Oct 9 2012 4:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “A Fistful of Datas”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas“A Fistful of Datas”
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Brannon Braga
Directed by Patrick Stewart
Season 6, Episode 8
Production episode 40276-234
Original air date: November 9, 1992
Stardate: 46271.5

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise has some down time due to their rendezvous with a supply ship being delayed by two days. La Forge and Data interrupt Picard playing a Mozart piece on his Ressikan flute with a proposal to see if they can hook Data up to the engineering computer, and use him as a backup in case of a catastrophic failure. (One wonders if this was inspired by Riker using Data’s head as the engineering computer in “Disaster.”) Picard approves the plan then throws the two of them out.

He’s interrupted again, first by Crusher trying to get Picard to play a role in her new play, “Something for Breakfast,” then by Worf, who insists on using the extra time to create more work for himself. Picard all but orders Worf to go have fun.

Worf returns dolefully to his quarters, where we find out that he was supposed to have been asking Picard for time off, and his attempt at finding more work to do was a way to get out of spending time on the holodeck with Alexander. Because he remains the worst father ever.

Alexander has written an “ancient West” (really?) program that claims to take place in Deadwood, South Dakota even though it’s in the middle of the desert. (The real Deadwood is at the foot of a small mountain range known as the Black Hills. Also, the sheriff’s office has a map of the Arizona Territories.) Worf and Alexander are the sheriff and deputy of Deadwood – Worf’s mood improves marginally upon realizing that they’re law enforcement.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

Gunshots get their attention. They head to the saloon (which has all the usuals: upright piano, poker games, varmints), to find that the shots came from Eli Hollander, the “butcher of Bozeman,” who is unhappy with the wanted poster, as the likeness is inaccurate. (“I’m ten times uglier than that, ain’t I?”)

Worf and Alexander enter the saloon, causing most everyone to leave—Alexander explains to Worf that they don’t want to get hit by bullets—and Worf places him under arrest. Eli isn’t willing to go quietly, and he has friends, one of whom hits Worf with a chair. However, the time Worf spends in hand-to-hand with one thug allows both Eli and another thug to have the drop on Worf with their revolvers.

But before they can rob Worf and Alexander of their money and jewelry, a stranger comes into the saloon, shooting Eli’s hat right off his head with a Winchester rifle. It’s Troi, as “Durango,” the inevitable stranger who helps our heroes. (Turns out she’s a big fan of westerns, thanks to her father reading them to her as a kid.)

Reluctantly, Eli holsters his gun, with a nifty twirl, and surrenders, saying that they’ll regret what they’ve done.

In engineering, Data and La Forge’s test is working out very nicely, until an energy surge hits. As a precaution, Data deactivates the interface. La Forge worries that the interface isn’t as stable as they thought it would be. They go to check the program – and Data “holsters” his tricorder in the same manner as Eli.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

On the holodeck, Eli’s in jail, shuffling a deck of cards by spreading them out and sloppily shoving them back together. He’s confident that his pa will break him out. Worf asks “Durango” if she’ll assist him and Alexander in holding off the Hollanders, and she agrees – for a price. Worf sends Alexander to the bank to withdraw some money, and then Worf is visited by the saloon owner, Annie, who invites him out on a date. Worf declines, as he has a prisoner, and Annie immediately assumes he’s seeing another woman, slaps him, and leaves.

Elsewhere on the ship, Picard tries to listen to his Mozart trio, only to have it play instead a Dvorak piece that Data’s been studying. Crusher is in rehearsals for “Something for Breakfast,” but the padds with the scripts suddenly change from Crusher’s dialogue to Data’s poetry, as they discover when Riker reads “Ode to Spot” instead of his part. And Data, when getting Spot off his desk, at one point says, “Vamoose, y’little varmint!” in a comedy Texas accent.

While returning from the bank with Durango’s fee, Alexander is kidnapped by Frank Hollander. This results in three surprises for Alexander: 1) he wasn’t supposed to be kidnapped until later in the program, 2) he can’t get the computer to freeze the holodeck program, and 3) Frank Hollander is inexplicably being played by Data in a silly mustache.

Seeking out Alexander, Worf comes across Frank in the saloon. Frank offers Alexander in exchange for Eli. Worf refuses, and is surprised when Frank grabs him with Data’s full strength. When Worf tries to freeze the program, the holodeck does not respond, and Worf winds up getting shot by Frank’s thugs. Upon returning to the sheriff’s office, Troi bandages Worf’s wound—which means the holodeck safeties are disengaged—and they’re both shocked to see that Eli is now Data also.

Troi figures their best bet is to play the program out as intended and hope that that will bring it to a natural conclusion. Worf goes to question the townspeople, see if anybody saw Alexander get taken. She stands guard on Eli, and sees that he is now shuffling the cards quickly and efficiently, exactly the way Data does. (Meanwhile, on the ship, Data is becoming more and more “western” with each passing moment, up to and including spitting in a flowerpot.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

Worf returns to the sheriff’s office having learned that witnesses saw Hollander’s men take Alexander, but nobody knows where. Then Frank shows up, requesting to see his boy. Worf and Troi keep their pistol and rifle on him as they disarm him and let him talk to Eli. Then Worf agrees to an exchange: Alexander for Eli. The problem is, Frank is sure to break the deal and shoot Worf – and he has Data’s speed and accuracy.

So they change the game: using their combadges and tools from a telegraph machine, Worf is able to fashion a forcefield that will work for 15 seconds to protect him against Frank’s revolver fire.

Worf and Frank confront each other, with Eli and Alexander, respectively, in tow. They walk across to the other side, then Frank takes his shots. Worf activates the force field, which protects him. Then Hollander’s thugs, who now all look like Data, try to fire on him, but Durango gets the drop on them. Another thug throws a fresh revolver to Frank, which takes long enough for Worf to draw down on Frank and shoot the weapon out of his hand. He then tells Frank never to show his face in town again, the computer eventually ends the program (just before Annie, now also Data, can kiss Worf), and all’s right with the world. Worf assures Alexander that, despite what happened, he’s game for doing that program again, and when Alexander isn’t looking, he tries on the cowboy hat again.

And the Enterprise warps off into the sunset....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: The power surge Data experienced only affected Computer Core Subroutine C47, which is for recreational and library files. Nothing essential to ship’s systems, but it causes all the music programs to be Data’s, all the library files to be his poetry, and a whole mess of food replicators to only provide cat food. And, yes, cause a melding between Data and a holodeck program.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi throws herself into the part of Durango, and her knowledge of this type of story is helpful once Alexander is kidnapped. She’s also apparently a damn good shot with a Winchester rifle, shooting Eli’s hat off.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Though Dwight Schultz does not appear, Barclay is mentioned as having helped Alexander with the writing of the program, which is by way of explaining the prostitute who tries to get their attention. Wah hey!

Worf also makes a pig’s ear of the sheriff’s flirtation with Annie, to the tune of some hilarious facial expressions from Troi.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: Okay, seriously, why does the holodeck even have safeties that can be “disengaged”? Shouldn’t those safeties be hardwired ?

There is no Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf is still the worst father ever, but he does go from actively working to avoid spending leisure time with his son to a willingness to someday in the future again spend leisure time with his son. So that’s progress.

Oh, and after they jail Eli, he hilariously queries Alexander about 19th century jurisprudence: “Is there a trial? Or shall I execute him?”

If I Only Had a Brain...: Brent Spiner, not satisfied with playing three roles in “Brothers,” gets to play seven this time ’round, as Data infests the holodeck program. And this time he gets to use the same silly accent he used in his recurring role of Bob Wheeler on Night Court.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

I Believe I Said That: “I’m beginning to see the appeal of this program.”

Worf, coming around to the coolness of the scenario once he gets into a fistfight.

Welcome Aboard: About a year before his recurring role as Pete (“Don’t touch Pete’s piece!”) on the tragically short-lived western The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., John Pyper-Ferguson guest-starred here as Eli (you can see him currently on Alphas, on which this episode’s writer, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, serves as a producer). Joy Garrett and Jorge Cervera Jr. fulfill the stereotypes of their roles as Annie and the Bandito, respectively, while Brian Bonsall is considerate enough to get kidnapped, thus limiting his screentime, as Alexander.

Trivial Matters: This is the first script by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who would go on to become a producer on Deep Space Nine, before departing after the end of the sixth season to develop Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. He has since worked on several genre shows, including The 4400, The Dresden Files, and the aforementioned Alphas.

Picard’s Ressikan flute from “The Inner Light” makes a triumphant reappearance. In the time since that episode, Sir Patrick Stewart has, to his credit, learned how to play the recorder/tin whistle on which the flute is based. Not only does he get the fingering right during the teaser, he also breathes properly. (This effort will be on display again when the flute returns later this season in “Lessons.”)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

The title, obviously, is derived from the famous Clint Eastwood film A Fistful of Dollars. That film was one of Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti westerns,” and it was based on the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (a favorite film of your humble rewatcher).

LeVar Burton was given permission to grow a beard (having been previously denied it around the filming of “ The Outcast ”) so he could have one for his wedding. La Forge and Data discuss the beard a bit during the episode, and it’ll be the subject of conversation again next week.

Your humble rewatcher wrote a novel called The Art of the Impossible, which featured Troi’s father, Ian, in a good-sized role. At one point, he is chatting over subspace with his wife Lwaxana and his seven-year-old daughter Deanna, and he calls her “Durango” as an affectionate nickname, derived from the westerns he read to her, as established in this episode.

The script had a scene with Alexander and his kidnappers that was an homage to the great short story “The Ransom of Red Chief ” by O. Henry, but it was cut for time. The original script also called for Troi to be Annie the barmaid instead of the mysterious stranger.

Make it So: “We’ll have this all fixed up in time for supper.” A diverting, silly, ridiculous, pointless episode that mostly serves to give Michael Dorn, Brian Bonsall, Brent Spiner, and Marina Sirtis a chance to play dress-up (Spiner several times over, including drag). All the Western tropes are touched on, albeit perfunctorily. The plot is dumb—and spoiled by the episode’s title—the laughs are surprisingly thin on the ground, and the directing is, as ever with Sir Patrick Stewart, lifeless (cf. “In Theory” and “Hero Worship”).

I dunno, not much to say about this episode. It’s pretty much “The Big Goodbye” with less snappy costumes and a reduced fun content. It says something that the funniest scenes in this comedy Western are, in fact, off the holodeck: Picard constantly being interrupted while trying to play music, Riker reading “Ode to Spot,” Crusher’s anxiety over losing her play to computer failure, Data struttin’ and spittin’ and talkin’ like a Texan.

Honestly, Red Dwarf did this better a year later with “Gunmen of the Apocalypse.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: A Fistful of Datas

Housekeeping note: There will be no TNG rewatch on Friday the 12th of October due to New York Comic-Con, where I will have a table in Podcast Alley—booth 3364—to promote Dead Kitchen Radio: The Keith R.A. DeCandido Podcast , and also sell/autograph books and stuff. We’ll be back with “The Quality of Life” in a week’s time.

Warp factor rating: 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido also was gnashing his teeth every time they called it “the Ancient West,” which is lazy “sci-fi” writing, and also is an American-centric term that likely wouldn’t be used by non-humans in a multiplanet Federation 500 years hence. Sheesh.

1. critter42
I have to admit that this episode is one of my guilty pleasures...I give it a 7 on Brent's performance(s) alone. Yes it's silly, makes very little sense at at times, but there is just something about the whole thing that I like.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
Definitely silly and ridiculous and not my cup of tea. I'm not a huge fan of the Western genre, dislike overexaggarated Western accents, and I usually find the 'let's put the Enterprise crew in another time via Holodeck/Q/Time Travel' episodes a little too silly for my tastes (I know, I have a stodgy, no-fun, too-serious sense of humor). But it's still kinda fun, and I love watching Spiner ham it up ;) And Ode to Spot was even in it, which of course elevates it to high art ;)

It kind of makes me want to slap Worf around. Seriously, what a jerk to try and do extra work just so you don't have to hang out with your kid :P I get that the fatherhood gig was kind of pushed on him out of nowhere (and I can empathize with his no-fun personality ;) ), but it still comes off as jerky.

Also, I don't think I would EVER use the holodeck, given the lack of safeties, haha.
3. RobinM
I kinda like this episode even if it silly . It hits all the western stereotypes and we all know exactly how it's going to end. At least Data and Troi have something to do even if it is dress up. I also really wanted to hear that discussion between Barclay and Worf on child appropriate holoprograms.
4. Don3Comp
I find this episode worth it just for Brent Spiner's scenery chewing, and Worf's reaction to Annie/Data ("Computer, PLEASE end program). In general, I find that science fiction/Trek don't mix well with the old west ("Spectre of the Gun," anyone?) but here it works because the holodeck aspect establishes it as "fiction within fiction." And I agree with Lisamarie that getting to hear "Ode to Spot" again is a bonus.
5. Cybersnark
Apparently Worf enjoyed the holoprogram enough to repurpose it as a training Klingon-definition-of-"fun" tool even when Alexander's not around; it reappears in one of the Deep Space Nine comics (from the Malibu series, IIRC), when Kira & Jadzia stumble in and help sheriff Worf deal with a den of cattle rustlers.

Surprisingly, it was Kira who ended up enjoying it (you'd think it would be more Jadzia's style).
6. Bruce-Arthurs
Holy crap. I would have sworn that I'd seen every episode of TNG, but somehow I think I missed this one. Should I be embarassed, or pleased to find there's a "new" episode to watch?

I just picked up the full set of Brisco County Jr. DVDs. (I've actually never watched any episodes, and bought the set based on reputation.) Hadn't realized John Pyper-Ferguson was in it. That moves it a notch or three higher on the To-Be-Watched list. (Brisco County Jr. would probably be good for a Rewatch topic.)
7. Bruce-Arthurs
Holy crap. I would have sworn that I'd seen every episode of TNG, but somehow I think I missed this one. Should I be embarassed, or pleased to find there's a "new" episode to watch?

I just picked up the full set of Brisco County Jr. DVDs. (I've actually never watched any episodes, and bought the set based on reputation.) Hadn't realized John Pyper-Ferguson was in it. That moves it a notch or three higher on the To-Be-Watched list. (Brisco County Jr. would probably be good for a Rewatch topic.)
Kalvin Kingsley
8. KalvinKingsley
The holodeck has the ability to disable the safety protocols just in case Picard ever needs/manages to lure a Borg drone into one and shoot it with holographic bullets.
rob mcCathy
9. roblewmac
there's got to be some other universe where a romulan spy wipes out the whole crew by bringing a machine gun to the roaring 20s party.
Alyssa Tuma
10. AlyssaT
Although her Western accent is deplorable, Sirtis is so cute in this one!!! I really love her cowgirl outfit. Definitely 900 times better than a space gown of turquoise rayon with bizarre asymmetrical-but-not-too-assymetrical neckline and matching leggings. barf.
Bastiaan Stapel
11. Stapel
A big meeeeeeeeeeh. Though I somewhat enjoyed the episode then and now, it simply does not fit in TNG. Just shouldn't be there, I think.
Robbie C
12. leandar
I'm gonna be in the minority methinks, but I thought this was a fun episode and I still enjoy it.
rob mcCathy
13. roblewmac
I like it better than spectre of the gun.
14. Jeff R.
I'm in the same category as @Bruce-Arthurs: this is the only episode of TNG (and quite possibly the only episode of any kind of Trek, although there might be a late Enterprise or TAS episode I've also missed) that I've never seen, although unlike him I've been aware of the gap for years. And it's not exactly as though I've been actively avoiding it, either...
Lee VanDyke
15. Cloric
Do you think that Worf avoids spending time with his son to keep from having Bonsall's voice in his ear all the time? I swear every line is delivered in a high pitched whine that just drives me up the wall.

And, yes, Sirtis' accent isn't great, but those leather pants could make me straight (temporarily, at least), in theory. At least her poofy perm from the last few episodes was shoved under a hat this week.

One has to wonder how badly the actors were for Gates McFadden to have that put upon look on her face before finding hearing Riker reading "Ode to Spot," too.
16. jlpsquared
Yeah, there is something lifeless about Stewart episodes as a director, isn't there? Also, Worf himself is pretty lifeless inthe last 2 seasons, and those combined do not make a good episode. I agree that the scenes off the holodeck were better than those on.

But you know what, so what if it is silly. This episode is just like Qpid, dumb fun, and SO WHAT, not every episode has to attain BOBW.
Jenny Thrash
17. Sihaya
Bruce-Arthurs @7: Tor gave "Briscoe County" the 'Rewatch in One' treatment:

Someday someone is going to drown while taking a quiet bubblebath on the holodeck. That place is a menace.

Spiner, a Texan, doing a spoof of a western accent is just so funny.
Christopher Bennett
18. ChristopherLBennett
"Okay, seriously, why does the holodeck even have safeties that can be “disengaged”?"

I wonder if 24th-century roller coasters can have their restraints disengaged...

And I've said this before, but why would a holodeck even need to simulate actual bullets, when nobody could see them in flight? Why not just simulate the muzzle flash and the impact, like movies and TV do?

This episode is forgettable fluff. I think the only thing I like about it is the final "sunset" gag. Robert Hewitt Wolfe has done far more impressive work since then, but with this as his debut, it's kind of surprising (though fortunate) that they ever asked him back.
Joseph Newton
19. crzydroid
Keith, it's not just that the "Ancient West" is an American-centric term, but it was only 400 years ago for them. I'm not aware that there are people going around referring to the period circa 1612 as ancient times. Still, I thought it was a cute joke.

Between "The Big Goodbye," this epsiode, and a certain Season 7 episode, there was this notion among me and my friends that a stereotypical episode of TNG would have the characters getting trapped on the holodeck with the safeties failing (even though we have seen more episodes where the holodeck works correctly). This basically became a joke for us. Between this and holographic characters coming alive and making you think you were going back to the real world while you were really still on the holodeck, I don't know if I would ever use it, either.
20. Rootboy
For whatever reason I remember this episode really well from when I was a kid, when I must have watched it the first time around. I remember being terribly confused why the people on a spaceship were also cowboys, and I remember thinking that opening the robot's head was really cool.
Mike Kelmachter
21. MikeKelm
@19 Crazy Droid: The reference to something American is a bad habit that I had hoped the writers had kicked after season 2. Remember Data referencing Yankee traders? The fact that everyone in DS9 seems to love baseball is another thing. At least O'Brien and Bashir fly as RAF pilots... I get why this happens- after all, the series is written for American audiences, and the fact that Paramount has all of these western sets sitting around for usage is probably pretty attractive to the writers. I just wish every once in a while they'd come up with something similar but *not quite* American... I'm not saying we need Worf chasing after a bunch of Targ rustlers in an arid part of Qo'noS but just something a little less stock.

Other than that, I agree someone should rip out the entire Holodeck system- or at least put a big red STOP button somewhere in the thing. At least this time the holodeck malfunction only threatened a couple of people as opposed to the entire ship (Dr. Moriarty and his steampunk lever that turns off the stabilizers anyone) , but once again the "Holodeck malfunctions and hilarity ensues" is a lazy writing fallback by the writers.

Lastly, could someone please tell me a) why we'd want to run the entire ship through data and b) how he'd be able to do it? I get that he's a really impressive piece of hardware, but the ship has three redundant computer cores spread throughout the ship which are a LOT bigger than Data's head. He may be able to do all of the functions of the ship, but can he do them all at the exact same time? In a combat situation he'd be required to maintain navigation and steering, sensors, defensive systems, offensive systems, life support, artificial gravity, structural integrity, inertial dampeners, sickbay, and all of the various controls that keep the warp and impulse engines from blowing up the ship. That's a lot of calculations and information to juggle at one time. So unless Data's head has more processing power and storage than the computer core of the Enterprise (which makes you wonder why the Binar's didn't just kidnap him instead of the entire ship) then this is just a stupid McGuffin. I really, really do not like stupid McGuffins. Have Data plugged in doing a systems check and a power surge hit. Have Barclay's program have an oversight which allows the computer to ramp up the difficulty to 11, have a computer virus, anything... just don't give me this rediculous nonsense about "we want to run the ship through Data" from Geordi, who should probably know better in the first place.
22. DaveMB
I did like the Troi line (from memory) as they plan the exchange: "Worf, I've read hundreds of these stories and the villains _always_ break their word..."
Joseph Newton
23. crzydroid
@21: The only person on DS9 who liked baseball was Sisko.
24. C. Wildeman
I'll have to join the minority here. I think Spiner is great as Hollander, and Sirtis is likewise great as Leather Pants Girl.
People always gripe about the Holodeck-gone-awry episodes, and I understand why, but I've always enjoyed them. It gives everyone a chance to get out of the rut and do something a little different.
Christopher Hatton
25. Xopher
Well, the confusion about the location could be Alexander's lack of geographical knowledge. I mean, I don't know ANY young Klingons who know where South Dakota is, and I bet you don't either!

Okay, seriously, why does the holodeck even have safeties that can be “disengaged”?

They use the holodeck for training, too. Worf wouldn't want to have safety features on his training programs!

That said, it's stupid. They should just have said that the safeties failed.

The holodeck episodes give the actors a chance to stretch, which is a good thing for them career-wise...though it hasn't seemed to help Spiner much.

He's a great actor, too. I hadn't realized he was a Texan; that throws his bad-movie accents in this episode into a new light. He's parodying people doing bad Texas accents!
Phil Parsons
26. Yakko
Well that's not entirely true. He passed the love of baseball on to Jake. Kassidy Yates also was an enthusiast - it was the common interest that sparked the beginning of her relationship with Sisko.

MikeKlein you might be remembering "Take Me Out To The Holosuite" - the seventh season DS9 episode where the entire main cast plays baseball against a Vulcan crew. However Sisko had to teach the game to everyone. By and large both series stayed true to the continuity established way back in TNG's first season ep "The Neutral Zone" and continued in third season's "Evolution" that baseball had died out since the mid 21st century (when it had, in fact, become a worldwide pastime) and that few humans in the 24th century even knew of its existence.
Rob Rater
27. Quasarmodo
When I watched the show during its first run, I could never get enough Data, so I enjoyed the hell out of this episode. It wasn't until years when I was playing around on this crazy new internet thing when I found out there were people who actually didn't care for Data. It was weird.
Fade Manley
28. fadeaccompli
Quasarmodo, I had a similar reaction when, years after TNG had stopped airing, I found out that a lot of fans didn't like Wesley Crusher.
Jenny Thrash
29. Sihaya
Xopher, to put it in perspective, Spiner is not only Texan, but his high school and college drama teacher is the same man who taught Dennis and Randy Quaid. He might be parodying bad fake Texas accents; he might be parodying something else. We'll never know.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
30. Lisamarie
@28 - I came into this with few preconceived notions and I have to admit, I didn't get the Wesley-hate. I have this knowledge that I am 'supposed' to hate him, but he really doesn't annoy me that much as a character. Doesn't mean I enjoy every single one of his episodes or the plots surrounding them, but I do kind of wonder what would have happened if he'd stayed on.
Alan Courchene
31. Majicou
@25: They probably do use holodecks for training (I'm guessing they don't build physical simulators like in Wrath of Khan in the 24th c.), but it's desirable not to injure your people in training, too. And Worf might find his "calisthenics" less exciting, and there was that Voyager episode where B'Elanna became a holodeck thrillseeker, but you know what? Too damn bad for them. If you're in Starfleet, you shouldn't get to risk your life doing stupid shit in the holodeck because your job risks your life, and it's important. You can't always do what you want in the quasi-military. Hardwired systems should be present, and with plenty of redundancy. Failure should be an extraordinary event, if it ever happens.

@CLB: Video games almost never simulate bullets directly either--when a gun is fired, a ray sensor goes out from the gun to check what, if anything, the bullet hit, and the appropriate effect happens.
32. jlpsquared
@28 and 30, I agree, I started watching when I was 7 or 8, and I never got the Wesley hate either. That is quite likely due to my age, but even on re-watch, it is only really BAD for the 1st third of the first season. by season 2 his character was quite likable, and by the time he left in season 4 I genuinely missed him. I really do wonder how it would have been if he stayed or at least came back MORE.
33. rowanblaze
RE: the "Ancient" West. This phrase bugged the hell out of me from the first time heard it for the same reason as @19 crzydroid. It's only 400 years in TNG's past, and we certainly don't think of the Elizabethan Era as "Ancient." Shakespeare was writing plays for the London stage in 1592.

As far as it being the "West," perhaps that can be forgiven by way of it being a category of genre fiction. As has been pointed out, from a production standpoint Old West settings are very appealing to Hollywood studios (again this being genre fiction, the desert images of Leone's Spaghetti Westerns come to mind), which is perhaps a little bit of lazy—economical—writing. In-universe, however, despite the multiculturalism of the Federation, residents of the territories currently known as the United States still seem fairly patriotic in the 24th century. Just a few examples include Sisko's, et al, interest in baseball, Reg Barclay and Ian Troi's interest in Western fiction, Riker's obvious pleasure at Data's reference to Yankee traders, in "The Last Outpost." Even Picard is patriotic about France in the same episode. We can discuss how silly that would be, but it's still a feature of the Star Trek Universe. It's probabaly not discussed much in the extended universe, but I would guess that much of the United Earth political units largely resemble our current geography.

Still, I did like the performances of both Spiner and Sirtis, and everyone else was adequate. It's a silly bit of fluff.
34. DianeB
I'm with everyone who said they liked this episode just because it was completely irreverent and made them chuckle, except I'm going to up it to an 8 for the "riding into the sunset" final moment, but mostly for Troi's outfit. Yum with a spoon, right, AlyssaT? ;)
Rob Rater
35. Quasarmodo
Add me to the list of people who was floored by the Wesley wall of hate that lurked on the internet. Well maybe that wasn't the actual list being made, but I'm on that list regardless!
Christopher Bennett
36. ChristopherLBennett
I didn't agree with the Wesley hate in the first run, and as someone who was myself bullied for being a good student, I took the Wesley-bashing rather personally. But in retrospect, watching the series in later years, I really didn't feel Wheaton was effective at making the character likeable. Or, rather, that Wesley was the wrong character to make the best use of Wheaton's skills. He's finally found his niche as the supercilious creep you love to hate, and he's far better at that than he was as the bland and wholesome Wesley. So maybe with a better match of actor to role, Wes would've been more popular.
Jenny Thrash
37. Sihaya
#36: The number of actors who would suit that part would be tiny. Not saying he wasn't out there, but Ron Howard was too old; Haley Joel Osment was too young. Can you think of anyone of their ilk who were around in '87? Of course, Hollywood would have rolled over and handed that kid the keys to a Tesla, the phone number of three cute Mousketeers and all the VIP passes he could handle.

I was a good student, and I found Wesley to be a borish stereotype of geeky children. My sci fi club's historian, a guy who was programming an AI to come up with an ending to Mozart's unfinished work, hated Wesley. The class cum laude, a kid who aced his IB German presentation by translating and performing Rod Stewart's "If You Want My Body," didn't care for that obnoxious kid. So, in general there were some smart kids who didn't like Wesley Crusher, either. Sorry (really sorry not 'sorry').
Bastiaan Stapel
38. Stapel
How did we get into a Wesley discussion from this episode?
Rob Rater
39. Quasarmodo

Episode with dozens of Datas transitioned to "Data hate," which then transitioned to "Wesley hate". It was unavoidable.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
40. Lisamarie
Chris, I think you hit the nail on the head for me...I also was the bullied smart kid so I felt a bit of a kinship with Wesley. I probably was kind of obnoxious too...

I am totally intrigued by this AI to finish Mozart's work, did anything come of it?
Christopher Bennett
41. ChristopherLBennett
@37: Remember, the original idea was that Dr. Crusher would have a daughter named Leslie. If they'd been open to either possibility, it would've doubled the number of potential candidates for the role. And there were certainly other unknown or little-known actors around that age at the time. Would we even know who Wheaton was now if he hadn't gotten the part in TNG?
Rob Rater
42. Quasarmodo
Leslie changed to Wesley. That's brillaint!

I wonder if the person responsible for coming up with the new name also came up with the name of Rodimus Prime.
Mike Kelmachter
43. MikeKelm
Wesley wasn't a bad character in of itself, it's how he was written and used. He could have had a pretty decent run in the capacity that we saw Jake Sisko in, but instead we got the savant who is in the middle of everything. What the H classes was he in that he got to play with dilithium crystals and tractor beams? Why was no other teenager on the ship doing this? Then he becomes an acting ensign and is immediately made the Alpha shift conn officer? Because the 500 hundred more qualified academy grads had nothing better to do? He could have then become an interesting window to how the rest of the ship was handling whatever crisis du jour but instead was still in the middle of things.

I don't think that Wheaton's acting was the issue (Wheaton himself has often said that he wasn't polished enough as an actor) but rather how the writers used him. That and some of the most gawdawful lines EVER! "We're from Starfleet- we don't lie!" I doubt any young actor or actress could have played Wesley/Leslie the way that the role was written and not be hated
Jenny Thrash
44. Sihaya
Lisamarie, I have no idea if it was completed, but IIRC he got far enough along to win an independent scholarship award for it. A quick Googling tells me that he's an associate professor in the Computer Science Department at Princeton now.

Leslie Crusher may well have met the same fate. We could all be arguing over a Tor.com article entitled, "Leslie Crusher Doesn't Deserve This S***."
Jenny Thrash
45. Sihaya
CLB @41: Yeah, Wheaton would be the kid in "Stand By Me." Jerry O'Connell has worked for decades because he didn't let the original momentum from that movie slow down. I mean, he's not a superstar, but we all know his name.

If TNG had called for a girl, Wheaton's agent might have looked elsewhere, and his star was burning brightly enough. Like you said, he was a good actor looking for the right role.
Christopher Bennett
46. ChristopherLBennett
@42: "Wesley" was Gene Roddenberry's middle name. Roddenberry saw the character as a representation of himself at that age, which is probably why he was against making the role female.
Dante Hopkins
47. DanteHopkins
Well at least you didn't completely rip on the episode, and you did give it a five, but of course I'd rate it higher. This is one of my favorite episodes. I don't need a perfect plot or everything just perfectly written and blah blah blah; this episode is fun and funny, and that's all that mattered.

Troi looks great in period costume, and is just awesome as Durango, and apparetly a pretty damn good shot. Yes its a holodeck-goes-wrong episode, but its the best of the lot, and its just fun to watch. The Data malfunctions are pretty damn funny, if inconvenient, and the Western characters, although archetypes, are well acted and fun as heck. The common thread is fun, if you haven't noticed, and this episode is just that. I love the end where the Enterprise flies off into the sunset; another, you guessed it,fun moment. A firm 7 in my book.
48. JohnC
After three successive emotionally wrenching episodes, it was time for a bit of silliness, and I admit that, despite the fact Alexander has never been one of my favorite TNG characters, I did enjoy this episode. I love their first few moments walking into the streets of town - Worf's undisguised pleasure in saying "so... we are in law enforcement."
49. Kellia
Ok, I'll admit it--I loved this episode. Loved the little nuances in Michael Dorn's acting, the callbacks to Ode to Spot and to Picard's flute playing, the fact that Alexander just wants to beat up bad guys with his dad, Deanna as the mysterious stranger (so, so happy they didn't stuff her into a poofy dress and make her a barmaid)--I even enjoyed watching Data say "ain't." Could it have been better? Yes. Did I spend the whole time cracking up? Yes.
Robbie C
50. leandar
Yeah, I have to agree. I fell out of my chair almost, I was laughing so hard when Annie, now also as Data, came down and it was basically Data in drag, putting her head on Worf's chest and the look on Worf's face just told it all! LOL!!

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