Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Virtuoso"

**

Air date: 1/26/2000
Teleplay by Raf Green and Kenneth Biller
Story by Raf Green
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Well, in any case, you've been neglecting your sickbay duties. I haven't received a report in three days."
"Oh, come now, Kathryn. It's not as though there's been a flood of medical emergencies."
"I wasn't aware we were on a first-name basis."
"I meant 'captain.' I'm sorry."
"Oh, that's perfectly all right, Doctor, or do you prefer 'maestro'?"
"Ha ha ha. Please. Either is acceptable."
"Well, then, let me make it clear to both of you: Maestro, you're finished for today. Doctor, report to sickbay—now."

— Janeway and Doc

Nutshell: Various four-star moments and zero-star moments rolled into one watchable but uneasy episode.

"Virtuoso" plays like a weird tug-of-war between the inspired and the banal—an episode where one scene can come off as interesting and even brilliant, and the next utterly flat and lifeless. There are moments I adored in this episode, and moments I wanted to physically rip out of the television and throw into the dumpster behind my apartment.

Let's start with This Week's Aliens, the Qomar—into the dumpster they go. The idea behind them was apparently to make them amusingly annoying, but they mostly come off as just plain annoying. In a series where exchange of ideas between cultures has been far rarer than exchange of weapons fire, it's frustrating to watch the Voyager crew give the Qomar something they've never experienced before ... only to get nothing but rude, arrogant, insulting xenophobic behavior in return. The Qomar are the type who don't really acknowledge they can learn anything from you—they simply milk a situation for whatever they can get out of it. Thanks, but no thanks.

That said, the premise of such a "superior" society never having come up with the idea of humming a tune (or encountering one in their space travels) is a bit dubious, but we'll grant it in the interests of storytelling. The Qomar have never heard music before, and when they overhear Doc singing in sickbay, they're positively awestruck. What is this "singing" and why would one do it?

This leads to some heavy exposition, where Doc explains that music is a vessel of emotional expression, etc., and the Qomar, so taken with the Doctor, invite Voyager to their home system (previously closed to inferior outsiders), where they request a recital and, later, Doc's full-fledged performance in a theater on their homeworld.

Part of "Virtuoso" plays like a meditation/parody on fandom—Trek fandom in particular, we must presume. The Doctor is such a huge hit that Voyager is inundated with fan mail transmissions from the Qomar planet. Seven mistakes these letters as an attempt to overload the computer and sabotage the ship. Uh-huh.

What doesn't work about this scene is that it makes Seven seem a lot dumber than she needs to be, just so the story can provide exposition for our benefit. Would Seven really mistake these letters as sabotage and sound a red alert? I tend to doubt it. And do we really need Janeway's overly amused explanation to Seven about the nature of human fandom and how people have always imagined themselves meeting celebrities? The idea isn't bad per se, but the self-aware presentation is way too proud of itself.

Still, there are some great moments here. I liked, for example, that this episode's character theme digs back into both the issues of Doc's ego and his state of existence. Individual scenes work—some like a charm. I for one got a great kick out of seeing Doc sing a duet with a miniaturized holo-recording of himself—a visual that is absolutely hilarious. Picardo is this series' most likable actor, and the fun factor of a scene that indulges Doc's ego in this manner is well worth our time. He distributes his recordings to his Qomar fans. (If there were money involved, they'd undoubtedly cost $19.95.) And he lets his ego run awry by neglecting his duties and referring to the captain as if she were his agent.

But there are other scenes here that are completely botched. Most of them center around a guest character named Tincoo (Kamala Lopez-Dawson) whom I can't make heads or tails of. Lopez-Dawson's performance is dreadful. Whether that's partially a side effect of the story envisioning the Qomar as weird and quirky (like in the overplayed opening scene) is hard to say. In any case, the character is painfully unconvincing and uninteresting and doesn't work at all. That's too bad, because this character is crucial to several turning points in the story, like an awkward moment when she tells Doc that he means something to her (what exactly isn't explicit—alarms ring that this may not be what it's cracked up to be) and Doc realizes that he might be in love with Tincoo. Alas, a lame speech involving "the simplest equation of all"—"1+1"—as an apparent romantic sentiment (the Qomar are a society based mostly on math and science, see) is all wrong, which especially hurts since it sends Doc off in a direction that's extreme under such awkwardly played circumstances—namely, his decision to leave Voyager and remain a celebrity among the Qomar.

Picardo is very good in these botched scenes, but his efforts prove futile because with the Tincoo character in sight he's essentially bouncing emotional dialog off a brick wall. Sorry, but Tincoo ... into the dumpster you go.

Subsequent scenes, however, prove interesting. The "rights of a hologram" debate between Doc and Janeway actually comes off quite well, with both the Doctor and the captain making some good points. Subsequently, when Janeway permits Doc to resign his commission (after the story acknowledges both the fact that Doc's ego has gotten the better of him and also that he hopes to continue growing by following a dream), there are some reasonable farewell scenes, like the understated but sincere Doc/Paris goodbye and especially the Doc/Seven goodbye.

Is it a surprise that the Doc/Seven scenes are among the episode's best? Both are sci-fi characters looking at humanity from the outside and who share a unique bond, and both are played by the ensemble's two most effective actors. The scene in the cargo bay where Doc comes to say goodbye is another good example of the Evident But Understated Seven Emotion Scene [TM]. She's angry and lets Doc have it, but her face reveals a deep (but still relatively subtle) sadness after Doc has left the room. It's a truly good scene.

Unfortunately, I must question the wisdom of Doc choosing to leave his Voyager family for a people so dispassionate and calculating as the Qomar. Janeway is right: Fame is often temporary, and Doc, who has generally had a good sense of human nature, shouldn't be so naive. The scene where Doc learns of Tincoo's new creation—a "superior" hologram designed to replace him, and who can sing at ranges beyond the grasp of imagination—drives home the fact that the Qomar are too incompatible with Doc's human sensibilities ... yet we still get an entire final act devoted to driving this point home even further—at a point where it's already been made obvious.

But strange, that even though the final concert scene makes a point that was already made obvious, it turns out to be a very well-done scene. Doc sings an opera song with amazing emotion (albeit not the greatest lip-syncing), and it's greeted with zero enthusiasm from the Qomar, who expected new musical mathematical audacity. Then Tincoo brings out her new-and-improved singing hologram, which sings a technical piece that's truly weird and emotionally vacant; a human would call it awful. It's a spectacle that's simultaneously bizarre, hideous, hilarious, and painfully heartbreaking. It's a four-star moment that says it all: Doc has misread the situation, and the realization of his error hurts.

The ending actually works quite well, from the nicely played Janeway/Doc discussion to the typically heartfelt Seven/Doc closing. But by this point, the story has shown way too many cracks. This could've been a really good episode, but the way the story gets where it's going—particularly with the inexplicably robotic performance of Lopez-Dawson—undermines the proceedings. If "Virtuoso" reinforces anything, it's that the strength of guest characters can make or break a show.

Next week: War. It's FAN-TAS-tic.

Previous episode: Blink of an Eye
Next episode: Memorial

Season Index

48 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Mon, Feb 4, 2008 - 2:13pm (USA Central)
Well, Jammer - don't be that harsh! I do not think this episode deserves only 2 stars. Make it 2 1/2 or 3 and you're o.k. by me! ;o)

Granted, the aliens of the week are...well, in the dumpster they may go indeed! But the regulars are doing really good here! I really adored some of the scenes, especially those featuring Doc and Seven and specifically the last scene. I think I never grinned that delighted while watching Voyager!

So, be a nice reviewer and uprade your rating by that half star! ;o)
TH - Fri, Apr 18, 2008 - 4:02pm (USA Central)
I have to agree with Jammer on this one; even dispite the aliens being dumpster trash, the entire premise that Doc would just jump ship so easily (it didn't seem like a difficult decision to leave all his friends forever) and not realize what was coming seems pretty unrealistic.

My one question about this episode is how when Doc is backstage before his first big lecture hall performance, he gets nervous, and chides Tincoo when she tells him millions will be watching (at home on tv, one presumes). Who would program the concept of nervousness into a holographic doctor? That seems like a silly trait. Maybe he "learned" it, but I find it hard to believe that there would be any use for a nervous subroutine in an EMH. This isn't the only time he's been nervous, but it caught my attention when he really talked about it explicitly.
EightofNine - Sun, Apr 27, 2008 - 6:36pm (USA Central)
I agree with Jakob here, I think the good really outweighs the bad in this episode. I always enjoy shows where Picardo has a larger than usual part... he's got great comical feeling. I'd rate it 3 stars. The boisterous Qomar... yes well, we all agree they were a bad idea. I didn't particularly like the way the Doc-Tincoo 'romance' was acted out, it didn't seem very convincing. (Doc sure does get around this season, last episode he even had a son) The idea of having the Doc leave Voyager worked for me, it's something I could realistically see the character doing (though you know it would never happen). The farewell scenes were pretty poignant as well, especially Seven's.
Bob - Mon, Aug 18, 2008 - 11:33pm (USA Central)
You had me up to the point where you said that Seven was played by "one of the series' most effective actors". Um, no. She got the part by shagging the producer, and it shows. I totally agree with the rest of the review, though! :D
Markus - Fri, Aug 21, 2009 - 12:51am (USA Central)
I always wondered if it is really Roberto Picardo singing all of the time... it seems to be not his voice and octave...
Jay - Sat, Sep 5, 2009 - 12:51am (USA Central)
The 6th and 7th season were really doctor heavy...and it got very tiresome.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Dec 9, 2009 - 10:21pm (USA Central)
The episode's better than 2 stars, which should mean something coming from me since I a) usually agree with you; and b) criticize a lot of the show when criticism is deserved.

Sure, the show has its share of problems, but it holds together alright. I was a little confused at the Doctor's feelings for the alien woman. That came out of left field...

I am puzzled that the crew treats the doctor poorly when it serves the plot... but we got 40+ episodes without a peep out of the crew other than being nice. Again, like "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy", the abuse against the doctor is unfounded in season 6... and would be better suited season 2.

I also didn't think the captain would let her EMH go. Seriously... tom is the new CMO aboard the ship?

Having said all of that... the episode is very watchable, and there's a lot of enjoyable scenes... especially when the doctor calls the captain, "Katherine". Oh man... that was freaking PRICELESS!

The interplay between Seven and the doctor was quite good... and the merits of the story also make sense.

Overall, I'd give it 2.5 or 3 stars. 2 is very harsh.
kevin - Tue, May 25, 2010 - 1:37pm (USA Central)
Overall, I found the episode to be watchable entertainment.

This is my main quibble- It seems to me that whenever "Trek" has a plot involving human created music, the selections are usually Opera, Classical, or Blue Note style Jazz. I mean, the series is set over 300 years in our future- wouldn't it kind of make sense to include some contemporary music to our time frame?

I know, alot of the music being made today is pretty forgettable, but there are some very strong compositions and musical styles that (in my opinion) will probably stand the test of time. It only seems logical that centuries from now some of our songs will be held in the same regard that some early songs are today.

Just a thought...
Michael - Thu, Jul 8, 2010 - 6:31pm (USA Central)
Two stars? Why!? The episode is funny, it's interesting and it does something deeper than the quirky forehead of the week causing a bit of nuisance for Voyager.

Granted, the second half is slow and boring at times. But the show broaches the possibility that more advanced races than the humans never developed or even conceived of what the human race considers an essential aspect of its existence and expression. Don't you find that notion more thought-provoking than that dumb-as-a-doorknob episode with Torres in a barge in some fantasy netherworld, which got four stars!?!

Time was again wasted on depicting personal relationships, such as the saying goodbyes (JUST GO, for godsakes!!!) - particularly when we all knew he'd be back. As Seven would say: "An inefficient use" of the 45 minutes. (Speaking of Seven, I found that moment of her melancholy after seeing The Doc off annoying: WHY WHY WHY can't they just let her stay the callous, curt, mechanical Borg? WHY do they insist on transforming her into a warm, fuzzy, emotional, sensitive human?!?)

TH: You wonder about his nervousness. Why would The Doc add a SINGING subroutine to his program either? And what happened to his ethical subroutines: Jumping ship and leaving Voyager devoid of a medical practitioner due to his own vanity. Come to think of it: A hologram with vanity?! A hologram that's "passionate"?? A hologram getting involved in romantic relationships!? A hologram craving personal growth?! A hologram with self-awareness and sentience!?! I mean, the whole idea of a freaking hologram acting like a drama queen and then explaining it by referring to its "personality" and "feelings"...??? Yes, it's all illogical but I thought we'd given up expecting too much logic from Voyager...(?)

Janeway should've reset his program after this little escapade.
Greg - Thu, Jul 22, 2010 - 4:42pm (USA Central)
I have not watched Voyager in some time, but if I start watching this show again I might avoid this episode the most.

Simply put, I do not like episodes which take away a character's reason, dignity or grace. I think the Doctor should have realized he had duties on the ship, because he is the only fully-trained and fully-accountable medical person on the ship.

I find a lot of the ratings you give to Doctor-heavy episodes like "Projections" and "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" to be overrated.
Firestone - Tue, Aug 24, 2010 - 4:44am (USA Central)
Was it me, or was the same city backdrop used for both the Qomar and the Kremin homeworlds?
Cloudane - Thu, Mar 24, 2011 - 6:57pm (USA Central)
Aw.

Voyager put something in my eye. Damn.. good going!

I agree with Jammer that it had its ups and downs, though perhaps not quite to the same degree. On the whole I really enjoyed this - and I usually am FAR from a "fan" of Doctor-heavy episodes and his huge ego. But somehow I thought it was handled just right this time - his ego was put to good use as far as the story goes, and that makes a big difference.

I don't share the negative view of the Doc's naivety (or nervousness). I think that kind of mistake-making and vulnerability makes him more "human" and whether it's Spock or Data or the Doctor I don't tire of that. I guess anthropomorphisation(sp) is popular for a reason, though I see it as a little more deep and philosophical than that.

Maybe part of why I enjoy this episode so much is relief, for a couple of reasons:

1) It's an episode about [i]exploring new life and new civilisations[/i] rather than shooting and being shot, which Jammer touched on in the second paragraph. I'd forgotten how much I missed OPTIMISM and EXPLORATION, which is what Star Trek was originally about before it was about exchanging weapons fire and wanting to go home. I'll admit there was some nostalgia involved - it was a very TNG episode from the opening Captain's Log to the teeth-gritting politeness towards irritating aliens and the partly-exasperated but mostly-amused she-Picard. Maybe this is why I didn't really mind these aliens. Makes a change from the hard headed ones.

2) It addressed concerns I mentioned a couple of episodes previous for "Fair Haven", almost as if it was intended to patch up some of what it left in the air regarding the possible "soul" and rights of a holographic life form and indeed whether it's a life form at all. It's still far from answered, but it was much better dealt with. Not quite on par with Data, but they're getting there at this point.

On a note of amusement, when the Doc was looking to resign (some GREAT scenes here) he made the comment about how it's unfair because the Captain wouldn't worry about letting Harry Kim go. Yes, well, ahem..... :)))

And more seriously, some of the emotional moments were too good. First we have the poor Doc being shown the "newer and better" version of himself. OUCH. Then the opera scene later - ouch again. (Never gets a break does he, even when he thinks he has it gets snatched away). But that last moment when Seven reads out her "fan letter". Awwwwww. It HAS to get an extra star from me just for making my eyes water.

Not perfect, but far better than I tend to expect from Voyager. Your mileage (lightyearage?) may vary.
Iceblink - Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - 7:52pm (USA Central)
I actually enjoyed this: a bit of silly, inconsequential fluff and it's always nice to have a break from the usual Voyager format of angry bumpy-headed aliens and exploring consoles. The first half was deliciously fun, but the second half lost it a bit. Stepping out of comedy and trying to milk it for intellectual debate (the Doc's rights as a sentient being) and pathos (the goodbye scenes), was a mistake because it then expected us to take what was essentially a very silly comedy premise seriously, and I couldn't quite do that. Switching genres halfway through a story is a bit of a cheat on the audience and renders this uneven.

Two things that occurred to me during the ep: firstly, is the singing thing part of Picardo's contract, perhaps? And secondly, has there ever been a worse
Iceblink - Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - 7:57pm (USA Central)
,,,worse guest performance than that of the actress playing Tencoo? Although, to be fair, I guess it could be in part due to the way the character was written.

(sorry this is split in two, another technological glitch, I wish I could edit my comments!)
Allnighter - Sun, Aug 28, 2011 - 2:42am (USA Central)
I have to respectfully disagree with Jammer's contention that the characterization of the Qomar belongs "in the dumpster." Yes, they are annoying, but I think that that's exactly what the writer's, director, etc. were shooting for... I found their awkward rudeness to be hilarious, in keeping with the overall level of absurdity showcased in this episode. The fact that they were all so short was a nice touch as well - it's little touches like that that are so effective in creating interesting alien societies.

Jammer tends to prefer scenes advancing important ethical dilemmas and grand philosophical questions. Perhaps in cases like these one needs to step back and enjoy the absurdity of it all - A whole society becomes obsessed, "fanatics" as Seven puts it, with the Doctor. I mean, c'mon, this is a patently ridiculous scenario!

I do wish the Captain used her leverage - access to the Doctor - to the crew's advantage more. If the Qomar were so advanced, perhaps Janeway could have negotiated for an exchange of technology or something else useful for the crew's journey.
Kristen - Thu, Sep 29, 2011 - 6:05pm (USA Central)
This is a dreadful episode.

Picardo's acting alone should have sent the writers back to their desks on this one. To see the Doctor have this much emotional depth, and then think that he'd turn his back on the Voyager crew for fanatical attention from some one-dimensional annoying fans? It makes no sense. Like, blinking-neon-sign lack of sense.

And how ridiculous is the timing on this ep? In the episode before this one, the Doctor lived for three years on an alien planet and had a wife and child! And now he's this swayed by an emotionless robot of a woman* who wonders how many digits of pi he can calculate? How in the world can this episode happen a week after that experience? Insane. And insulting to the fans and the Voyager characters' storylines.

Lastly, I don't get why we get Picardo's singing voice for half the ep, and obvious professional recordings for the rest. We've heard the Doctor sing arias before in his normal voice on the show. He's got a decent voice. Picardo's no pro, certainly, but it's kind of sweet that the Doctor is so dedicated and earnest even though his singing is flawed. Why, then, is he suddenly a multi-octave Pavarotti on stage in these episodes?

Yes, certainly, as a computer program, he CAN use anyone's voice while singing. But the point is that he never HAS before. And the annoying one-dimensional aliens fell in love with HIS voice. Why change that? And so obviously?

So, yeah, I really detest this ep. Luckily, I love next week's ep. It's one of only a handful that I've seen before, and I remember it vividly. So...on to that one!

(* Jammer, I've seen her in other stuff. She's kinda robotic. I don't get it. I grok that these aliens were supposed to be kinda weird. But she was downright distracting. In a bad way.)

(Ooh-- one last note. A happy one, too! I LOVED seeing Beata's perfume-pilfering manservant from TNG's "Angel One" in the audience at the Doctor's recital. AWESOME TREK ACTOR CALLBACK!!!!)
Kristen - Thu, Sep 29, 2011 - 6:18pm (USA Central)
Ooh ooh--- one more one-last-note!

Why didn't ANYONE suggest that a copy of the Doctor remain on board? Not with his personality, of course. But the basic program, as it was when Voyager was first commissioned. "Living Witness" already let us know they can copy him. Did they forget?

I mean, Tom Paris makes a nice medic, but it's not like he's been to medical school. Beverly Crusher seemed to run into problems she could barely address herself-- and she was the freaking head of Starfleet Medical for a while! Now all you need to be a doctor is a hypospray and a keen interest in the 20th century?

It was unreasonable enough to believe that Janeway would allow the Doctor to leave the ship and leave them doctorless. That no one-- not Janeway, the Doctor himself, B'Elanna, Tom, 7/9, NO ONE!-- would then suggest that the Doctor's program be copied is just redonkulous.
Nathan - Fri, Nov 11, 2011 - 7:43pm (USA Central)
His Harry Kim analogy really falls flat :)
Nathan - Fri, Nov 11, 2011 - 8:00pm (USA Central)
"This is my main quibble- It seems to me that whenever "Trek" has a plot involving human created music, the selections are usually Opera, Classical, or Blue Note style Jazz. I mean, the series is set over 300 years in our future- wouldn't it kind of make sense to include some contemporary music to our time frame?"

Unfortunately copyright is still stuck at 1923, even in the 24th century.
Anthony - Mon, Dec 26, 2011 - 10:59pm (USA Central)
As a copyright lawyer, I have a belief that Paramount should have doled out some dough for the royalty payments for music that is contemporaneous to the time of production.

(And then created other styles.)
Cappo - Tue, Mar 13, 2012 - 4:07pm (USA Central)
What seems to happen with far too many older series (Voyager was probably too new to fall into that trap) these days is when the time comes to put out the episodes for home release it seems like eventually one company wants more dough shelled out than the other company is willing to pay. Then you end up with the dreaded 'replacement music' on the home releases.

As an example, I was greatly amused to learn that one of my favorite bands' (Brave Combo) song 'Vampire Twist' was chosen to replace the 'Monster Mash' in a Halloween episode of Cheers on DVD! I'd wager that not many Cheers fans were, however.

Now imagine replacement music for an episode with lip synching, it would be an absolute nightmare.

As to the actual episode... the way I see it, Doc got caught up in the lure of fame. It happens. He's as fallible as anyone, hologram or not, and he apparently has an ego similar to his creator.

After the novelty wore off, he probably would have smacked himself upside the head and said "what was I thinking!?" when he decided to leave the ship. But that couldn't happen in the episode because he had to back on board before Voyager departed at the end.
Cappo - Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - 11:55am (USA Central)
Another thought just struck me. Voyager's sensors shut down their propulsion system?

Could that be a reference to the stories that radar is allegedly what brought down the Roswell UFO?
John - Tue, Mar 20, 2012 - 5:03pm (USA Central)
I can't believe no one has brought this up yet. If you are trying to convince the doctor of how missed he would be on the ship, just remind him of how he felt about Kes leaving. That's such a no brainer right there it amazes me the writers didn't use it.
Justin - Wed, Jun 6, 2012 - 1:03am (USA Central)
I can't believe they had Paul Williams guesting on a show all about music and there wasn't even a passing reference to one of his songs. One line of dialogue would have sufficed:

Qomar fan: That was beautiful, Doctor.

Doctor: Thank you. It's just an old fashioned love song.

Curtis - Tue, Jun 26, 2012 - 5:36am (USA Central)
In contrast to other comments, I think this is one of the worst episodes of Voyager. It's just horrible and does nothing than diminish the Doctor's character. He comes across as petty, disloyal, uncaring, superficial, and self-centered. In season seven's "Flesh and Blood", the Doctor at least was torn because his 'people' were being persecuted. In this crappy episode, he doesn't care about anyone else but himself and his 'fame'. Moreover, the aliens are one of the most uninteresting and annoying Voyager has ever had. Terrible episode.
Destructor - Mon, Jul 2, 2012 - 1:00am (USA Central)
Can't believe Jammer gave this 2 stars after outlining in his review what a great episode it was. In short: it was that rarest of things, a Trek comedy that is actually very funny. 3.5 stars from me.
Cail Corishev - Fri, Sep 28, 2012 - 8:54pm (USA Central)
When the doctor said Janeway would let Harry Kim leave the ship to shack up with a local girl, I expected her to say, "Hell no! I'd remind him that he took an oath to Starfleet and made a commitment to this ship, and to get his ass back to his station!" Starfleet has no concept of AWOL? And in Voyager's case, with the small crew she has to work with, she could afford walk-offs even less. More sensibly, she'd tell him to bring her along to boost their population.

The doctor is not only the only real doctor on a ship decades from home, but he's also the only person who's been able to save the ship on more than one occasion when all the humanoids were powerless, and that's likely to happen again. Before letting him go, you'd have to boot up his backup copy, or ask the locals to make a copy of him (since the show stupidly claimed the ship can't).

One thing I never understood: the locals were fascinated by the music itself, but especially by the mathematical aspects of it. So why were they so fascinated by the doctor in particular? His singing wasn't any more mathematically complex than what the other musicians on the ship were doing -- probably less so than most. So why weren't they mobbing all the musicians? It didn't really make sense for them to focus so much on the doctor, and in the end, it turned out they only wanted him for his music, so why the fangirl stuff earlier....doesn't make sense.
Billy - Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - 2:14pm (USA Central)
I really like this episode.

The moment the Doctor realises he has been replaced, and the Qomar are just looking for the next big thing, is really humbling for the Doc and Robert Picardo portrays that well. And you feel for him.
KL - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 9:31am (USA Central)
Personally, I found the episode hilarious and the aliens were deliberately annoying.

As Jammer's head is so far up Deep Space Nine's ass, I am not surprised that he would give this episode a low rating.

Far too often he brings up Deep Space Nine and compare Voyager to it instead of treating Voyager on what it is instead of what he think it supposed to be.

Further proof that he is blowing on DSN, my antispam answer before I post this comment is "Sisko".

I am so glad that I disregard many of his reviews on Voyager and watched the episodes with an open mind.
Elliott - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 10:34am (USA Central)
@KL: Well, you're right about Jammer's rating bias, but it isn't fair to dismiss his reviews out of hand. They're always well thought-out and worth a read. That said, the impression that Trek's scores must rate against a DS9-centric system is rather annoying at times. See, the way DS9 was written most closely resembles the way literature courses are taught. It obeys the rules of modern fiction quite well. It usually lacks that special quality which cannot be so quantified which makes Trek special, but there it is. This is a minimum 3-star for me.
Elliott - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 10:36am (USA Central)
Forgot to mention that the spam question used to be Picard, but was changed after someone hacked in and started spamming the pages. If it happens again, I expect the new answer to be Janeway.
Jammer - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 11:30am (USA Central)
Elliott, thank you for setting the record straight about the spam question. That is indeed the reason it was changed.

KL, to accuse me of bias is okay and maybe even fair, though I would argue there are reasons for my so-called biases. But at some point, if you have to take umbrage at my spam question, you are just looking for evidence against me where it simply does not exist.

Of course I compared DS9 and VOY. At the time, they were both on the air and many people watched both and were interested in that sort of comparison. That was 15 years ago.

But I will defend myself and say that I took both on their own terms. Maybe they aren't from the same viewpoint you might have taken, but that's why they are my reviews and not yours. :)
Paul - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 1:10pm (USA Central)
@KL: It's not Jammer's fault that VOY failed to utilize its initial premise, failed to develop almost all of its regular cast members (other than Seven, the Doctor and maybe Janeway), that it completely disregarded continuity after season 2 and that was BY FAR less daring than TOS, TNG, DS9 and even ENT.

Sure, Voyager can be appreciated in small doses. "Timeless" is one of my favorite episodes in Trek and "Caretaker" was probably the best pilot.

But it was an amazingly frustrating series that drew natural comparisons with DS9 because -- as Jammer said -- the two series aired almost concurrently.

DavidK - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 9:15pm (USA Central)
@KL That's a bit aggressive =( But while Jammer might have a DS9 "bias", I'd say that's just his opinion of what works and what doesn't. Whether any one particular person agrees or doesn't agree, isn't that what a review is, an opinion? It's going to be subjective one way or the other.

I don't know if Jammer would agree with that, some might say reviews are looking to answer a sort of objective "truth" about quality, but I'm not sure there is an objective truth. So all you can do is find a reviewer who aligns with your expectations, so that you know their opinions will be an accurate barometer of your own opinion (that sounds a bit self-satisfying...to contrast, I read reviewers I disagree with all the time too, for the new perspective).

Actually on re-reading, I'll add one proviso...I think there's an objective truth when it comes to quality, but not style. I think the quality of both shows is quite high usually, though the styles are worlds apart. I'll read any reviewer to get an idea of "is this work of fiction generally well put together", but I know which of my go-to reviewers will dismiss sci-fi out of hand and which will be bored by independent films, etc.

Random off-topic fact: I'm tickled by how the way the Trek community is divided by TNG, DS9 and Voyager parallels the way Law and Order fans are divided by L&O, SVU and Criminal Intent. Like, perfectly, it's uncanny (Trial by Jury may or may not line up with Enterprise, haha...the parallel falls apart there).
KL - Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - 10:14am (USA Central)
"To accuse me of bias is okay and maybe even fair, though I would argue there are reasons for my so-called biases. But at some point, if you have to take umbrage at my spam question, you are just looking for evidence against me where it simply does not exist."

Just because I was wrong about the spam question doesn't change the fact that much too often, especially in the season wrap up review, you keep bringing up Deep Space Nine.

Interesting that Voyager is rarely mentioned in your Deep Space Nine reviews, if at all.

Ultimately, DSN is a good apple and Voyager is a good orange.

KL - Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - 10:42am (USA Central)
@DAVIDK,

I rarely watched any of the Trek shows during their original runs. I did ran into a couple of Voyager shows like Dark Frontier and One. Just recently I have been watching the show on DVD, starting in the 4th season with the intro of 7 of 9.

That was when I started checking out other people's opinion of the show. At the beginning, I actually agreed with Jammer's opinion on Voyager...a lack of continuity, too many reset buttons, lack of recurring characters considering the crew is stuck together for the entire series.

I was also avoiding watching certain episodes because Jammer gave it a low rating: Virtuoso is one such example. It was a two starrer so I dreaded watching it.

At the end, I was like: were we watching the same show? I can only conclude that he was so entertained by Deep Space Nine that it tainted his perception and expectation of Voyager. The bar was set higher for Voyager.

So what if the shows ran concurrently?

Also, I feel a lot of criticism are nitpicks which I am sure one can also do with his beloved Deep Space Nine. I am sure he cut DSN a lot of slack and more than willing to suspend his disbelief.

Granted, these reviews are his opinions, and I would've give them a lot more credibility if I haven't heard so much about Deep Space Nine this and Deep Space Nine that.



Paul - Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
@KL: Well, it's certainly possible that you and Jammer could agree on Voyager's overall failings and disagree about the rating of an individual episode.

The simple fact is, Voyager's episodic approach undercut the continuity of a series that -- because of its premise -- needed strong continuity for dramatic payoff.

Voyager, especially after season 2, tried to be like TNG. But the Enterprise had a crew that was much bigger than Voyager's, meaning it was more believable that we didn't know all the extras -- to say nothing of the manpower shortage crew deaths should have had on Voyager. Also, the Enterprise almost certainly had more resources on its own -- to say nothing of the ability it had to refuel and repair things at starbases.

Voyager tried the continuing storyline in the second season. But because of poor writing and weak villains, it wasn't a success. After that, the writers went with a more episodic approach -- which is somewhat paradoxical, because the longer Voyager was in deep space, the more likely supply and personal shortages.

Voyager most certainly had its moments. But it's frustrating as a series because it never came close to living up to its potential. DS9 fell short on that mark, too -- two Ferengi episodes a year and some failings in the last two seasons hurt. But DS9 got a LOT closer and genuinely took risks.

Voyager really never did. It played it safe for the better part of seven seasons, leading to mundane drama for much of the time (with the exception of some truly good episodes). But the drama was often mundane because we knew, by the fourth season, the consequences of what we were seeing were meaningless at the end of the hour.
Adara - Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - 11:33pm (USA Central)
I loved this episode, but I have to say: Worst guest actor EVER! The alien woman was so bad she would have fit right in in a John Waters movie. I would guess she slept with a network exec but she's not even that attractive. Maybe she's someone's family member or something?
ProgHead777 - Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 2:42am (USA Central)
I for one think this review is right on the money. I found myself alternating between highly amused and highly irritated throughout the course of the episode. For example, it seemed completely out of character for the Doctor to make the choice he did, to the point that I wonder why Janeway or anyone else never thought to check his program to see if the aliens were manipulating him.

I agree that the actress who played Tincoo was like nails on a chalkboard. According to a couple of short internet bios I glanced at, she's actually a fairly busy actress and has even won a handful of awards (albeit, ones I've never heard of). It could be that she was simply way out of her element here. Also, it appeared to me while watching the episode that 100% of her dialog was dubbed. Whether by her or another actress, I have no idea. For those reasons I think she probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. In any case, it was astoundingly poor casting and it severely hurt the episode.
Leah - Thu, Jul 4, 2013 - 2:28am (USA Central)
I really liked this episode for the most part. As a musician myself, I tend to enjoy episodes of Trek that revolve around or at least include music. Yes, it had its faults, but I thought it was a very effective episode.

I know the aliens were annoying but they were supposed to be. This is a race of highly intellectual but self-important people who have so much emphasis on one thing that they've not developed into a well-rounded culture. They are so mathematically-minded that they have achieved great technological capabilities, but they have no real concept of appropriate social interaction and artistic or creative expression. The fact that they deliberately cast all short people actually strengthens this (That must have been a really funny casting call).

I believe the heart of the theme is that you can't cut creative expression out of your society. Otherwise you'll end up dry, emotionally stunted and sorely lacking of a way to connect with others in a way that transcends simple verbal communication. I believe that having the Qomar's speech patterns and interpersonal interaction be so stilted and awkward was done on purpose to illustrate this very idea.

We all know one of the things Trek is known for is its ability to make pertinent social commentary within a non-contemporary setting. I don't know if it was just in my area or state, but I seem to recall drastic budget cuts to the arts and music programs within schools during the time period this show was airing. This might have been a slight ham-handed attempt to say, "If you take away a child's emotional and creative outlets, he/she is going to end up very limited in his/her thinking and development."

As far as Doc is concerned, perhaps his desire to leave Voyager did seem selfish and irresponsible, but it's not that cut and dry. Yes, his treatment on the ship has improved vastly since the early days, but the fact remains that he's still seen as not quite a person by many. Suddenly, he's being revered and also given the chance to reinvent himself, to become far more than he was programmed to be. His misinterpretation of Tincoo's feelings was only a small part of his desire to stay with the Qomar. This was pretty obvious when, despite her replacing him, he didn't immediately give up on the idea of staying. It took the cold reception of his final performance to make him realize that he meant nothing to these people. That was such a poignant scene, to see his shipmates deeply moved by his soul-bearing performance, while the Qomar looked utterly bored only to go wild for the mathematically complex travesty that followed. Picardo's conveyance of that crushing realization and dejection was so perfect and moving.

Wow, I've gone on way too long. I'll just end by saying that the final scene between Doc and Seven...absolutely beautiful and heartfelt. I squeed.
Nancy - Mon, Aug 12, 2013 - 3:04am (USA Central)
The episode had a lot of problems. Plus those already mentioned, did the writers really need to throw in that dig about people wanting to be friends with celebrities in order to feel important? The meta-condescension was a real turn-off.

That said, the whole thing was worth it for the scene between Seven and the Doctor at the end. Awwwwwww......
azcats - Wed, Aug 14, 2013 - 12:41pm (USA Central)
as always, my favorite parts were the interactions the doctor had with B'elanna, tom, janeway and 7. always made for witty or meaningful conversation. the plot is just away to allow these conversations to happen.

2.5 stars
Lt. Yarko - Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - 2:25am (USA Central)
HAHA! I had to laugh at that fractal opera! What a mess! I love Janeway's look when the copy doctor goes low.

Probably one of the most memorable episodes of Voyager. Everything Robert Picardo does in this episode is great. I agree with Jammer that the aliens of the week were pieces of crap.
SpiceRak2 - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 7:26pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed Robert Picardo as the Doctor. I didn't enjoy the way the crew generally treats the doctor. In every Doctor-centric episode, it seems there must be petty abuses and general disregard for what the Doctor thinks and feels. It's not very "Starfleet."

Also...remember that the Doctor is a compilation of many medical practitioners and their personalities. It makes perfect sense that the Doctor would feel nervous or be narcissistic or any other emotional/psychological trait. Add to that, his own unique experiences since he has been in operation and you have a real argument for sentience.

The more episodes of Voyager that I watch, the more I dislike Janeway. She is just plain mean.
Nic - Mon, Dec 16, 2013 - 4:35pm (USA Central)
I think the rudest (and most annoying) thing the Qomar do is stand up in the middle of Kim’s clarinet performance and say « We want to hear the Doctor ». That’S the stuff real musician’s nightmares are made of.

« A technical piece that’s truly weird and emotionally vacant; a human would call it awful. »
As surprising as it may sound, there is a fanbase for the kind of music that was used to represent Tincoo's composition. It's amazing how tastes can vary.
J.B. - Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - 2:35am (USA Central)
See, I kinda liked Tincoo's piece. It was certainly no stranger than some of the 20th century classical music I had to study while in college.
Wilma - Tue, Feb 25, 2014 - 11:20pm (USA Central)
The episode is brilliant for a number of reasons. The Qomars reminded me of gifted children who see numbers and math much differently than most people which also explains their direct no nonsense social skills.

The doctors decision to leave wasn't a far stretch, with an ego like his (which by the way the writers have been cultivating for years) and to have a whole planet ADORE him who wouldn't jump at the chance to become the worlds biggest star ever, forgot Voyager!

Most notably, and I can't believe no one has commented on this. Tincoos piece is the ORIGINAL Star Trek theme, brilliant!! If you don't believe me, go back and watch it!
R. - Tue, Apr 8, 2014 - 4:04pm (USA Central)
Hopefully the Qomar became so fixated on their dreadful caterwauling Doc clone that they got completely steamrolled by the Borg.

Such should be the fate of all one-note species!

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