Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Spirit Folk"

*

Air date: 2/23/2000
Written by Bryan Fuller
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"They're not people, they're holograms." — Seven, a reasonable sentiment falling upon deaf ears

Nutshell: Bad. A contrived, ill-conceived premise featuring virtually every holodeck cliche in the book.

I do not like the village of Fair Haven. The premise is taking the idea of the holodeck way too far—to an apparent point of no return. If this episode constitutes sci-fi imagination, it's imagination abuse. The rules are arbitrary and absurd and the game is played by players who come off looking like complete idiots.

Problems on the holodeck became a cliche on TNG, and now it's become an ubercliche on Voyager. In the past I've made it a position regarding stock-issue holograms that perhaps doesn't allow for a particularly flexible open mind for this week's installment, which might as well be called "Fair Haven, Part II." Well, too bad. I need to establish some sort of standard to measure reality. And each use of the holodeck on Voyager seems to get increasingly egregious.

The gist of the story is this: The Fair Haven program, which has been running 24 hours a day, begins to malfunction, which causes its fictional programmed residents to begin "noticing" things they shouldn't. For example, when Paris calls to the computer to fix the tire on the automobile he has just run headlong into a tower of barrels, Fair Haven standby Seamus (Richard Riehle) hears the computer voice answer and witnesses the tire magically repaired, and thus believes Paris has harnessed some sort of spiritual/magical power.

From here, the episode is essentially one ridiculous holodeck gimmick after another, with some would-be Important Human Themes thrown into the mix, though they're lost in a sea of implausible madness. But before the madness we first get the extended setup, which suffers from entirely too much nonessential dialog. There are discussions that go on and on and seem never to end. Most of these dialog scenes are solely between holodeck characters, and I kept asking myself: Who cares? These are "people" I have no interest in whatsoever. The episode spends so much time on scenes between the Fair Haven residents (discussing the plot in overly obvious ways that are redundant and unnecessary) that the main characters almost seem like an afterthought. Do so many viewers really like the Fair Haven folks that we need to spend so much time on them?

For that matter, the idea of holograms sitting around a bar and debating each other about things they shouldn't be aware of strikes me as silly, whether it's a malfunction or not. Yes, the holodeck as Trek has conceived it is an implausible fantasy in any case, but when the focus goes completely away from the real characters and alleges that holograms routinely think and argue on their own accord outside the presence of real participants, it's coming dangerously close to a situation where we have no choice but to either dismiss the idea completely or wonder if we're dealing with a bunch of programmed slaves. Nope—I'm with Seven: The writers need to clue into the fact that these aren't people. They're simulations. It's been a huge mistake for the writers to implicitly allege that Doc is the same as a holodeck character. It was a mistake in "Concerning Flight," it was a mistake in "Nothing Human," it was a mistake in "Fair Haven," and it's a colossal mistake here. Holograms as artificial lifeforms should be the rare exception to the rule caused by a freak happenstance, like the Moriarty character from TNG's "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle" (from which this episode unsuccessfully rehashes its share).

The contrivances in this episode are so blatant and pervasive that it seems almost as if staff writer Bryan Fuller was hoping we'd go with the flow and not care that the characters would have to be utter morons not to take the simple actions that would avoid these problems entirely. I'm not willing to simply go with that flow.

Let's start with the "Tom"foolery (lame pun fully intended). Tom comes off as a loser with no life, turning Harry's would-be holo-girlfriend into a cow just as he's about to kiss her. This attempt at humor succeeds only in making the characters look foolish. (I'm with Harry: "Haven't you got anything better to do?!" Unfortunately, the delivery of the line is as half-hearted as the joke.) What, is Tom 35 years old or 12? And can we dispense already with the concept of romantic liaisons with holographic characters?

The cow incident is witnessed by, again, Seamus, who goes talking to the people of Fair Haven about Tom as one of the dangerous "spirit folk" and the apparent impending gloom and doom destined for the town. Later, when the girl is de-cowified, we have to endure her description of being a cow, something which again makes me wonder about the can of worms that is the holodeck: Are the memories of these "photons and forcefields" transferred from one holodeck subprogram to another? If someone conjured a new character, might it then remember that it was once a representation of a rock? Some torture it might be, to be a rock.

It turns out that the non-stop use of the holodeck has led to the failure of a subroutine that prevents characters from attaining this level of awareness. This is a deeply flawed idea. It goes against everything conventional wisdom has taught us about holo-characters (that is, they're simulations—not learning, adapting people who comprehend everything going on around them).

Things turn truly ridiculous once this malfunction is discovered, which happens when Kim and Paris transfer the captain's Fair Haven boyfriend, Michael Sullivan (Fintan McKeown), to the holodeck lab so they can study the problem. At this point, Michael becomes fully aware he has been removed from Fair Haven. Kim and Paris discover the malfunction in the subroutine and send him back. They report the problem to the captain. But then what? Does the crew shut down the holodeck? Suspend the program to prevent it from further damaging itself? Nope. They just let it run on, even though nobody's using it. And run on it does, as Michael explains to the other holo-characters where he has been, leading the holodeck town to plot a revolt against these suspicious outsiders. How stupid is the crew to know there's a malfunction, voice out loud that they hope it doesn't spread, and not bother to simply shut down the holodeck until the problem is fixed? My motto is that if your contrivance has to make your characters do blatantly stupid things, it's a bad contrivance. The whole second half of the episode wouldn't be possible if the crew displayed a shred of competence.

The contrivance-cliches continue on: To fix the problem, Tom and Harry go into the holodeck to run some technobabble computer whatever-the-hell. Of course, this has to be done while the program is still running and after the townspeople have come to the conclusion that the outsiders are dangerous and something must be done about them. Well, no points for guessing that the holodeck safeties get disabled in the process. The way it happens is simultaneously laughable and infuriating, and reveals the depths of how far this episode allows itself to reach into the holodeck bag-o-tricks. The holo-characters throw a net over Tom and Harry, and shoot a computer console with a shotgun. This shouldn't be remotely possible. (1) If the safeties are on, how can bullets destroy the computer console? (2) Why would destroying the computer console just automatically disable the safeties? (How very nice.) (3) Why can't Paris yell out "Computer, freeze program!" rather than telling the holo-character not to shoot? (This episode makes one want to scream at the characters not to be so bone-headed.)

So Kim and Paris are held captive on the holodeck, with the safeties off of course, and now the crew has to figure out how to rescue them.

Through all of this, Torres seems to be the lone—and futile—voice of reason. She points out that the holodeck can be reprogrammed, so the crew should just pull the plug. This will reset the program, but at least Tom and Harry's safety would be guaranteed. Janeway responds that even if they aren't real, the crew's emotional attachment to the characters are, and another solution should be found. 'Scuse me? So we're going to risk the lives of two crew members in order to save a holodeck program? What kind of sick prioritizing is this? If this isn't proof of the dangers of holographic attachment, then I don't know what is.

Janeway decides to send Doc (as his overplayed preacher character) into the holodeck to reason with the Fair Haven folks. This plan promptly fails and looks to be getting the crew into an even worse position, and I'm finding myself thinking, just how incompetent are these people? Subsequently we have Michael using Doc's portable emitter, which gets him beamed aboard Voyager, which is the sole potentially interesting sci-fi idea in the story, except for the fact that it arises out of a situation that's such a contrived mess that by this point we simply don't care.

Using Michael as the way to bridge the gap between "us" and "them," Janeway walks into the holodeck and hammers out one of those humanistic solutions that's heavy on the trademarked Trekkian dialog ... and if I sound lazy and cynical about the synopsis at this point, it's because it's such a tiring story to watch unfold (and to explain). Janeway's we-can-overcome-our-fears-and-all-get-along solution is met with a shot of a bunch of Fair Haven folks, and the music swells as they look, smiling, at one other in a moment of understanding assent. Frankly, it's hard to watch this with a straight face. Was I suddenly beamed into an after-school special?

And at the end, Janeway decides not to erase the memories of the characters. So now the people of Fair Haven believe that the Voyager crew is a group of space travelers from the future. Well, wonderful. But what's to stop them from blowing away the holodeck controls again? And if the malfunction regarding their expanded awareness is repaired, how can this new knowledge be something that registers with them? None of this has any useful sensibility.

I'm of the opinion that the best use of the holodeck is in a situation that allows the participants (i.e., our regular characters) to have fun, while the comedy or drama reveals something worthwhile about them. But instead we get the holodeck taking itself and our characters hostage. Here, our characters are once again faceless (and often stupid) pawns in a preposterous plot. Like too many Voyager offerings, we don't learn anything about them; they remain a means to an end, to drive the plot forward and nothing more.

It's an episode like this that makes me want the holodeck destroyed so we can deal with real issues (or at the very least real characters and sci-fi plots) in the real world. If Torres didn't have to answer to a captain whose boyfriend lived in the holo-town, I'd recommend that, for everyone's own good, she secretly program a surprise air strike upon the quaint little village of Fair Haven, and reduce it to a pile of smoldering cinders. Now there's a thought. Not the nicest one, perhaps, but an honest and satisfying one. Maybe then the crew could grieve, get over Fair Haven, and move on.

Next week: A la "Latent Image," we get the invented backstory of another dead crew member whom we'd never known about. And this one even comes back to life.

Note: By strange coincidence, this week's episode of "The X-Files" was also essentially a holodeck malfunction story. I guess no horribly implausible idea isn't worth being ripped off numerous times. (And frankly, I'm convinced the "X-Files" episode was even worse.)

Previous episode: Collective
Next episode: Ashes to Ashes

Season Index

38 comments on this review

EightofNine - Mon, Apr 28, 2008 - 7:13pm (USA Central)
Episodes like this lead me to find the whole holodeck idea as morally objectionable, seeing as we have Doc, who is basically a 'real person' (or treated as one anyhow) and the holodeck characters, who don't seem discernably different from Doc. Is there a difference, I wonder? What are these holograms rights if there isn't? Personally I find that the way they are portrayed here makes them privy to the same rights an organic would have. But the episode unfortunately doesn't really go into this, opting instead for cheap laughs and multiple plot contrivances. The safeties going off when the townsfolk shoot the console is just too much, really. That's just lazy writing.
Rob in Michigan - Sun, Oct 26, 2008 - 8:27pm (USA Central)
You've described my exact feelings about the holodeck and the characters within exactly (in long winded detail -grin-). It is beyond the ridiculous to not simply shut down the program and then have Torres and Tom correct the issue. It's even stupider to not say "Computer, reset program to time stamp blah-blah-blah" before the holograms started acting outside of the parameters. THESE ARE NOT INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE!

I had the same problem with 'Doc' at the very beginning of Voyager and still do from an intellectual standpoint. Is it really possible to just leave a hologram on for a while and -poof- we get an independent lifeform?! Wouldn't Starfleet do something to insure that some random Joe or Jane couldn't begin 'creating life' at their whim?

The whole idea is just stupid and shows the utter short-sightedness of the entire production.
kerry - Thu, Jul 30, 2009 - 11:38pm (USA Central)
This is the worst episode of voyager I have seen. Like jammer says, every cliche in the book is used.

The low point of the series.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 13, 2009 - 7:32pm (USA Central)
I'm only 3 minutes into the episode, and I already hate it. The premise just doesn't hold up. The holodeck characters are programmed to be obvious of the commands to the computer. Are the writers saying the computer cannot control the holodeck characters within it's own simulation?

More so... in the last Fair Haven episode... Janeway removed all the people before she kissed the bartender dude... why wasn't he aware that Janeway removed all the people from the dancing party?

Man, I wish the writers cared more about the show. I don't mean to be a stickler and a nit-picker... but this is hugely overlooked and it is very surprisingly they can't even keep their holodeck mechanics straight from episode to episode, even though they've been properly established since TNG.

The only holodeck characters to have this kind of awareness were characters like Moriarty on TNG or Vic from DS9. Now apparantly they all do... and the holodeck can't make it's own characters not react to the user input. Ugh.

BAD. Very, very bad.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 13, 2009 - 11:03pm (USA Central)
Moreover, the story isn't even clear as to what causes the malfunctioning of the holedeck characters. Is it really because it's being left on all the time? Later on in the story, Tom mentions to Janeway that he made so "adjustments" to bring the characters more to life? Really now?

Why is everyone an expert at holodeck programming? And why is it so easy to make sentient holograms, even though the series' premise indicates that it is no small feat to create a sentient holodeck character or other forms of AI?

The premise is indeed laughable.

And they also ran the fair haven program all day in the last fair haven episode... why were the malfunctions not happening then? And we have to assume that Tom made those characters "come to life" at that time, no? So when Janeway makes the crowd disappear... why didn't Michael Sullivan notice?

The blatant inconsistencies are just too huge to ignore.
Jason - Tue, Apr 13, 2010 - 5:58am (USA Central)
I hated this (and Fair Haven in general), 10 years ago and nothing has really changed. I think 1 star is being very, very generous!
William Myers - Fri, May 21, 2010 - 9:35am (USA Central)
I believe the writer is unfair in disclaiming the episode. Entertainment on the holo-deck was taken lightly where no-one was suppose to use his brains and if you did someone told you to take it easy. The star trek crew was born and grew-up in a science fiction society where immagination and fantasy was proven as reality. The hol-deck was a casual diversion- to put it simply -casual.
Michael - Fri, Jul 9, 2010 - 11:51am (USA Central)
This episode is just P-A-I-N-F-U-L in every regard. I would be mortified to have my name in the credits.
jon - Fri, Feb 4, 2011 - 6:36pm (USA Central)
Yes kids all Irishman all superstious morons way to go Voyager
Jay - Sun, Feb 6, 2011 - 8:18pm (USA Central)
The best use of the holodeck is recreation for a person or two (like O'Brien's rowing, where he's the only one in there and the surroundings and walls can adjust to where he is), or a picnic or somesuch. The Sherlock HOlmes stuff works too, so long as all "real" people stay in fairly close proximity to each other. Also, the way it was used by Sisko to solve the mystery of B'hala was pretty cool. But cramming large numbers of people in there, making a mockery of the spacial limitations of the holodeck, no, just no. Same goes for sentient holograms...as Jammer said, the notion that self-aware holograms are not a rarer malfunction but something that is the default and must be presvented by a piece of technology is pure ridiculousness.It was even contradicted a year later in "Flesh And Blood", when whats-his-face tried and failed to "program" sentience into basic holotemplates.
Cloudane - Mon, Mar 28, 2011 - 3:01pm (USA Central)
I agree with the review and consensus - utter, utter garbage. The original Fair Haven was enough of a train wreck, then Virtuoso repaired some of the damage (particularly to the Doc's "realness") and now it makes it worse than ever before. Wow, great effort...

I wouldn't know where to begin with all the plot holes, character stupidity or cans of worms. There are too many to list.

This is an episode I'd rather wipe from my memory and pretend it never happened..

This season had been showing so much promise - last few episodes seem to have indicated some shark jumping however :(
Elliott - Tue, Jun 21, 2011 - 3:13am (USA Central)
Jammer, I'm not going to debate the quality of this episode (it's hardly one of my favourites, though not nearly as offensive as you make it out to be).

I would however like to draw attention the the glaring contradiction between your stance on holograms here and in "Author, Author." Now I can grant that you saw this episode and reviewed it first, but the content of "AA" depends on this episode and all the others you mentioned as having "failed."

It is an incontestable fact that Voyager lacked all but the most rudimentary of through-lines in terms of plot and continuity. However, many of Voyager's fans recognise that this lacking is more than compensated for by the brilliant philosophical/psychological development over the course of the 7 year run. The characters are, perhaps too often, larger than life and in a traditionally literary way less-than relatable, but they embody a series of larger issues which are treated to delicious development and resolution.

This episode in particular purports the same theme as South Park's award-winning "Imaginationland": the significance of an idea, a person or anything else is determined by its impact on our lives. For the Voyager crew, it is completely reasonable that holograms (especially with Doc around) would take on a greater significance for many (especially Janeway) that they would for people not lost thousands of lightyears from home. Let's not forget this is Star Trek's take on "The Odyssey," please.

This very good and important idea is couched amid some trivial and sometimes truly bad plotting and routine manœuvers which makes it a less-than-stellar episode, but it's really much better and more important than you give it credit for.

To all the complainers on hologram sentience (including those on Doc): you may not have to agree with it, but its a core principle of the values which define this and (almost) every Star Trek series. What are you looking for from Trek? Cynicism?

Jammer, your complaints are genuine sentiments from your own philosophical reaction to this episode's premise, but they hardly constitute a valid objection the episode per sæ. The writers acknowledge your viewpoint (as expressed by Torres) and tie it into the premise. They and you simply don't agree. You need not chastise them for it.
Elliott - Tue, Jun 21, 2011 - 5:42am (USA Central)
The result of the experiment is almost eerie--the two series basically reverse, VOY is a 3 star show and DS9 a 2.5 star. I don't necessarily agree with either of those totals or (more especially) specific episodes, but that little half star boost is quite telling no?

If one just adjusts one of the two series, they become about equal with DS9 having a slight advantage for Seasons 2 and 4 in your book and VOY for Seasons 1 and 3. I find that very telling.
Cloudane - Tue, Jun 21, 2011 - 6:19pm (USA Central)
What, I basically find any series DS9 about 10 times better than Voyager, even if it did get a little better for season 7 (too little too late)

Doesn't mean Voyager is bad per se - I enjoyed it in general - but it's surprising to see it rated better than DS9. I see that as in another league.

Also - "What are you looking for from Trek? Cynicism?" (Elliot): AMEN! :P
NK - Mon, Jul 4, 2011 - 2:57pm (USA Central)
Usually I'm willing to defend Voyager episodes, but this one's truly irredeemable except in a ''so bad it's hilarious'' way. What I find most bizarre is the implication that Holodeck settings normally prevent characters gaining self-awareness - surely it's easier to create a hologram that's oblivious to its surroundings than one which is self-aware, so why create a self-aware one and then add on settings to repress this aspect?
Iceblink - Wed, Aug 31, 2011 - 4:17am (USA Central)
The episode - *meh*. Nothing to add to the comments above. There should have been an injunction to prevent Voyager's writers from ever using the holodeck, because it just became more and more ludicrous...

Oh, and I couldn't resist this:

Elliot: "many of Voyager's fans recognise that this lacking is more than compensated for by the brilliant philosophical/psychological development over the course of the 7 year run."

"Brilliant philosophical/psychological development" - Voyager? Really?? You're serious?

I approached this series a second time with an open mind, wanting to like it and to a certain extent I do generally, it's entertainment - but little more. The writers just didn't have the skill, or maybe the inclination to deliver genuine philosophical and psychological development. The characterisation and the philosophy are all pretty shallow and always come second-fiddle to whatever the concept-of-the-week is, almost never extending beyond that episode's 45 minutes. Even back in the late 90s, this had already come somewhat untenable for TV drama. Alas, Voyager has all the depth of a puddle. I accepted that a long time ago. I guess we all have our own perspectives though, and if you see depth where I can't see any, good for you.
Ken - Wed, Aug 31, 2011 - 8:08am (USA Central)
The biggest problem with this episode is the glaring inconsistencies about holographs that it brings up. It's inconsistent with the information giving in TNG and other star trek episodes. I just don't get it.
Nathan - Sat, Nov 12, 2011 - 1:57am (USA Central)
At least it was Chakotay who couldn't get a lock (on Kim and Tom).
Will - Wed, Nov 16, 2011 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
What annoys me is that in most holodeck-accident voyager episodes, the reasoning behind the problem is that the holoprogram has been on for too long. I think it's reasonable to assume that when holodecks were first invented, and after milestone developments, that they would be put through days of testing to document any problems that developed. The fact that holodeck characters automatically develop sentience after being left on for a while makes little sense, as all that is happening is that they are accumulating lots of information ("memories"). The result of that should simply be complete failure, not a surgically precise "mutation" that results in sentience and nothing more.
Jack - Sat, Mar 3, 2012 - 5:39pm (USA Central)
Well, unfortunately for us all, it looks like they were able to save far more than the 10% of the program mentioned at the end of "Fair Haven"...
Cappo - Fri, Mar 16, 2012 - 12:21am (USA Central)
I'm going to have to go against the consensus on this one. No, I don't dispute the fact that there are so many things wrong with this episode, with the handling of holograms, etc. Oh boy, are there!

And yet... it was kind of fun to just sit back and watch the mayhem occur. I liked the hologram characters, I don't know why. (I like Neelix too, so... what can I say.) I found it interesting to see them trying to comprehend what they were seeing, processing the strangeness though their limited perception based on the simulation's era.

I agree that the whole thing shouldn't have happened in the first place, and I agree that it's certainly no masterpiece... but hey, at least it wasn't boring.
Captain Jim - Fri, Apr 20, 2012 - 10:13pm (USA Central)
I didn't really mind the prior episode, Fair Haven, or this particular holodeck program. But yeah, this episode was really bad. Particularly incredulous were Janeway's decisions to 1) risk Tom and Harry's lives rather than delete the program and 2) to keep the holo-characters' memories intact. Sheer craziness.
Jelendra - Fri, Jun 8, 2012 - 6:44am (USA Central)
This episode was worse than a fistful of hot monkey caca
Destructor - Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - 8:51pm (USA Central)
I hated this episode. Also, it was super-boring. Also: the moment Janeway put the lives of Tom and Harry at risk by not shutting down the program, Chakotay should have relieved her of command.
Temmere - Thu, Oct 25, 2012 - 10:36am (USA Central)
I was not looking forward to revisiting Fair Haven, and this episode didn't disappoint... in that it was soul-crushingly awful. When I compare it to "Ship in a Bottle," in which Moriarty was remarkably intelligent and genuinely menacing, the "drama" of "Spirit Folk" is just a whole lot of nothing.
Megan - Fri, Feb 1, 2013 - 10:12am (USA Central)
I enjoyed this episode. Holodeck episodes are supposed to be fun. Calm down. And to some of the others I think voyager was better than DS9.
Seven - Thu, May 16, 2013 - 9:25pm (USA Central)
Despite it's seriously questionable logic, I enjoyed this episode and LOVE the Fair Haven holo programme!

From a purely aesthetic point of view, its by far the best holodeck programme Voyager has had. Certainly more atmospheric than that awful tropical resort in the 3rd season!

Some have complained that the characters are clichéd stereotypes of Irish people and that Fair Haven is too bright and sunny to be a real Irish town. But that's EXACTLY what makes it feel like a holodeck programme: If they'd written realistic characterizations of 19th century Irish villagers and gone on location and filmed it in a real Irish town, it would've felt too 'real' to be a convincing 24th century simulation!

In terms of this particular episode, I can't deny the story was weak, but there were some comedy gold moments!
The Doctor's fiery preaching and his cry of "Sinners!" as he bursts open the church doors, were superb!
And Neelix being mistaken for a leprechaun was inspired!

Overall, the lack of story and substance was more than made up for with humour, great atmosphere and sheer fun.
I'd give this episode 2.5 out of 4 stars.
ProgHead777 - Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 12:50am (USA Central)
Here we finally find an episode of Voyager the all but the most utterly lost fanboys and fangirls (clueless as holodeck characters with fully functioning perceptual-filter subroutines) can agree is far beyond redemption.

I like the music okay. That's the nicest thing I can say.
Leah - Sun, Jul 7, 2013 - 5:14am (USA Central)
I turned my brain off and enjoyed the silliness of the episode. Oh, it's ridiculous, yes, but kinda fun in a very cheesy way. Too all the gripes about how far the rules of the holodeck are bent, I don't disagree but I have a couple of thoughts, just to play devil's advocate.

Voyager is the first ship with bio-neural technology and its holodeck system is integrated directly into the ship and with its own independent grid, as was established early on in the show. Who's to say that this biologically-based circuitry doesn't change the game a bit and make possible on a broader scale what happened in TNG and DS9?

Sentient Moriarty was created when Geordi told the computer to make an opponent capable of standing toe-to-toe with Data, which involved making him able to take in and process anything and everything, well beyond the holodeck's normal parameters for characters' understanding. Vic was programmed to be self-aware from the start so it's been established that this isn't impossible to do. Well, Tom said he had been tweaking the characters and making them more rounded and realistic. Perhaps something he did produced the same result, just across the board instead of one single character. Leaving the program running 24/7 just gave the characters the time to observe and learn with the adjustments-turned-malfunction in place.

I'm not defending the contrivance and absurdity of this episode. There was more than a fair helping of badness with a few dashes of awful thrown in, but I think my problems with it were more in the stupidity of the decisions the crew made in not shutting down the program to repair it, the fact that the gun damaged the control panel while the safeties were on but somehow that turned them off, and the hokey gag-worthy "after-school special" ending. As for the plausibility of the self-awareness of the holo-characters, for the reasons I mentioned above, I'm actually willing to go with it (to a point).
Nancy - Mon, Aug 12, 2013 - 3:53pm (USA Central)
Ugh, wretched episode. I think the low point was the hypnotism of the doctor, but there were so many awful moments it's a close call.

Delete!
azcats - Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - 1:46pm (USA Central)
this is still WAY better than the "Fight."

i was entertained.

the holograms shot out the safety protocols...

antagonists, can you please find a better way to disengage them?

if they arent disengaged, and they can be beamed out...it doesnt really help the story.

the idea is to create a conflict and to resolve it. forget the "logic" and just ask, if you were entertained or not.

it wasnt that bad. still..i give it a 1.5 only because i like so many other episodes better.
Lt. Yarko - Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - 10:43am (USA Central)
Oh the total absurdity. We can't shut it down because it will reset. Well, just about every other holodeck program in all the series wasn't written that way. Shutting the program down never causes anything to reset. That's not how even today's computers work. Any important info needed after shutdown is persisted. Info would only be lost if the program was written to not persist it. Why in the hell would anyone program Fair Haven that way if they had a choice?

dumb. dumb dumb.

Elliott: "it's really much better and more important than you give it credit for."

No. It's not. It was crap.

Elliott: "Jammer, your complaints are genuine sentiments from your own philosophical reaction to this episode's premise, but they hardly constitute a valid objection the episode per sæ."

OK, everyone. Anytime we ever have any objections to anything, we must run them by Elliott so he can decide whether or no they are "valid." What a loon. When are people going to realize that it's OK for two people to wildly disagree on whether or not some thing satisfies them without one of them accusing the other one of being mistaken?
Lt. Yarko - Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - 10:57am (USA Central)
Leah: "Who's to say that this biologically-based circuitry doesn't change the game a bit and make possible on a broader scale what happened in TNG and DS9?"

Now THAT would be an interesting episode! You are a better writer than the Voyager writers! No. In this case, the writers went with a programming error that resulted from the program running too long (or whatever).

By the way, programming errors aren't created after the program has been running. They are there all along. It's just that sometimes we don't notice them until the program has been running for a while.
SpiceRak2 - Sat, Sep 7, 2013 - 8:49pm (USA Central)
I disagree with Jammer's review and rating...mostly because, from the very beginning (and by that, I mean Jammer's "next episode" comments) it was obvious that Jammer had preconceived notions about this episode. Jammer doesn't like Fair Haven. That's not a crime, but it's not a universal feeling.

I don't recall the writers on Voyager ever declaring that the sentience of the Doctor could be automatically assumed and established with every and any holodeck character. I see distinct differences. As an example, the Doctor is aware of the times he was deactivated, why and by whom. Holodeck characters are not.

The holodeck characters in this episode represent an exception because, as established early on, there are malfunctions with the programming.

What is wrong with a little silliness? What's wrong with recurring holodeck characters in a story? The writers, despite their limitations wanted the audience to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. I can imagine that this story was a Voyager version of many movies and sitcoms depicting general hi-jinx and chaos. It's intended to be far-fetched and humorous.

Whether or not the writers were resoundingly successful in their attempts is worthy of debate, but I disagree with poo-pooing the whole concept.
Elihawk - Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - 10:45pm (USA Central)
In all of this, I can't believe anyone pointed out the stupidest thing about this: Janeway makes the decision that they can't possibly reset the holoprogram to save Tom and Harry because they might lose Fair Haven---and after this episode, WE NEVER SEE FAIR HAVEN AGAIN! Not that I'm complaining, per se, but the fact that the thing that makes everything so complicated and Janeway teach all the holograms that they're from outer space was completely, utterly, pointless.
Tricia - Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 10:13am (USA Central)
I've never respected Janeway less than in this episode. She refused to pull the plug on the holodeck to save two humans, because they might lose the program? They've already reprogrammed it once, obviously they can do it again! I actually liked the original episode of 'Fair Haven' (I'm an Irish girl at heart, so it was kind of fun), but this was too ridiculous.
Nathan - Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - 12:01am (USA Central)
What makes good science fiction is that the science or tech is consistent. There are plenty of books and websites that have been around following Trek tech since TNG that the misuse of bad writing is not so prevalent. There were times in TNG and DS9 that somtimes toed the line, but Voyager takes the cake in abandoning the writers bible, or the source material that made Trek tech believable in the first place. Voyager episodes like this are campy B style scifi. I am a Trekker and die hard scifi fan, however, Stargate's worst episodes are better than this.
Biggest issues are Starfleet is a military chain of command type thing where if you really want me to believe how many rookie mistakes senior officers make into this many episodes is stupid not to say condescending. Being a Trekker leads one to nitpick, ask any fan of any scifi show, you can tell that when the writing goes from bad to worse, then you lose your audience. Revisiting Voyager all these years later makes me want to watch fan based material over this.
Elliott - Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - 12:56am (USA Central)
"What makes good science fiction is that the science or tech is consistent."

Not necessarily.

Science fiction, and speculative fiction generally, can be grouped into two camps, both of them time-reversed versions of the genres "historical fiction" and "myth." What sets historical fiction apart is its attempt to conceal an implicit inability to recapture the ethos of a bygone age by invoking enough detail to fool our perception. In such fiction, the abundance of, and as you say, consistency of, such details are what make the fictional experience absorbing and enjoyable. One looks past the fact that the author is presuming to know something he cannot as he is removed from the time of his subject. Insomuch as Science Fiction may attempt to be historical (future) fiction, your argument has merit, but what about when it goes for the other route, namely mythology? In myth, details are vague and the abilities of the characters are generally both implausible and inconsistent because they are all them symbolic, metaphorical.

Star Trek has toed the line between both of these worlds, but in every case, the purpose of the tech/science is to *disappear* from the narrative--either because, as historical fiction, it has blended seamlessly into the fabric of the story, or, as myth, it is functioning as symbol for something else, something deeper and unnamable.

The problem with "Spirit Folk" is not that the "science" of the holodeck is inconsistent (this is true between "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle"), it is that it can't make up its mind which kind of speculative fiction it wants to be, and thus draws attention to those details which ought to either disappear or symbolise. As historical fiction, it's lazy, as myth its inanimate. That is NOT, however, a systemic problem with the series, just this particular episode.

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