Star Trek The Next Generation: Data's Day

Data: “If being human is not simply a matter of being born flesh and blood, if it is instead a way of thinking, acting and feeling, then I am hopeful that one day I will discover my own humanity.”

This is a great Data-centric episode and since Data is one of my favourite characters, I really enjoyed this episode.

The character of Data provides an easy and sometimes obvious way to explore what it means to be human. Taking us through an entire day of being Data provided many opportunities for both philosophy and humour. Although I found the wedding, or possible cancellation of it, a bit of a clunky plot device (cold feet to joy in the span of a day?) it did provide some lovely opportunities for us to see where logic alone fails to explain the human experience.

Data's inability to understand the emotional complexities involved in Keiko's cancellation of the wedding and O'Brien's response lead to some humourous observations. His attempts to help his friends were sweet but very misguided. One of my favourite bits was Data trying to comfort O'Brien in obviously inappropriate ways. What was especially funny was that humans often take the same approach when faced with the upset of others.


The wedding also engendered the need for Data to take dancing lessons. It was great watching the doctor and Data dance together and Data's creepy smile was particularly fun, especially while he was dancing with the holodeck's version of a dance partner. Data's chat with Troi gave us a definition of marriage that I thought was pretty good (although I'm not exactly sure why traditional marriage still exists far into our future) and let us know that Data has considered the possibility of marrying someone himself. Although it has been established that Data does not feel emotion, he is certainly looking for companionship and it appears that he does feel lonely.

The B plots in STTNG often annoy me but in this episode it was neat and tidy and didn't interfere with the main plot too much. I'm not sure that a Romulan could hide out as a Vulcan long enough to become an ambassador but suspending disbelief is what it's all about. T'Pel being a Romulan spy explained why she was so unpleasant. Vulcans seem to be courteous most of the time.

Bits and Pieces

The Stardate is 44390.1 and Data is logging his day for Commander Bruce Maddox at the Cybernetics Daystrom Institute. It felt somewhat intrusive that Data's day would become 'primary data'.

One of the things I've always enjoyed about any of the Star Treks are the attempts to imagine other beings and futuristic tools. In this episode we saw the warbling wand in the hair salon that changed the colour of hair and some interesting other worlders.

I thought that the exchange between Worf and Data about wedding gifts was particularly amusing. Worf’s disdain for the champagne flutes and human traditions may be from a Klingon perspective but I have some friends who feel the same way.

Beverly Crusher was an award winning dancer and in the past was known (to her dismay) as the 'Dancing Doctor'.

There was a nice little bit that showed some indication of Data's changing emotional response. When they made the sudden course correction to the neutral zone Data said that as a human he would be nervous but he cannot be nervous and then he looks down to see his finger tapping nervously.

I have always loved the fact that Data has a cat and it was particularly fun that the cat (like all cats) wants to sit on his computer.

When the ambassador 'died' in the transporter incident, no one seemed particularly surprised or upset. I found that odd.

Quotes

Data: “I have good news. Keiko has made a decision designed to increase her happiness. She has cancelled the wedding.”

Data: “This is the 1,550th day since the Enterprise was commissioned. Besides the arrival of Ambassador T’Pel, other events occurring today include four birthdays, two personal transfers, a celebration of the Hindu Festival of Lights, two chess tournaments, one secondary school play and four promotions. Overall, an ordinary day.”

Data: “My hair does not require trimming, you lunkhead.”

Data: “It is my understanding that the item selected should reflect the personality of whoever is giving it. (Looking at a crystal swan dish). This does not remind me of you.”

Crusher: “They don’t do a lot of tap dancing at weddings.”

Data: “I could be chasing an untamed ornithoid without cause.”

Riker: “Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.”

All in all an enjoyable episode - 3 out of 4 untamed ornithoids.

2 comments:

Juliette said...

I love this one, it's fun, it's a nice character study, and you can pretty much ignore the B story and focus on the character work. Nice to see them taking advantage of Gates McFadden's dancing skills as well! (She did the choreography on Labyrinth, among other things).

Billie Doux said...

This has always been one of my favorite episodes, probably in my all time top ten. It's such a well-done character study and does such a terrific job of showing how Data sees this Next Gen world. And Keiko! And Spot the cat! I love, love, love that Data has a cat. Of course he does.

The dance lesson is absolutely hilarious. I love his hideous grin in particular.

Lovely review, Doc.