Star Trek: The Next Generation

“A Fistful of Datas”

2 stars.

Air date: 11/9/1992
Teleplay by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Brannon Braga
Story by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Patrick Stewart

Review Text

When the crew finds they have some spare time on their hands, they take on some personal projects and diversions. Data and Geordi (ever the nerds, even in their free time — says the guy writing a Star Trek review) try an experiment where Data hooks himself into the ship's computer to increase efficiencies. Meanwhile, Worf gets dragged to the holodeck by his son to role-play in the Old West (or the "Ancient West," as this episode calls it). I wonder if these two threads will become connected somehow...?

Well, of course, yes. A malfunction scrambles the Data/computer transmission, and bits of Data's brain end up as manifestations in Alexander's holodeck program — with the safety mechanisms disabled, of course. (Yes, it's the latest take on the "holodeck goes awry" trope.) This plot is a naked excuse for TNG to get dressed up and play western. I have no problem with that in theory, but as westerns go, "A Fistful of Datas" is shockingly lifeless, bloodless, and joyless. (Back to the Future Part III seems to take a lot of flak as sci-fi western comedies go, but I enjoyed it, which stands in stark contrast to this.)

This show is underwritten and underplayed and the production is shot on an Old West backlot that feels completely deserted. What could've and should've been a rip-roaring good time instead comes across as the walking dead. TNG's pace has always been somewhat talky and deliberate, and that works when TNG is being TNG. But to adopt that same stolid sensibility in the Old West proves fatal here. (Honestly, "Rascals" was better paced.) The result is an hour that feels like it was constructed by aliens who had watched a few westerns and then stitched together some of their clichés into, well, a holodeck program. They play the notes, but that doesn't make it music. (Jay Chattaway's western-themed score works, though.)

Probably the best part of the show is, not surprisingly, Brent Spiner. The real Data finds pieces of the holodeck program spilling back into his brain, making him use Old West colloquialisms. Not exactly the cleverest joke ever, but Spiner nails it. The same cannot be said of sheriff-star-brandishin' Worf, boot-wearin' Troi, or lame-and-simple Alexander — none of whom sell much of anything except a substitute for Ambien amid a pointless plot. The writing overall is too restrained (aside from a Data-in-drag gag that simply misfires instead), and Patrick Stewart's leaden direction is unfortunately of little help. This episode is a head-scratcher. At least the Enterprise sails into the sunset at the end.

Previous episode: Rascals
Next episode: The Quality of Life

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80 comments on this post

    I'd give this 2.5 stars--it is okay not great. It starts off a little slow until the malfunction threat sets in then I thought it was entertaining enough for a hostage/western/action piece. Brent Spiner can do menacing quite well and I liked Worf's trick of using forcefields to briefly deflect bullets.

    And whenthis aired I wasn't tired of holodeck gone wrong stories so I give this a pass and I loved Brent as the female at the end.

    Two stars seems about right for this one although I did get a kick out of Troi's "mysterious stranger" role -- and Spiner, of course, was obviously having a lot of fun. (Perhaps a little *too* much fun!)

    And this is not worthy of the 3 stars you gave the similarly-themed & similarly-contrived "Our Man Bashir" because.....?

    Because "Our Man Bashir" was a zippy and fun parody of cliches, while "Fistful of Datas" was a plodding and lifeless regurgitation of them. Did you not read my reviews?

    Similarly themed and similarly contrived does not equal similarly enjoyable.


    The best riposte to the criticism of the rating given to this vs 'Our Man Bashir' -show me the liine to equal:

    'Kiss the Girl, get the key - they didn't teach us that in the Obsidian Order!'

    Counter pose any line delivered by Alexander or Spiner's horrendously hokey delivery of his lines within the holodeck simulation.

    2 stars about right for this one- the crying shame is it had real potential but they bodged it by putting Troi in, and there aren't many Alexander episodes that do much for me. Arguably he highlight (other than the scenes with Data in engineering) was Worf playing the holodeck simulation and beating seven bells out of the 'Non-data' holodeck characters in the bar. Unfortunately after that, it's downhill all the way!

    I totally agree with the review. Weirly enough, the highlight of the show for me was Riker reiterating Data's "Ode to Spot" from 3 episodes ago. I loved his amused look (could have been more obvious though) before starting to read it. Any trekkie loves a continuity gag.

    Geordi and Data do indeed have nerdy pastimes. Jammer, if you haven't checked out the tng_s8 Twitter account, it's highly entertaining. It's full of joke synopses of the fictional Season 8 of TNG, and Geordi and Data always seem to end up in nerdy and childlike subplots.

    "Because "Our Man Bashir" was a zippy and fun parody of cliches, while "Fistful of Datas" was a plodding and lifeless regurgitation of them."

    WTF-ever, dude! This episode ROCKED!!!

    "Red Dwarf" did the 'season 6 western episode' much better ;)

    lol @ TMLS - I watched that the other night. Has some very dodgy acting in it... Mind you most of them did.

    Never been a huge fan of themed episodes. Always seems to be a lazy idea.

    'What can we do this week?'
    'Lets do a Western!'

    Most Holodeck episodes drive me mad. This is no exception. Not helped by the fact I don't really like Western's bar a few classics. Django Unchained looks like fun though.

    Well, it wasn't great, but I learnt that 'reckon' is seen as a Western word, I had to google it, to work out why they thought Data saying it was odd. I reckon, I use that word loads!

    I think this is about the time TNG started to show its age (even if it could still be very good at times).

    The sixth and seventh seasons really change the character dynamics of the show. Riker is used a a supporting character (sort of like Scotty in the original series). Geordi and Beverly both get some episodes, but they're also forgotten or barely mentioned in others.

    Troi is given more to do, which is sad, because Marina Sirtis is such a weak actor. Worf is put in a lot of episodes but not to much effect. This show, the Troi love arc and others pale in comparison to the Klingon-centric shows.

    The best episodes over the final two years are Picard stories or Picard centric (Tapestry, AGT, the Chase). Even some of the Data stuff falls flat (Descent, Part 2, Thine Own Self, Birthright, Masks, etc.).

    I know early TNG is pretty bad, but late TNG isn't that great either (though it has higher highs). The sixth and especially the seventh season have a lot of boring or failed high-concept episodes or character shows that don't work.

    I love TNG and grew up on it, but the late-series episodes often fall flat. I'll be interested to read Jammer's take on that.

    I hate the holodeck malfunction cliche in Trek (should have been done no more than 2 times, maybe 3). It was silly how often TNG did it and was just plain absurd by the time Voyager started spitting them out.

    Aside from that I found this episode enjoyable and I guess I'm stuck remembering it fondly from my childhood. I grew up with the show and was roughly Alexander's age when this episode aired so I was easily able to put myself into the situation.

    Brent Spiner was a lot of fun to watch, Worf had a couple of good moments, and Troi was just fine as well. (I'm sure Marina Sirtis was thankful to have something to do!) I guess I'd just say it's harmless fun.

    I just recall this episode being unbearable. Reading the review gave me flashbacks of a terrible nature. Alexander in fake western clothing... *shudder*

    I think Data's character was a "hoot", both as himself and in his various holodeck incarnations ... Worf was pretty good too... I think this was pretty well done compared with later holodeck episodes on other series.

    That reminds me... you know they were dying to use the holodeck in Enterprise... how they must have suffered not to have that to fall back on! Still didn't force them to come up with better quality stories most of the time though

    Loved Data in drag too... Data and Worf, there was a missed opportunity for a bromance

    I agree with Jammer's 2 star rating for this one. There were a couple of scenes I liked though:

    1) Riker reading his "lines", which were really the ode to Spot, and the resulting bemused Riker expression and "What the heck is going on" look from Crusher
    2) Worf's exclamation after beating up some of the bad guys in the bar: "I'm beginning to see the appeal of this program!"
    3) When entering the town, Worf noticed a prostitute - Worf: Did you write this program Alexander? Alexander: Yes, but Mr. Barclay helped. Worf: (frowning) I'm going to have to have a talk with Mr. Barclay.

    Everytime I watch this I always think... this is the freaking weirdest idea for a Star Trek episode that I have ever seen. Who said "Lets do a western where all the characters are data" and what the hell were they smoking? xD

    I think one reason I like this episode is that it takes seriously (though in a comedic tone) Worf's parenthood toward Alexander, by telling a story in which Worf indulges in his son's pastimes and eventually finds himself enjoying it. There is something neat about Alexander casting Worf as the sheriff and Worf enjoying the idea of being that figure of total moral and literal authority. And the episode then, as most holodeck stories do, has a malfunction happen in which the characters have to follow through the rest of the story, even as they stand outside it, but in this case there is an additional resonance because the main reason Worf has to do what he has to do is because 1) Alexander made the program so that it ends when Worf has completed certain tasks, and 2) Alexander himself is threatened. Worf is a reluctant father, who would much rather impose his own values and interests on his son, if doing anything at all, but in this episode he has to play by Alexander's rules, more closely associated with the human past than Klingon custom, and finds out that the role isn't as far off from who he actually likes to be as he thought. He saves the day by the application of defense rather than offense (that Worf can create a force field out of a phonograph and some comm badges stretches credulity, to put it mildly, but at least force fields and shields are a form of technology Worf would likely be familiar with).

    In particular, the moment at the episode's end where he decides not to shoot Frank Hollander and the rest of the men, but instead sends them out of town, is interesting: Worf is about to resolve the program dispensing Klingon justice (see his earlier glee at the possibility of executing Eli instead of holding him for a trial), then looks at Alexander watching him intently and with awe, thinks about what messages he wants to send his son, and realizes that, when it comes right down to it, gunning down a bunch of people, even bad people, is not really what he wants Alexander to think is right. It's a follow-up from "Redemption, Part II" where Worf defied Klingon custom in sparing Toral, even though Toral had tried to kill him; here, there's no moral reason not to kill the various holographic characters (though he might not be able to, them being Data and probably bulletproof and all), but his son is watching. The games parents play and the stories they tell are how they model behaviour for their children, and in spite of himself Worf aligns himself more closely with human values than Klingon ones, even if he'd really like to kill things. I think it's character growth that Worf decides to let the bad guys go rather than execute a mass slaughter, when he's the guy who almost attacked Riker back in the holodeck program in "Where Silence Has Lease" because he could only barely get out of kill-mode fast enough.

    In short: Worf gets to be a hero, and the kind of hero he ends up being is the kind of hero he wants his son to admire and be, which is what parents generally are, at their best, to their children.

    Deanna's participation follows up her concern for Alexander in season five, and Worf and Troi's friendship shows continued development from "Ethics." He calls her Deanna -- which is a level of familiarity he has with *no* one else. (There are no other officers he's on first name basis with, even Riker or Picard, though of course they are not just his friends but his superiors.) I admit that I'm not as against the Worf/Troi thing in season seven as most, but a lot of it is because Worf's growing respect and closeness to Troi is based on the fact that Troi really does help him with Alexander. I don't actually like Alexander very much usually, but Worf having to deal with personal responsibility (and the changes in other relationships of his that result) I do like, provided it's in an episode like this rather than (eep) "Cost of Living."

    The idea that there is a Western where are all Data is one of the strangest ideas that has ever been floated in this show, and I can't really think of any thematic justification for it. I kind of like the idea that removing the separation between Data and the ship's computer, and in particular the fictional systems, means a loss of integrity for both, and that maybe reinforces the overall idea that fictional stories we tell and live out are important and are "real" and can have real impact on others (especially impressionable children) morally; by interfacing with the computer, Data becomes the stories and the stories partly become Data. But that's still pretty weird, but I have to give it points for originality even if it's really freaking weird.

    I find the episode fairly entertaining, though yes the pacing is bad and the premise is still generally ludicrous. I like it, in the end, though I acknowledge it's probably not a very good show -- probably 2.5 stars.

    And the gentle humour of the opening scene of Picard's fluting being interrupted. And the sunset. Generally, a pleasant hour with some character importance and an overly slow pace.

    Is Troi's holosmoking hazardous to health, or is it like synthehol?

    Far and away Alexander's most subdued performance (at least until his adulthood return in DS9), and, uncoincidentally, his best.

    A completely boring episode. If I wanted to watch western movies, I would.

    I wish Star Trek writers stopped pretending 24th century people LOVE the 20th and 19th century. It is ridiculous. Instead, they could invent the own ST past (and base "cowboy-indian play" on relatively recent history, of the 22th century or something). Kids today don't enjoy playing a bard in 16th century Scotland. And if/when they do, they get most of it wrong anyway. Why do kids and people from the 24th century should be any different??

    It doesn't make sense that Worf and Troi didn't simply trade the hologram-generated prisoner for Worf's real son. It's just a game. I can understand their being some reluctance on letting an actual real criminal go in real life, but how could you risk your son's life for a fictional prisoner in a game? (And then risk your own life in a shoot out as well) I guess defenders will allege that the program had to played out that way for it to end, or will claim that Worf wanted to set an example for his son?

    I *hate* Holodeck episodes. And a Holodeck episode set in the Old West, that's TWO things I hate all rolled into one.

    @ Jons, I couldn't agree with you more regarding the the Star Trek crew's obsession with the 19th and 20th century. It's as if nothing has happened between now and the 24th century. I don't know if the writers were just lazy or lacked imagination, or actually did this on purpose because they thought the audience would like it. In my opinion, that is one of the weaknesses of Star Trek. (Which of course we all know to overlook.)

    Roddenberry loved westerns. Star Trek for him was cowboys in space. "The Final Frontier"

    Disappointing episode. As a serious drama it was too flat. Bad guy wants son back. Worf engages in final gun battle to end program. That's pretty much it...and to quote Bilbo felt like too little butter spread over too much toast.

    It could have been worse...initially Troi/Worf were going to be romantically involved and there was a cliche Alexander/Troi family banter scene.

    If this has played as a pure comedy (Shanker actually screamed at Braga to put more gags in), it could have been a great episode. Loved "Ode to Spot"! That's worth at least a half star boost by itself.

    What with weapons routinely going of holodeck safeguards and trains barrelling down on patrons, it seems that the brilliant technoengineers and command structure of the future would have come up with a few rules for any holodeck adventure:

    1. There must be a duty officer for the holodecks, checking in routinely to make sure everything is OK
    2. There must be communicator capability at all times; routine check-ins by patrons is required
    3. Removal of safegaurds has to be arranged with the captain and notification of removal of safegauards must be communicated through status indicators to the appropriate personnel and stations.

    How many near-misses should be tolerated?

    In Descent I two senior officers were needed to shut down holdeck safeguards (I remember these things but forget high-school trig?).

    Holosmoke might be like synthehol but someone forgot to remind the Voyager writers synthehol can't actually get you loaded (7 of 9 was shown drunk on synthehol champagne in one episode).

    And T'Paul, bromances don't get outright sexual (at least not according to

    All that aside, this episode had its moments, especially Data telling Spot to 'Vamoose'.

    Jammer, I'm confused: how does this episode compare with The Walking Dead, as you claim? Are you saying this because of the episode's pacing?

    Terrible episode. But how did Spiner keep a straight face at 'Howdy, Commander!'. Nice one.

    I actually have a theory on where the idea for a western full of Datas came from, based on one of Wil Wheaton's memories from the show:

    "I was a huge Night Court nerd when I was a kid, and from time to time I would ask Brent to do this character; hearing him say "Mi llamo es 'Bob'" in his Data makeup was as hilarious to me as it was surreal.
    I remember at one point around (I think) season three, Brent started making me laugh when we were shooting on the bridge, and then pretending he had nothing to do with it when I got in trouble … his go-to bit was to just look across at me and say, very quietly, "Bob," in that character's voice. It killed me every single time."


    I'm guessing Wil wasn't the only one amused by Data doing a heavy accent and that this episode was conceived as a way of working it into TNG.

    Now this, unlike "Rascals" before it, is an example of an episode that never once transcends its premise.

    Let me just get this out of the way, first and foremost - I don't mind holodeck malfunction episodes; in fact, I kind of appreciate them. Shock, horror, surprise, fainting, screams, sighs, pants-shitting, dogs and cats end up living together, mass hysteria ensues and the internet explodes! Then the dust settles and life goes on. :P The holodeck is, in fact, nothing more than a plot device to allow the show to dress up and play around either in some historical period or some other non-ship/station setting. And I, for one, love it for that reason because it saves us from having to have time travel or some stupid planet of hats employed to achieve the same result. Thank God for holodeck malfunction stories because they save us from such ridiculous ideas (that TOS actually gave us) like a planet where everyone is a 1920s era Chicago gangster, or a planet where the Roman Empire never fell, or a planet with an actual duplicate U.S./Soviet Cold War or a planet where there are literal Nazis. The only one of those that worked was "Bread and Circuses" (and that was because of the acting, writing, character interactions and underlying message - not the setting). So, I'm more than willing to squint my eyes and forgive the constant "malfunctions" to the holodecks because the problems they solve are much more substantial than the ones they create.

    "A Fistful of Datas," however, has problems that aren't related to the setting. The biggest is, like Jammer points out, that it's just so bland! Look, I love Westerns. Good guys verses bad guys, gunfights, machismo, damsels-in-distress, kidnapping, bank robberies, fist fights, stand-offs, Western themed music - all that good shit! I love it! I love it because it's nothing but pure romanticism (even though the best Western movie ever made, "Unforgiven," has virtually no romanticism in it whatsoever). But still, it's all good action fun. But this episode, while it has the right elements in place (along with some good sci-fi elements like the villains having the abilities of an android) just falls so flat. Maybe that's because it's burdened by the standard TNG talkiness; I don't know. But for whatever reason, there's next to no excitement on display.

    Then, of course, there are a couple of problems with the story. For example, why is Troi, of all characters, included here? This would have been a tailor-fit story for a Barclay appearance - let him get into the holodeck and enjoy some of his fantasies with Worf and Alexander. But, apparently, they wanted a main cast member to be included. But, Troi? Why?! I'm sorry, but I've never seen Troi as the kind of person who would enjoy Clint Eastwood movies. Just saying. And, apparently Worf is now an ace-shot with a six shooter when in the immediately preceding episode he couldn't hit a Ferengi six feet away with a phaser? Yeah, I'm going to have to call bullshit on that one!

    There are some nice "touches" - Brent Spiner convincingly portraying six different characters, some nice father/son moments between Worf and Alexander, the score, the nice sets (yes, it's just a Hollywood back-lot, but that is what most Westerns - especially TV Westerns - were like :P) and the Enterprise flying off into the sunset (what a fabulous way to end this episode!). But none of that is able to elevate it all that much.


    A fairly serious misfire. Desperately slow and leaden, this is entirely based around a fairly flawed premise - let's do a TNG Western.

    To me, probably the weakest aspect of the show are the multiplying Data's - playing Data as a walking cliche might work once, but multiple times? By the time we get to the Data in drag at the end we're really dragging the broad end of the script-writing pool.

    Again, that's not to say there aren't some nice bits. Worf's increasing engagement with Alexander is nice to see, particularly as he spends the start of the episode desperately trying to get Picard to approve additional work on his down-time to get out of it. Dad of the year territory, this! And I actually quite enjoy Troi's role.

    Perhaps the best part (for more than one reason) is the end, with a gorgeous shot of the Enterprise riding off into the sunset. But overall, this is pretty ripe stuff. 1.5 stars.

    William B -- you said, "Also I love Worf's "So, we are in law enforcement" reading."

    I was just going to say that! Worf has been DREADING this outing and then his face when he realizes he's got to clean up the town is great! Worf is one of my favorite characters and I love how he plays in this town. "You have been accused of homicide!" in that deadpan Worf tone.

    I don't hate this one--I think the actors were having fun and since I like them, I liked this.

    One other thing--I absolutely love Troi's western outfit and have been trying to find a coat like that for ages. Or rather, I found one, but it is so expensive I can't justify it!

    I am beginning to see the appeal of this episode!

    Oh, Alexander....

    so, was this guy written poorly or was the kid such a terrible actor. I never have really decided on that.

    Alexander was played by 5 different actors, which might explain your confusion. To compound this, these actors basically wore "blackface" or "Klingon-face" if you will.

    I thought he was okay in DS9, probably because his annoying "I don't wanna be a Klingon, daddy!" personality disappeared.

    213karaokejoe, I agree completely. Also, the minute something weird happens in the ship's computer, standard practice should be to shut down & evacuate the holodecks. They're trolling us at the end by Picard not even *acknowledging* that he had officers in mortal danger.

    I wish Star Trek had done more with the idea of the holodeck. As a sci-fi concept, mostly it was used by TNG/DS9/VOY for play-acting and artificial peril. There was occasionally some good stuff done with artificial intelligence and reality vs. fantasy, though in both areas pretty limited in imagination (an intelligent being always looks and behaves like a human, and reality is always better than fantasy).

    Imagine this technology exists. Then what? Some brainstorming ideas:
    - You could live your life in a holo-cubicle; the entire ship's crew could be people in these things.
    - Normal rules of, say, physics need not apply. You could be a superhero. You could mess around with bad guys who are taking over the ship. "Augmented reality" could be your permanent reality.
    - In the spirit of Avatar, explorers could virtually enter any hostile environment (space, a planet that—gasp!—isn't earth-like) by sending out a sophisticated probe and using the holodeck as the UI.
    I'm sure this is just scratching the surface...

    Great brainstorm, Dan. Another use would be simulating missions before taking the risk in real life, a use first shown, if I'm not mistaken, in Voyager's "Threshold," of all places.

    CORRECTION: Using the holodeck as a mission simulator was shown just a month after this episode, in "Chain of Command." Thus, "Threshold" is still a waste.

    Season 7's "Interface" also does that Avatar-like tech with a VR device. So, if anything, Avatar ripped off the idea from TNG.

    Normally I'm childishly amused by such things, but Data-in-drag was a thing of horrors. (Don't get me wrong it was hilarious in its own way, just in the way that makes you scream/yell incredulously instead of laugh.) Worf and I had the same look on our faces as we realized the program might not end until he kissed the love-interest. Wish this had followed up with an episode or two of Worf being very avoidant to an increasingly puzzled android.

    I kept wanting Worf to shoot one of the Datas just to see what would happen to it. (Would the holo deck simulate blood, would it "die", or would it just be mildy annoyed with a hole in it?) Or alternately, go around turning them all off (surely the chief of security knows about the odd off switch by now for safety reasons after Data's taken over or otherwise been a major threat to ship multiple times?)

    Glad to see Troi out of the sausage suit and doing something cool for once, even if it wasn't much. (She looks so terrible in that suit, I cheered when she was ordered to put on a proper uniform a few episodes after this (and I miss the weird manskirts background characters wore in the first season.))

    Also, "y'all" is a contraction of "you all", but no one called Data out on this because "it's Western" and he can apparently speak all languages perfectly except English (he speaks "Western" just fine, though). I doubt those Christmas lights in his head are as efficient as he claims they are if holodeck characters have a better grasp of language than he does.

    Average episode but I did appreciate Picard's flute playing. It was about time they acknowledged "The Inner Light."

    Really weak stuff here -- similar in quality to "Qpid" and slightly weaker than DS9's "Our Man Bashir" for me. This episode was just plain boring and dumb.

    Interesting with the very long teaser like in "Schisms" that doesn't give anything away about what the episode is about. Not sure I like that -- unless the episode doesn't have enough material to fill an hour, which this one didn't.

    So another computer malfunction gets mixed in with a holodeck program -- basically gives an excuse for Spiner to show his talent (we've seen him play multiple characters in the same episode "Brothers"). But here, the writing and supporting acting is just limp. I give credit to Spiner for the handful of chuckles in this episode when he suddenly talks in "Old West"' style when on the Enterprise in front of Riker/Picard. Also funny was when Riker started reading Data's cat poem from "Schisms".

    1 star for "A Fistful of Datas" -- truly a filler episode just to make up the numbers. The ship's computer and Data's memory banks get fixed just in time and then everything's back to normal. It's just not good enough. Something like "Elementary, Dear Data" is a much better example of something more profound in a holodeck/computer gone wrong episode.

    I generally don't like Westerns, except for the Sergio Leone & Clint Eastwood ones. Too bad this one was based on the worst cliches and yet another holodeck-gone-crazy crutch.

    2.5 stars. Fairly entertaining

    I can forgive TNG doing a kind of fluffy filler piece like this. Unlike VOY with its Fair Haven frivolity, TNG In preceding seasons took full advantage of their premise giving us lots of exploration, the unknown, a sense of awe and wonder, new threats and all around purpose driven episodes consistently

    So in its waning years an episode like this is to be expected. It’s fun and entertaining but not as strong as most weekly TNG offerings in its heyday. Adding to jeopardy angle with the malfunction due to Data and Geordie’s experiment definitely helped what probably would have been a pretty mundane story

    The idea is pretty clever by having the holodeck characters all end up looking like Data with his speed and strength. Worf, Alexander and Troi made a fun team up for this outing. The western setting was fresh for Trek and TNG in particular. I enjoyed Joy Garrett’s Miss Annie and her dynamics with Worf. Smart on Worf’s part once he realized what was really happening and no safeties to just give Pa back his Boy Likewise I appreciated Troi understanding that the villain can’t be trusted. The gizmo Worf conjured up to give him a temporary personal force field was clever and I genuinely got a kick out of the way Brannon chose to conclude the holodeck with Brent Spiner dressed up as Miss Annie —hilarious

    I've always loved this episode. It's one of the most memorable in TNG. I love how everyone gradually becomes another Data. And Data makes such a brilliant villain every time he ends up in this role! (Including Dr Soong in ENT.) This is a guilty pleasure every bit as much as Masks.

    I loved this. Like I’ve said before, I love holodeck episodes and I also love westerns (and Data for that matter) so this couldn’t miss imo. The story was simple I’ll admit but it was a very fun episode. I’d give it 3 stars if not 3.5 even.

    There is no such thing as a bad Star Trek episode, just some better than others.

    Dreadful epsiode. The only time in TNG I actually loathed Brent Spiner for his painfully unsuccessful attempt at playing that bad guy. Terrible, 0.5 stars.

    Saw this episode on H&I TV tonight. I give one star for Marina Sirtis in western wear, and zero stars for everything else.

    Both Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner — that is, probably the two most talented actors in the history of Star Trek — thought very highly of this episode.

    Of course, they’re artists, not Trekkers, so they can see a few things the average fan cannot . . .

    Lameass awful dreadful miserable BS crap, I'll leave this running in the background while I do something, anything, else. Have to suffer through it just to know I've seen every episode. God, Season 6 has been a load of crap, and this is a steaming hill of it.

    I agree with the review except for the inexplicable comment about Brent Spiner-his psychopathic western villain ( Lore by any other name) was about as good as his Sherlock Holmes-forgettable.
    However it isn't the actors' fault particularly. The writer and director deserve the blame here.

    No stars I think.

    This episode contains one of my favourite Worf quotes: "ahh we are in law enforcement".

    9/10 I like Data episodes and Worf and Alexander episodes as well. Troi wasn't annoying.

    After Moriarty, this might be my favourite time travelling scenario. Not stupid Dix or Minuet.
    But man, the cavalier treatment of the technology.

    This season's "Brent Spiner wants a new demo reel" episode. Too bad it wasn't Alexander who was shot.

    Amusing how leather pants and grandma's blouse are upgrades for Troi. Honestly I think I'd prefer it if she sat on the bridge dressed as a cowboy, constantly smoking blunts. many of you people are so mean . Fistful is a fun episode. I have seen a lot of Westerns and while the Old West is not my favorite setting for TNG and the holodeck is always annoying, I could appreciate this spoof all the way...the worn-out tumbleweed of a genre deserves being poked at. The music and cheesy sounds are great.
    Especially deserving mention is Picard getting irritated by constant interruptions while practicing his classical music piece. Then there's Holodeck Eli Hollander, excellently portrayed...with his "flies in your mouth" comment. Miss Kitty the barkeep is feisty taking umbrage at Worf's neglect of her womanhood....just for starters.
    While I've been aware that there is a large contingent of Troi-Marina bashers among the respondents, she's great in this as the mysterious stranger...and brings back memories of Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles. I liked her in western garb and Durango adds to the show. Data as paw Hollander is terrific and Riker secretly pleased with Beverly's script getting replaced by Data's poetry, and then reciting "Felus cattus" is a treat. And the first time I heard him say: "the lines, why"? I knew that I liked him. Episode rates 4 stars.

    The episode was just a bit of silly fun, come on.

    1) Worf actually drives the action for a change, and he also has a bit of an arc in which he starts out dreading Holodeck time with his son, takes a liking to it, and then (despite the Data mishap), suggests he’ll do more even though Alexander disappointedly expects him to have soured on it. The slight smile on Alexander’s face when Worf says something like “they’ll need a sheriff...*and* a deputy” was sweet.

    2) Data is a rather fenced-in character. There’s entertainment value in having Brent Spiner do *anything* outside of Data’s little behavioral box (we get to see him, I believe, *moseying*).

    3) May I just say how gorgeous Marina Sirtis is in this episode? The cigarillo-smoking aside (which I personally find a total turnoff), she never looked more attractive in a TNG episode. And by the way, if you ever get to meet her, Marina Sirtis is much cooler to be around and much more engaging than Deanna Troi, the character, ever was. In this episode a little bit of her natural personality comes through.

    I never understood why, because the Holodeck is malfunctioning, that means that communications stop working too. Of course, if they could simply ask to be beamed out of the Holodeck that would sort of nullify the plot.

    Just how many excuses did the Star Trek franchise find to indulge itself in historical Earth period pieces? That was the question I found myself asking as I realised what this one was going to be about. And I expected to be writing some fairly snarky comments here.

    I don't really think people watch Star Trek to watch a pseudo-Western. They want to find escapism in distant space, in the future. Not 19th Century America (or is it the 19th Century? It's never obvious to me, though I note that the revolver was invented in the 1830s).

    But - if you turn up at an Indian restaurant and they offer you pizza, after your initial irritation, the question becomes - how good is the pizza? And as it happens, despite my expectations, I liked this one a lot. It's not a thought-provoking moral tale. It's not high drama. It's not (really) particularly suspenseful. But what it is, is a lot of fun.

    I don't actually like the Worf character but Michael Dorn gets some marvellous deadpan comedy out of this episode. Bravo. And of course Brent Spiner puts in a brilliant shift as the villain(s) of the piece. Even Marina Sirtis does a good job.

    It's a little odd that none of the four crew playing protagonists in this Western drama are human, and strange to think that a Betazoid and a Klingon child would have a particular interest in the affairs of Deadwood.

    A couple of thoughts. I've often thought it perverse that an Android with a powerful computer brain would interact with the ship's systems by typing and talking to them, so it was nice to see the idea of an interface explored briefly.

    Does Worf indulge a touch of compassion for the holographic Frank Hollander when he spares his life at the end?

    And when you think about it, a Holodeck technology that can propel bullets at the proper speed to injure someone is pretty phenomenally unlikely, isn't it? Wouldn't it leave a dent in the holodeck wall if it missed?

    Even so, a splendid episode. This one entertained me thoroughly. I can't wait for the sequel in the seventh series, no doubt entitled For A Few Datas More.

    Togeheter with some otherse here I am not to found of holodeck episodes. Having said that, I can understnd why they are there and sometimes they can give a contrast and show some alternativ qualities that the actors have.

    We have seen a crazy Data before. Perhaps a little bit to much here but OK.

    Worf was quite very much himself but showed his father role. OK.

    Troi was a funny and in fact realistic escape for herself slipping out of her consular role.

    Alexander came thorough very well. He also did in "Rascals".

    It was not a bad episode. But it only works as a contrast.

    Harmless fun, and a bit of character stretching for the actors. I’ll take it for the father/son dynamic, but I really enjoyed the scene in the conference room.
    Ruler: The replicators on decks 4 through 9 are dispensing cat food.
    Picard: … cat food?

    Also, Troi in leather pants, western boots, and rifle should be her standard uniform after this point.

    I wanted to like this more than I did. I remember watching for the first time when it aired, having heard in advance the premise, and being very excited to see it executed. Well, they "executed" it, all right.

    Also, it always bothers me when sci-fi writers can't imagine their way out of the place and time their shows/movies are produced in. (Every Trek has to have a character knowledgeable in some way in 20th century American culture; the TARDIS from Doctor Who has a habit of mostly traveling around the UK's history; etc.) Even Picard, the French Captain with the English accent, is an American-style noir nerd.

    PRODUCERS: Look Brent, we appreciate you don’t get to flex your acting range much, but short of “TNG does Westworld”, there is not much scope.
    BRENT SPINER: Westworld huh? Sounds promising… [walks off muttering] I reckon I can fix me some right good lines. ‘Bet you’re wondering “Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well to tell you the truth, in running the ship’s computer, I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a . 44 Positronic, the most powerful brain in the galaxy and would blow your head clean off, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?’

    Nice bit of comedy, but it got a bit tiring rather quickly, though Brent and Marina did put on a good show as Wild Westerners. My favourite moment is seeing the Enterprise “ride off into the sunset” at the end, to suitably Western music. Not an episode we’re meant to take seriously.

    2.5 stars seems right.

    "Wuz you born that way, or did yore mama marry an armadillo?"

    Um, I hate to ask a DNA-related question within the Trekverse, but wouldn't Mama marrying an armadillo have been what CAUSED him to be born that way?

    I love ur reviews but I disagree on this one. This episode is hilarious over and over. Seeing Barclay as a wild west villain was such a surprise that I didn't even realize it was the same actor until I'd seen this episode several times. The line "saddle up father" makes me laugh every single time despite seeing this episode dozens of times. It's so ridiculously absurd and like many episodes if you take one specific moment and watch it out of context it's so dam funny.

    "I WANT MY BOY. WHERE'S MY BOY?" LOL this episode had me in tears laughing! I don't see it as a serious episode-- even the title strikes me as intended to be funny (a Fistful of Datas?! ha!). I thought Worf and Troi were hilarious, too. Troi didn't strike me as the obvious choice either, but I loved that they picked her and it was so funny how she threw herself into the whole "ancient West" vibe. "My name is DURANGO!" "Right-- Counselor Durango..." hahaha!

    And I definitely thought Data in all those guises was pretty chilling but also kind of hilarious. When he loomed into the picture in the sombrero and mustache I lost it. I took this one as being a humorous detour and I suppose I don't have any particular dislike for holodeck malfunction episodes (to me this is leagues better than say, the Enterprise version where they all go down to the ancient Western planet. That was just awful.), so I thought it was a winner. Sheriff Worf all the way!

    This was so stupid it was hilarious!

    I actually enjoyed it (yeah, I don't know; I must have mellowed down in my old age) until Troi sauntered in, uttered something in a surprisingly Southern twang, and blew the chapeau off of yonder outlawr's head. At that point it all just became too hysterical!!!

    Worf getting slapped... 🤣🤣 ...AND Troi's reaction! 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Real-world Data spittin' chewing tobacco into the plant, and the "y'all"s, etc. 🤣🤦‍♂️🤣🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

    Worf shooting the gun out of Data's hand... 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤣🤣

    The prop for Alexander's toy or whatever in the beginning of the episode includes three 5.25" floppy drive faceplates.

    I'm sure I'm overthinking this, but: the holodeck program was written by Barclay and Alexander. It was always going to be hackneyed and wrong. Kind of of the point, maybe? Anyway, with that in mind, I was able to forgive the bland and arid western stuff.

    Even when the holodeck goes crazy, it goes crazy in a bland way, again a product of its initial programming, written by...Barclay and Alexander.

    I didn't see this supposition in any of the other reviews and I did read them all to see if it might have been mentioned. And if it's the least bit true, I can see how the actual writers might have taken it a bit too far down clueless lane.

    Again, I'm probably stretching it here. Maybe it is just mediocre in and of itself.

    I'll be moseying on now, y'all.

    Child actors are the worst idea ever. Children can hardly even talk, let alone act.

    Holodeck is a terrible idea and they make it worse with episodes like this. Terrible.

    In this computer-literate age there are just some IT problems in TNG that really rip away my suspension of disbelief. One example is the total lack of data privacy rights present in this universe, something I find completely at odds with the mythos. But of course since the concept of data privacy would have been alien to the writers it cannot be expected that they would have anticipated the need for them.

    A similar problem occurs in this episode. They experimented with the computer's live processes? Not a sandbox VM?

    And extremely rare case where Troi isn't annoying and cringe but has an actual cool character!

    I always forget this is a sixth-season episode until it crops up on rewatches. It has all the attributes of a season 2 or even season 1 episode. The only thing that period was missing that this episode has in spades is Brent Spiner's ego.

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