Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Big Goodbye”

2 stars.

Air date: 1/11/1988
Written by Tracy Torme
Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Review Text

Picard takes to the holodeck for a little R&R, playing the role of Dixon Hill, a 1940s private detective that would be at home in a film noir, if only this episode had the gumption to actually do noir as a style rather than simply a generic concept. If the point of this episode is merely to do a period piece with 1940s costumes and sets, it's a success. If the point is to tell a compelling story, it's a failure.

The funny thing about TNG season one is its pace; at times it's almost startlingly slow, with simple, straightforward plots. "The Big Goodbye" is an example of not just slow, but also uneventful — far too much so for its own good. There simply isn't an hour's worth of material here, and the payoff is too lacking in juice and irony to be worth the wait.

It's the first Holodeck Run Awry episode — a TNG concept that would go on to become a tradition and ultimately a cliché. I should probably note, however, that "awry" is far too extreme a word for this exceptionally restrained episode. Even tough-guy actor Lawrence Tierney, as big gangster Cyrus Redblock, seems hobbled by the episode's restraint. His right-hand man Felix (Harvey Jason) is more colorful, but also far more annoying, and way too stupid to be plausible.

There is one interesting question that the episode poses: Picard exits the holodeck and leaves Hill's cop friend pondering whether his life is simply an illusion — which, of course, it is. It's a question that would surface many more times in Trek after this story.

Previous episode: Haven
Next episode: Datalore

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Comment Section

60 comments on this post

    I've been working my way through all the live action Trek (not watching "Star Trek: The Animated Series"). I think "The Big Goodbye" is the best TNG episode I've seen thus far (I've been watching them in the order they're mentioned in on this page).

    Jammer, you say Felix is too stupid to be plausible. But may I point something out? The entire simulation, and it's fictional characters (including Felix) is a program. This means Felix himself is a program or subroutine, and e.g., not sentient. So his "stupidness" might just be a result of a lazy holodeck programmer, and that I would say IS plausible.

    Incidentally, I fully agree with your two star rating for this episode. If I had to watch this or Haven for a week continuously, I would gladly choose Haven. : )

    "The Big Goodbye" has one of my favorite lines of Trek ever:

    Cyrus Redblock: (to Doctor Crusher):
    "Manners, good lady, are never a waste of time. Civility, gentlemen, always civility. (to his hired thug): Get that stiff outta here..."

    It's not that bad, at least I've found it more interesting than "Haven".

    Yet, both episodes make me feel a bit uneasy, because they have NOTHING to do with what I had in mind when I wanted to watch Star Trek. The real sci-fi seems to be missing.

    Again, am slightly more sympathetic to this oe than Jammer, but I agree it is very much a 'slow burner' and not in the sense of a 'Wire' episode either. Whilst on a mission to a diplomatic rendezvous with the Insectoid and notoriously punctilious Jarada, Picard chooses to enter the Holodeck world of Dixon Hill, but becomes trapped when the holodeck malfunctions due to a probe scan.

    The obvious logical hole in such a plot device aside, and the fact that one probe can cause such potentially dangerous malfunctions meaning I question whether they would have commissioned the concept in the first place, this episode is very much one to appreciate the 1940s 'film noir' episode sets as opposed to the story which is, as Jammer says, all setup with relatively little in the way of payoff.

    I Did enjoy the guest cast with one glaring exception. Lawrence Tierney as Redblock and Everyman Dick Miller as the News Vendor arguing with Data's revelation that DiMaggio's hitting streak would be snapped by the Clevland Indians are both excellent. Gary Armagnac and David Selburg as Detective Mcnary and Historian Whalen are also excellent. The one bum note is Harvey Jason as Felix Leech, whose ridiculous line delivery probably knocks half a star off this one!

    I'm slightly torn here, as I recognise the story's inherent weakness but did enjoy both the sets and the Guest cast- the script's rather meandering nature again holds back what could have been a very strong episode. Nevertheless again a 2.5 star rating which continues a run of fair to reasonable eps. Sadly it isn't long before two of the most notorious clunkers in the show's history...

    A big frustration to me was Picard's reluctance to let Data take the bad guys by surprise and beat the crap out of them. This was not a "Prime Directive issue" Nobody had to play by the rules.

    I would give this one zero stars just for being guilty of starting the holodeck gone awry trope that would haunt Star Trek for the next decade. Why use Star Trek as vehicle to to do bad period pieces?

    I always get very frustrated at Cmdr Riker when I watch this one. He knows that the [Aliens of the week whose name I have forgotten] are very picky about language and protocol, yet he keeps talking to them!! At one point, he opens a channel and starts with "We demand..." before being cut off. Not smart.
    They should have just stayed silent until Captain Picard and co. were freed.

    You can tell it's an early holodeck episode as Geordi is concerned that if they simply shut off the holodeck then all the real people inside will disappear along with the characters. Scary new tech!

    I hadn't seen this episode in years and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Yes, the noir concept could've been taken further, and the story is routine especially in hindsight. But the cast shines. After 12 episodes of being just the speechifying captain, it's refreshing to see Picard so excited about what is essentially a 24th-century video game. And there are moments of pure comedy gold, such as Crusher taking a piece of gum and then swallowing it.

    Ah, the granddaddy of all the crazy holodeck episodes that were to follow. I suppose if nothing else it gives the cast the opportunity to play out of character, and it would be wrong to say there are not some fun moments in here. It's handled competently enough.

    But really, I have some sympathy with the commentators that question whether this is what TNG should be about. Viewed as the first one and ignoring what is to come - fine. 2 stars.

    I'm a fan of science fiction. It's my favorite genre of entertainment. However I DESPISE detective stories - all of them. Police procedural or private detectives or whatever, I find them unbearably tedious. The only thing that could make one worse is to set it in a time period in the past that I also find boring as paint drying. Uggg. Not a detective in the 40 s! And we have to listen to the stupid forties lingo. Shoot me. Why do Star Trek creators assume their main fan base wants to watch this kind of stuff? It's got zero to do with science fiction except that is the stupid device used to trick me into watching it. I hated the stupid period pieces in tos. I hate them eve more in tng.

    I feel about this episode much like both Jammer and I feel about Voyager's "Worst Case Scenario"-great fun to have the characters having fun, with the jeopardy plot taking a little away but not much and still being some fun in itself.

    I didn't care for the plot, but the costumes were to DIE for. I love Beverly's pink outfit, plus her imitating the forties woman with her lipstick. Not to mention, I think Data looked pretty sexy in that pinstripe suit. >////< Anyone else?

    Compared to the rest of the first season's average episodes, this one wasn't half bad. Why is it that when I first watched this episode in my teens (and later on DVD at age 20), I didn't really care too much for it - or any of the first season for that matter. Now at 35, I'm re-watching them all and loving it. This gets a 2.5 out of 4 from me.

    @ David: I can't watch almost any of S1, it's just so low-quality when compared to most everything else that came later.

    All I can remember about S1 offhand for example:
    *Dudes in togas
    *Worf in a red shirt
    *Space net and Q's trial
    *A dude's head explodes
    *Super-giant Ferengi closeups on the view screen
    *Yar vs. tar. Tar wins.

    There are a few really good / classic episodes in S2 and S3 and S4 are probably when TNG was unbeatable IMO.

    The first holodeck story has all the elements that were later done to death in TNG and the spin-offs.
    Last Unicorn Games even published a supplement for its Star Trek RPG based on the premise imaginatively titled Holodeck Adventures.
    Frankly I think the program makers should have stopped here.
    Having the crew play gangsters is as old as 'A Piece of the Action' from TOS; a superior frolic to this episode but it also works here as a bit of fun.

    That is all this episode really amounts to though-a gag.

    There are some hilariously dated bits of nonsense-
    1. Annoying wunderkind Wesley reads a couple of manuals and totally takes over from Geordi .
    2. He examines the intricacies of the holodeck control panel with a binocular microscope -not a software fault then
    and surely they would just replace the faulty module.

    I agree with Nic's review. This was good fun. Aaron is right though: why would Riker start with "We damand--" on a sensitive diplomatic mission?

    Three stars.

    Jammer...really? Not sure I will put much credence to subsequent reviews. I thought this to be a fascinating episode and exploration of a technology that IS sci first and at the time no one had seen to this extent. Your review is a beacon unto the unworthiness of retrospectives and the snobbery that goes with the territory.

    2 stars meh

    A potentially interesting episode that spins it's wheels(the interrogation of Dixon Hill grounded episode to a screeching halt) and only experiences a slight uptick at the very end with Cyrus Redblock but not nearly enough to salvage or make up for the plodding preceding forty five minutes.

    The episode did effectively capture the awe of holodeck technology as this new piece of Trek technology that would go on to wear out its welcome and feel ho hum by the end of the modern Trek era

    I liked this better than I remembered liking it on first go 'round.

    So we've had:

    The Battle / Hide and Q / Haven / Big Goodbye

    While none of these will go on to be even a Top 30 or even Top 40 episode, each in its own way, helped lay the groundwork of what's to come.

    With "The Battle," we finally got a Federation vs. other corporeal space-dwelling beings episode. That became the bread and butter of Next Gen: Those Klingon / Romulan / Cardassian / Federation arcs and episodes.

    With "Hide and Q," we got our first signal this series was actually going to do follow-up episodes and that what happened in previous episodes will possibly come up again.

    With "Haven," we get a character-driven story. Our main players are being fleshed out with families and feelings and concerns that go beyond energy beings. It will make their encounters with the truly alien species all the more impressive.

    With "Big Goodbye," we get our second technology driven episode, and our first one where we start to learn of the characters' interests and passions. More fleshing out.

    To me, all four of these were rough drafts of better kinds of episodes to come.

    All of these episodes are flawed, but they were a lifeline to a ST fan who was really beginning to despair that the show was going to be one bizarre, disjointed encounter after another with unfathomable, powerful beings.

    P.S. May I mention my annoyance for this episode and the show in general and all Treks in general? These people are ALL OVER THE MAP when it comes to their understand of Earth culture. Sometimes, they seem to know the oddest, most detailed tidbits of history. Other times, they are baffled by broad swaths of Earth history anyone should know.

    For instance, Worf was raised on Earth. Why would an "automobile" be a puzzle to him and more than a "chariot" would puzzle us? (Perhaps at the time, Worf's backstory didn't involve being raised on Earth).

    They never really did get a dial on historical recollection by the characters.

    This episode has one great scene, and that's the moment Picard in the ready room joyously tells the crew of his fun times in the Holodeck. The rest doesn't work. It fails as a homage to 1940s/50s noirs, and its central conflict makes no sense, as Data - super fast and impervious to bullets - could have easily saved Picard and company and disarmed the holo-villains.

    TNG's first holodeck experience does give an idea of the dangers and wonders of the device in this very basic episode. And the B-plot of Picard spewing the right nonsense to some anal-retentive insect race was total garbage. Chalk up another win for the boy genius Wesley doing what nobody else on the ship can do (fix the holodeck).

    Spiner gets to show off his gangster accent, Dr. Crusher fumbles and stumbles as a broad and they brought in the equivalent of a redshirt to get shot -- it's all pretty mindless stuff but there are some whimsical moments seeing the crew in 1940s attire.

    I liked the Redblock character -- seemed to portray the gangster well for me -- interesting is the emphasis on manners despite the criminal acts. The little guy who just wants to kill people was stupid -- not sure for what purpose such an idiotic character was created. But the cop wondering about his family once the program terminates does plant a bit of a seed in terms of holodeck characters thinking beyond their supposed limitations. Picard doesn't have all the holodeck "answers" either.

    Barely 2 stars for "The Big Goodbye" -- entertaining at times but the problem was resolved as you'd expect it to be (conveniently in time). Perhaps a learning experience about the dangers of the holodeck for the crew and obviously setting it up for more adventures where it malfunctions. There will be better holodeck-gone-wrong episodes...

    While fun, it's also absurd. The holodeck must have been designed by idiots for it to fail like that without an emergy shutdown or exit.

    As I type this, I inhabit a world where a cup of coffee has to have “Warning this is hot” printed on the side and commercials where CGI cars do crazy stuff have to have “Do not attempt.”

    Yet in Star Trek’s world, a crew is set off in a ship with holodecks and nobody really has a clue just what they can and cannot do.

    Sadly, I think I prefer Trek’s world. Granted it could allow for some accidents and mishaps, but this world just caters to the lowest common denominator of stupid and fear of lawsuits.

    Yeah... I’d definitely take my chances with an occasional holodeck adventure over a constant barrage of mouth-breathing mediocrity. haha

    They fly all the way to that planet, just for Picard to deliver a greeting, and then fly off again?

    The begining was great. The ending left me cold. Holodek characters becoming sentient was definitely handled better in later episodes. Here it seemed clunky.

    Can we talk about how Captain Picard calls a staff meeting after using the holodeck for the first time? To rave about it? And why was Wesley there!?


    Terrible but with some good gags - 1 star. I really take the point made by Sarjenka's Little Brother above, though - TNG came straight out of the gate with 4 God-Like Being episodes in just its first 8 hours (Encounter At Farpoint, The Last Outpost, Where No One Has Gone Before, Justice), so even though the episodes that followed in this mid-part of the season weren't great, they at least signaled that the show intended to tell different kinds of stories instead of just falling back on GLB encounters all the time.

    Watching this again, I found it to be even more dull than I'd remembered. There is something theoretically interesting about the episode, though: the A-plot sees Picard forced to act convincingly so as to protect himself from (and fit in with) nefarious holograms, and the B-plot sees Picard forced to convinginly act out an alien language so as to assuage (and fit in with) some nefarious insectoid aliens. The phoniness of the holodeck and Picard's holo-performances echo Picard's attempts to sell his phony little alien monologue.

    Comparison's to TOS' "A Piece of the Action" also seem apt. But where "A Piece of the Action" captures well the manic, brisk pace of early noirs and gangster movies - Kirk and his buddies are repeatedly hurtling from one set to the next - "The Big Goodbye" is a static and dull thing, stuck on a series of claustrophobic sets. Of course great old noirs (think "The Big Sleep", "Maltese Falcon" or "The Killing") were often clausterphobic and bound to tiny sets, but they had rapid-fire, machine-gun dialogue, zipping wittily back and forth. There's no wit or zip in Picard's holonovel. Thankfully the show would quickly swap Dixon Hill for Sherlock Holmes, the cultured British detective perhaps tonally more suited to the "sophisticated" pose struck by TNG.

    Watching this again, I also noticed that Wesley attends a staff briefing in the observation lounge. This is a room for command staff, and an ensign like him should not be there at all. Throughout the first season, he is repeatedly inserting himself into plots that he has no business being in. I like the character - the idea of following a kid from civilian to ensign to more is a good one - but he's not written well at all.

    Ah the holodeck. They provide an interlude to the main Trek episode style. Often going back to romantic eras like the 20s or 30s to Hot Jazz, Gumshoes or to my preferred one the Sherlock Holmes. When this first aired 30 years ago, I think we got a kick out of these episodes but rolled our eyes and wondered why people didn't just live in the holodecks. Now being older, I still think that. Ha ha just kidding where would the fun be in that?

    This episode was okay as the main holodeck intro one (where the whole episode is basically in the alternate universe of the holodeck).

    I give it a 2.25 for that.

    Really not a fan of this episode. Can we talk about the Federation bending over backward to unbelievable levels to not risk offending these Jarada? Why is the obligation all on the Federation and none on the Jarada to show good manners? And then all the other reasons this episode is dull. 1 star

    @Markus It's because the Federation wanted an alliance with them. The Jarada had a take it or leave it attitude about the situation.

    Such a pathetic episode.
    The major crisis is the Holodeck doors won't open...

    and if they open the doors by force, it will kill everyone inside the holodeck.
    Solution...Wesley Crusher saves the day.

    Why would someone write something this awful and think it was a good idea?

    Mostly just boring. Did not hold my interest at all.

    Some amusing and interesting stuff with Data and the Picard-Crusher relationship, and also, great costumes. But that's not enough to sustain an ep.

    The title interests me, I'm not sure what it's about, but I confess I didn't pay much attention. At the end Picard's saying good bye to his holodeck pal and hello to some aliens, but that doesn't really explain the title.

    Dull. Boring. Sleep-inducing. Blah. Below average.

    @ Springy,

    Memory Alpha says that the episode's setting and characters were based on The Maltese Falcon. However the title appears to be a reference to two other detective films:

    "The title of this episode would seem to be a composite of the Raymond Chandler books The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, featuring iconic detective Philip Marlowe."

    So it's possible that the title was referencing other detective stories to throw us off the scent that they were lifting from Maltese Falcon; or else perhaps the mix of detectives and films is meant to show us that this is an homage to noir detective stories in general.

    I think it's the latter (that this is a deliberate homage to film noir in general). There was certainly no attempt to hide that this is based on The Maltese Falcon, with Sydney Greenstreet's character being renamed "Cyrus Redblock." Humphrey Bogart starred in both The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, and We'll Always Have Paris, later in the season, references Casablanca, so there seems to be a Bogart fan on the staff. Lawrence Tierney, who plays Redblock, was a heavy in many old noirs as well (Tarantino would use him in Reservoir Dogs a few years later).

    In any case, the titles of both of the Marlowe novels are euphemisms to death - - the big sleep, the long goodbye. The episode gives some poignancy to Hill's friend who asks whether he'll still exist when Picard turns off the program, and so I think what this episode is "about" is about death and stories - - how we are attracted to stories where people encounter death but have mastery over it (detectives). Whether those stories stay with us when we leave them. I'm not saying it's successful at that.

    I kind of like this one, possibly because I am a fan of detective noir films. Of course this is plastic and inauthentic, but that's part of the point. It's definitely slow and kind of pointless, but I like Tierney a lot even in a kind of empty role like this one, and I like the Data, Crusher bits (as Springy mentions) and Picard's enthusiasm. Really this episode feels like a trial run for better episodes down the line (particularly the Moriarty eps). Picard navigating an "exciting" (or so is the intent) adventure as proxy for navigating the boring but higher stakes language diplomacy thing is also about how fiction functions in our lives (see also that Picard and Crusher can only flirt in character), and to an extent this first holodeck malfunction is about becoming too involved in a story.

    (Of course, one could argue that a real Bogart fan would have made better episodes as homage!)

    I should also say that because Picard is so enthusiastic, it should be a better detective/noir story than it is, so I take back that "part of the point" line. So okay it's not a good homage and it's anemic and all but I still find the effort kind of charming, and as I said I still really like Tierney here.

    Haha. Most of us probably all have soft spots for episodes we know aren't exactly the best.

    I guess we could think of it this way: it's a good setup for "11001001".

    Two things that make me laugh/eye roll in this episode:

    1. Picard and Troi practicing the speech in the beginning. I’m *pretty* sure that insecticide aliens from far beyond the moon don’t write their language in the Roman alphabet, so what’s up with the goofy pronunciation drilling? Picard’s script should just be written out phonetically. But then, oh shoot, there goes the dramatic reason that Picard needs to de-stress in the holodeck.

    2. Crusher imitating the dames on the holodeck with the powder compact, acting like she’s never put makeup on before. Meanwhile her own cheekbones are contoured til the spacecows come home.

    One historian shot, the doc almost killed. Another fun day on the holodeck.
    Matthew correctly points out that the doc imitating the other holowoman is pretty odd considering that she and Deanna wear more make up then most drag queens.

    Does anyone think that Picard being interested in 1940s detective novels is in character?

    It's an idea that's just never worked for me. Archeology? Sure. Horseback riding? Eh, maybe. 400 year old pulpy hard-boiled detective fiction? I'm not buying it,

    Everyone has a way they unplug from reality with some kind of plain unadulterated fun.

    We saw how Picard was when he was young and his friends knew him as Johnny. I can totally believe a bar-fighting young Picard mightt get hooked on such a thing.

    Yes, it felt out of character and unconvincing - more so looking back after Picard's personality was fleshed out.

    I don't recall having the same feeling when I watched The Big Goodbye when it was first broadcast, though, so it was one of the characterisation attempts that was tried and discarded. (Another example of this is how grumpy, humourless and patrician-like Picard is portrayed as in the first half of S1, which mellows swiftly.)

    It doesn't help that I have never found the 1940s private detective very engaging. Some people love the hard-boiled stuff, of course.

    I felt there was the same mismatch when Janeway was portrayed having holodeck past-times as a) a governess; and b) Leonardo Da Vinci's assistant. Neither struck me as plausible from a character point of view, nor as very compelling viewing.

    Watching The Big Goodbye yet again in 2021, what struck me most was the time difference between the era portrayed in the episode (1940s) and its broadcast date (1980s) being not far off the time difference between the original episode broadcast date (1980s) and now (2020s). A cruel realisation of the merciless march of time.

    Intresting ... I do enjoy most of the time travel episodes nut not really the holodeck when they go back ntime. Probably beacues the tiem travels are real and the holodeck just a fantas computer animation. So although the created charakter starts to refelect over his own existense I do take it less seriosly. How very akward.

    Although never seen, I gues sthat the ladies on enterprece has some sort of automatic devive that appies the make up as Beverky obvioulsy lacks the practice. Otherwise I would not have found this scen funny. (Tasha Yar also have a distinct make even more contradicting her character.) Crushers reaction / reflection of the working girl sitting next to her was amusing.

    Not mixing the acting conducted by Wil Wheaton with his character Wesley, TNG lost very much making Wesley a wiz kid / Smart Aleck .

    There are several loopholes and the story is quite poor but I laughed severy times to Picard / Data and Crusher.

    Not wasted time,

    It does seem strange to not consider this sci-fi. A holographic projection injures someone with a holographic bullet. That's as sci-fi as spaceships, replicators, etc.

    One would think that holodecks would be far more addictive than they're mostly portrayed. Perhaps this is subtly depicted by the fact that they keep them in use despite them having an atrocious safety record... to put it mildly.

    I do like this episode - the first holodeck adventure. Sure, there are flaws but the concept is no worse than TOS ‘Piece of the Action’; better in fact, in that it’s just a computer simulation and we don’t have to believe in yet another Earth-like planet.


    1. Why did Picard rave on about the holodeck in the staff meeting? We already knew about its marvels from “...Farpoint”. Show, don’t tell.

    2. The players could disappear along with the program? Oh please. Bad science of the worst kind.

    3. The Harada were ultra-sensitive to language, yet Riker opens communication with “We demand...”?

    4. Several reviewers dismiss the Leech character. Didn’t anyone realise he was obviously based on Peter Lorre? Badly done though, I’m not surprised you might not have seen it!

    5. When Hill’s cop buddy character asks Picard if his family will still “be there “ when
    Picard leaves, Picard says “I honestly don’t know”. Could he not have given reassurance to a computer simulation and replied “Yes of course”? After all, Picard knew the guy wasn’t real.

    All in all, a nice bit of TNG R’n’R that doesn’t require too much analysis. Not quite 3 stars but nearly.

    "1. Why did Picard rave on about the holodeck in the staff meeting? We already knew about its marvels from “...Farpoint”. Show, don’t tell."

    In Farpoint all we saw was an environment, a pleasant forest and a stream. In Big Goodbye we see actual persons rendered, which is a huge leap.

    From Picard's reaction, I suppose we are meant to understand that at this moment in history, this isn't just some standard technology that exists everywhere (as it must have been by DS9 where even Quark's dive bar has one). Given that the Galaxy Class starship is some brand new design perhaps this was a fancy new capability of that breed of starships.

    @Jason R

    Interesting insight. I think you may be right. The problem though is - by this point into the mission, wouldn’t the crew already know the capabilities of the new holodeck? I’d have written it more like this:

    PICARD: My command duties have left too little time for recreation, regrettably. I haven’t had the opportunity to explore our fascinating new holodeck. So I am sure you can imagine my reaction to what it can do when I finally got the chance. The smells! The characters! Just so lifelike! [and so on].

    Troi says at the beginning of the episode: "You've been looking forward to the upgrade of the holodeck" and encouraged him to check it out. Previously it wasn't as good.

    This episode held up less well from my memories of it as a kid. A big plot oversight that I haven't seen mentioned (apologies if I missed it): since the transmission of the greeting was audio-only (fortunately, since the prickly Jarada would surely have been offended by Picard being out of uniform), why not record it (or have the computer record it in Picard's voice, or have Data mimick Picard's voice) and transmit that?

    Other things:

    Why wasn't the possibility of beaming Picard and co. out mentioned?

    Seems like it should be a breach of regulations for the captain not to bring his communicator even on the off chance that internal comms fail.

    The holo-lipstick stays on Picard's face but the gangsters (eventually, slowly) dissolve. (The lipstick can be explained by the use of replicators, but the gangsters not immediately disappearing when they cross the threshold seems impossible to explain.)

    Why doesn't the holoprogram automatically pause when the user leaves? Felix enters Dix's office and keeps talking after Picard leaves the first time until he manually turns it off.

    Are door malfunctions common enough on the Enterprise that Crusher walks right through them without contacting engineering? If my elevator doors did that, I'd turn around and call the super. And why did the doors open for her and not for anyone later? Did the Jarada's scan cause a deteriorating malfunction, and if so, why didn't it mess with the program itself?

    Seems like Whalen should have died in the time it took to leave the holodeck (Crusher was losing his pulse!). Also seems like Crusher should have been able to do more for him; maybe she needs more training in field medicine.

    The applause at the end was incredibly cringey.

    All the other ridiculous stuff has been mentioned: the overdone enthusiasm over upgraded holodeck technology, the immediate warp out after the greeting, Wesley!!, the stupidity of the possibility of living people disappearing if the holodeck is turned off, the lack of a failsafe/emergency shut down, etc.

    A few positives: Crusher/Picard sexual tension picking up from The Naked Now (and her rolling her eyes when Whalen wanted to come along), and the Data from south America gag (but did no one in the 40s know about albinism?) and the whole newspaper scene. And the weird concern for holocharacters' feelings at the end might be explained as a consequence of the upgrade's verisimilitude, which might have interesting implications for how the crew interacts with and is affected by their holodeck experiences.

    Not great. First episode my non-ST-watching spouse has disliked (of Farpoint, Naked Now, WNOHGB, the Battle, Hide and Q, and Haven).

    Still one of my favorite episodes, especially since I love the Maltese Falcon. And Dr. Crusher looks incredibly beautiful. Agree about the episode's faults but still great fun.

    Good gracious, what a ridiculous and boring episode. All fi, no sci, and even the fi is tedious, caricatured, and almost a parody of itself.

    You can recreate any environment from thousands of civilizations across thousands of years, but you choose one from a few decades before the show was filmed, in the very place it was filmed. What utter laziness. The writers weren't even trying here.

    NO stars. Not even zero. This is not Star Trek.

    Confession: This is the first Star Trek episode or movie I ever sat through, and I must admit it was intriguing. I had only the vaguest idea about the Trek world: There was someone called Spock, Kirk was a boofhead, and there was a Scotsman and a lot of beaming. So I am sick from work in the winter of 2013, turn on the TV, watch this rerun…. And am immediately hooked! Maybe I was soft in the brain that day, but since then have watched TNG in its entirety at least 4 times. So thank you “Big Goodbye” for your big hello!

    I was disappointed by Dr Crusher’s lack of basic first aid skills when her crewmate gets shot. She basically leaves him on the floor to bleed to death. No basic first aid is attempted like applying pressure to the wound or dressing it with cloth or a bandage. She just leaves him there and stands in the background as if his welfare is unimportant.

    You know, this episode surprises me. I don't love it, and always thought it was little more than an advertisement for the show's new tech darling, the holodeck. And it is that. But the writing is doing something more sophisticated than that, I think. The Big Goodbye title is apparently taken from the The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, two book titles. But "the big goodbye" ends up being an actual line said by McNary at the end. And it made me think.

    Through the episode we keep being told over and over how real everything is. Picard goes off the rails in a staff meeting about it, and most of the episode is a ramp-up in us admiring how amazing it is. Part of the reason it's not a great episode is because to us the 'realism' is no better than any period TV show, so we really can't care about the details Picard and the others are fascinated by. This is especially so because the story they're in is The Maltese Falcon, so we're not exactly riveted by passing details of a worse version of that. But in all the failure to awe us with the holodeck it's easy to miss just how much of the detail is explained to us in terms of being "real". When Picard is interrogated by two cops he says it's almost too real, with some concern in his voice. Since this is prior to them being aware of any holodeck malfunction we should take that remark seriously. The fact that the holodeck failure turns a fantasy into a life or death situation is a conceit we've all made fun of countless times, but in this first instance of it they're doing more than just a holodeck malfunction story. In showing that the stakes for the crew are fatal they're alluding to something far more interesting.

    It comes to hit us in the face in this thematic scene:

    PICARD: I wish I could take you with me.
    MCNARY: Someone has to book this creep. Once a cop always a cop, I guess.
    PICARD: I have to go.
    MCNARY: So this is the big goodbye. Tell me something, Dixon. When you've gone. will this world still exist? Will my wife and kids still be waiting for me at home?
    PICARD: I honestly don't know. Good-bye my friend.

    This scene isn't played as fun or as a holodeck adventure sign-off, but is quite strange. McNary knows he's about to cease to exist, and is sad. And Picard is pulled into that sadness, not knowing what 'happens' to these holo-characters when they're turned off, or even "what" they are. This is a technology whose function is becoming apparent but whose meaning seems to ask questions rather than provide answers. The more Picard realizes how real the characters are, the question starts to become...well, just how real they are. The fact that the computer created them doesn't actually tell us anything about what they are. This question alludes to the issue of creating artificial intelligence, but is actually broader than that in a way, because these aren't just intelligences but personalities. When McNary says "this is the big goodbye" I think what he means is that he's about to die. And I think the episode is hinting to us that when Picard dispenses with these 'characters' they might be dying in some real sense. The enormous threat to Whalen's life, which we take seriously, is put against shutting off or deleting these holodeck people, which we think of as nothing, just as Redblock thinks nothing of deleting our crew. I think the symmetry here is intentional. If so, this episode's meta-story is far, far richer than its actual story, which mostly does just function as a silly diversion. That scene with McNary is sort of chilling. Might there not be people who would actually balk at shutting off the program in the face of a character begging for his life, or that if his family?

    “Manners, good lady, are never a waste of time. Civiluty, gentlemen, a.ways civility. “ - A perfect line, perfectly delivered by Tierney. Tracy Torme was a film noir fan. In noir movies, characters spoke in epigrams and aphorism. These movies were excursions into style-they were not concerned with being realistic. Someone who enjoys film noir from the ‘40s to the end of the ‘50s (The Maltese Falcon through Touch of Evil, roughly) may cotton to the noir homage that is the Big Goodbye. At least one other person dismissed this episode out of hand based on an assertion, not an argument: Ye Olde “It’s Not Star Trek!” line. Says who?

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