Episode

225

A Fistful of Datas

The Enterprise has nowhere to go for 48 hours. But even sitting in stationary orbit with nothing to do, the crew can find trouble. The holodeck has gone haywire! Data is turning into a cowpoke! Dr. Crusher has lost a play! Also, Alexander! What will ship and crew do? Find out when we put A Fistful of Datas in the Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • “Wild wild Worf”…obvious, but not bad, Paramount affiliate relations, not bad. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ba050b5a988cf7f02dad15576f1808ceb5792b928cc6f253c02fe7038832bf45.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/662715e9885672aba1be6cb92b312d4c5055d5425fe539e42c225ff4da2e5fe4.jpg
    I’m not normally a huge fan of his music scores, but slow golf clap to Jay Chattaway for going right out there to do the western thing. Maybe not as catchy as Red Dwarf’s “Gunmen Of The Apocalypse” (which totally takes the mickey out of this plotline), but I’ll forgive a lot for that “flying into the sunset” theme.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e8757f846094e66e8d92dc1589a1a402b10604f8e623c613e7e57fdff570810.png

  • Derwood

    Warp 3 to Yuma

  • CmdrR
  • Dave Steph Taylor

    Another one of those just fun episode.

    Enjoyed seeing Spiner, not being Data and Worf having a bit of fun

    So, how many episodes do we have where the Holodeck does wacky. Seriously, they should have to sign a release form to enter.

  • Scrappy

    When Data spoke with the accent, all I thought about was Bob Wheeler from Night Court. His character was the reason I started watching Night Court. Check it out on youtube

    • Scrappy

    • Konservenknilch

      *snicker* That’s pretty funny.

  • Konservenknilch

    Terrible epsiode (TNG, not Mission Log). I’m not a huge fan of prequels, but at least Discovery will spare us of Holodeck episodes.

    • Roger Birks

      I disagree. Its pure fun and something different in the series up to this point. Patrick Stewart should be at least proud of this episode. His best directed episode of the series for me. And its good.

  • Jason8957

    With all of the repeated failures in which the holodeck safety systems mysteriously fail, there is no way I would take my kid on the holodeck to do some violent roll-playing simulations. But, perhaps I am a helicopter parent or something.

  • JusenkyoGuide

    Ah, A Fistful of Datas, the ep where TNG lets its funniest actors actually BE funny instead of making them be uber serious like they do the rest of the time.

  • Durakken

    With regards to “Why are there safety protocols that you can turn off on the Holodeck?” It’s because the holodeck, functioning at it’s base level isn’t “safe.” You’re making semi-physical objects and you’re working in an engine where there normal physics. The Safety protocols are like an asset set of scripts and patches to to the Holodeck Physics Engine which have to be loaded on top of any “program” to make sure that they are in place, rather than at a lower level of programming which can be overridden by just anyone or for specific event. This allows for optimal safety and ability to work within the engine. And that’s also why I suspect there are different modes which allows different access levels and then different access levels per some other authority. You don’t want a General Use Holodeck to have safeties off, but you probably do for some private stuff… and likewise you’d want so other restrictions for the “unmentionable stuff”. Another thing to consider is that there are also likely several standard safety protocols if you think about how starfleet tries to take into account all cultures and different cultures, and individuals in general, have different sensibilities when it comes to safety… example being Klingons or O’Brien (who constantly injures himself apparently).

    As to do children see themselves as children in an adult world or an adult in an adult world… That’s going the wrong direction. When you imagine yourself being the captain of a starship do you imagine yourself to be Kirk or do you imagine yourself to be you? You are you. Other people are who they are. The difference is in the action/reaction to you… and this consistent with what the holodeck is supposed to do, which it is supposed to ignore reality where it doesn’t fit within their worldview. In that scenario Alexander is 20+ years old to the Holograms, not 10 years old. He’s at around 5’10”, not 3′.

    The “violent video games” thing. Just no. These are not comparable things. Having a gun in your hand that acts and feels like a real gun and is essentially a real gun where you are shooting and killing pretty real people is a completely different experience than sitting in a room with a controller and seeing a 3D model through a screen get shot. They don’t look nor feel anything like each other and they are in no way alike in feel, mental nor physical.

    I would point however that the Holodeck should have the same sort of restrictions as games do, that most parents ignore, which is basically most of the stuff that people who don’t know what they’re talking about say “this should not be in a game for kids” about… They’re not in games for kids and they need to educate themselves… or I dunno, pay attention to what they’re giving their kids or even do the smallest cursory research of the thing they are commenting on. If your parents wants to allow you to go and experience “violent” holodeck programs, movies, games, books, music, that is their decision, not anyone elses’, but at the same time a kid should be restricted without the proper permissions which would be easy to find in this age or any age if they desired to create a system to do so which I certainly hope eventually do.

    There is however another level to this conversation and that is… there would need to be research done into how do humans actually react to the situations in Holodecks, because you’re pretty much in the situation that can be hellishly traumatic or you could be pampered to such levels that you are effected in the same way as you would be in the real world… there’s a catch however, in the real world there was never a “way out” nor a “you’re immortal super powered being” thing and that may change exactly how you process the situation.

    Yet another thing is restriction of time periods and scenarios… For example, should anyone be allowed to play out a Slave South or Holocaust or Rawanda Genocide or Serial Killer scenario where you are taking part in it as the evil person or the victim? Those situations would give me great pause because they could seriously mess someone up, even with the escape latch, because to put yourself in those scenarios you’re already showing signs that you might not be all there or that you have something festering in your mind that society probably doesn’t want to bring out. I’m a proponent of you’re mentally capable of understanding what you’re getting into, you’re free to make that decision, but I also think many people aren’t really capable of understanding a great deal of things yet are still free to participate in them and in doing so the holodeck society would tend more towards haveing more “degenerates” than people doing it for understanding or experience or whatever other reason you could think of for them to legitimately do it and not just for some perversion that will make whatever is making them do it that much worse.

    Question… What is a Fistful of Datas? Is data the chips? The neural net? whatever he uses for a Hard drive? Some of these things that Data could be can not have more than 1 in a fist so… Datas should not be pluraled. Also if we’re talking about data and not Data then you can’t have a fistful nor is the plural of data datas…

    Just a musing…

    • Interesting thought process. Maybe the holodeck doesn’t produce utter nutters because 24th century society can “detect the seeds of criminal behavior”? Oh, wait… that can of worms was marked “never open again”.

      Video games seem like they’re forever stuck in the same wrongheaded “Peter Pan” area as comic books and YA fiction, where the uninitiated public repeatedly trips over the same old “But this is for kids, right?” chestnut. And then next thing you know you have moms taking eight-year-olds to see Logan and Deadpool. But…these are comic movies, and that’s okay for kids, right?

      The holodeck has a bit of a conceptual problem where it, too, is subject to gumbification. It’s astoundingly self-aware and insightful one episode, and as dumb as a box of isolinear chips the next. Whatever the occasion (and the script) demands. It can generate a sentient being one day…and stick you in a pre-programmed scenario the next day that’s so restrictive that it might as well be the jungle cruise ride.

      And if you think about it…this is really The Royale all over again. Play out the scenario until the end…just figure out what events you have to trigger.

      • Durakken

        Star Trek world might have that, but I was supposing Holodeck technology in the real world where you can’t just change crazy if a turn of a dial.

        Mostly just in the US… Other places tend not to think of these things as “just for kids” and even in the US, this was more of an invention of a more recent time, because in WW2 comics and cartoons were being sent to soldiers to read/watch and up until around the 60s there were all types of comics and cartoons, If I had to guess what happen, and it’s sorta related to Star Trek… basically Space and Sci-fi stories became popular along with the CCA which caused Sci-fi and fantasy pieces to be seen as “for children” which was somewhat capitalized on by organizations to say push for kids to want to be astronauts… So really the whole “thats for kids” thing only developed a mass following in the west around the 60s and mostly ended in the late 80s, similar to cartoons to which were for adults until Sunday Morning TV were a thing around the 60s and that started being done away with in the 80s with Beavis and Butthead, the simpsons and really shifted in around the late 90s with Batman, Futurama, and South Park. Now it’s all just residual for those.

        The kid thing with gaming is probably a result of Nintendo and earlier computers being marketed towards kids. And now it is more of just an insult and used to make bad arguments for why it’s ok for these people to be bad parents.

        What you described with regards to a holodeck is what you would expect. Different programs are programmed by different people and some may be as open ended as can be while others may be as linear as Mario. I can see very good reasons for that even if the computer can generate content on the fly, such as “I’m the bloody author and I don’t want the computer creating things somewhere that I didn’t put them that then have to be removed or adjusted when I update that area, if I ever do, for that player”

    • lol “unmentionables”- I have to slightly disagree w the video games though. I am an avid gamer, SOCOM II, GTA III-V, Hitman, Uncharted, but regarding GTA and Hitman especially, I had to say it does make me think about how I would conduct a bank robbery or assassinate a high value target. Obviously, I am not going to do that, but I can see how some mentally ill types might use the games as inspiration for violence. I recall the “Hollywood Shootout” w Russian bank robbers in the early 1990s had a VHS copy of “Heat” in their VCR when the cops investigated. Crazy, not the norm, but for some unbalanced types violent media can have a negative effect. I think your point about the slaves, Rwanda genocide hit on Westworld type issues…the line, so gray. Having sex w hosts, wow. The lack of empathy by some of the Newcomers and technicians. What a tough call. I hope we never get that advanced, although Samurai World would be awesome!!

      • Durakken

        Thinking about something, even being intensely informed about something does not remotely feel the same as the actual thing. And if you make that argument with games then the very same argument can be made about every other medium, including just normal life.

        … there was more here but disqus died…

        Basically, you should know better as I think you said you were in the military. I know as someone that has gotten into fights games don’t even remotely simulate real life and it is even more the case they don’t with intense things like guns.

        And even if they did what you’re talking about, it’s a good thing, because it adds an additional level of security of knowledge to know how to trigger those things if something happens and they haven’t been triggered or you can take advantage of them.

  • It’s fascinating trying to apply game theory to the holodeck sometimes. What Alexander (and Barclay) have concocted here is…well, it’s Zork. It’s Dragon’s Lair. Predetermined actions must take place at specific times to win the game. Keep your hands within the rails at all times, unexpected moves will simply be ignored. Does the holodeck do, for lack of a better way to put it, sandbox games? 11001001 and Big Goodbye seem to say yes – but they were both so long ago, and very much in the minority. Maybe they rolled back the Binars’ update (much to Riker’s chagrin). All that talk of dissolving holo-matter from The Big Goodbye seems to have gone away too – let’s face it, everything The Big Goodbye did with the holodeck went the way of the chess-move-inspired security buzzwords in That Which Survives: that’s standard procedure now, and we’re going to act like it always was…until it isn’t.

    For what it’s worth: a Blue Yeti *can* survive about a 5-foot drop onto a bare concrete floor and still be functional. (It’s a long story, involving cats knocking stuff off of shelves, that took about three years off my life in the space of as many seconds.) Please take my word for it and do not try this at home. Best practice: save mic drops for cheapo condenser mics.

    Last but not least, let’s appreciate that we got at least one action figure out of this one. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/af93fccf6dc38f4f7662bcd4e71323e8e5be0b616b05606712055f2cf23037d9.jpg

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    A few more thoughts after listening to the podcast.

    1- Troi has a secret desite to be a cowgirl. Did not see that one coming.

    2- Boy that communicator sure is hackable.

    3- Worf’s lesson about not killing at the end. That is nice and all, but not in any way, the Kingon way.

  • Oh, and the Eaglemoss special hitting my ears at roughly the same time as a slightly larger paycheck than usual…well…NX-01 Refit, here I come. Finally roped me in. LOL

  • wchmara

    Patrick Stewart appeared on a TV special telling a story about watching a show on his hotel room’s TV, which made him initially think that Star Trek TNG was being ripped off, and perhaps a lawsuit was in order.
    As he continued watching, he began to see that it wasn’t a ripoff, but an episode of Britain’s sci-fi comedy series, Red Dwarf.
    I could be mistaken, because my memory ain’t what it used to be, but if I recall correctly, the special included clips of Red Dwarf’s western-themed episode “Gunmen of the Apocalypse” at that moment.
    Which suggests that “Fistful of Datas” was the episode of TNG that Stewart thought was being infringed upon. But I don’t know if that was made clear or not.
    In the RD episode, the android Kryten is infected with a computer virus, forcing the rest of the gang to enter his delusional fantasy that he is the sheriff of an Old West town via virtual reality headsets (Red Dwarf’s version of the holodeck).

    • Durakken

      *looks at Red Dwarf*
      *looks at Star Trek: TNG”
      “looks at Patrick Stewart”
      Sir, I believe you need your eyes checked…

  • Aaron

    This was the alcohol poisoning episode if you tried to play the TNG drinking game (at least the version we had). The opening scene with Worf and Picard was a warm up – drink every time Worf has an idea shot down by the Captain or Riker. But the killer was -chug a beer if Data uses a contraction.

  • Matt Bell

    So, to make a personal forcefield Word tears apart a communicator. A COMMUNICATOR. Did he even try and use the device for its intended function before reaching for the screwdriver?

    • Canavan

      I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure they tried and failed to contact their crewmates via communicator. I think the idea of constructing complex devices with minimal parts goes all the way back to Trek’s roots with Spock’s construction of a mnemonic memory circuit using “stone knives and bear skins”. Realistic? Well, probably not, but it does move the plot along. 😉

      • Matt Bell

        I don’t remember them mentioning the communicator until Worf was tearing it apart, but I could be wrong (and I’m not going to watch the episode again just in case!)

        Interesting that you should mention “stone knives and bearskins”…Spock spent over 30 hours (when not at his full time job) cobbling together bits of 1930s radio equipment into an interface device for his Tricorder.
        Worf spent part of an afternoon turning a 19th century telegraph and a tiny battery into a personal forcefield generator! A forcefield generator incidentally that he can wear without spoiling the lines of his coat.

        Spock, step aside.
        Worf is the true technical genius! 😉

  • thought…if Voyagers “The Doctor” were to find out that his fellow holograms were sometimes killed, had sex with or otherwise abused….how would he react…? I did think of Westworld once I realized this episode was up. I think a certain British villain is due to make a long overdue reappearance and remind us of holo-rights and how bad the writers were at tying up loose ends.

  • Canavan

    Not a great episode, but one I think of as a keeper. I’m generally a tougher sell when Trek tries to be more light-hearted (maybe it has something to do with my belief that good comedy is harder to accomplish than good drama), but the scene where Data rushes down the saloon stairs as Worf frantically attempts to end the program remains one of the few times I laughed out loud during an NG episode.

    Not that there aren’t a few problems here. One of the most salient (my opinion), alluded to by our podcasting hosts, is the balance between humor and drama. At that point in the episode when Worf and Troi fully appreciate the danger they are in, any appreciation of the raised stakes is considerably dampened by Spiner’s cheesy acting. I’m okay with the Frank Hollander character, but for the rest he sounds like someone doing a bad imitation of stock characters from a 50s-era B or C Western.

    I‘m not always an admirer of Michael Dorn’s performances in TNG, but I think he does a pretty good job with this material. I like the way the script builds on our previous understanding of Worf as someone who is uncomfortable about his role as a father and perhaps for that reason more fully enjoyed and appreciated his final lines with Alexander. And, yes, I even liked the final shot of the Enterprise riding off into the sunset.

    • Definitely one of my least favorites….I am surprised how many like it. I think the key issue is just how often the malfunctioning holodeck nonsense was done prior to this and I think a few more times after…ugh. Dead horse :BEATEN. LOL. I think true fail safes need a physical aspect to them, like a physical light switch or power cord..hahaha…. my work computer recently froze and I thought about this episode and of self driving cars. Trusting the tech tooooOOoOOoo much. Ask Commander Adama! haha. Yes, the ending scene w sunset was a nice touch, but dang, they needed to recycle that shot more. Considering the other B roll they show…Excelsior class ship anyone!?!?!

  • MarkP

    Having been in one of those plays with John….

    Well, we did have a couple of rehearsals that looked like that. LOL!!

  • John Anderton

    What makes an accent sound bad? What is a bad actor?

    These thoughts came to me as I was watching Spiner and Sitris’ performances here.

    I know both of these actors are earnest, they are trying hard. Yet they are incredibly unconvincing.

    Also, what makes a director bad? Patrick Stewart is a wonderful actor, but he imply this episode has anything to
    do with the Fistful of Dollars is simply an insult to Sergio Leone.