‘THE MEASURE OF A MAN’ (TNG)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
This is one of the best ‘Star Trek: TNG’ episodes from its second season. It’s a story about Data and his right to existence, as he gets threatened with being disassembled at the order of Starfleet itself.
In the episode, the Enterprise docks at Starbase 173 for routine maintenance. But whilst docked, a cyberneticist named Commander Bruce Maddox comes aboard with one purpose: Data the android.
Maddox wants to disassemble Data and create more duplicates of Data to serve Starfleet, based on Dr. Noonien Soong’s work. But Maddox’s work on the matter is somewhat vague and is still ongoing.
Data refuses to submit himself to the procedure of being disassembled by Maddon. But Maddox is determined to take Data with him whether he likes it or not and has Starfleet orders for his transfer.
This is something that Picard is fully against, since he is convinced that Data has the right to existence and is not a mere machine. Soon, a court proceeding gets made to secure Data’s existence.
This ‘TNG’ episode works very well in terms of a courtroom drama as well as a ‘Star Trek’ story with thought-provoking questions. The main question of this is: ‘Is Data more than just a mere machine?’
It’s also an episode that sees Picard treating Data more than a colleague aboard the Enterprise but as a friend. Picard’s determination to prove to everyone that Data is not just a machine is engaging.
In the episode, Amanda McBroom guest stars as Captain Phillipa Louvois. She happens to be an old flame of Picard’s as well as the presiding Judge Advocate General for Data’s trial during the episode.
Brian Brophy guest stars as Commander Bruce Maddox in the episode. Maddox is very determined to get his hands on Data. He believes that Data isn’t a sentient being and that he has no rights at all.
There are some poignant scenes where Data decides to resign as a result of Maddox’s intentions to disassemble him. This includes him packing things in his quarters, before Maddox comes to see him.
During the packing scene, Data has a holographic ‘photo-frame’ of Tasha Yar. This is to signify Tasha meant something special to Data, especially for the time they became intimate in ‘The Naked Now’.
There’s also a gift-giving scene to Data by his friends in Ten Forward when he’s resigning from Starfleet. I did like how Data and Geordi talk to each other, since Geordi is upset about Data leaving.
During the court-hearing, the prosecution against Data’s existence and rights is made by Commander Riker. Riker is against condemning Data during these proceedings, but he has no choice.
The prosecution by Riker on Data is so damning that even Picard struggles to protest against the arguments. There are moments when Riker takes off Data’s right arm and switches him off instantly.
During a recess, Picard is at a loss on how to fight back against Riker’s statements. I liked that scene Picard has with Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan, when he shares the problem and she’s listening to him.
It turns out that Maddox’s plan to disassemble Data to create more duplicates of him will result in slavery. Picard uses these arguments in his defence of Data in order to confound Maddox in the trial.
The speech that Picard makes during his defence of Data is so compelling and so thought-provoking to listen to. It enables Louvois to not pass judgement on Data and to also allow him the right to exist.
Colm Meaney guest stars as Chief O’Brien in this. He appears in the first scene of the episode where he, Data, Riker, Geordi and Pulaski are playing poker, which is something to reappear again in ‘TNG’.
Clyde Kusastu also makes a brief appearance as Admiral Nakamura in the episode. I make mention of him in this review because he would later guest star for the Season 7 TV episode called ‘Phantasms’.
‘The Measure of a Man’ is a superb episode from the ‘TNG’ series. I rate it highly! It features superb performances of the cast with the likes of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and Brent Spiner as Data.
This is probably where ‘TNG’ found its feet as a series and being worthy of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise. It made me realise how much I love Data’s character as I looked forward to see more of him in ‘TNG’.
‘The Measure of a Man’ (TNG) rating – 9/10
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