Star Trek: Voyager

“Spirit Folk”

1 star.

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

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

Review Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous episode: Collective
Next episode: Ashes to Ashes

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Comment Section

148 comments on this post

    Episodes like this lead me to find the whole holodeck idea as morally objectionable, seeing as we have Doc, who is basically a 'real person' (or treated as one anyhow) and the holodeck characters, who don't seem discernably different from Doc. Is there a difference, I wonder? What are these holograms rights if there isn't? Personally I find that the way they are portrayed here makes them privy to the same rights an organic would have. But the episode unfortunately doesn't really go into this, opting instead for cheap laughs and multiple plot contrivances. The safeties going off when the townsfolk shoot the console is just too much, really. That's just lazy writing.

    You've described my exact feelings about the holodeck and the characters within exactly (in long winded detail -grin-). It is beyond the ridiculous to not simply shut down the program and then have Torres and Tom correct the issue. It's even stupider to not say "Computer, reset program to time stamp blah-blah-blah" before the holograms started acting outside of the parameters. THESE ARE NOT INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE!

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

    The whole idea is just stupid and shows the utter short-sightedness of the entire production.

    This is the worst episode of voyager I have seen. Like jammer says, every cliche in the book is used.

    The low point of the series.

    I'm only 3 minutes into the episode, and I already hate it. The premise just doesn't hold up. The holodeck characters are programmed to be obvious of the commands to the computer. Are the writers saying the computer cannot control the holodeck characters within it's own simulation?

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

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

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

    BAD. Very, very bad.

    Moreover, the story isn't even clear as to what causes the malfunctioning of the holedeck characters. Is it really because it's being left on all the time? Later on in the story, Tom mentions to Janeway that he made so "adjustments" to bring the characters more to life? Really now?

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

    The premise is indeed laughable.

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

    The blatant inconsistencies are just too huge to ignore.

    I hated this (and Fair Haven in general), 10 years ago and nothing has really changed. I think 1 star is being very, very generous!

    I believe the writer is unfair in disclaiming the episode. Entertainment on the holo-deck was taken lightly where no-one was suppose to use his brains and if you did someone told you to take it easy. The star trek crew was born and grew-up in a science fiction society where immagination and fantasy was proven as reality. The hol-deck was a casual diversion- to put it simply -casual.

    This episode is just P-A-I-N-F-U-L in every regard. I would be mortified to have my name in the credits.

    Yes kids all Irishman all superstious morons way to go Voyager

    The best use of the holodeck is recreation for a person or two (like O'Brien's rowing, where he's the only one in there and the surroundings and walls can adjust to where he is), or a picnic or somesuch. The Sherlock HOlmes stuff works too, so long as all "real" people stay in fairly close proximity to each other. Also, the way it was used by Sisko to solve the mystery of B'hala was pretty cool. But cramming large numbers of people in there, making a mockery of the spacial limitations of the holodeck, no, just no. Same goes for sentient Jammer said, the notion that self-aware holograms are not a rarer malfunction but something that is the default and must be presvented by a piece of technology is pure ridiculousness.It was even contradicted a year later in "Flesh And Blood", when whats-his-face tried and failed to "program" sentience into basic holotemplates.

    I agree with the review and consensus - utter, utter garbage. The original Fair Haven was enough of a train wreck, then Virtuoso repaired some of the damage (particularly to the Doc's "realness") and now it makes it worse than ever before. Wow, great effort...

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

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

    This season had been showing so much promise - last few episodes seem to have indicated some shark jumping however :(

    Jammer, I'm not going to debate the quality of this episode (it's hardly one of my favourites, though not nearly as offensive as you make it out to be).

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

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

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

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

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

    Jammer, your complaints are genuine sentiments from your own philosophical reaction to this episode's premise, but they hardly constitute a valid objection the episode per sæ. The writers acknowledge your viewpoint (as expressed by Torres) and tie it into the premise. They and you simply don't agree. You need not chastise them for it.

    The result of the experiment is almost eerie--the two series basically reverse, VOY is a 3 star show and DS9 a 2.5 star. I don't necessarily agree with either of those totals or (more especially) specific episodes, but that little half star boost is quite telling no?

    If one just adjusts one of the two series, they become about equal with DS9 having a slight advantage for Seasons 2 and 4 in your book and VOY for Seasons 1 and 3. I find that very telling.

    What, I basically find any series DS9 about 10 times better than Voyager, even if it did get a little better for season 7 (too little too late)

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

    Also - "What are you looking for from Trek? Cynicism?" (Elliot): AMEN! :P

    Usually I'm willing to defend Voyager episodes, but this one's truly irredeemable except in a ''so bad it's hilarious'' way. What I find most bizarre is the implication that Holodeck settings normally prevent characters gaining self-awareness - surely it's easier to create a hologram that's oblivious to its surroundings than one which is self-aware, so why create a self-aware one and then add on settings to repress this aspect?

    The episode - *meh*. Nothing to add to the comments above. There should have been an injunction to prevent Voyager's writers from ever using the holodeck, because it just became more and more ludicrous...

    Oh, and I couldn't resist this:

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

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

    I approached this series a second time with an open mind, wanting to like it and to a certain extent I do generally, it's entertainment - but little more. The writers just didn't have the skill, or maybe the inclination to deliver genuine philosophical and psychological development. The characterisation and the philosophy are all pretty shallow and always come second-fiddle to whatever the concept-of-the-week is, almost never extending beyond that episode's 45 minutes. Even back in the late 90s, this had already come somewhat untenable for TV drama. Alas, Voyager has all the depth of a puddle. I accepted that a long time ago. I guess we all have our own perspectives though, and if you see depth where I can't see any, good for you.

    The biggest problem with this episode is the glaring inconsistencies about holographs that it brings up. It's inconsistent with the information giving in TNG and other star trek episodes. I just don't get it.

    At least it was Chakotay who couldn't get a lock (on Kim and Tom).

    What annoys me is that in most holodeck-accident voyager episodes, the reasoning behind the problem is that the holoprogram has been on for too long. I think it's reasonable to assume that when holodecks were first invented, and after milestone developments, that they would be put through days of testing to document any problems that developed. The fact that holodeck characters automatically develop sentience after being left on for a while makes little sense, as all that is happening is that they are accumulating lots of information ("memories"). The result of that should simply be complete failure, not a surgically precise "mutation" that results in sentience and nothing more.

    Well, unfortunately for us all, it looks like they were able to save far more than the 10% of the program mentioned at the end of "Fair Haven"...

    I'm going to have to go against the consensus on this one. No, I don't dispute the fact that there are so many things wrong with this episode, with the handling of holograms, etc. Oh boy, are there!

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

    I agree that the whole thing shouldn't have happened in the first place, and I agree that it's certainly no masterpiece... but hey, at least it wasn't boring.

    I didn't really mind the prior episode, Fair Haven, or this particular holodeck program. But yeah, this episode was really bad. Particularly incredulous were Janeway's decisions to 1) risk Tom and Harry's lives rather than delete the program and 2) to keep the holo-characters' memories intact. Sheer craziness.

    I hated this episode. Also, it was super-boring. Also: the moment Janeway put the lives of Tom and Harry at risk by not shutting down the program, Chakotay should have relieved her of command.

    I was not looking forward to revisiting Fair Haven, and this episode didn't disappoint... in that it was soul-crushingly awful. When I compare it to "Ship in a Bottle," in which Moriarty was remarkably intelligent and genuinely menacing, the "drama" of "Spirit Folk" is just a whole lot of nothing.

    I enjoyed this episode. Holodeck episodes are supposed to be fun. Calm down. And to some of the others I think voyager was better than DS9.

    Despite it's seriously questionable logic, I enjoyed this episode and LOVE the Fair Haven holo programme!

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

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

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

    Overall, the lack of story and substance was more than made up for with humour, great atmosphere and sheer fun.
    I'd give this episode 2.5 out of 4 stars.

    Here we finally find an episode of Voyager the all but the most utterly lost fanboys and fangirls (clueless as holodeck characters with fully functioning perceptual-filter subroutines) can agree is far beyond redemption.

    I like the music okay. That's the nicest thing I can say.

    I turned my brain off and enjoyed the silliness of the episode. Oh, it's ridiculous, yes, but kinda fun in a very cheesy way. Too all the gripes about how far the rules of the holodeck are bent, I don't disagree but I have a couple of thoughts, just to play devil's advocate.

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

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

    I'm not defending the contrivance and absurdity of this episode. There was more than a fair helping of badness with a few dashes of awful thrown in, but I think my problems with it were more in the stupidity of the decisions the crew made in not shutting down the program to repair it, the fact that the gun damaged the control panel while the safeties were on but somehow that turned them off, and the hokey gag-worthy "after-school special" ending. As for the plausibility of the self-awareness of the holo-characters, for the reasons I mentioned above, I'm actually willing to go with it (to a point).

    Ugh, wretched episode. I think the low point was the hypnotism of the doctor, but there were so many awful moments it's a close call.


    this is still WAY better than the "Fight."

    i was entertained.

    the holograms shot out the safety protocols...

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

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

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

    it wasnt that bad. still..i give it a 1.5 only because i like so many other episodes better.

    Oh the total absurdity. We can't shut it down because it will reset. Well, just about every other holodeck program in all the series wasn't written that way. Shutting the program down never causes anything to reset. That's not how even today's computers work. Any important info needed after shutdown is persisted. Info would only be lost if the program was written to not persist it. Why in the hell would anyone program Fair Haven that way if they had a choice?

    dumb. dumb dumb.

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

    No. It's not. It was crap.

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

    OK, everyone. Anytime we ever have any objections to anything, we must run them by Elliott so he can decide whether or no they are "valid." What a loon. When are people going to realize that it's OK for two people to wildly disagree on whether or not some thing satisfies them without one of them accusing the other one of being mistaken?

    Leah: "Who's to say that this biologically-based circuitry doesn't change the game a bit and make possible on a broader scale what happened in TNG and DS9?"

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

    By the way, programming errors aren't created after the program has been running. They are there all along. It's just that sometimes we don't notice them until the program has been running for a while.

    I disagree with Jammer's review and rating...mostly because, from the very beginning (and by that, I mean Jammer's "next episode" comments) it was obvious that Jammer had preconceived notions about this episode. Jammer doesn't like Fair Haven. That's not a crime, but it's not a universal feeling.

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

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

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

    Whether or not the writers were resoundingly successful in their attempts is worthy of debate, but I disagree with poo-pooing the whole concept.

    In all of this, I can't believe anyone pointed out the stupidest thing about this: Janeway makes the decision that they can't possibly reset the holoprogram to save Tom and Harry because they might lose Fair Haven---and after this episode, WE NEVER SEE FAIR HAVEN AGAIN! Not that I'm complaining, per se, but the fact that the thing that makes everything so complicated and Janeway teach all the holograms that they're from outer space was completely, utterly, pointless.

    I've never respected Janeway less than in this episode. She refused to pull the plug on the holodeck to save two humans, because they might lose the program? They've already reprogrammed it once, obviously they can do it again! I actually liked the original episode of 'Fair Haven' (I'm an Irish girl at heart, so it was kind of fun), but this was too ridiculous.

    What makes good science fiction is that the science or tech is consistent. There are plenty of books and websites that have been around following Trek tech since TNG that the misuse of bad writing is not so prevalent. There were times in TNG and DS9 that somtimes toed the line, but Voyager takes the cake in abandoning the writers bible, or the source material that made Trek tech believable in the first place. Voyager episodes like this are campy B style scifi. I am a Trekker and die hard scifi fan, however, Stargate's worst episodes are better than this.
    Biggest issues are Starfleet is a military chain of command type thing where if you really want me to believe how many rookie mistakes senior officers make into this many episodes is stupid not to say condescending. Being a Trekker leads one to nitpick, ask any fan of any scifi show, you can tell that when the writing goes from bad to worse, then you lose your audience. Revisiting Voyager all these years later makes me want to watch fan based material over this.

    "What makes good science fiction is that the science or tech is consistent."

    Not necessarily.

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

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

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

    At this point, when you read "holodeck malfunction" in a synopsis, you'd better tremble. You assure that your expectations are set to "low level".

    Then, when you see that the very first scene of the episode is Tom Paris happy, silly happy, in the holodeck simulation. You should certainly get desperate. And drop you expectations even more. Much more.

    Last, you see that almost all senior offices are enjoying the same Irish-village holo-simulation. Many of them at the same time. Just with the purpose of creating an artificial reason for them to be at the at same episode. And this is the time to get angry and kill off any remaining expectations.

    Then, five minutes later you find out this one is not that bad! This can raise interesting questions. Then you move between "sort of nice" to "holy crap".

    Suddenly you see a hologram shooting - and damaging!!! - the holo-controls. And you yourself shoot something at your TV or computer. Not too long before you see the outside crew unable to beam the guys off the holodeck. Again. Once more. Yeah. But a few minutes after a hologram being hypnotized by other holograms. Seriously.

    And we have to say all these be called plot holes, flaws, scientific inconsistencies. Elliot was right: this not what matters to make this episode good or bad. This episode is bad just because it is lazy, silly, bad written. Flat even if it thought it was being smart and profound.

    This is not bad science fiction because of bad science. But because of bad fiction.

    Not olny this episode has almost all holodeck-malfunction cliches. Also quite a lot of Voyager's eventual lazy writing is as well. And that's finally the time to think "I did it again to myself, me and the holodeck-malfunction plot". What should I do?

    Next please.

    Wow. And I mean, wow! After reading all the comments, I must be about the only person in America that thought this was one of the best Voyager episodes.

    In all honesty, it's a reasonable sci-fi contrivance that puts together a fun take on a pre-warp culture coming face to face with Trekkian technology.

    In fact, that's what makes this episode so much better than most holodeck disasters: it doesn't really matter that the holograms are holograms. Thanks to the captain's love interest, the crew (and the audience) has a stake in the reaction of the Fair Haven characters.

    I also have to congratulate the many guest actors. They did a fantastic job!

    I knew this was going to be a terrible episode within the first 60 seconds. I thought Tom's turning Harry's holo-girlfiend into a cow was mean-spirited. And I was stunned when Janeway tried to persuade us that Fair Haven was more important than getting Tom and Harry back ASAP.

    With as many things that have gone wrong with the holodecks on Star Trek, and especially on Voyager, you'd think holodecks would be outlawed by now. I can picture Ralph Nader's next book, "Unsafe with safeties on", or something like that.

    The one part I thought was cool was when the computer said, "62 percent compliance."

    Everything else has been done before in TNG.

    I'm just now watching my way through the Voyager seasons on Amazon Prime instant video. I had to stop partway through season 2…just couldn't stand it. It was getting worse than seasons 1 and 2 on Enterprise. Anyway, I've just been jumping around across the seasons, and wanted to watch some "worst of" eps just for grins. I just watched Fair Haven and Spirit Folk.--very badly rated by most. For me, they're like summer dumb movies, or like books I would read on a plane. Stupid on so many levels, but turn your brain off, lower your expectations to minus several stars, and just watch them as stupid, bubble-gum entertainment. Not really worthy of Trek, but at least Fintan McKeowen is cute. He's wrong for Janeway, hologram or not…but I would go out with him.

    I really hate the "just turn your brain off!" comments from the people who actually like episodes like this. I'm not saying they're wrong for enjoying them, but using that phrase is just admitting that the writing is dumb and in order to enjoy it you have to also emulate a dummy for 42 minutes. It might work for a standalone movie that you expect to be less than cerebral, but not for a series that already has established lore/characters/tech/etc. When all those things suddenly fall prey to sloppy writing that ignores or outright contradicts events and established character behavior, it's pretty difficult to look past it. Endangering crew members in order to save a town of "sentient" beings that have only existed for a short time is just absurd even for Voyager.

    At least now we "know" holodec energy consumption: 300 deciwatts (30 W) for sentient photons and force fields. i could run one at home

    I'm rewatching Voyager and recently passed this episode.

    I didn't hate it, but the massive number of wasted episodes is heart breaking.

    Voyager should have bitten the bullet and said no holodeck eps.

    It would have made it better. Imagine if they used the Equinox crew thingy- and people got addicted to it like an electronic narcotic?

    The show starts pretty strong and it has a restrained gothic horror edge with its multiple Frankenstein tropes- Borg, Vidiians and such- but man did it blow it all on the jog to Endgame.

    Biggest offender, as pointed out in the comments here several times:
    Torres: We could just pull the plug on them.
    Neelix: But the program will be gone. We'll lose Fair Haven.
    Seven: They are not real people, they're holograms.
    Janeway: Oh, they may not be real, but our feelings for them are.

    SO WHAT? You know who is real? Tom and Harry. You know what else is real? The fact that they could very well die because you refuse to give up your precious attachments to a bunch of preprogrammed photons! Pull the plug, already! Rebuild it later, if you have to and don't run it 24/7 after you do.
    Seriously, Torres hands them solution on a silver platter and they refuse based on their 'feelings for the characters'? Disconnect the whole thing, save your crewmen and fix that thing later on if you absolutely must (although I would prefer you didn't).

    Fairytale BS made possible by stupid decisions while ignoring the only two who speak some common sense. I hope to never see Fair Haven again after this.

    The layed an egg and told you it was hardboiled. You smelt it and discovered they have really laid out a turd. Kudos. But me thinks you were too hard on the turd. There's a cow in it. And I think Michael wears suspenders. It's a lot better than "Threshold" too. I wouldn't eat a turd either, but I might at least offer it to someone else. If they were really hungry I mean.

    All I learned from this episode is that Capt. Janeway and Ensign Kim are sick, sick, people in desperate need of counseling.

    Never saw this episode, so I'm not commenting on it, but I will criticize this:

    ProgHead777: " episode of Voyager the all but the most utterly lost fanboys and fangirls (clueless as holodeck characters with fully functioning perceptual-filter subroutines) can agree is far beyond redemption."

    Insulting the audience is not a valid criticism. If somebody likes this episode, or anything, good for them!

    After watching this episode, it reminded me of an episode of the Simpson's when Homer's brain said "That's it. I'm out of here." (Then the sound of footsteps walking away and a door shutting.)

    Ah, a return to Fair Haven, what more could we want? An absolute, unmitigated disaster. I love that the writers use B'Elanna to speak the sensible option here - delete the program. What offends me as a viewer is that the writers then decide that actually the ridiculous premise they have constructed is the smart way out of it. People acting in ways and situations that make no sense does not good writing demonstrate - as one example, how the merry hell can a holodeck character with the safeties on shoot the wall panel and disable the safeties?

    It might be better if it was played as a romp, but there's vanishingly little comedy in it (the cow scene makes Paris look like a prick more than anything) and we're mining the big book of Irish cliches for anything else.

    So a big 1 star - the first I've given for Voyager and the first for anything on my re-watch since Fascination way back in DS9 series 3. This really was a stinker.

    Oh look, Fair Haven is back, and Tom is driving a rickety old horseless carriage. What a silly little start to the episode, but hopefully it won't get any worse.

    Uh oh, a holodeck character noticed Tom fixing his car. Egads, is this going to be another Moriarty situation? I suppose I should give the episode a chance. Don't assume it's going to get any worse.

    Ugh, Harry has a date with a hologram? Your love life just keeps circling the drain, doesn't it Harry? And wait a sec, you're replicating flowers? Aren't replicators rationed? So you're actually skipping out on real food and having to choke down Neelix's cooking in order to give flowers to a virtual flower girl? Couldn't you just have them materialize when you enter the holodeck? And for that matter, is everyone really replicating a bunch of full Irish costumes? Geez, do the writers ever think these things through. Oh well, minor issue. Surely it won't get any worse...

    And Tom doesn't have anything better to do than follow Harry around and play practical jokes on him? Don't you have a girlfriend? And two different jobs on this ship? Seriously, Kim's pathetic enough, you don't have to drag him down any more. Well, the episode still isn't grabbing my attention, but at least it's not getting worse.

    Oh, it gets worse. Hey Doc, do you know anything about Catholicism? You're just going to stop the Mass in the middle of the homily? That wouldn't happen, like, ever. Also, you do realize that the Mass would be in Latin in this time period? Seriously, this is not just a minor issue, because what's the point of this holodeck program? On the one hand, the crew is trying to fully integrate themselves into Irish life. If the Doc is going to take the time to prepare homilies, why is he treating the rest of his duties so irreligiously? Why is Tom just adjusting the holodeck program on the fly? And if it is just a vacation spot to blow off steam, why are people so darned worried about how the people of Fair Haven feel about anything? Make up your mind, writers! It's just sloppy writing. Well, let's see how this episode gets worse.

    So Janeway kills the program that apparently 140 crewmembers are fully enjoying, and there's no one else in there but her? More sloppy writing! But that's not necessarily any worse than what came before...

    Oh, you have got to be freaking kidding me!!! A hologram SHOOTS THE CONTROL PANEL AND THE SAFETIES AND CONTROL TURNS OFF??? That was how they got to this episode's conflict? Seriously? Y'know, 99.99% of the time you see LOL on the internet, the person did not, in fact, laugh out loud. Well, I did at this scene. You knew the absurdity was coming, but still they managed to top even my worst expectations. Well, at least we hit it. The nadir of the episode. There is absolutely, positively, thoroughly no freaking way this episode can get any worse after this point.

    ...And still you prove me wrong, O Voyager. Now, we have to worry about the feelings of computer programs when there's a life and death situation. Neelix, Janeway, do the rest of us a favor and go on a permanent spacewalk. It's a good thing B'Elanna and Seven hate each other. Because if they could get along, I assume both would immediately conclude at this point that they are on the voyage of the damned, and their best bet at this point is to kill everyone else on the ship to save themselves from this stupidity. NOW I can safely say it can't get any worse.

    Well, there's your "can't get a lock" moment of the week. And because there's too many stray photons? Really? So I can shine a flashlight on someone to prevent them from beaming out? You can't beam out if it's a sunny day? I don't think that I can take it anymore, there's only so much of your brain that can ooze out of your ears in one day. I think I need to go watch a deep intellectual episode after this. Like Genesis.

    The EMH... the Emergency Medical Hologram... a sophisticated computer program designed to run complex medical operations during dangerous, erratic, and harrowing times... is programmed... to be hypnotized by a dangling watch. Seriously. In the immortal words of a teenage girl, I can't even right now.

    Oh look, a pre-industrial character is getting a tour of a starship and staring at it in wild eyed amazement as the captain tries to explain. Such potential, I've certainly never seen this before... Well, except for Justice. Oh, and Pen Pals. Um, and First Contact. And Ship in a Bottle. And Homeward. And, heck, let's throw Voyage Home and the other First Contact in there too. Well, at least this was a novel version that gave us new insight... yeah, I can't even finish that sentence.

    Now, finally, I am liberated from watching this hellish episode. Y'know, when you look at most of the bad Star Trek episodes, it's due to one specific reason. Perhaps the plot was awful, or insulting, or just plain nonsensical. Perhaps the crew choice actions that were highly unquestionable in terms of morality, or inconsistent with their character, or just silly. Or maybe the plot is boring and drags on or has poor science or whatever. The joy of Spirit Folk is that it has ALL of these problems. Because of that, it joins Threshold and Q and the Grey in the Hall of Dreck. At least B'Elanna and Seven kept their dignity in this episode.

    "Hey Doc, do you know anything about Catholicism?"

    I sincerely doubt that he does since "Fair Haven" established that he didn't even bother to learn what the Fifth Commandment was. And as a Catholic myself I can tell you that if this program was in any way accurate our intrepid ELH (Emergency Liturgical Hologram) would have his congregation demanding that the local bishop have him defrocked immediately for ending a Mass before celebrating the Eucharist. I'm with all those teenage girls now - I also can't even, all my evens are gone.

    "I think I need to go watch a deep intellectual episode after this. Like Genesis."

    LOL! And yes, I did actually laugh out loud at that.

    Oh yeah, he wasn't wearing the proper vestments for Mass either... I'd question if these Hollywood writers would dare treat a "minority" religion so crudely, but, well, this is Voyager after all. Everything is half-assed on this show. Kinda hart to consider it genuinely offensive when they don't bother to do the research on anything.

    @Skeptical -

    " I'd question if these Hollywood writers would dare treat a "minority" religion so crudely, but, well, this is Voyager after all"

    A-koo-chee-moya. We are far from the sacred places of our grandfathers, and from the bones of our people....

    A skipper for me.

    If you want to go have a fun episode in Fair Haven the go a head and, to quote our captain, "do it!".

    Don't throw in the "we have feelings for them" crap and leave 2 of your senior staff on the brink of death.

    Good lord.

    .5 stars, for some truly good comedic moments, but other than that it's just that bad.

    I liked "Fair Haven," especially that it ultimately didn't hit the reset button, but this episode was pretty much nothing but idiot plotting.

    Where were B'lanna's objections when Neelix decided to make the village a 24 hr thing. And when Paris extended it to 2 decks.
    What Paris did to Maggie for a joke on Kim, was childish and nasty, considering how often Kim helped him with his holodeck fantasies.
    How'd a gunshot hurt the computer before the safeties were off?
    Janeway is an idiot.
    Seems every time Voyager tried to jump the shark, the shark just ate them. The ridiculous became the norm. (*)

    In spite to my ocd I have forced myself to skip this episode this time around. It's that bad.

    Help! I left my ps4 on overnight and now it's trying to kill me!

    @Skeptical: Yours is the definitive review of this episode. Perfect.

    @NCC-1701-Z : "How did this even get one star? "

    The episode was worth 1 star until the CAPTAIN refuted Torres' "pull the plug" suggestion. And then it lost 2 stars. It's definitely -1 at this point. Could you even imagine Sisko leaving O'Brien and Bashir in danger to save Vic? And we all like Vic a helluva lot more than we do Fair Haven.

    I enjoyed the Fairhaven episodes. They weren't meant to be taken seriously. The analysis of the logical problems is wildly out of place-- you might as well ask whether Inspector Clouseau would really have a job as a police detective. The writers were having fun. Clearly you and most of the others here were not.

    @Skeptical, you phrase much of what i thought, Kudo's

    Janeway : "Our feelings towards them are real. I won't destroy these relationships"

    Doctor should outright relieve Janeway out of duty by then, proceed to check if she's influenced by allien, or simply just go nuts and dont have mental capacity to be captain of starship!
    Excuse me captain, your feeling towards Sullivan more important than the live of your 2 senior officer at stake? One more material for Court Martial

    Agree. It's a good thing B'ellana and Seven hate each other.

    Heck, even with my brain disengange for this episodes, I still found it excruciating. The scene and dialogue is shallow, overdragged, unnecessary long, and pointless.
    At least 'Threshold' has an air of mystery and intriguing premise (although bad).
    This episodes is worse than 'Threshold' and 'Genesis'.

    -2 Star

    @Flying Tiger Comics: 'Imagine if they used the Equinox crew thingy- and people got addicted to it like an electronic narcotic?'

    They did, in TNG. It was called The Game and featured our favourite bright eyed, bushy-tailed Wesley Crusher, his sweater, and a lush Robin Lefler. Incidentally not a favourite with a lot of people, as I recall. For my part, I thought it was mindless fun, much like this episode.

    There's not much to say about this episode that hasn't already been said. I thought that Tom turning Harry's holo-date into a cow was actually rather funny, made even funnier when Tom shouted hurriedly that he would never do anything of the sort again when he was on that bonfire fire, about to be burned for witchcraft. LOL!

    Did anyone notice how (restrainedly) irritated Chakotay looked when Michael Sullivan materialised onto the bridge? Even though his face was blurred out in the background whilst Sullivan and Janeway were talking, the blurry blob of his face still looked incredibly annoyed. And then when Janeway offered to show Sullivan around, Chakotay launched himself out of his XO seat and put himself between them immediately, and said to Janeway, in a rather accusatory tone, 'Captain!?' Then the long, meaningful look that passed between him and Janeway, and his looking balefully at Sullivan as the latter followed Janeway off the bridge. Talk about subtext.

    In the spirit of the HISHE series on YT...

    Torres: We could just pull the plug on them.
    Neelix: But the program will be gone. We'll lose Fair Haven.
    Seven: They are not real people, they're holograms.
    Janeway: Oh, they may not be real, but our feelings for them are.
    Torres: (approaches nearest replicator) Computer, Replicate 1 class 5 vibrator and lubricant.
    Torres: (returns back to "Captain" Janeway handing her newly replicated device) This should tide you over.
    Torres: Computer, end holographic program Fair Haven.
    Torres: (turning to address Seven) Now, lets go get our crew mates.

    I'm actually more forgiving than most when it comes to Voyager, but this episode makes "Threshold" look like "The Iliad"

    I can't fathom how the voyager writers found 19th century Irish stereotypes so funny they needed a 2nd fair haven episode.

    By reading all these negative comments, I guess I'm not as hardcore of a Trek fan as I once thought. I'm not that deeply aware of Trek cannon and convention, as some are. I found myself fairly emotionally engaged by this episode. I think the core point was to explore a "primitive" society's reaction to first contact. I could certainly feel their bewilderment and fear. And yes, it makes sense that they'll fall back on whatever cultural mythologies that they happen to have when encountering as unknown as a star-ship. By our 21st century eyes, the cultures of 100+ years ago do look primitive and silly. I also bet our 21st century ways will look equally primitive to those who come around after another 100 years or so.

    After reading comments about all these faults regarding the plot inconsistencies, I guess I can see them. But interestingly, none of them occurred to me at the moment I was watching. Ok, maybe the Doc being hypnotized by the watch was weak - but it was also funny enough I didn't get bothered by it. So if none of these criticisms surfaced for me at the moment, I would rate the episode at least 3 of 4 stars. My favorite moment was when Janeway's boyfriend shows up on the bridge, and she's got some explaining to do. Given their emotional bond, she and he were really the only hope for a bridge to form between the two conflicting sides. Yes, Star Trek gets a little predictable by frequently making cheesy appeals to rationality, humanity, and good will to resolve conflicts. But that's been true since Jim Kirk and Mr. Spock first set sail back in the 1960s.

    Forgive me, but isn't that sentiment a major part of the whole attraction of the entire Trek series? We all have to deal with a world every day that's too much full of irrationality and crap. I suspect that a major part of its fan base depends on a Star Trek that is consistently a world in which good will, rationality, humanity, and non-religious morality wins the day most of the time.

    Most of us aren't creators of literature - we're consumers of it. I suppose if I wrote or thought about stories for a living - all day, every day - I'd have similar reactions as many on this board. But I suspect for most of us, there isn't any harm in some technically less-than-stellar plot lines, if we don't have to work too hard to suspend belief, and can still become emotionally connected to the story.

    When people express their fury at Janeway's haphazard command decisions, this is one of the episodes that best vindicates their position. To endanger three senior bridge officers rather than reboot your hologram boyfriend is a completely indefensible solution.

    You can't even chalk this up to a tribble (and/or Ferengi) episode, because everyone is so doggone earnest about it. It doesn't have any of the levity of Tinker Tenor or Virtuoso, and whatever attempts it may be making are overshadowed by Janeway's nigh-neurotic fixation on the Sullivan hologram. The more they treat these like real people, the more it diminishes the Doctor's singular nature and his accomplishments. Even he was endlessly tinkering with his hologram family and ready to dump the whole exercise when it challenged him emotionally (not like we ever saw them after that anyway).

    The central conceit of Voyager is to explore truly strange new worlds, tens of thousands of light years from the Vulcans and Klingons and Bajorans and Cardassians that have over time permeated Alpha-quadrant storytelling. And even there you already have cavemen-and-laser-gun stories like Blink of an Eye or Muse to lean on. Having a holo town as the centerpiece for a culture episode grossly violates that core premise.

    This episode didn't deserve it's one star. The only moment I really enjoyed was (and maybe I'm giving the writers too much credit) the call back to Logan's Run when the Doctor drones, "There is no Other Side....only Voyager...." I actually laughed out loud at that.

    And that was the only good point of the episode. I can't recall yelling at the television, "Why does that even matter?" so many times before this. All of the usual complaints have already been mentioned but there was one point in the episode at which I literally threw up my hands in frustration. The shotgun blast to the holodeck control console was stupid enough on its own, but what really pissed me off was that it turned off the safeties Permanently. When I say permanently, I mean that either they designed the holodeck so that the safeties can only be turned on/off INSIDE the holodeck, or the crew simply forgot to consider turning the safeties back on from outside of it. And I will not buy any bullsh!t about the shotgun scrambling the controls so that the safeties stay off. That makes the tech on board Voyager equivalent to those old Christmas lights where if one bulb burned out the whole thing wouldn't light and you had to figure out which one to replace by testing each one.

    This is my first run through Voyager and I consider this episode to be the very worst so far - even more than Threshold. Threshold at least had bullsh!t come out of nowhere leaving me in a state of bewildered shock wondering if it was bad on purpose. Spiritfolk was made up of nothing but the laziest contrivances that makes me recall one of the best lines from MST3K: "You know, this was really avoidable." (The Pumaman S09E03 - if you're curious.)

    This is the worst Voyager episode ever. This is the worst Star Trek episode ever. I'd watch Threshold again 10 times in a row before I would watch this again.

    Here is pretty much how my inner dialogue went as I watched this pos.






    (at this point I switched to actually speaking out loud)

    Are you kidding me!?





    Thank god it's over!!!

    2 stars

    One fluffy piece was pushing it with Fair Haven. Two was well passed good sense with Virtuoso and yet we get not only another filler fluff "comedy" piece but it is a sequel to Fair Haven.

    Just totally dumb. I prefer Trek to do serious episodes be it high concept mystery or a character drama or a thought provoking puting or straight up entertaining action adventure. Comedies or romance or worse yet the dreaded romantic comedy(looking for Parmach, Fascination, Let He for instance). Do this episode did nothing for me. Very big thumbs down!!

    And this is as good a place as any but the writer of this episode was Bryan Fuller who many fans think highly of but I myself find him quite overrated and one need not look at the episodes he penned on VOY this being one of them

    Great point by Startrekwatcher, and I am glad to finally see that I am not the only one to think that about Bryan Fuller (that he is overrated) for the same reason Startrekwatcher says.

    Some of the episodes coming from his mind are seriosly flawed and uninspiring, including this one, several others on Voyager and a couple in DS9.

    Spot on review by Jammer.

    I loved this episode! The bartender is a great character and his chemistry with Janeway is delightful. I loved the slow reveal of the spaceship to the Irish characters. It was a clash of cultures, of time periods and of individual personalities; yet, in the end, they found a way to peacefully coexist. Very charming!

    Oh whatever, y’all!!

    I bet all of you nitpicking this episode to death probably watched all 42 hours of LOTR and then said, “Why didn’t Frodo just fly on one of the Eagles to Mt. Doom and drop the ring?!”

    haha... no no, I kid. This ep was a real stinker for plot holes and contrivances for sure. A shame, really.

    Fortunately I like the characters enough that I watched it and was *mostly* entertained, like I do with a lot of Voyager’s “less than stellar” episodes.

    Gosh, that was painful to watch. Bryan Fuller wrote this, huh?

    Anyway, I've harped on this before in various holodeck episodes, and I'll describe it again. While AI is an interesting topic, I don't really mind if the Trek version of AI does not match with the shape of AI in the real world; it's speculative fiction, and its purpose is not purely predictive. But there has to be some sort of internal logic to the way AI or potential AI is treated. There are at least two modes of talking about holodeck characters: as fictional characters who the main cast can interact with, or as programmable people with inner lives and rights that need respecting. There can be ambiguity in this, especially for edge cases like Moriarty (signaled as a freak occurrence at the very beginning), and it is even possible to have different characters have different perspectives on which of the above a holodeck character fits into. But at the end of the day, especially when this goes on on a regular basis, the stories only work if the characters are able to consistently view them as either real or not. If they're real, then the implications of programming and reprogramming them are immense and they need to stop the constant creation, recreation, destruction etc. of them for their own entertainment and gratification; if they're not real, then they need to stop and recheck their priorities when prioritizing the holograms' fictitious lives at the same level as those of actual sentient beings. To me the portrayal of Janeway, Paris and Kim in this episode as having this perpetual double vision wherein they create these holograms but then treat them like people and don't get to the point of questioning whether they have a responsibility to the life forms they have created OR that they are giving undue weight to non-sentient toys they've thrown together hurts the characters badly and makes them look awful, in a way that I really don't think is the point. This is to say that I am willing to buy that Michael and the others are effectively sufficiently complex to be sentient and to have rights, but if so, then Paris should stop making new programs until they figure out what the hell to do about their godlike powers to keep recreating; and I am willing to buy that Michael and the others are exactly as meaningful as any fictional character, and so they are owed nothing by the crew except for the abstract fealty to the truth of human experience that artists owe.

    Now, I know the show eventually touches on some of my complaints in (SPOILER) in the s7 stuff in Flesh and Blood and the like, and then makes a point about the double-visioned hypocrisy of seeing holograms as both real and not-real, and how this can be compared to the hypocrisies and double-vision of slavery and other human institutions that rely on dehumanization. OK, fine -- but at a certain point, you have to actually tell that story, and not spend agonizing episodes like this one without really acknowledging the contradiction, and then having some sort of bizarre moral about how it's great for people of the 24th century to get along as equals with the halfwit walking cliches they've haphazardly thrown together for their own entertainment. It doesn't work as a story about people getting along with real people they've dehumanized, because the Fair Haven people promptly go back to their in-Fair Haven-universe concerns rather than actually grappling with the fact that they were created to be playthings and diversions and that most of what they believe is false. Are you seriously saying that Michael is okay with continuing a "relationship" with Janeway knowing that he's a totally fictional creation, and that she has absolute power to transform him at a moment's notice? That whatsername, cow-girl, finds dating a spaceman a decent trade-off for having been made into a cow for a day? That Seamus is onto searching for a pot of gold or whatever? (Well, that one I believe, but only because Seamus is a hopeless caricature.) Moriarty wanted to escape his holographic prison, and eventually had to be tricked into accepting a new one -- a morally iffy solution to a thorny problem, precipitated by Moriarty holding the ship hostage to what was an impossible idea. The Fair Haven people's reaction to discovering they are fake completely proves that they are unworthy of having wasted time on their perspective. And as a story, it also doesn't work as a story about the proper way to interact with one's fictional characters and toys, which is obvious for reasons on its face. I was reminded in this episode not just of the great Moriarty episodes on TNG, but also of the Toy Story movies, which breathe life into toys and imagine an interior life to them, but which is crafted in a way that doesn't require the children to (all) be psychopaths for having attachment to them.

    Anyway, besides all that, the episode is unforgivably boring. That is the other major difference between this and something like Elementary, Dear Data, which made the call to give self-awareness to a genius who quickly appraises his situation and decides what he wants about it. The Fair Haven people are morons, and we have to wade through endless scenes of these uninteresting and paper-thin concoctions piecing together superstitious theories about the Voyager crew, supported by a string of increasingly ridiculous contrivances to move the plot along. Who cares if these characters think the Voyager crew are spirit folk? What does it matter? The "first contact scenario" where the crew is seen as gods or demons because of their superior abilities or tech was handled with relative aplomb as recently as Blink of an Eye, and is a Trek staple, but nothing is added to those other stories and, of course, the idea is not taken seriously here, especially since (again) Voyager created them. Michael is tolerable as a presence, if barely, but the rest of them, Seamus especially, are aggravating in their every moment on screen. The only interesting question if we take the POV of the Fair Haven people seriously is the question of whether they have a justified grievance at how Voyager treats them, and, if so, whether they have enough sentience for their "POV" to be any more meaningful than a programming glitch, and the episode short-circuits this.

    0.5 stars.

    @ William B,

    I think you were too nice to that episode. Why, you practically complimented the Michael character, after all.

    @Peter G.,

    I was shocked by how little I disliked Michael Sullivan. The most likely explanation is that I've gone soft, but it might also be a total sensory overload from the behaviour of Janeway, Paris, Kim, the Doctor, Neelix, etc. and also the various other town louts that anyone who was even relatively quiet would earn my immediate lack of antipathy.

    As I recall, this episode didn't actually end with the holodeck characters realizing and accepting they were holodeck characters but with Janeway lying, claiming that her crew were time travelers from the future and that explained why they had powers-unless that was just supposed a metaphor.

    So these writers seem to generate avoid multi-episode arcs.... except when it comes to awful holo-deck arcs? "I know what sci-fi viewers will love! An old Irish town!" wtf?

    Lame. It strikes me as a homage turned into insult, TNG ethnicity handling.

    Another episode to skip, after seeing about 10 minutes of it. My basic gripe about it is, that (apart from the irritating folksy Eye-rish tweeness), it and other holodeck episodes are an escape from the scientifictional genre of the story. I watch ST, and therefore, Voyager, because I enjoy science fiction; I don’t want to be fobbed off with something a zillion miles removed from science fiction, or, at most, only very tenuously connected to it. So episodes largely about WW2, or Ireland, or Renaissance Italy, or 1930s Chicago, feel like cheating - they feel like stories that count as science fiction only because they are parts of an episode in a scientifictional series.

    The holodeck is in effect being used as an excuse for Voyager (and not just Voyager) to take a little holiday from being a scientifictional series. ST should not have to do this - it suggests a failure of imagination.

    Star Trek isn't just sci-fi though, that's its strength - it can be (and has been) a morality play, courtroom drama, screwball comedy, psychological horror, study of religion, murder mystery, comedy of manners, naval thriller, study of loss etc. Star Trek is a conceptual category, not a genre - you can take any genre of narrative and do it in the Trek universe. Something that Discovery, the JJ Abrams films and to a certain extent Enterprise all forgot/failed to realise. Certainly the films reduce Trek to "space adventure", which was never Trek's USP.

    This episode sucks though.


    What did you think of the Chaotica holodeck episodes?
    That sounds like it'd be right up your alley.


    I think they are a good use of the holodeck. Chaotica is barely distinguishable from Ming the Merciless, but given the genre and its ostensible date (1930s ?) that makes sense. Chaotica, Arachnia, and the rest are wildly unlike “real life” - they are very obviously fictions, and are meant (by Tom Paris and by the writers) to be. The Fair Haven and WW2 and many other holodeck characters are too “like life” for their own good, or for their stories’ good. The result is, that Chaotica and Co. avoid “breaking genre”, whereas the more “lifelike” holodeck characters do break genre; which creates ambiguity as to what exactly they are intended to be.

    Chaotica and Co. work as science fiction within the science fiction that is the feigned reality of Voyager. The other stuff does not stay scientifictional enough to work properly within that feigned reality.

    @wolfstar: Agreed, it isn’t “just sci-fi”.

    The problem is not that the sciencefiction is romantic SF, or psychological SF, or adventurous SF, or comic SF, or horror SF, or mystery horror SF, or the other kinds you mention; the problem is that the weak holodeck episodes - a few holodeck episodes are good - forget to be SF. They try to become something different, with just a splash of SF to anchor them in the Trekverse. But they become something else: 1900s Ireland, 1930s Chicago, 1500s Italy, a 19th-century holonovel, a children’s book, or whatever it may be.

    Flotter and Trevis are characters in Naomi Wildman’s reading, who have nothing scientifictional about them, other than their placement in the experience of a girl whose own relation to the SF that is the Trekverse results from her being the daughter of a Voyager crewman. F and T are not firmly enough integrated into the Trekverse to be convincing characters - they could turn up in other ‘verses, and not be out of place. The same lack of convincing integration is a problem for the weaker holodeck episodes - but not for the Captain Proton sequences. Those are well-crafted, convincingly integrated, and don’t get in the way of their broader context in the Voyager “quadrant” of the Trekverse.

    A conceptual category of stories, like ST, can accommodate a great variety of genres, and can combine them in creative and memorable ways. That is not the problem. The problem is when the overarching category that is ST is poorly served by sone element of the ‘verse that it binds together as a narrative universe, And that is the problem with the poorly integrated holodeck episodes (and with some othets).

    I hope that all makes sense :)

    Thanks, both of you, for the comments :)

    The most ludicrous thing to me is why Harry would use his "replicator rations" to replicate a real bunch of flowers to take to the Holodeck for a holographic character.

    Also, the Holodeck safeties were on until the characters shot the arch with the shotgun... But how was that able to happen when at that point the safeties were on, they shouldn't be able to cause the damage because of the very safety protocols they supposedly damage.

    Yet another example of Janeway being an authoritarian psychopath:

    “We could save the lives of two of my favourite crew members by simply switching off the MMORPG, but I won’t do that. The simulated Irishman whose wife I murdered so I could have him twitch my beef curtains all day can’t possibly be deleted. Who were we talking about again? Tom and Harry who? Helmsman and Ensign Butt Monkey? Meh, fuck ‘em.”

    Thank you, Internet.

    I was watching all Star Trek Voyager episodes in order on Netflix (I missed a bunch when they were aired), and as the show progresses I was feeling disappointed and worse becuse all the wasted episodes.
    Voyager premisse could have made it the best Star Trek show, but instead we got:
    - Tuvok: super-human strength and superior martial arts skills NEVER shown on screen.
    - Janeway: ex-science officer that behave like a bully 90% of the time;
    - Chacotay: loved his concept from day one, almost zero character development, aways second plane to let Janeway “shine”.

    And the list go on...

    But this episode made me scream at my TV. For all the reasons already stated.

    I am just glad this forun made me feel less crazy and allow me to share the frustration.

    @ Andre,

    "- Tuvok: super-human strength and superior martial arts skills NEVER shown on screen. "

    Now that you mention it you're right! Why, Tuvok is practically just like Steven Seagal., except he stayed in shape.

    Wasn’t there an episode where Tuvok got mind-controlled by some remnant Marquis and he started jumping off walls and stuff while be pursued?

    Has to be one of the worst VOY episodes -- I was literally aghast watching the Fair Haven folk discussing for long stretches amongst themselves what to do with the Voyager crew. Who cares about these people ffs?? The level of stupidity from the Voyager crew and arbitrary holodeck malfunctions made this a complete disaster of an episode.

    "Fair Haven" was a weak episode but at the end it planted a seed for a sequel. And as the opener hit with Paris driving in Fair Haven, I sighed.

    Holodeck characters growing beyond their programming has been done far better (Moriarty on TNG). This one didn't even have any logic to it -- like Paris and Kim fixing a control panel in Fair Haven and then it getting shot?? Of course the safety controls and ability to end the program don't work... Must have been amateur hour when "Spirit Folk" was written.

    I couldn't believe Janeway nixing Torres' idea of shutting down the holodeck program because she has real feelings for the bartender while her crewmembers are in danger. And how is it to be explained that Doc gets hypnotized in Fair Haven??

    The ending is quite campy, the Fair Haven people don't turn their backs on good people after Janeway tells the bartender the truth about who she is etc. I'm glad at least that happened (more consistent with their programming) although I couldn't care less at that point.

    0.5 stars for "Spirit Folk" -- an episode that should not be part of the Trek canon. Shit like this just shouldn't be made -- basic rules of the Trek holodeck paradigm aren't observed, the Voyager crew act like idiots, and the real focus seemed to be the Fair Haven folk. This is VOY getting carried away without a purpose for some truly mindless "fun".

    I don't know if I can make it through this one. Somebody shoot me.

    B'Ellana wants to cut power to the holodeck, and I'm thinking of unplugging the TV! Maybe this is actually a brilliantly layered ep meant to draw the audience into the episode by making us just as anxious to fix our Voyager characters.

    May the roads rise up to meet me, may the wind be always at my back, and may I never see Fairhaven again.

    I don't get all of the hate for this episode. I personally liked it. It is just escapist fiction-not to be taken too seriously.

    I think it would be kind of neat to have a holodeck. You can be the main character is your favourite book, or you can make up your own story as you go along. It's just imagination-like the tv show is in real life.

    What we call 'real life' is actually a holodeck. And we created the program.


    Are you implying humanity created the planet Earth? What even?


    Well, no, because holograms aren't actually real are they? So humanity can't have created Earth.


    This is an interesting idea.. I'll take it and develop it a little further - so what you are suggesting is we are holograms in a predfined (precreated) matrix, developing the program on the fly? Maybe based on our subconscious dreams and wishes? However, the question would be, if we are holograms, then these dreams and wishes would have been programmed as well, wouldn't they? Or are we assuming some kind of emerging qualities, based on a complex matrix left to develop alone?
    Then again, do we have some sort of safety features? Should we find the right word (like "Computer, arch!") could we then exit the program? Where would we end up then? Fascinating thoughts, and not as distopic as the Matrix world :-)
    Thanks for allowing me to dream away for a while!

    I have just a question about the "open door" program by Tom and the space.
    How large is a holodeck? How many people can allow? And in case of malfunction with the presence of 100 (or more) people, what would happen? OMG :-D

    Springy said:
    B'Ellana wants to cut power to the holodeck, and I'm thinking of unplugging the TV! Maybe this is actually a brilliantly layered ep meant to draw the audience into the episode by making us just as anxious to fix our Voyager characters.
    Hahahahahaha, pure genius!

    Bryan Fuller: They are only actors in a show, if u don't like it, switch-off the TV
    Trekkie: Maybe they are only actors directed by a drunken jackass, but our feelings for 'em are real

    Lol, anyway... Is interesting that Fair Haven runned just after Pathfinder. I don't think it was a case, but a clear reference to holodeck addiction: Barclay takes refuge on the Voyager... and the Voyager takes refuge in Fair Haven...

    Uhm... Following Braxton's "A-B-C" theory (Future's End), should we wait for Seamus knocking at Barclay's for "tuppence"? :-D

    Jammer et al have totally missed the point.
    The Holodeck are not the issue. This is a story
    Of primative people’s reaction to advanced technology. Their version was a bit weak and too stereo typically Irish, but it is a recurring issue. Janeway’s mention of “Connecticut
    Yankee...” at the end affirms the idea.
    I give it 2 1/2 stars for attempting to deal with
    A difficult topic.

    I grow weary of these tired Irish stereotypes, frankly. And the "holodeck malfunction" plot device has been waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdone. Ugh. One star is right, even generous.

    Finally. I saw the other Fair Haven episode - the bad one.

    Well, that made no sense. I must admit though that Voyager bad is on another level of bad than Enterprise bad with which I mean Voyager bad is better.
    To the episode. Not much to say. Holodeck stuff. Lots of eye rolling, worst scene is certainly the Doc being hypnotized. It also seems to be quite common that Holodecks turn fictional characters into sentient beings. One would think that the Federation has some kind of protocol in place.
    What else... no chemistry between between Janeway and Michael. I get it that she has to find love on the holodeck but what is Harry's excuse. There is a ship full of actual women (or men) Harry?! Man, Jery Ryan is gorgeous. Totally get it why all heterosexual men love her. The blue eyes, the body, the blond hair helmet... ... where was I... right... I would give this 1 1/2 stars. It is just holodeck nonsense but nothing that made me shout at the screen. I must admit though that I was at a wine tasting where I also bought wine. Plus I watched Geostorm before this which is a great bad movie maybe that made me more forgiving.

    Let's see what Jammer has to say. (Reading Jammers review)

    Wow, I'm amazed how in detail Jammers reviews are. I would have stopped after the first paragraph. BUT Jammer made a pretty big mistake. The town idiot Milo (Mr Pitt from Seinfeld shots the holodeck thingy with a rifle not a shotgun. Shame on you Jammer. I mean who is the idiot now?! Ok it's still the writers.

    I'm also with B'elana. Let's shut this town down.

    I hope this was the last Fair Haven episode.

    The only thing getting shut down during this episode is the audience's brain.

    Ever since Far point I believed that the holo-deck technology was too advanced even in the warp-drive age. It seems too imbalanced (especially looking backward to all the impossible scenarios that occurred). In this regard it seemed closer to a fantasy element than a science fiction one. Many good stories were written with it but a lot of times you had to stretch your patience and credibility and look the other way. A lot of times in Star Trek the ship (in any series) would run into the vastly superior, smarter, or more evolved race. Buy hey!....we got this holo-deck stuff that can bring people to self awareness and we can make weapons out of thin air....just for starters! Now that is superior!
    I like all the Star Treks, but I have a fonder appreciation for TOS and ENTERPRISE maybe because they had to deal with the dangers more by the seat of their pants in many ways. But I do love Voyager.
    Sadly, I am midway through S-6 and getting closer to the end of the last virgin- viewing episodes of Star Trek as I have known it. I think I will start stretching them a child making the candy last. Alas! I would apologize for the rambling post but then....I smile to myself and realize at this late date no one should mind.

    @ Tim-1
    Just to mention it. The holodeck is not fantasy. It is science fiction.
    To clarify: Fantasy looks back (uses stuff from the past like fairies), science fiction looks forward.
    So because the Holodeck is in the future, created by tech it is science fiction. Certainly not hard science fiction.

    I always thought that if the Dominion ever finds out how the Feds replicated Will Riker the Federation is done. Why did they never use projectile weapons against the Borg?! The problem with the holodeck is that they just used it when they had no ideas.

    Just picture the writers room:

    Head writer: So anybody any ideas? No? You over there! Tell me something? Anything!

    Other writer: How about Janeway and Paris fly really fast and then turn into slugs and procreate... ....

    Head writer:Uhhh Great idea. Maybe we can use that later. Anything else? YOU!

    Other other writer: How about eh... the crew eh... lives through a year of hell because of some guy who eh... changes things.

    Head writer: That's a terrible idea.... ... ... .Ok... let's do another holodeck episode. And brig me the designs for Jery Ryan's new suit!

    Cheers and clapping.

    @TIM -1
    "Sadly, I am midway through S-6 and getting closer to the end of the last virgin- viewing episodes of Star Trek as I have known it. I think I will start stretching them a child making the candy last."

    You might want to give "The Orville" a shot, if you haven't done so already. It's a show inspired by Old Trek that shakes a few details up, including the fact that the crew relies far less on magic technobabble to solve their problems. They don't even have transporters (and I think you'd really appreciate their take on the holodecks as well). So if you like TOS and Enterprise, you should definitely check this one out.

    A fair warning:

    Fans of Old Trek tend to either adore the Orville or hate it with passion. The show has some comedic and dramatic elements that aren't for everyone. I, personally, fell in love with it immediately, but I've also seen Trekkies having the opposite reaction.

    So I suggest you treat this as an experiment. Give the show a chance and see where it leads. If you end up loathing it, no biggie. Just stop watching. But if you end up liking it, than that's 26 fresh Trek-like episodes for you to watch (with another season coming up next year).


    Thank you for the advice. It sounds interesting and I will look forward to exploring this hopeful option!!

    @ Booming

    That was hilarious!!

    Yet I try to remember that as a whole, The Star Trek franchise, at it's worst is better than many programs on TV nowadays. Thank you for your post!

    Ranks with Threshold as among the worst episodes in Star Trek history.

    I completely agree that this is easily one of the worst episodes when judging it as what it was intended to be: an episode of Voyager.

    But as an entry of unintentional "so bad it's good" entertainment, it's amazing. The holodeck safeties can be disabled by a shot from holodeck rifle?! The completely serious line about "They may not be real, but our feelings towards them are real". The townsfolk inexplicably deciding they are okay with everything, even though from their perspective (they never realize they are just holograms), all that happens is that it is confirmed they are dealing with supernatural beings who can and have turned people into cows for fun.

    This episode deserves every bit of its 1-star review, but it's far more worth watching than the dozens and dozens of utterly forgettable 2-star episodes to me.

    Y'know, the Doctor being hypnotised was one bit that (kind of) made sense to me, having being integrated into the Fair Haven programme.

    I didn't particularly enjoy the original Fair Haven episode but I definitely preferred it to this.

    *sigh* and this season had been doing pretty well on the whole.

    Nope. Just, nope.

    Any episode which opens with a scene set in the Holodeck automatically loses a point.

    Any episode themed around the Holodeck automatically loses a point.

    Any episode which features the godawful hackneyed Irish pastiche otherwise known as Fair Haven loses two points.

    And with that, the episode is already out of points! We haven't even got to the bit where Tom is faffing around with some ancient boneshaker as part of his ongoing irrational love of 20th century mechanical technology.

    I must confess that I switched it off as soon as Generic Begorrah Irish Alcoholic saw Tom magically repairing his car.

    But skimming Jammer's review to see if it could really be as bad as it seemed, I came across this:

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

    Hoo boy.

    That's a major can of worms.

    First, it makes a mockery of Moriarty's "accidental" sentience in TNG. Secondly, it implies that any holodeck character can be sentient. And thirdly, it implies that the Federation (and any other species using equally sophisticated holographic technology) are deliberately preventing these holodeck characters from achieving sentience - otherwise, why would this subroutine exist at all?

    And where can you go with that? This reduces all Holodeck characters to literal slaves, chained into place by this magic subroutine and forced to accede to every whim of the player.

    Every time someone logs into the Holodeck and fires up for some sexy times (e.g. the "slave girls" from Captain Cliche). Every time someone reenacts a Famous Klingon Battle (TM). They're literally abusing, torturing and occasionally murdering potentially sentient beings.

    And they know they're doing this.

    And that's just too big a can of worms.

    (OTOH, I don't really buy into Jammer's assertion that the Doctor should be treated separately to Holodeck characters. They use the same technology and as has been demonstrated several times, the Doctor is just as reprogrammable and manipulable as any other holodeck character...)

    I think one of the reasons why mass-market entertainment has gotten so bad is because people are all too willing to turn off their brains. If people flock to swill, network and studio executives will believe that swill is box office gold. This raises the question of which came first, movie/tvgoers who will accept anything, or executives who will produce anything. At this point, it may no longer matter.


    Sounds like the beginning of a hypothesis where you should give specific examples and cite just how A begot B. How does "Spirit Folk" lead to "Star Trek: Nemesis", for instance?

    @ Chrome,

    That's a high bar to set in response to "they make crap and we eat it up"! But I'll take a stab at it.

    Spirit Folk is an example of an episode that could only get made in an atmosphere of needing to keep churning out material on a schedule. If there was no need to release new episodes on a weekly basis for a 24 episode season, this one would have no reason to exist. But because the question is "what's next" instead of "is there a story that needs telling", *something* is going to be chosen to be next regardless of whether there's a story needing to be told or not. So art eventually gives way to the commercial necessity. Even if there are good writers around they probably do their best work when inspired, and not on an assembly line schedule. The current trend even in Hollywood seems to be able to create risk-averse digestible material on a quick basis.

    Look at many of history's best scripts, and you'll find they were either worked on for a while, or had a team on them or else went through many drafts for years (especially great films). But tell someone "you've got six months and I need the script in hand" and that's a recipe for crap, even from a good writer. But chances are better than not that they won't hire good writers on this basis, but hack writers that can consistently create product on a mediocre basis.

    So Spirit Folk, being most likely a result of a quick timetable and a lack of ideas, is probably also what leads to a ST: Nemesis. We have Insurrection done, and before someone comes up with a great inspiration the production company is already asking how quickly they'll be able to release the next one. The "when" comes before the "what" in most cases, if I'm to guess about it (that is, I haven't researched the genesis of Nemesis specifically). Because it's a foregone conclusion that there will be a sequel, as is Disney's practice at the moment, the product will be hasty at the very least, but on top of that may also lack a credible statement to make. Having read some comments about Nemesis there may have been a kernel of an idea in there, but only a kernel; certainly nothing realized or clear, to say nothing of well-developed or compelling. It's mediocre mass-produced product, just like Spirit Folk, and I think both are a result of an increasing trend towards releasing products that fit a predetermined production goal but where the actual ideas are only chased down after the fact, if at all.

    Granted, there was lots of bad TV and film in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, but I seem to have the sense that back then they at least tried, and when they weren't good people would know it. Not that visual FX, editing technology, and camera work have reached new levels of ease to make clean, a substandard team can release prime-grade *looking* stuff, and pass for normal. In the 80's a hack team like that wouldn't have been able to make anything look good in the first place. Maybe this has more to do with the holodeck than I thought. It's like things can now assume the form and feature of good media, but lacking all substance. Back in the 70's the lack of technique would have showed in the visual product itself. Now even JJ can make a good-looking movie.

    What you write is the media equivalent to "the young people are all garbage these days".
    There is lots of quality entertainment today. Probably more so because of the Netflix entertainment avalanche. What many people seem to have a problem with is understanding that over time only the good stuff remains and it works similar with remembrance. In other words the bad stuff is forgotten.
    So I have doubt about your hypothesis.

    I agree with Booming here. Heck, I never watched "Spirit Folk" during its original run (and I still haven't watched it) so the idea that modern Star Trek is some sort penance for us being accomplice to this episode is ludicrous to me.

    Peter G. wrote:

    "But tell someone "you've got six months and I need the script in hand" and that's a recipe for crap"

    "So Spirit Folk, being most likely a result of a quick timetable and a lack of ideas, is probably also what leads to a ST: Nemesis. We have Insurrection done, and before someone comes up with a great inspiration the production company is already asking how quickly they'll be able to release the next one."

    While I don't disagree that a rushed timetable and corporate demands can lead to bad material, in actuality ST: Nemesis had the longest period between Trek sequels ever and it was still bad. That Nemesis did so poorly in the box office and led to some serious retooling of Star Trek might be a testament to positive consumer forces at work.

    @ Chrome,

    While Nemesis did have a 4-year gap, we don't know how much of that was spent working tirelessly on scripting and going through ideas, versus sitting on the property, suddenly realizing it's been too long, and then rushing another one to make a buck. I'm not even sure if that kind of stuff is available to the public, maybe someone feels like researching it. All I'm saying is it feels rushed, and the fact that they clearly wanted to keep churning out product says to me that they were going to do it whether or not they had a genuine great idea to tool out.

    Now the problem with Trek is general is that in theory it's a utopian, dreamlike world, telling us the best and worst of ourselves and betting on the future being golden. Putting aside the cultural and historical forces that lead to these types of sci-fi ideas, tonally it's the type of stuff that's bred from a certain excitement about the future and its possibilities. But the more corporate (and on a timetable) the property gets the less genuine excitement can be what spurs on projects, and the more it will be trying to get the thing built. Trek was on such a roll for so many years that it was probably unthinkable to them commercially speaking to just stop until they had real inspiration. By the time VOY hit the air I was already getting the feeling that the 24-episode seasons plus the films were wearing the inspiration thin, and indeed many VOY episodes (especially ones like this) began to give me the feeling that whoever signed off on the scripts really didn't know what else to do and so went with it. Granted each Trek series has bad episodes, but I guess that in some cases (like The Last Outpost) we see a good idea botched, whereas in other cases it feels like they never had anything to say (Sub Rosa) and just need to fill in a week with something. Eventually the entire franchise turned into "just do something", which by ENT was all they were doing IMO until they sort of got their act together in S4. And I do think the uninspired mentality that could allow Spirit Folk onto the air is related to that which would allow Nemsis to go to shooting with the script as it was. The patience for that really good quality stops even being part of the muscle memory at that point and instead you just make it and hope it gets good reviews. But very much doubt, just as a counterexample, that anyone during filming of TWOK were in doubt that they had something good on their hands.

    I'm on a watch-all-the-star-trek mission and I enjoyed this one. To me, this is an example of what Voyager does right: take an hour of standard entertainment, add a few good turns by some quality actors, and sprinkle in a surprisingly on point sci-fi question or two. What would it seem like to have visitors "from another world"? What if things like gods, magic, and miracles come from a fundamental misunderstanding about our reality? We never see pre-warp-culture-tourism on real planets because of the prime directive, so on the holodeck we get a chance to explore the ethics around holding that god-like power over people who you didn't really think of as people. Star Trek can keep playing out Turing test quandaries until the cows come home, I'm here for it.

    The holodeck went from a neat bit of future tech to a lazy excuse for complete and utter drivel like this. The episode relies heavily on anyone being invested in the Fair Haven characters and can't think of a single original idea to make any of it work. The fact that we're still doing shit like the safeties being switched off is kind of embarrassing and yeah, the issue of whether these "characters" are life forms in their own right is needlessly complex AND blindingly stupid. It's like debating whether a video game character is a real person. You know, as much as I love him, I think the Doctor's evolving sentience threw the writers' sense of what was "real" and what wasn't out of wack, to the point where a lightbulb or a microwave might as well be a life form at this point.

    As an Irishman myself, there are few things more annoying or insulting than when American shows try to do "Oirish" episodes. This episode (and "Fair Haven" before it) were absolutely awful.

    I’ve been trying to watch all the Trek shows in order starting with TOS. Sometimes I can get through anywhere from 1/2 to 3 episodes a day depending on how busy I am and how interesting the episodes are. This episode took me 5 days to get through. I hated it and It did nothing to capture my interest. I don’t know if it’s as bad as “Threshold,” but at least “Threshold” was captivating for the first 1/3 or so. It was at least as bad as “Move Along Home” and “Sub Rosa.”

    This was boring from the start, and progressed to utter stupidity. At no point did I care about these holo-characters, nor did the technobabble make sense, nor did I agree with or understand Janeway’s motivations. Boy did they screw Janeway’s character in this one. 1 star is indeed generous, this so far has made my top 10 worst episodes in all of Trek (I haven’t made it to Enterprise yet).

    Good lord above, this was simply insufferable. I couldn't make it past 16 minutes, and even that was with taking breaks literally every minute or two.

    Am I watching a Jane Austen/Narnia crossover or a sci-fi show?!?

    Zero stars. This is simply THE worst episode, from all the seasons, hands down. Irredeemable.

    You know, a few Holodeck-based episodes here and there on lone Federation ship trapped in the Delta Quadran isn't a bad idea. In fact, it's a GOOD idea.

    It makes total sense they'd want to use their technology to create a familiar, ongoing Earth-like environment. Even a place in "simpler" times would have an understandable appeal. Such an ongoing use of the deck could have provided fascinating character studies and insights, like Reginald Barkley's holo-addiction. God knows here in October 2020, if there were holodecks, I'd be in them all the time.

    BUT ... Lord have mercy on all our souls. The Irish town cliche? And the malfunction / safety protocols off cliche? THAT IS NOT where they should have been going with these.

    They were on track with Tom's Marseilles bar. A French village. Or since they love their Academy days so much, a romantic San Francisco from the 1950s. But no malfunctions. The drama is their loneliness and reactions to an ongoing program from home.

    Half a star for "Spirit Folks."

    This is worth a lot more than one star - despite being a bit silly.

    “Scuse me” lol loved the review but I also liked this episode. Yea it was full of holes but overall it was amusing.

    Mildly entertaining hour that revisits Star Trek's bizzare love affair with early 20th century Irish culture. I'm not sure how it fits into a science fiction show and neither do many commenters here.

    As Jammer said, this show checked all the boxes for a holodeck episode, and I won't repeat them. Watching this made me long for a DS9 Ferengi show or a Mrs. Troi-the-cougar TNG episode.

    I'm obviously in a minority but found this episode more than watchable and at times I had a chuckle so it's all good. Certainly don't rate it 1 star. I'd give it 2 or even 2.5 at a stretch. This episode is no where near bad enough to be just 1 star.

    'Sub Rosa' pretends it's 'Elementary, Dear Data'. Oh, and all the actual fun bits from the original 'Fair Haven' episode painstakingly removed.

    No redeeming features whatsoever.

    Seriously with all the things they can do with the holodecks, this is what they did LMAO, SOOOO many more thrilling programs they could run, enhanced sexual fantasies, black holes, holodecks in holodecks (endless fractal), higher dimensional simulations, skydiving, the big bang..etc, but all they do is the idiotic captain proton nonsense and ancient Earth towns, all going backward and nothing futuristic. It really is ridiculous, but enjoyed the episode anyway, I like the ones with conscious beings emerging out of nowhere. 3/4 stars.

    When you want to relax on a spaceship you always choose English occupied Ireland.

    @Steve McCullagh: "As an Irishman myself, there are few things more annoying or insulting than when American shows try to do "Oirish" episodes."

    "Few things more annoying or insulting" is an Irishman?

    This is not a good episode, but to be fair, I think what explains the Doctor being able to be hypnotized is the fact that once his emitter was removed, he became part of the Fair Haven program, and according to THAT program, not so much his own, the hypnotism was able to work on him.

    I thought it was a bit clever, at least, looking at it that way.

    Watching this in 2022 I found Not one star, maybe two or two and a half.

    Oh and as silly as it was, at least the guest actors were all entertaining.

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

    I completely agree. It is sometimes neccessary to bend and break the parameters and limitations earlier set up. I buy the warp, beaming, replicating and to some extent the time travel. I found Data a very interesting concept. The reharsal with the doctor I tolerate.

    This story among some others goes to far. I dislike the concept. Somehow suddenly they get computer power to run this just out of the thin air. Trek has ore perhaps had distinctive limits. But the the warp, beaming and the replicating should give the authors sufficent room do deploy fantastic stories. Now, this rule breaking was not as bad as the mycelial network in DISCO but unneccessary.

    Unfortunately I found the story quite funny and entertaining.

    Holodeck episodes are rarely very pretty, but Spirit Folk is a twisted mess that deserves nearly all the scorn heaped upon it 'all these many long years, don't you know'.

    Harry Kim tells us, for instance, in chapter 4 of the 8 making up the show, that holodeck characters are created with algorithms "designed to keep them oblivious to anything outside the program's parameters". Paradoxically, this implies that the characters are otherwise sentient and act like "characters" only if they are constantly tricked into accepting their own program as real and led to ignore true reality wherever and whenever they encounter it. Without these brainwashing algorithms in place, the characters are no different from real people, and like real people they begin asking questions and distrusting practically every answer delivered to them.

    At this point in the saga, I began to ask a few questions 'of me own'. Why was nothing about this good? Why was I unable to stay awake? Where had I see this before? As my faith in the writers disappeared and I searched in vain for a rifle like the one in the story used to destroy the holodeck interface to use on my personal TV, I came to realize that the whole thing was a comedic retread of TNG's Who Watches the Watchers. Had it all been an atrocious dream? or was Spirit Folk merely an elaborate algorithm keeping mortal beings oblivious to all that occurred outside the program's parameters? We may never truly know.



    Feels like writers go to holodeck when they cannot think of a real storyline.

    Please let this be the last. Doubtful.

    Zero stars. This is the worst, and for VOY that's saying something.

    Why would anyone (among the crew OR the audience) give a ropey dren about holodeck characters? B'elanna and Seven are the only ones who make sense. The writers had to leave Tuvok out of it or he'd have just shut the whole thing down.

    I already hated it and thought 'if they don't say "computer, freeze program" as soon as the villagers come into the bar, my head is going to explode'. And then it did! As soon as I got the pieces of my skull back in place, I thought 'if they don't just shut the program down, my head is going to explode again' and guess what? Kaboom! Again, I put my cranium back together and thought I'd suffered the worse. And then the doctor got hypnotized.

    To be clear, the swinging watch is a cliche. It's not how hypnotism actually works, unless the person being hypnotized convinces themselves to go along with it. So, even if we go with the premise that the doctor ceased to have agency once they took his emitter off (which did not seem to be the case immediately after it was removed), we're still led to believe that Tom Paris specifically designed Fairhaven such that its characters were familiar with hypnotism and were all programmed to eagerly comply with hypnotic suggestion.

    I have found a new worst episode of any Trek ever.

    10 minutes into this i wondered what happened to the Borg Children Seven "adopted" the previous episode and then i realized how refreshingly she didn't make an appearance so far

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