe, I don't see the doctor ever changing his appearance. He is a person and his appearance is part of his self-identity. I do like it when he gets hair and wish he would have actually done that in a later season.
     
  3. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wish they'd had a different EMH, I found him to be incredibly irritating.
     
  4. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Any recommendations?
     
  5. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Commodore Commodore

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    Robert Picardo clearly made the EMH very enjoyable, and made it his own. If he had left and a new actor came in to do the EMH role, either the new actor has to play it the same (which would not end well), or treknobabble would be used to justify "personality" changes - again, this would not end well. I remember "Ship in a Bottle" where the EMH goes through treknobabble back in the Alpha Quadrant where Judson Scott is taking a stolen experimental ship back to the Tal Shiar, and during the interim Kim and Paris - instead of anybody with any actual programming language skills - try to create a substitute and fail somewhat miserably, in scenes that really didn't do much and they made it look as if anyone could create a properly functioning interactive hologram in a span of hours or days, even if imperfect. A few more days or hours and they might get something more usable but it took longer than that for the EMH's creator to get v1 out, and in come two non-developers who manage to whip up something "almost there" so quickly? That's remarkable... but those scenes were for comic relief in an episode that's already largely comic relief anyway.

    In other words, no option would have ended well unless the replacement actor was so much better and be a comparable fit without people drumming up parallels, which would be easier to do in that situation than compared to McCoy vs Pulaski where there's even less any similarity...

    Ditto for Dax. Audiences were so attuned to Farrell's incarnation they forgot there's a big slug inside her belly that is the real character that any character can be a host for. Erzi, and I'm thankful they didn't try using the word "Ergo" as a name, was okay. If a symbiant slug can go from body to body, this brings up the other issues of staying in the same body for too long, thus cementing audience expectations and instantly disliking any new incarnation right out of the gate just because they're not the same (or going back to "copycat", there's a reason Doctor Who was quick to make a show about contrasting personas).

    And, of course, if the new incarnation fails to win viewers over as those first few new episodes have much to do. I saw nothing wrong with Erzi, or how Nicole DeBoer played the new incarnation... some storylines were iffy but that's hardly her fault any more than it was anyone else's in the cast of players acting their roles out!

    That part's the easiest and you wrote it best. I even imagined Janeway saying it, and it has the flair of authenticity to it and could potentially gloss over the technicalities that I meandered through earlier with ease. The choice of actor is still the key factor to make such a replacement work but if it ain't broke don't fix it? (Meaning, fixing it tends to make big messes in the end...)

    Any actor I'd want to see? Typecasting concerns aside, I'd peg for Robin Williams, partly because it's not easy to typecast him but we still know he has a genuine sharp wit that's pliable and adaptable to many situations as well as being serious. But he was too much into movies and there are reasons movie actors don't go back to TV, which goes right back to typecasting...

    For categories, maybe the other obvious low-hanging fruit on the tree: James Bond. Just swap actors (and background scenarios such as the cold war, relic of the ended cold war but is now just another spy, or terrorist organization (revealed to be SPECTRE) whenever necessary. Or even favored games, since the franchised got Americanized by replacing his game of Baccarat with... Poker?! (Amazingly, they made it work but it's a nitpick nonetheless since it Craig would have made it work with Baccarat anyway, there was no reason to change it. Why not go all the way, change it to "Go Fish" instead so even more in the audience will understand without having to look it up or have dialogue smartly conveying gameplay without dumbing down the audience in the process, but I digress.) James Bond never had any explanation, but it's impossible to say he's the same bloke who was married and had his wife killed, each new actor put in, in a way, becomes its own parallel universe version, with past events alluded to but in no direct way. "Licence to Kill" did mention his marriage and wife killed, as had "For Your Eyes Only", but neither dared attempt Bond doing a facelift or anything else dumb to explain it in-universe. Bond always did it right for its 6 theatrical actors playing him. James Bond is a code name that nobody knows (unless you're in "Diamonds are Forever" where they forget that fact and now everybody knows him and treats him as a pop star) but James Bond is a subcategory within the 00-Agent group, of which 9 such Agents exist (or 10 if we use a 0-based numbering scheme but nobody wants to be Agent Double-O Zero... unless you're in the 1995 continuation of "Get Smart", also featuring EMHv2 himself, Andy Dick and he's actually funny in that show, if you didn't think he was funny in VOY.) But I digress. the 00 group allows a lot more to go on in the top category that contains the subcategories and female 00-Agents have existed since 1965 (a photo op showing who has been pegged as 004 was female, so I fail to understand what the furore is about this issue... but I digress again.)
     
  6. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Where the plot wills it, there's a way. For the episode you cited ("Message in a Bottle"), it was depicted as being unbearably complicated to create a replacement EMH. On the other hand, in the episode "Nothing Human," the same folks easily put together a Cardassian EMH to assist the Doctor, and they considered keeping him around long-term to work with the Doc. Again, where the plot wills it, there's a way.

    If we were going for a level of consistency in style and wit, one of the first actors I'd consider would be Suzy Plakson. She had already played several role in TNG and VOY, and one of those roles had been as a Vulcan doctor. She was excellent, and I think she would've stepped in almost seamlessly if the show had required it.
     
  7. jmidnight_99

    jmidnight_99 Commander Red Shirt

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    I/m not really sure this qualifies as babble, technical or otherwise.
     
  8. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Forgot to mention "Living Witness" too, where a handy little module contains a perfect EMH copy that's every bit as good as the original. Between that and the Cardassian EMH, it all makes "Message in a Bottle" look all the more silly.
     
  9. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's not his appearance that needs changing, but his attitude. In the last season or two, Janeway lets him get away with unspeakable insubordination.
    Once? Okay. He is a special case after all.
    Twice? Consequences are in order!
    Thrice? It's time to reset the doctor.

    After Flesh n' Blood, Author, Author, and Renaissance Man, the Doctor is an unlikeable, unsympathetic character.
     
  10. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Cardassian hologram is more like a walking encyclopedia with a personality. It's like data creating Einstein, or Newton, and programming them to be as accurate as possible, with all the knowledge they were known to have.

    The Cardassian doctor isn't a sophisticated, almost "living", technically capable program, with all the safeguards and redundancies, and reliabilities that would be inherent in creating an actual supplimental doctor that a ship might need to rely on.

    Ensign Kim may be able to service the doctor(although B'elanna is supposed to be the more capable one in this area), that doesn't mean he can create a new one from scratch.

    It's also conceivable that the back up module cannot be used to just "recreate" the doctor, but simply records everything he does and learns, and can restore his programming in case something happens to the ships ccomputer(like a real backup). And it could be that this super advanced society 700 years in the future had a way to bring him to life using only the back-up module.
    Lastly, and finally, "Message in a Bottle" is a comedy episode. Like most comedy episodes, plausibility, realism, and yes, even (apparent) continuity take a back seat in the story, which is built to be a fun romp to laugh at.

    DS9, in particular, has a ton of these kinds of episodes. Many are Ferengi episodes, or mirror universe episodes, or holodeck episodes. I'm sure I don't need to name any for you to think of some wildly implausible things that happen in them.

    Sorry, this post came out way longer than I intended.
     
  11. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Robin Williams. Yeah, he wouldn't have wanted to do television at that point in his career.

    Perhaps they could have hired my middle school drama teacher whose entire schtick was being a blatant imitation of Robin Williams. We thought that was so cool at the time (especially when he was all blue as the genie in the "Aladdin" school play), but now I can't imagine that was very artistically fulfilling. :wtf:

    Kor
     
  12. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They should've gotten that guy who plays coach cutlip on the wonder years. He was hilarious, perfect for the EMH.

    "I.... am an educator...but I'm not going to educate your brains. I'm going to educate your bodies... I... am an educator, just like all the other educators here."
     
  13. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Pretty sure none of that is stated in either of those episodes, but it's fine to theorize. As far as what we were actually given in-episode, the Cardassian doctor was every bit as capable, sentient and self-aware as the EMH, and the backup EMH lived a long and fruitful life on that planet for many years before heading on his journey home. The end.
     
  14. Starflight

    Starflight Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I always got the impression that Janeway wasn't really convinced that the Doctor was actually "alive". There's a couple of episodes I vaguely remember towards the end of the series where she says otherwise, but definitely for the first five or six seasons that was the feeling I got, though I'm not sure I could point to any specific lines or scenes to back it up.

    Thought that was cool since every other character in Star Trek trips over each other to cheer about how Data and the EMH are definitely sentient, even though we don't really know for sure that they are. No character ever gets to represent the opposing view because TNG and VOY both consider it automatically bigoted to investigate the issue.

    And it does follow that if the EMH is sentient, all holodeck characters are alive too, or are on the brink of being alive, and if that's the case then using the holodeck is beyond unethical.

    As for alternative doctors, it'd be cool to have the EMH select the appearance of a heroic/esteemed doctor from Federation history. Maybe a female Tellarite or something to give it a twist and add some worldbuilding. The EMH's personality would have to be completely unchanged for the show to continue though, so there'd have to be someone willing to put a bunch of pig makeup on and do a good Picardo impression.
     
  15. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's fine, my point was that the 2 of them were equal to one another, regardless of how we would grade their sentience or non-sentience.
     
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  16. Starflight

    Starflight Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Oh yeah, I was just sort of touching on the mention earlier of Janeway's odd leniency towards the EMH's insubordination, and the subsequent discussion of his apparent equality to holodeck characters like the Cardassian doctor.
     
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  17. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's consistent with what we know about how the EMH was created, especially from episodes like "The Swarm," "Doctor Bashir, I Presume," and "Lifeline," not to mention the doctor's frequent bragging in so many other episodes, that Harry Kim could not just create a replacement EMH in a few days all by himself. He's a very complicated program created by a genius hologram wizard(Zimmerman). He's said to contain the complete medical knowledge of every Federation world.

    The Cardassian doctor was simply a hologram made to look like the actual person, then given all the recorded medical knowledge that Voyager had access to, of that one man; a single person. He might have been more useful for the doctor to interact with as a holographic person, as opposed to just reading his work on a computer, but the differences between the two are enormous. He could never be a reliable substitute for a doctor on a Starfleet ship like the EMH is.
    But the holographic cardassian is also consistent with how we have seen holographic characters created on the holodeck, such Dr. Moriarty, or when Data created Einstein, Newton, or Freude. Or when the EMH created T'Pau, Byron, and Gandhi. I believe Barclay also created an Einstein character. On DS9 there was Vic Fontaine, who supposed to be a real historical lounge singer from the 60's.

    If holographic people that were suitable and reliable enough to fill roles on Starfleet ship were so easy to create, they would have been using holographic crewmen long before Voyager.

    As for the EMH backup. We don't know enough about it. It might just contain the doctor's memories but not his skills and vast medical knowledge. It might only work with the core "Matrix." It might be even more mundane, and something frequently used to protect the doctor's programming during his maintenance cycles, or during the ship's maintenance overhauls. The last thing it has to mean is that Voyager "has two EMH programs." The backup module could also have been something developed specifically because of the events in "message in a bottle." Unlike the other cases, this one isn't explained, and in the context of the episode, doesn't need to be.
     
  18. Geetha Stachowiak

    Geetha Stachowiak Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I thought Robert Picardo's Doctor one of the highlights of Voyager. He was hilarious. Without him we wouldn't have had 'Author, Author' and 'Virtuoso' which were both wildly funny.
     
  19. ThankQ

    ThankQ Admiral Admiral

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    Yes. I would have accepted a crew change on a militarily-organized vessel.
     
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  20. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah it's not a shot at Picardo's performance. Just a hypothetical. But I still think Suzy Plakson could've filled his shoes really well, personality and all, if the need would've arisen.