Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Hollow Pursuits"

3 stars

Air date: 4/30/1990
Written by Sally Caves
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

At long last, here's welcome evidence that there are screw-ups in Starfleet. Given how the Enterprise is so often a testament to the hopelessly elite, it's refreshing to get a story about lowly Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz), a guy who's always late, awkward in groups, inexplicable to his shipmates, unable to fit in, and addicted to his fantasies in the holodeck.

Geordi is fed up and frankly doesn't want to deal with him anymore. Picard's approach is more proof of his Picard-ness: Rather than abandon this officer and transfer him out, he asks Geordi to make more of an effort to reach out and get to know the guy. It's not an easy task. Barclay's shyness reaches a level of social paralysis, and it makes him ineffective as a communicator in a workplace setting. Meanwhile, he spends all his free time in the holodeck.

The episode is probably best remembered for its amusing holodeck sequences featuring Barclay's overactive imagination and depictions of real crew members — including a uniquely hilarious opening scene where Barclay's overconfident alter ego (and it's a complete alter ego) struts into Ten-Forward and pushes Geordi and Riker around. Later, there's swordplay, which features a version of Riker that Barclay has digitally shortened. Troi finds it all to be amusing and therapeutic — until she sees the digital version of herself that Barclay has created (the "Goddess of Empathy").

But the heart of the episode is in deconstructing a man who doesn't fit in or feel comfortable. Guinan's sympathy for Barclay's situation is commendable. And Geordi makes a real effort to break down his defenses. Of course, the hilarious moment when Picard slips and calls him "Broccoli" is a classic, comic worst-case scenario. After all of Geordi's efforts, the captain accidentally sets everything back a step.

Does the episode need its overplayed jeopardy premise involving the malfunction that causes the Enterprise to race out of control? And does the jeopardy have to come down to terse, last-minute warnings from the computer that the ship is about to be destroyed? No and no. But I do like the way the engineering team swiftly deconstructs the problem with simple logic to find the solution. These are smart people working a problem intelligently. The episode's closing joke is Barclay's goodbye scene — to the holographic crew. Barclay is a welcome rough pebble among all the Enterprise's polished pearls.

Previous episode: Tin Man
Next episode: The Most Toys

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109 comments on this post

Fri, Jan 9, 2009, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
None of the comments mention Hollow Persuits? Barclay is one of my very favorite recurring guest characters on TNG (and Voyager).

Anyway it's pretty surprising how season 3 managed to turn everything around for the series, considering how awful season 2 was. Good thing the show survived long enough for us to see 5 more seasons.
Sat, Jun 18, 2011, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Although I agree with Jammer that Hallow Pursuits was an entertaining hour of tv, the one thing that bugged me about the show that he didn't mention was the ease in which anyone can walk in while the holodeck is occupied. I can easily imagine far more embarassing uses to which such incredible tech can be used! I mean, isn't there any kind of security with the thing? Barclay's use of the holodeck made me wonder too about its availability in Federation society in general. If there was such a thing in real life, I'm afraid society would simply collapse as, human nature being what it is, most people would become so addicted to living out their fantasies on a holodeck that society would simply collapse. It reminds me of an experiment I read of where mice were allowed to press a button that stimulated their pleasure centers and they ended up starving to death because they couldn't bear not being stimulated.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
^ yeah, in "Our Man Bashir" Julian claims that entering a holodeck that is in use is "illegal".
Wed, Mar 20, 2013, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Watching this episode today the thing that struck me was that Geordi senior team in Engineering is all men. Definitely would not be cast that way now.
William B
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
I've always liked Barclay, and I'm impressed by how well this episode presents a balanced look at what it means for a social misfit to be in the workplace both for said misfit and for his superiors. It's easy to fall into Barclay's perspective, and the episode earns our sympathies partly by aligning him with the fans. Michael Piller has said that Barclay's holodeck simulation wasn't meant to be a commentary of fans and fanfic, but whether Piller realized it or not that is part of the effect: the episode contrasts the desire to be an idealized version of oneself, hanging out with and being superior to one's own heroes, with the reality of what walking alongside such giants would mean. And Barclay's opinions of his crewmembers often align with fans'. Troi is *hot* and Barclay imagines seducing her; Wesley is obnoxious and Barclay imagines him as a brat who gets threatened by his mother with spanking*. Still, we are shown Geordi's perspective as well, and Barclay's spending all his time on the holodeck and inability to communicate properly are not just funny impediments but genuinely serious ones.

Somewhat unfortunately, I think that the jeopardy premise maybe was necessary for the episode to work within the standalone episode format. Part of what the episode needs to do is to establish why Barclay ultimately *is* a worthwhile crewmember to have around in spite of his considerable flaws, and it needs to make clear that while there is a large portion of pity and willingness to try to make anyone feel welcome in the crew, Barclay actually is more than just a charity project. Saving the ship is a somewhat truncated way of showing that Barclay, should he gain enough confidence to contribute to the Engineering staff and the crew at large, is good for the ship. If TNG had a greater devotion to ongoing storylines, it could potentially have a more realistic storyline in which Barclay gradually turns around and so the dividends from Picard, Troi and Geordi's investment in Barclay come more gradually. However, that is still hard to pull off with a secondary character, to say the least. Having Barclay be both a competent officer and use his imagination and thinking-outside-the-box mentality to save the ship is the way in which the episode doesn't merely send the message that any officer can get away with incompetence; the point is rather that Barclay's ability to contribute to the team is in somewhat nontraditional ways that require some effort on the part of his superiors to find his niche. All that said, this probably could have been accomplished by having the problem be serious but not a ship-threatening one; something that could require the ship need to shut down for a few weeks or some such without requiring that Every Person On The Ship Die if it's not solved right away.

On that level, I like very much that the central idea Barclay suggests -- that it's a person who is infecting the various engineering systems -- is both outside the box of normal thinking, and also something that doesn't require a genius-level intellect, the way something Wesley might have done in s1. I have seen the episode *before* and I didn't remember that it was carried by people, and I didn't think there was any way this mystery could have a resolution that would not just be tech. Barclay's creativity, which Guinan notes should be valuable to an engineering team, and which is the thing that keeps him disconnected from other people (since he lives in his Secret Life of Walter Mitty fantasy world), is the thing that is useful, should he be able to apply it to his job.

The episode is still merely good and not great, because the fantasy sequences, while memorable, get repetitive after a while, and the jeopardy premise, while probably necessary for the episode to work as I said above, still wins Barclay's entry into the fold a little cheaply, and also relies on a lot of tech. As Jammer says, hearing the Engineering team work through the problem logically is a total delight, however. I also appreciate how the episode's end teases the probability that Barclay will be leaving the ship in a way that suggests that the Enterprise and Geordi and Barclay himself will not have to deal with any of the difficulties that the episode suggests. But, no, Barclay is here to stay, and he's merely leaving his fantasies behind. In keeping with the show's genuine attempt to imagine a better humanity, it's not so much that people are cured of social dysfunctions like what Barclay has, but that society has grown and adapted so that it's possible to find a place to let unusual and imperfect humans be the best they can be. High 3 stars.
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
I regret learning that Dwight Schultz is a wacko racist conspiracy believing tea bagger nutjob. I can't enjoy the Barclay episodes now.
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
@Sintek: While I have no idea if what you said about Schultz is true, I don't see why it has to affect your enjoyment of his performance if he did well.

Bobby Fischer is an excellent example of this: his victories over his fellow GMs (Grandmasters) in chess were just inspired - he defeated a GM 6-0 in a candidate's match and that just wasn't done! But he clearly was anti-Semite, had paranoi, and had hate issues. In other words, his chess was brilliant but he wasn't so stellar a person. If you so choose, you can do the same - enjoy a performance without liking the actor.

To each is own though.

As for the episode, I enjoyed seeing the main characters in fantasy, as surely the characters ARE in fans' fantasies. In odd sort of way, it mimics real life.

I too, like Jammer, enjoyed seeing a less than perfect human on the Enterprise, and liked seeing Picard refuse to just transfer problems to other starships rather than just deal with them. 3 stars for me as well.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 8:35am (UTC -5)
I am not a fan of Holodeck episodes. They always make me cringe a little bit because they are so awkward. I watched this one with a TNG virgin and I'm almost sure this person never wants to watch another TNG episode, no matter how many times I tell them that there are much better episodes.

I don't agree with Jammer's review here. To me this is a one-star episode.
Sun, Nov 24, 2013, 12:48am (UTC -5)
I just got done watching this episode, and it was a hoot!

However, the comment above slandering Dwight Schultz as racist, and a "tea bagger" is anything BUT a hoot. (And if don't you know how that latter epithet came about, let's just say that is tremendously sexually crude).

Right at this very moment, I'm listening to a podcast from Dwight Schultz (from this September), and he sounds like a guy who both occasionally talks with a wacky voice (like you'd expect a voice actor to do), and has not uttered anything racist or "nut job" in any way.

Please don't slander people, on the right or on the left. If someone says something you find disagreeable, state what actually was said, don't just slap a label on them in an internet forum.
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
On Sintak's comment I will only say this: it doesn't surprise me but does dismay me that so many people who undoubtedly consider themselves enlightened, tolerant people feel it is ok to slander, insult, and feel such incredible hatred towards people who happen to have a different political philosophy. It's just another outside group that the inside group can be intolerant towards in order to feel superior.

As for the episode itself, it was great fun. TNG gets some flack (and deservedly so sometimes) for being too invested in character insights or dealing with moral or philosophical issues to the detriment of a good story. Here, though, it's a character episode, but one that is entertaining and relatively fast moving as well. It's funny at times, serious at times, mysterious at times, and indulgent at times. I didn't feel the holodeck scenes dragged on too long. It helped that the first two weren't obviously on the holodeck, and that the latter three involved actors we like hamming it up for all they're worth.

And Barclay, well, great character. Is his neurosis a bit too exaggerated? Maybe a bit, but I've known some people who were pretty close to that. And as an introvert myself, there were moments that were pretty realistic... And the episode is pretty fair when exploring these issues. Geordi and Riker come off as a little bit nasty in their harsh treatment of Barclay, and yet completely justified and understandable too. Picard's defense of Barclay may seem too tolerant for someone as immature as Barclay, but he has a point too that Barclay has had a reasonably successful Starfleet career so far and thus could be a valuable member of the crew. Essentially, the message is that socially inept people should be given a fair amount of leeway, but in return it better not cause problems with their work or other people.

The different reactions to Barclay's holodeck adventure were nice touches too. It makes sense that LaForge was the most sympathetic, as 1) he has no place to talk (and kudos to the writers for calling back to Booby Trap), and 2) he didn't see the more controversial characters (the goddess of empathy and mini-Riker) until later.

I also don't care that the "ship in danger" plot was used. The episode needed to show two things: that an addiction to a fantasy life can be rather crippling to one's real life, and that socially awkward people are people too. The 10 seconds to destruction plot managed both of them nicely. Because Barclay was spending too much time on the holodeck and not doing his job, a thousand people nearly died. And because LaForge put in a bit of effort to make Barclay feel a part of the team, a thousand people didn't die. Hurray! The only quibble is that time was running out and the two of them were still walking around everywhere. You'd think the no running in the hallways rule could be a bit relaxed in those situations...

PeteTongLaw, you think the all-male senior staff was the most alien part of that scene? How about the fact that a staff meeting only lasted 2 minutes? Now that's an unrealistic utopian future!
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
Sooooooo nobodys even going to bring up how absolutely CREEPED out Troi had to have been to find out Barclay was having sex with her doppleganger on the holodeck? Can you just imagine if it had been for real? lol Barclay would be fired and possibly jailed, Troi would SUE Starfleet for not having security on her pattern, just thinking of the all implications bowls me over. Thank God it's in the Star Trek universe, lol. Oh and around 12 minutes in I swear I heard Barclay talking about the "flux capacitor" lol swear, go see!
Mon, Apr 14, 2014, 1:10am (UTC -5)
program 9.
Sat, May 3, 2014, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Now, 3 stars seems about right for this one :)

I like that this episode addresses the big elephant in the (holodeck) room: with tech good enough to imitate life, what's stopping anybody to create their own personal version of people they know in real life?

Picard seems to engage in Dixon Hill fantasies every now and then, Riker and Geordi created a fake woman to spend time with, and even Data enjoys playing as Sherlock Holmes, but what separates Barclay from the main characters is that the latter know when to stop. I thought it was due time to see a holodeck episode that deals with social issues instead of malfunctions.

It's not a classic episode by any means, but it's both fun and interesting. And Barclay is a great character and I'm glad to read he's coming back later.

Funny though, now that it's been more than a year since I've watched the episode, all I remember is Barclay's awkwardness and holographic adventures (and his trouble with the real people) but totally forgot about the critical situation of the week.
Sun, Jun 15, 2014, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Perhaps I notice it more in this episode than in others, but I laugh at Guinan's hat flopping around as she counsels with Geordi.
Sun, Jun 15, 2014, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
Reading through all the comments I don't see the feeling that I get from the episode. It seemed that the ship in danger part of the episode was meant to show that some people have a different way of thinking and that can be an advantage when we are encouraging to them.

As a school teacher, I am trained to see that angle.
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 8:50am (UTC -5)
Stviateur, that lack of privacy protection was also odd, if not worse, for Worf's program in "The Emissary" (as a guest rather than senior officer, who could have done some quick override we didn't see, could enter); it seems like there's no protection because there's an ideology of non-judgment but the characters don't always follow it.
I jeopardy plot was a bit standard but I liked how gradually it was introduced and how the solution was both surprising yet came out of what we'd already seen.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
Your ears did not deceive you. When Barclay went to the holodeck to vent to his fantasy Troi about being interrupted by Wesley, he spoke this little gem:

"I knew about the flux capacitor, but I didn't need to hear about it from some 17 year-old kid."

In the prior scene when Wesley interrupted him, he asked Barkley if he had checked the flow capacitor. Perhaps Dwight Shutz had recently watched BTTF, and just slipped up during the scene. I was surprised that they left it in there though. You'd think that someone would have noticed, and had them reshoot the scene.
Mon, Oct 27, 2014, 12:12am (UTC -5)
jay: "in 'Our Man Bashir' Julian claims that entering a holodeck that is in use is 'illegal.'"

I'm guessing something happened between here and there to lead to some rules being put in place.

Susan: "how absolutely CREEPED out Troi had to have been to find out Barclay was having sex with her doppleganger on the holodeck? Can you just imagine if it had been for real? lol Barclay would be fired and possibly jailed, Troi would SUE Starfleet for not having security on her pattern"

Yeah, like that.

Honestly, I think this *is* a classic episode. It addresses some real psychological and social issues, in the ship/Starfleet environment generally and with hologram tech specifically; it does this through a great new character that we'll see again; it makes a reasonable story use of a jeopardy situation (OK, so another just-in-time salvation isn't really necessary) that is integral but subordinate to the character story; and it totally works as a comedy too! We get to see our familiar characters embarassed, rather than be embarassed ourselves as with some of the 'comedy' misfires elsewhere. Not the 'biggest' kind of episode, but one that absolutely accomplishes everything it sets out to do.

Four stars.
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Lol. This episode is awkward and funny. Data in that musketeer's outfit was the freakiest thing I've ever seen.
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 2:51am (UTC -5)
Once you realize the holodeck is a metaphor for compulsive jacking off, the episode makes perfect sense.
Sat, Jan 10, 2015, 9:39am (UTC -5)
'Mr Brocoli' as said by Captain Picard just sums up this episode. And the 'Ha!!!' by the musketeers. Brilliant!!.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
What can I say about "Hollow Pursuits"? Well, first off - I love the character of Reginald Barclay, probably because I see so much of myself in the quiet, socially awkward guy who yearns to be more accepted and socially gregarious. Barclay is such a welcome relief from the supremely super-confident people we usually spend time with in Trek. The closest we've had to someone like this is LaForge with his problems with women (but that isn't because he's socially awkward, far from it).

This episode isn't without problem however. First, why are so many people so critical of Barclay, Riker especially. Geez, is it so much of an oddity for these people to encounter a timid person that they just don't know how to deal with it? Second, I think this episode is where the inherent problems with the Troi character really come into focus. In the scene where Barclay actually goes to her for counseling, she fumbles the ball so hard it's laughable. You have a guy here who is painfully socially awkward and timid and what does she do? She turns the lights off, tells him to close his eyes and sit back and then sits so close to him that they're practically touching. Good grief! Could she have misread his problems any more thoroughly? And given the fact that she's an empath, how did she miss Barclay's obvious nervousness? Also, this is a prime example of why she should wear a standard Starfleet uniform. Wearing whatever it is she usually wears to counseling sessions isn't very helpful, especially with a patient who is already extremely nervous around women.

Still, "Hollow Pursuits" has several things going for it - a wonderful new character, legitimately funny comedic bits and very nice reactions to Barclay from Guinan, Picard and LaForge. Even the tension at the end with the ship seconds away from ripping itself apart is enjoyable because it gives Barclay his chance to shine.

Thu, Jul 16, 2015, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
I also have a problem with the crew ignoring Barclay's right to privacy. Geordi making the mistake the first time gets a pass (but underscores how perfect this society apparently is that no one else does anything embarassing on the Holodeck). But he should have known better than to go back a second time and bring Riker and Troi along. Everyone is entitled to their fantasies, and though Barclay's got out of hand, that's no excuse.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
TNG talks directly to its core audience by saying that socially inept people crippled by shyness and living a fantasy existence cut off from the real world can actually be appreciated members of society - and even heroes no less...

It's to the episode's credit though that while Barclay is ridiculed, there is at least an attempt by his management structure to address his problems. As such it is a fairly sensitive reading of the issue - that Barclay contributes to the solution but that the solution is a team effort shows that the goal of integrating him with his colleagues is a success.

Of course, we also get a lot of fun holodeck scenes - foppish Riker being a particular favourite, along with Troi's reaction to her Goddess of Empathy portrayal - and Picard's wonderfully awkward "Lieutenant Broccoli" moment. 3 stars.
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 6:10am (UTC -5)
This is one of my favorite episodes so far. From the opening scene, to Picard's slip-up, to Geordi, Riker, and Troi walking in on Barclay's fantasy, it was hilarious. Good writing, good acting. Troi was actually useful, and Wes wasn't completely obnoxious. I have nothing to complain about, except I, too, thought they should have been running to Cargo Bay 5 (with only 3.5 mins to destruction) instead of taking a Sunday stroll.

Also, "Haha, he said flux capacitor!"
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 2:13am (UTC -5)
Let me be blunt..

La Forge's behavior early in the episode was completely unprofessional and unsuited for anyone in command. It is unnacceptable for a manager or commander to sit with his subordinate staff and make fun of one of the other staff. A leader will attempt work with everyone; not bully and mock him and throw his arms up in the air in front of the guy's coworkers.

Picard saying Broccoli was a disgrace as well and he never got called out for it. Troi will confront him on all sorts of private thoughts but didn't confront him about that.

This is the 24th century and allegedly humanity has improved. Yet, they treat a guy with mental illness with mockery, scorn, and bully name calling. Just a disgrace all around.

I get the writers did this in the late 80's and were not enlightend, maybe that is why. But this show is supposed to depict our amazing future where we all get along and are not greed and don't make war. A guy with social anxiety or depression should not be made the butt of jokes.

I hate how the senior staff treated this man.
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 10:43am (UTC -5)
Why should Troi call Picard on it?? He was mortified. He's the one who told LaForge to cut it out and slipped his tongue in front of Barclay. What should Troi say? That horrible thing you did that you're mortified about and know was horrible is horrible? I suppose that would at least be in character for her....

Total agreement on the rest of the staff though.
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 12:40pm (UTC -5)

Considering how much danger the Enterprise is in every week, I don't blame La Forge at all for being pissed at Reg. And for his credit, La Forge was extremely kind and patient with Reg after speaking to Picard, even defending his holodeck antics while the other COs reactions came off as livid.
William B
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Additionally, La Forge is NOT a model boss. His social skills are actually not much better than Barclay's, which is part of the point -- Geordi lacks the proper social graces to deal with a socially anxious staff member. Geordi's (undiagnosed) social difficulty mostly does not interfere with his work, but it is also a problem.
William B
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, I meant that Geordi's social difficulties haven't interfered with his *engineering* work, and even much of his command work, as long as those under his command don't require particular finesse. I think that part of Geordi's breakthrough here is to recognize that he and Barclay actually have similar problems. Geordi has successfully prevented his social difficulties from impacting his work until now -- it is mostly only a problem when it comes to romance, where he is terribly racked by uncertainty and fear and cannot set the proper boundaries. When he recognizes that Barclay suffers from this all the time, it's a little easier to see what Barclay is going through.
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Being pissed is one thing... being a commanding officer and making fun of him with his co-workers is very poor. I don't like how the writers did it and I understand I can't expect a script written in the 80's to be as socially understanding towards mental illness and bullying... I am just point it out that an evolved 24th century humanity should have got past that.

They push Barclay further into his holodeck because he knows that everyone in the real world is mocking him and doesn't value him as an officer. They are part of the problem here.
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
And Wesley of all people; with all his quirks and annoyances, should not be making fun of anyone for their social skills.

Just weird writing all around.
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 8:20pm (UTC -5)

I don't think any Star Trek series tells us Barclay is ill; he's just painfully shy. He's also a bit of savant, but his personality is what people have trouble with. And please don't treat him so pitifully, he passed the Star Fleet entrance exam that even Picard failed once. He's clearly very capable when puts his mind to it. I thought that was the point of the episode, at least...
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 9:12am (UTC -5)
^^ Yeah, to show that you can be a bit 'off' and not only contribute to solving a problem or issue you can excel at it ^^.

In some ways I think it was a love letter of sorts to the many legions of people who've watched Trek over the years. That's what I get outta' it at least.
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
What I liked about this episode is that the the villain (or antagonist) becomes the hero. By "villain" I don't suggest that Barclay had any evil intentions, but merely that, in his initially presented role as a screw-up, his presence was detrimental to the crew's function. He somehow managed to accomplish tasks, but not without aggravating his co-workers and commanders. He clearly becomes the hero when the pressure of the dire situation forces him to overcome his shyness and propose the creative idea that leads to the solution.

One point about his holodeck programs: I would have thought that there would be restrictions on who could be created; the computer would be prohibited from making versions of real crew members, out of respect for those crew. It could possibly consider violation by proxy, and as such, would be disallowed.
Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 10:00am (UTC -5)
Picard's akward "Broccoli" mistake was just fantastic - so unexpected and so brilliantly acted by P. Stewart. It's a shame such a great moment was wasted on a forgettable episode like this. Like one of the previous commenters, I found Guinan's flopping hat to be a distraction.

And did it bother anyone else that with minutes to go before the ship explodes, Geordi and Barclay are casually walking instead of running?
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 10:09am (UTC -5)
@ Jor-El,

"And did it bother anyone else that with minutes to go before the ship explodes, Geordi and Barclay are casually walking instead of running?"

To be fair you have to assume such things are an aesthetic and directoral means of showing movement and action in order to create a pace and dynamic for what's being shown. People running 'feels' different from people walking, and so this plays into the scene texture the director wants. If the characters are feeling a sudden emergency (someone's been shot, there's an intruder, the core is breaching, etc.) they tend to show running, while during scenes where they're thinking over a problem the tone is more constructed and somber to show that they are not thinking chaotically. These are all storytelling tools.

If you wanted to be literal and suggest what 'should' really happen then you'd have to just forget most of what happens in Trek and realize that in any emergency people would be constantly beamed all over the place to remove travel time. This would be storytelling death, however, and so the narrative uses travel as a part of the story rather than as means of explaining to you how they're getting from point A on the ship to point B.
Sat, Sep 10, 2016, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Hello hello

It eventually got to be mildly irritating to me when I would see members of the crew walking to the emergency. Beaming point-to-point notwithstanding, if time was of the essence, they would race there, not walk while discussing options with the clock ticking...

Just my take on it... RT
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
I'm just watching random episodes and settled on this one tonight. When this series is in its stride the writing is just so good. While your average TNG episode doesn't tend to evoke powerful emotion like a "Duet" from DS9, at the same time the dialogue is so crisp, the actors so much fun, and the nuance is at times is more important than the larger plot. Here we're introduced to Lt. Barclay, who, rather than merely being presented as the odd man out with 'a problem', is instead fleshed out in very short order and rendered as a very human, and also humorous, character. And I don't mean humorous on account of the gags that Schultz managed to work in; I mean that he's actually funny when you get to know him. And that's amazing, because it feels like we do get to know him, and that we actually have to get to know him before we can judge. And for an episode to pull that off in 20-25 minutes is amazing.

Also amazing to me is how the writing never loses sight of the real issue, which is Barclay's suffering. What might have devolved into making fun of his holodiction instead serves as a vehicle for us to ironically laugh at the rest of the cast. Each of them is made to look foolish in the episode. When the real crew encounters their facsimiles and become outraged they somehow come off looking even more foolish. Riker not only fails to keep his dignity in the face of the clown-Riker, but in fact he succumbs entirely and we can see that the shell of composure the crew can put on that Barclay can't may not be as solid as they would like everyone to think. Even Picard is made to look foolish when he accidentally pronounces "Mr. Broccoli." Guinan herself takes Geordi down a peg when he tries to dismiss Barclay's problems. In an episode about a man who feels small, it's amazing that the writers decided to find a way to show how everyone can feel small if they're out of their comfort zone. The difference is that Barclay is always out of his comfort zone.

Barclay's talk with Geordi in Ten-Forward is especially well done, as the writing homed in on the fact that even what we in the audience see Barclay go through is only a glimpse at his discomfort, and when Geordi claims to get it and Barclay says "you *can't* understand," he's quite right, and is indirectly speaking to the audience as well. We feel entitled to judge him because the show's about him, but he tells us clearly we are not equipped to judge what we don't understand. That's as Trek as notion as I can think of.

Special props to one particular line in the show where even Marina Sirtis missed the double meaning. At the start of Deanna's counseling session with Barclay she asks him "Have you ever been with a counselor before?" The phrasing would be odd except that the line is deliberately awkward in order to allude to the fact that Barclay had clearly been having sex with the various incarnations of Deanna in the holodeck. Rather than merely being random fantasy element, it's fairly clear that he is infatuated, or at least attracted to, her specifically. When you listen to the text of the scene it's easy to realize that the entire scene's tension and Barclay's panic are meant to have been caused by that one line, because in asking whether he's "been" with a counselor before, to which he answers "Yes...well no" it's clear that in his mind he's mixing up fantasy with reality and knows he can't keep it straight well enough to interact with her properly. The rest of the scene, rather than being merely a vaguely nervous scene with a man afraid of counselling, is obviously supposed to be Deanna further and further doing things that the holo-Deanna probably had already done with Barclay, but as romantic preludes - turning down the lights, telling him to close his eyes, etc. It's all ambiguously sexual enough to make Barclay go nuts. By the end we should know exactly why he needs to get the hell out of there, and although the scene is decently funny as it is it should have been drop dead hilarious. The writing certainly is, but both the director and Sirtis missed it. Pity.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that another episode I find myself admiring greatly is one of Cliff Bole's, who apparently could masterfully write for many styles and bring out character nuances few other writers ever did.
William B
Fri, Sep 23, 2016, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Peter, great analysis and I agree that this episode is great. I love the point that the episode finds ways to show how everyone does badly outside their comfort zone, and that for Reg this is all the time (for the moment). Just an aside -- Cliff Bole is the director, not the writer. That his episodes tended to be strong does suggest that while (like most television) Trek is mostly writer-driven, a strong hand behind the camera does add quite a bit.
Peter G.
Fri, Sep 23, 2016, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Crap. You're right, Bole is the director and not the writer. In which case I've inadvertently critiqued his direction of the counselling session instead of praising him. Ah, to hell with it, he's awesome and he did a great job with the episode.
Sun, Oct 2, 2016, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure why people are comparing Barclay's holodeck addiction with Geordi's holodeck fantasies. They're completely different - Geordi invited a real woman into the holodeck with him in "Booby Trap". Later, he was attracted to Leah Brahams but that was not intentional - he was running a simulation and trying to save the ship. By the way, why was every cast member re-created in the holodeck except Worf?
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 3, 2016, 12:22am (UTC -5)
@ David,

"By the way, why was every cast member re-created in the holodeck except Worf?"

Because he is not a merry man.

That was too easy.
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
I love thinking about the creative spark behind this episode. I imagine a bunch of writers, noticing that all the characters are just too damned perfect, decide to explore what happens when an imperfect guy is inserted into the mix. To their credit, they gave him an imperfection that's truly relatable to the world at large, but maybe especially so to many in the ST fan base.

The light touch in the writing is admirable. Barclay is very sympathetic and has a hero turn at the end showing that he's valuable - but because of the comedic slant to the show, I didn't feel clobbered over the head by a message-of-the-week. And the comedy walks the line of having crew members making fun of Barclay a bit, which could be really uncomfortable to see, except that the tables are frequently turned and other crew members are also put in uncomfortable places at times. Especially Riker, who has that cocky thing going, and can only be improved by being occasional cut down to fun-size.

As an aside: This is one of three times I can remember that Guinan has slightly harsh words for Geordi. She shuts him down witheringly when he's badmouthing Ro in the eponymous Ro episode, and she gives him a pretty harsh response in the flesh-and-blood Leah Brahms episode, when he moans to her that Brahms is not acting like his fantasy woman. I don't remember Guinan smacking down any of the other crew members - so it gives the impression that she thinks Geordi's brand of immaturity requires a little tough love.

Or maybe she just plain dislikes him and thinks he's a pain in the ass?
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
About Worf not being duplicated: perhaps Dorn lacks the range needed to play one of Barclay's goofy characters? Dorn is great at playing the serious, put-upon, straight-man, but maybe he doesn't have it in him to play a goofball? The closest I can think of him coming to such a character was the baseball player in DS9, and even that character was relatively serious, if notably less serious than Worf.
Mon, May 1, 2017, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
Barclay has to be one of the most relatable characters for me in Star Trek, I suffer from a similar social anxiety although not as bad as Barclays, so his character relates to me quite well compared to the heroic, outgoing and commanding bridge crew we always see. It's a shame we don't see more of Barclay though considering hes basically a genius underneath despite being restricted by his crippling anxiety.

Also Wesley's being a dick in this episode as usual, not only was it obnoxious to point out the obvious to a Starfleet Academy trained adult with a higher rank and far more experience but Barclay hadn't even finished his sentence and giving him an insulting nickname? I wonder if Wesley would have appreciated being called "Willy Sucker" instead of Wesley Crusher or just see Barclay say at one point "Where's your Dad? Oh wait." and see his expression.
Tue, Jul 4, 2017, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
Definitely a change of pace episode - good to see some human resources issues being dealt with on the Enterprise. Also good to see that someone isn't perfect although the heavy-handed nature exaggerates Barclay's flaws.

It was almost as painful to watch Barkley's discomfort enacted as it must have been for what the character is supposed to be feeling.

I genuinely cracked up when Picard called Barclay Mr. Broccoli. One of the funniest scenes in TNG for sure. And then Data tried to explain the common mistake, Picard gives him one look and shuts him up.

I have to wonder if they have sign-up sheets for holodeck use. I'm surprised anybody can just enter another person's holodeck program. This results in a highly embarrassing situation for Barkley and some entertaining moments.

The episode suffers from heavy technobabble in terms of what causes the acceleration and what the solution is. And of course Barclay has the outside-the-box solution. This part seemed highly contrived in a way to arrive at a happy ending.

I'd rate "Hollow Pursuits" 2.5 stars - a good but not great episode - kind of typical for TNG when it wants to shine a spotlight on a non-sci-fi situation, that of different types of people in the workplace and the issues they may face. Some heavy-handedness, a bit extreme acting but perhaps makes the lesson to keep trying to work with the person suffering the discomfort or mental illness which has become very topical in today's society.
John Hellier
Thu, Jul 27, 2017, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
I do agree that series 3 episodes are sharper and whole character driven and a step forward although I still think series 2 is really undermined I think there was some really good episodes and it was a shame in some respects that it went a bit too far in the current episodes and lost some drama No doubt that the best TNG series were 2 3 and 4and four after that I think it lost it in many respects
Rule 34
Tue, Aug 1, 2017, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
I want Program 34
Wed, Aug 23, 2017, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Sintek : How exactly is Dwight Schultz a wacko, racist, or nutjob??!!
Fri, Sep 15, 2017, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
-3 stars. Somewhere in that range

The episode was decent not great. It was interesting idea for shy introverted people like Barclay taking their daydreaming of being more assertive from one's imagination into the holodeck allowing him to act out what he was too shy and timid to ever do in the real world.

The episode did a good job also of its characterization. Barclay's relating to Geordi in Ten Forward on what it's like to be a shy person in social settings was spot on.

The jeopardy plot with ship malfunctioning generated genuine suspense and tension

I do question though the right of the crew to enter barclay's private program. To me that's an invasion of his privacy

And Wesley starting the nickname for Barclay was a very poor reflection on his character. And one would think him being a smart kid that he'd have been victim of such things himself.
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 4:07am (UTC -5)
Oddly enough this may be my favorite Next Generation episode. I empathize with the character quite a bit, though he's the most exaggerated version of my own insecurities I could imagine. I actually like all of the writing in this episode including the jeopardy plot but really it's the character that makes me love this (and every Barclay episode).
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Barclay is a great character.
Although written as just painfully shy I wonder whether Dwight Shulz was trying to suggest someone on the low end of the autistic spectrum.
Anyway his awkward interactions in the early scenes permit us to see what an utter thug and bully Riker is-grabbing his arm in the cargo bay and threatening him.
In the modern workplace Riker would be suspended for that.
If the stone age commander got away with that his sexist behaviour later in the holodeck would get him the sack for sure.
Did I say that Riker is my least favourite TNG character?
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
"Although written as just painfully shy I wonder whether Dwight Shulz was trying to suggest someone on the low end of the autistic spectrum."

Funny, I mentioned Barclay's character as a comparison to Tilly in another thread. Still, I'm not sure it's autism, as there could be many social anxiety disorders that could explain Barclay's condition. Or maybe he's just a quirky guy.
Fri, Nov 24, 2017, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
This one gets three stars if only for the depiction of Wesley as Blueboy
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 12:49am (UTC -5)
@Borusa: Starfleet is akin to the military, not a private company workplace. Therefore, it is not out of place for Riker to forcibly grab Barclay's arm and reprimand him. And Riker has every reason to express displeasure at Barclay's level of performance.

@PeteTongLaw: you're right, it is unfortunate that the engineering staff is depicted as all men and wouldn't be cast that way nowadays but interestingly this was already a step back for TNG because the first season depicted a female chief engineer in only the second episode, and the second season featured Ensign Sonya Gomez prominently in a couple of episodes as part of Geordi's staff and she was intended to be a reoccurring character. At least by 1995 we had a main cast chief engineer with B'Elanna Torres on Voyager.

Yes, it was dickish of Wesley to also be a bully to Barclay when his character is the type that in the real world would also be made fun of for being a know it all child prodigy but it also makes sense in a way because it's not uncommon for those that want to fit in and be accepted to follow group think even if it's something negative like bullying another person. Wesley probably just wanted to be part of the group and be in on the joke though it was nasty. That rang true to me.

Anyway, this was a good, entertaining episode that is also thoughtful for one, addressing the issues of holodeck use privacy and the recreating of actual people to use however you want, and two) portraying a less than standard heroic Starfleet officer type who is socially awkward and struggling to fit in. That struggle and the efforts of his shipmates to reach out in various methods was really fascinating to watch. The Ron Jones conducted orchestration was excellent work. Same with the costuming. The humor was so good and you can tell the actors are just having so much fun playing their holodeck counterparts. Barclay is also an interesting complex character and Dwight Schultz really brought him to life. I also enjoyed the misdirection at the end of the episode that you think the character is leaving the episode for good and I remember the first time watching as a kid thinking how disappointing after really enjoying this unique character and then being delighted that it was just another holodeck re-creation. The save the ship dilemma did feel forced but I did at least like the reasoning and deduction used to figure out the solution. The one thing that I've never liked at all and I've never seen pointed out by anyone else is the lame end of Act One/cut to commercial when the officer's drinking glass has a leak in it and the officers in Ten Forward make this huge dramatic deal over it and the music swells ominously. I mean c'mon, your glass springs a leak and then the mood of the episode is supposed to become grim and dangerous and the audience is supposed to go "Oh no!" It was a bit over the top. I guess the writers couldn't figure out a smoother way for an act break. But still overall, very good episode. Also, reading these comments was the first I've ever heard of Schultz being some kind of nutjob which would be shocking if true. In fact, the guy wanted to do Star Trek and got connected with the role on the show because he worked with Whoopi Goldberg on the movie "A Long Walk Home" and asked her if he could get on the series. Fun fact!
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Correction: Dennis McCarthy did the wonderful score.
Tue, Jan 23, 2018, 5:30am (UTC -5)
I think Worf wasn't included in Barclay's holodeck recreations because Barclay didn't interact with Worf in the real world, so he had no need to do so in the holodeck.

I also think Wesley was just being a normal kid in making up the "Broccoli" nickname - right or wrong, it's what kids do (and not only kids, actually).

Every time I watch this one and hear Barclay say "you CAN'T understand..." boy, can I relate. I was that shy, awkward person most of my early life.

LOVE the quick reverse of sense of humor when Riker and Troi see the Goddess of Empathy!
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Interesting episode, although I find the scenes in holodeck embarrassing. Should there not be some protection built in;-) .

Lt Barclay is a quite recognisable person. I guess many of us can find some similarities. What I really like is that Picard really recognises the problem and does not try the simple solution. Geordi does not like the task but takes it on seriously and realises that it is ok and that her also appreciates the qualities of Lt Barclay.

Yes, young Crusher is a self important man who compensates his young age , and also lack of mature social abilities, with a small bullying tendency. But also here, although I do not like his personality, he does also contribute.

People are different and it is mostly a good diversity of a team that makes it successful.
Sean Hagins
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
@PeteTongLaw: THAT's what you took from this episode???

I really liked this one! Sadly, in real life, people would probably use the holodeck for much more perverse and immoral pursuits. But still, in a good family show like this, it shows the dangers of addiction. It actually reminds me of the way many are addicted to their phones and other devices today!

I was never shy, but I had friends who were. It's amazing to me how they change from "normal" when they are around me and other close friends, to completely quiet when around others! But we all have different imperfections and insecurities. I feel for Barclay and am glad he made progress
Peter Swinkels
Thu, Apr 5, 2018, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
Nice episode with some very funny moments and nice bits of psychology. Nitpick: why didn’t they remove those canisters from antigravity sled before testing it?
Cody B
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 4:43am (UTC -5)
Loved it. One of the highlights of S3 for me. I don’t know why a lot of people seem to hate holodeck episodes. I love them. Can’t get enough.
Peter H
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 4:52am (UTC -5)
The more I rewatch this show the more I feel that it's straightjacketed by its genre conventions, which sacrifice interesting drama for rote ship / crew in peril action.

I was really enjoying this episode right up until the point that the technobabble problem and subsequent solution revealed itself. Past that point I just switched off and started playing with my phone, waiting for the episode to come to its inevitable conclusion.

I know this show can do better, and it's great when A and B stories successfully meet, but this was not one of those times.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Wed, May 9, 2018, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
Impressed me more in 2018 than in the 20th century.

I think the issues of technology addiction and how socially awkward people are treated are more in the forefront now, so I appreciate the handling of them.

And I love when Picard puts the onus on Geordi to address the issue.
Fri, Jun 15, 2018, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Social outcast who is mercilessly picked on by the crew exacts his revenge holodeck style.
Oh, and he saves the ship too.
5 stars
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
A lot of people commenting on the privacy issue but every time someone went into Barclay’s holodeck program, he was supposed to be working. Both Dereliction of duty and being AWOL can be court martial offenses.

Instead of personally getting him, his commanding officers could had just sent security personnel to drag his butt to the brig pending disciplinary measures that could have included rank reduction, confinement or getting kicked out of star fleet. He was basically a wanted criminal when Geordi and Riker went looking for him. He didn’t have any right to privacy at that point.
Roger W Norris
Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
If you think wild things are going on on the Enterprises 'holodeck, check out Quarks! There should be an easier solution to the energy problem, though. Matter and antimatter meet to create energy. One of those streams won't cut off, creating the problem. Just cut off the matter stream! There will be nothing to mix, and no energy! Will that leave a bunch of dangerous antimatter floating around? I don't know. But it sounds much easier. Unfortunately, that would get rid of a good part of the show.
Prince of Space
Mon, Jul 23, 2018, 4:02am (UTC -5)
@Sintek (June 7, 2013): Your comment is so preposterous that I think I see why you like Star Trek. You need a comfy and safe world where disagreements are only of the most minor significance. Everyone in Jammer’s site that has read your comment is now dumber for it. May Q have mercy on your soul.

@Corey (July 9, 2013): Because this is the 2000’s, we have social media now. One no longer has to even consider any other views. Friend the ones that agree, block the ones that don’t. Voila! Your worldview has 24/7 validation and woe be to the fools that don’t step in line.

@SkepticalMI (February 6, 2014): Agreed. It’s spooky the ease with which people will read a blurb on their website of agreeing choice, and with little to no research just adopt what they’ve been spoon-fed as the gospel truth. Worse is how they’ll regurgitate it with dripping vitriol in a crusade to bolster their ideology. As if it’s like rooting for a sports team or something. It’s mind-boggling that the advent of such amazing technology and access to information has served only to make many more ignorant.

@213karaokejoe (June 15, 2014 x 2): Without a doubt, the floppy hat is chuckle-worthy. So is your comment, “As a school teacher, I’m trained to see that angle.” Alright, settle down Agent 213... 007 is still on the job, we’ll call you if needed. ;-)

@Dave (February 22, 2016): That was definitely pretty blunt. A tad bit over-the-top, but very nicely blunt. Consider decaf.

@RandomThoughts (September 10, 2016): Most definitely. ANY time there’s an emergency I chuckle at the fact that instead of just beaming there, they “hurriedly” go through the corridors, take turbo-lifts, stop and make small-talk... I get that the beaming special effects can probably be costly, but at least make them RUN. haha... oh well, what are ya gonna do. It’s Star Trek, and even with all its quirks I love it.

@Sean (November 10, 2017): Agreed. Barclay kinda makes the episode as he also seems like a huge magnifying glass on my own real (or perceived) shortcomings.

@CodyB (Not that far up there, scroll up ya lazy chowderheads!): Same here! Some of my most favorite episodes involve the holodecks. But you know how the *true* Star Trek fans can get about them... so it’s best not to poke them and make them venture forth from their enlightened hovels. ;-)

@Roger W Norris (Right above): Any relation to Chuck? OK... that was lame. Lemme try again. Um... your idea to cut off the matter stream seems perfectly logical. Nicely done, and I’m proud to take over the most recent comment on this episode from you, sir. *salute*
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 1:54am (UTC -5)
Just re-watched this, and found myself rewinding and rewatching the 'musketeers' scene just for Picards 'HA'. Utterly brilliant. A great episode? Most definitely.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:14am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Prince of Space

Thanks for the comment. I was just watching "The Hunted" with my Wife the other night, and decided not to say "They are walking to the emergency", as Worf and a crewman were in no particular hurry to get to the escapee. It would have broken her immersion, and I'm having a hard time getting her to like the show anyway. :)

Regards... RT
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode. How refreshing to not have the superhuman bland crew for once. Hurray for Guinan for speaking up for Reg.
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
This episode has aged really well.

We get some good Guinan scenes, Troi is used well, the comedy is great, the holodeck scenes are witty/funny, and Picard's management skills are showcased to good effect - he brings the awkward Barclay into the fold - though this requires the contrivance of Georgie and Riker becoming heartless, tactless brutes for an episode.

And while the episode degenerates into another "forced action climax", it's an interesting one, and for once the engineering team seem like actual engineers working sequentially through a tough problem.

With the rise of virtual realities, machine learning AIs, smart phones and face swapping and deep faking technology, TNG also seems quite prescient about tech addiction. With this episode and The Game, you have some of the most chaste, innocuous, but pin-point precise science fiction tales about modern techno-sexual fantasies/fetishes/addictions.
Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 10:33pm (UTC -5)
A well done episode for the most part - the last part, full of technobabble as they try to figure out what's wrong, was kind of tedious. The plot line was weak - definitely a character-driven episode.

Schultz does a good job as the hapless Barclay, and Sirtis is excellent and amusing as the various versions of Troi (goddess of empathy!).

I think the ep might be drawing parallels between the way the invidium was being spread around the ship causing damage, and the way rumors and name calling (Broccoli) was being spread around the ship, causing damage.

Contact with others, can be good or bad, depending on what they're "spreading."

I loved tiny Riker with his short little sword.

Lots of nice little touches. Enjoyable ep overall.
Peter G.
Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 11:56pm (UTC -5)
@ Springy,

"I think the ep might be drawing parallels between the way the invidium was being spread around the ship causing damage, and the way rumors and name calling (Broccoli) was being spread around the ship, causing damage."

Yes, I think that's right. The engineers couldn't figure out the problem because they were looking for something wrong with the ship; but it was the crew that was spreading it. Likewise, I think we're supposed to understand that when looking at someone like Barclay we're thinking there's something wrong with him, whereas in reality the problem is with the crew. He's only weird because they're put off by someone like him; if they were somehow more understanding of his issues he would no doubt be a lot better off.

Now to an extent this may seem a bit pat, because yes, someone with anxiety issues like he does really does have to also learn on his own how to address them, but I think the issue is less whose fault it is and more that what might be a minor setback in life turns into a catastrophic obstacle that risks turning into an addiction problem for him. In real life it would be pills or alcohol instead of the holodeck. If they're saying what I think they're saying, it's that it's everyone's job to avoid spreading anxiety around if someone different is present, and I'm down with that.
William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -5)
The reveal that it was a person who was the root of the plot problem and not the tech also suggests that at the root of Reg's holodiction is interpersonal problems, not the holodeck tech itself. (More generally, it's generally not the chemical effects of the drug that are the root of the problem, but the usually-social problems that cause a person to take it in the first place.)
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 10:45am (UTC -5)
@Peter G, @William B

Good thinky thoughts.

Of interest, the definition of invidious:

"Calculated to create ill will or resentment or give offense; hateful: invidious remarks. "

Our harmful compound is invidium.
William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
@Springy, great catch on invidium!
James G
Mon, Jan 27, 2020, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Brilliant episode, this one. Very clever. A really terrific performance by Dwight Schultz.

The only complaint for me is that the drama and suspense at the end relies on a tried and tested formula; the 'ship in grave peril with only minutes to find a technical solution' chestnut. Apart from that this episode is a welcome and original diversion from the usual tropes. Some strong humour, as well.

I hadn't seen this one for many years and was watching the scene where Riker, Troi and Geordi turn up on the holodeck through my fingers. I was half expecting them to find the holographc Deanna with her underwear round her ankles, up against a tree.
Wed, Mar 11, 2020, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
Can't understand all the nitpicking for such a great episode. You can tell a lot of care went into this one.

Funny thing is, the first-run trailer gave you absolutely no clue as to the real focus of the episode. (Check it out on Youtube.) Upon seeing this trailer, the plot seemed lame and I even thought about skipping Next Gen. for the week. As luck would have it, I just happened to be in front of the TV when this debuted and was blown away.

Barclay's depiction cut a little too close to home for this awkwardly shy high school student. Great acting and writing. Thought the disaster plot line was very necessary for the story. Genuinely surprised by the cause of the malfunctions and by Barclay's theory which proved to be true. Even that last scene had tricked me. Thought the episode was ending by having Barclay leave the Enterprise (going the way of so many one-off guest characters) when in fact, he was just leaving his fantasy world.

When this one comes up in reruns, I always stop and watch and think fondly of those first run viewing memories from my high school years.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
The lack of privacy protocols for the holodeck doesn't surprise or bother me in any way because as depicted on the show, it's still quite new and relatively unexplored technology. Remember that in Encounter at Farpoint and Code of Honor it was limited to simple landscapes and "soulless" defense training. In The Big Goodbye Troi mentions to Picard "you've been looking forward to the upgrade of the holodeck" where we get people with actual characters. The Bynars upgrade it again shortly thereafter in 1100100 to create Minuet, which may or may not have culminated in the computer's ability to create Moriarty in Elementary Dear Data.

So it's not until the last year or two (in-universe) that the holodeck has even been able to replicate people in any meaningful way, as far as we know. Yes there's some of Gene's "evolved humanity" nonsense on display here as none of the rest of the crew had ever conceived of using the holodeck in the way Barclay has, but doesn't that explain why they wouldn't think to put any sort of privacy protocols in place? It's not until several years later in DS9 and Voyager that they mention such things, so it's likely the Federation has been scrambling to catch up with a quickly evolving technology. It's not unlike the similar struggle to define the rights of artificial intelligence we see with Data and later the Doctor in Voyager, except the legal ramifications of holodeck use just aren't worth dedicating any screen time to.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
Oh one other thing. Simply turning off the matter stream to the warp core wouldn't work because as suggested, it would leave an ever increasing pool of antimatter in the middle of the warp core. The fuels are deuterium and anti-deuterium stored near absolute zero to stay in liquid form, and they're essentially squirted from the top and bottom of the warp core into the reaction chamber at Main Engineering level where they annihilate each other and the energy is shot out the back as plasma to the warp nacelles. The warp core itself is basically a tube of magnetic rings that keeps the antimatter from touching anything, because it will still react with any matter it touches. So if you shut off the matter stream but the antimatter stream kept going, then it would just fill up the warp core until there was too much for the magnetic constrictors to resist and some of it would touch the inside of the core and boom.
Tue, May 19, 2020, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Lovely to see this again, in my covid 19 lockdown inspired voyage through long past StarTreck. It's a great episode and Barclay has long been one of my favourite characters.

One gem I'd forgotten was Data's incisive intervention when he shut down the Brocolli infection and the "just joking" excuse for it by analysing them. That's how to do it, a far more effective way of countering that kind of talking and acting than by denouncing them as being offensive.

And I liked the way he reacted to Picard mis-speak of "Brocolli" - treating it as a matter of language rather than attitude.

In some ways Data could be an excellent Ship's Counsellor than Troi. (So would Guynan of course, and in practice that's what she is. I liked the floppy hat - it looked like a halo, making he some kind of resident Angel on the Enterprise.)
Jason R.
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
I have a hypothesis about why Worf isn't included in the fantasies. Barclay recreates people in the holodeck who threaten or stress him in the real world. But Worf wouldn't be threatening or discomforting to a person like Barclay at all. Worf is a loner who devotes himself to duty. Worf has no potential to Barclay as a friend or a mate and is always purely professional, so there is no social dimension there.

Having experienced some of the issues Barclay did I know I would have been far more comfortable around someone like Worf - a pure professional - than with a clique of colleagues who are also friends - not to mention beautiful women like Deanna.

Then again Data and Picard areincluded in the fantasy so maybe I am off base.

By the way regarding the illegality of walking in on a holodeck program keep in mind this isn't a civilian installation like Quark's bar - this is a Starfleet vessel, basically a military installation and Barclay is an officer. And even then no one walks in on this lightly - Barclay is late for a shift and in one case there is a shipboard emergency.

The Picard broccoli scene is such gold - it's this awkward moment that just goes on a little too long. Just perfect.
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
"The Picard broccoli scene is such gold"
Seeing Picard having an out of body experience. It's a treat.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Part of me absolutely despises Barclay but to be honest it's probably because he reminds me of who I was when I was younger. I still have trouble with people and get a bit too involved in escapism but I'm not Barclay bad.

When Picard says mr. Broccoli and the smile just melts off his face is the realest moment I've seen in Trek. I could *feel* it in my stomach. Great scene, it made me physically ill.
Sat, Mar 20, 2021, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
This episode fills me with so much rage.

The idea of Barclay is awesome. FINALLY someone who isn't just the best at their job 24x7. But because this is TNG we can't have that expressed through nuance or evident over time we have to have a giant, bumbling, nervous mess of a man whose inability to properly express something as simple as the results of a test to his engineering peers would render him a completely unacceptable candidate for a menial posting let alone the FLAGSHIP.

That and three of the bridge crew casually flipping through his browser history and judging him for it. Are you seriously going to try to convince me that Riker doesn't just absolutely coat that holodeck with bearded sperms every time he goes in there? To just casually waltz into someone's private fantasy time and then judge them for it - it makes me so mad, fellas.

No, seriously. I mostly joke around about this show making me mad but this episode makes me want to call the police to press charges against the writers.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
"This episode fills me with so much rage."

Do keep the time period this was made in mind. In 1990 the internet as we know it today had only been launched a year prior, and most people didn't even have computers at the time, let alone internet access. So things like "browser history" and "online privacy" and such were completely unheard of at the time. I give the writers a pass.

I do agree that Barclay's portrayal is awfully ham-fisted. He gets better in later episodes, but we don't need him to be a bumbling fool to see that.
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
I don’t think it’s fair to say they were looking through his browser history. It is fair to criticize them for just barging into Barclay’s private holodeck time. Seriously, do these people not know how to knock on a door? Or use a doorbell? They do it every time they want to enter the Ready Room or someone’s quarters.

Or are the writers saying it was okay to just storm in because Riker was upset at Barclay for being late for work? If so, would it be okay for Riker to just push his way into Barclay’s quarters if that is where he happened to be instead? Of course it wouldn’t. On the other hand - seriously Reg, lock the freaking door! Or do the holodeck doors not have locks? If not, why (in the name of God!) don’t they?

That’s what angers me about this set-up. The writers didn’t put much thought into it and so Riker ends up coming across as a bully who disrespects other people’s private lives. But then, it’s not even a problem with just this episode. How many times (in TNG, DS9, and VOY) do people just enter someone else’s holo-program without permission? I can see how other fans find it aggravating.
William B
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
IMO the issue is that holodecks are not treated as private spaces at this point in TNG. If Reg was in Ten-Forward instead of at work, would anyone criticize Riker for barging in to look for him? OK, so people probably book holodeck time in advance usually. 1. Barclay probably doesn't do so in this case, because he's supposed to be at work; 2. if Barclay reserved a seat at a restaurant or mini-golf course or library or Mott's barber shop or something on the ship, Riker barging in would still not seem inappropriate, again keeping in mind that he's supposed to be at his job and it's a tiny community of just over a thousand which is also a Starfleet vessel. As far as whether the holodecks should be private, that's maybe a different matter, but the technology is still in its relative infancy (they're new as of "Encounter at Farpoint"), and so that they haven't developed norms around expectation of privacy in what is essentially a tech/service publicly available to the crew and civilians onboard isn't surprising to me.

Finally, at this point that holodecks could be used for, er, non-wholesome reasons (not counting holodeck malfunctions) hasn't really been explored much, to my recollection. It seems to be mostly for doing PG holonovels, various planet settings, stand-up comedy practice, combat training, engineering help from designers, etc. Worf and K'Ehleyr used it for sex but that seems to have been more an impulsive Klingon drives thing than an indication that it's assumed in general that people are going to be doing things that need privacy. And again, I'm not saying that people shouldn't have a right to privacy, but some places in our society -- shops, libraries, restaurants, etc. -- are largely public and there isn't an expectation of privacy. I think the crew treats the holodeck like a kind of reading room in a library, or a study room at a college or something. Perhaps as people get more used to the holodeck and the awareness that it is likely to be used for things people would rather keep to themselves the norms will modify, or people will make explicit petitions to have rules in place to protect their privacy, but I think it's just that new technology often doesn't automatically come with a set of fully-worked-out codes of conduct that match the codes that will eventually develop.

Regarding the over-the-top portrayal of Barclay, we know that he got along better with his last crew, so the issue seems to be that something went wrong early on between Barclay and the others, and then his nervousness compounded the issue, and this made the crew start to treat him badly, which made him more nervous, creating a cycle that we are now walking in on a fair amount in. Yes yes, by the 24th century people should be past lots of things, but I think the basic dynamic is very familiar to me and I've seen similar things happen to people (in fact, I've seen worse), and I think we are seeing Barclay at a low point after things have progressively worsened.
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
I subscribe to William B's interpretation of the holodeck as a public/common space. Perhaps they can be reserved, like a pavilion at a public park (especially if you're the captain or other high-ranking officer), but that's probably not always the case, like here, where Barclay is supposed to be on duty. Perhaps this is also why DS9 called it a "holosuite" rather than a "holodeck," to indicate a more private space.
Peter G.
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
I think it's also reasonable to remember that these are military officers, and Barclay has failed to report for duty. Under such conditions, I expect that when ignoring the comms is happening all person privileges are waived and a senior officer is fully within his rights to barge in anywhere to retrieve the wayward crew member. And especially being an officer, Barclay is pretty far out of line. I doubt that even in the future peacekeeping military a senior officer needs to knock politely when a junior officer is awol. It's more like Barclay is lucky he didn't get in bigger trouble.

Now since we know Barclay a bit already we are (I think) rooting for him, but all the same I wouldn't expect his privileges (of which privacy is one) to remain in effect while missing from his post. Kirk would have been even more cross than Riker if Sulu was off playing games instead of at his post on the bridge.
Daniel B
Fri, Mar 26, 2021, 10:16am (UTC -5)
"But I do like the way the engineering team swiftly deconstructs the problem with simple logic to find the solution. These are smart people working a problem intelligently."

Yes (although it was weird for a show like Star Trek that the engineering team was 6 white dudes) - it makes sense to have a highly-qualified staff working together to solve a problem.

Unfortunately it makes all the other times when Geordi and/or Data has to work out a difficult technical solution all on his own. Where did all the other engineers and scientists go when Geordi had to call up Holobrahms for assistance instead?
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 26, 2021, 10:26am (UTC -5)
"although it was weird for a show like Star Trek that the engineering team was 6 white dudes"

I don't think casting directors in the 80's were all that focused on hiring with diversity as an overt goal. It's arguable that given the mission statement of the show they had the opportunity to be ahead of the game in that respect, but it's hardly "weird" that they didn't. We are talking about a business, after all, and they no doubt did their weekly casting in the standard manner. And I think you're doing TNG a disservice to mention this point, in light of the fact that the *head* of this engineering team is not a white dude. Geordi may be a minority numerically, but his position says a lot.

"Unfortunately it makes all the other times when Geordi and/or Data has to work out a difficult technical solution all on his own. Where did all the other engineers and scientists go when Geordi had to call up Holobrahms for assistance instead?"

This is a budgeting issue primarily.
Dave in MN
Fri, Mar 26, 2021, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
I'm getting a little tired of seeing comments that reduce people to their skin color ("6 white dudes").

If you're that fixated on race, YOU'VE got a problem.
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 11:54am (UTC -5)
So when people were pointing out that there were only heterosexuals on TNG they were actually heterophobic?!
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Isn't Geordi the Chief Engineer? He's both African American AND blind.

Some people just want something to complain about.
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
"Isn't Geordi the Chief Engineer? He's both African American AND blind."
In season 2. Before that it was LT. Cmdr. Argyle. Poor Geordie only started as a LT. junior grade, as did Worf. Like with Sisko starting as commander. I think there was some bigotry going on.

"Some people just want something to complain about."
so true. :)
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Now I'm reading a little on memory alpha.
Dorn was hired because "Dorn's stage training, as well his lack of a "street accent", were some of the factors which led to Dorn securing the role."

Burton, in the original writer/director guide:"His "specialty" aboard the Enterprise was the "starship school for children"."

Another thing.
it was also Gerrold who thought up the idea that Geordi La Forge be a black man. "I suggested that we didn't have any black people on the ship in terms of our regular characters,..."
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
In Season 1, there was also a middle-aged female Chief Engineer.

Let's not erase facts to create some kind of retroactive Trek-is-ignorant narrative.
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
Argyle, MacDougal. I guess it had to be scottish.
"Let's not erase facts to create some kind of retroactive Trek-is-ignorant narrative."
She was white, though. I'm not arguing that it was ignorant. Just a little too monochromatic to be called groundbreaking. TOS was. DS9 was too.
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
TNG had two black people in the main cast. It also had Guinan as a recurring character. There were also recurring Asian characters Alyssa Ogawa, Keiko (and Molly) O'Brien and Admiral Nakamura. There was plenty of diverse representation with the show's casting, much more so than most contemporary programs of the same time period.
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
I’m reminded of a quote from the 1987 movie “Overboard” with Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn. I’m starting to think that because of all the nonsensical lock-downs and Corona restrictions some people around here are.... “so god-damn bored you got to invent things to bitch about”.
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
A more relevant question to me is how different would the racial representation of TNG be from your average American military unit? I don't imagine it would be that different, though I could be wrong. If the show really wanted to be forward thinking it would have included ethnicities not known for participation in the late 20th century US military, and showed them fitting in perfectly.

TOS did more (for its time) by including a Russian at a time when collaboration would have been unthinkable, giving us a sense of a united future Earth.
Sun, Mar 28, 2021, 2:58am (UTC -5)
They course corrected after season one in several aspects. I don't know the two other women but Keiko for some reason became the most hated character on Star Trek. Also Ogawa, Nakamura and Keiko are all Japanese. I guess Indians and Chinese all died in WW3. :)

Oh I have serious Corona brain. In Germ any we are in lockdown for month now, messed up the vaccination so badly that the conservatives will be wiped out next election. One should mention though that German conservatives are very different from American conservatives. They would be leftist in many ways in the US. I guess the social democrats (junior partner) would be communists and the left party would be so left Americans wouldn't have a name for it.

A more than 100 planets spanning galactic Federation should be a little bit more diverse than a US military unit or even earth. I agree with the rest of your points.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
This was a fun episode. Some of Barclay's holo programmes were interesting to say the least. I do wonder as to how many of the crew had a "Counsellor Troi" programme. It does bring up the case of privacy in terms of people just being able to walk in on your holodeck time. I get that Barclay had not turned up to a pre-arranged meeting though.

Would have taught them a lesson had they walked in on him running a simulation of the engineering problem with holographic simulations of Albert Einstein, Spock and Data.

I mean what was to have prevented them from walking in on the guy in the middle of a Menage a Trois with two holographic Trois?

Good episode overall and good introduction of the Barclay character. I fully agreed with Picard and Geordi about the nicknames of him would stop immediately. To me that was the one thing that seemed odd since humans were meant to be above such petty snide behaviour - especially STARFLEET OFFICERS. If Riker was doing that, he should be dismissed as well. That's basically bullying. And Picard was ultimately right. Barclay did go on to prove himself a most able and capable Starfleet officer as per later episodes (even if we don't include Voyager). Had Picard actually not encouraged this, one wonders what would have become of the poor chap. Though I guess he had a career in holographic novels.
Chief O'Brien
Tue, May 25, 2021, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Why is everyone going off on the lack of a lock on the holodeck? There's only like 6 of these on the entire Enterprise. It's not meant to be a private fantasy experience - it's a commonly-shared resource. Just like you wouldn't want some relieving themselves in a public pool. I'm sure their private quarters can be locked for their more intimate pursuits.
Frake's Nightmare
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
Which 'lee' do you prefer ? The Bark or the Wes?
Sun, Jun 13, 2021, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
The Bark.

This episode has a proper Wesley moment, but by this point, the writers are aware and doing it deliberately.

It's not just that Wesley was first season insufferable, he was downright rude.
Prince of Space
Sat, Jul 3, 2021, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

“ I'm getting a little tired of seeing comments that reduce people to their skin color ("6 white dudes").

If you're that fixated on race, YOU'VE got a problem.”


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