Star Trek: Voyager


2 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

— Janeway and Doc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous episode: Blink of an Eye
Next episode: Memorial

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111 comments on this post

Jakob M. Mokoru
Mon, Feb 4, 2008, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Well, Jammer - don't be that harsh! I do not think this episode deserves only 2 stars. Make it 2 1/2 or 3 and you're o.k. by me! ;o)

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

So, be a nice reviewer and uprade your rating by that half star! ;o)
Fri, Apr 18, 2008, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with Jammer on this one; even dispite the aliens being dumpster trash, the entire premise that Doc would just jump ship so easily (it didn't seem like a difficult decision to leave all his friends forever) and not realize what was coming seems pretty unrealistic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, I'd give it 2.5 or 3 stars. 2 is very harsh.
Tue, May 25, 2010, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
Overall, I found the episode to be watchable entertainment.

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

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

Just a thought...
Thu, Jul 8, 2010, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Two stars? Why!? The episode is funny, it's interesting and it does something deeper than the quirky forehead of the week causing a bit of nuisance for Voyager.

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

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

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

Janeway should've reset his program after this little escapade.
Thu, Jul 22, 2010, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
I have not watched Voyager in some time, but if I start watching this show again I might avoid this episode the most.

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

I find a lot of the ratings you give to Doctor-heavy episodes like "Projections" and "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" to be overrated.
Tue, Aug 24, 2010, 4:44am (UTC -5)
Was it me, or was the same city backdrop used for both the Qomar and the Kremin homeworlds?
Thu, Mar 24, 2011, 6:57pm (UTC -5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not perfect, but far better than I tend to expect from Voyager. Your mileage (lightyearage?) may vary.
Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
I actually enjoyed this: a bit of silly, inconsequential fluff and it's always nice to have a break from the usual Voyager format of angry bumpy-headed aliens and exploring consoles. The first half was deliciously fun, but the second half lost it a bit. Stepping out of comedy and trying to milk it for intellectual debate (the Doc's rights as a sentient being) and pathos (the goodbye scenes), was a mistake because it then expected us to take what was essentially a very silly comedy premise seriously, and I couldn't quite do that. Switching genres halfway through a story is a bit of a cheat on the audience and renders this uneven.

Two things that occurred to me during the ep: firstly, is the singing thing part of Picardo's contract, perhaps? And secondly, has there ever been a worse
Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
,,,worse guest performance than that of the actress playing Tencoo? Although, to be fair, I guess it could be in part due to the way the character was written.

(sorry this is split in two, another technological glitch, I wish I could edit my comments!)
Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 2:42am (UTC -5)
I have to respectfully disagree with Jammer's contention that the characterization of the Qomar belongs "in the dumpster." Yes, they are annoying, but I think that that's exactly what the writer's, director, etc. were shooting for... I found their awkward rudeness to be hilarious, in keeping with the overall level of absurdity showcased in this episode. The fact that they were all so short was a nice touch as well - it's little touches like that that are so effective in creating interesting alien societies.

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

I do wish the Captain used her leverage - access to the Doctor - to the crew's advantage more. If the Qomar were so advanced, perhaps Janeway could have negotiated for an exchange of technology or something else useful for the crew's journey.
Thu, Sep 29, 2011, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
This is a dreadful episode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Ooh-- one last note. A happy one, too! I LOVED seeing Beata's perfume-pilfering manservant from TNG's "Angel One" in the audience at the Doctor's recital. AWESOME TREK ACTOR CALLBACK!!!!)
Thu, Sep 29, 2011, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Ooh ooh--- one more one-last-note!

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

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

It was unreasonable enough to believe that Janeway would allow the Doctor to leave the ship and leave them doctorless. That no one-- not Janeway, the Doctor himself, B'Elanna, Tom, 7/9, NO ONE!-- would then suggest that the Doctor's program be copied is just redonkulous.
Fri, Nov 11, 2011, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
His Harry Kim analogy really falls flat :)
Fri, Nov 11, 2011, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
"This is my main quibble- It seems to me that whenever "Trek" has a plot involving human created music, the selections are usually Opera, Classical, or Blue Note style Jazz. I mean, the series is set over 300 years in our future- wouldn't it kind of make sense to include some contemporary music to our time frame?"

Unfortunately copyright is still stuck at 1923, even in the 24th century.
Mon, Dec 26, 2011, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
As a copyright lawyer, I have a belief that Paramount should have doled out some dough for the royalty payments for music that is contemporaneous to the time of production.

(And then created other styles.)
Tue, Mar 13, 2012, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
What seems to happen with far too many older series (Voyager was probably too new to fall into that trap) these days is when the time comes to put out the episodes for home release it seems like eventually one company wants more dough shelled out than the other company is willing to pay. Then you end up with the dreaded 'replacement music' on the home releases.

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

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

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

After the novelty wore off, he probably would have smacked himself upside the head and said "what was I thinking!?" when he decided to leave the ship. But that couldn't happen in the episode because he had to back on board before Voyager departed at the end.
Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 11:55am (UTC -5)
Another thought just struck me. Voyager's sensors shut down their propulsion system?

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

Qomar fan: That was beautiful, Doctor.

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

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

One thing I never understood: the locals were fascinated by the music itself, but especially by the mathematical aspects of it. So why were they so fascinated by the doctor in particular? His singing wasn't any more mathematically complex than what the other musicians on the ship were doing -- probably less so than most. So why weren't they mobbing all the musicians? It didn't really make sense for them to focus so much on the doctor, and in the end, it turned out they only wanted him for his music, so why the fangirl stuff earlier....doesn't make sense.
Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
I really like this episode.

The moment the Doctor realises he has been replaced, and the Qomar are just looking for the next big thing, is really humbling for the Doc and Robert Picardo portrays that well. And you feel for him.
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Personally, I found the episode hilarious and the aliens were deliberately annoying.

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

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

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

I am so glad that I disregard many of his reviews on Voyager and watched the episodes with an open mind.
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 10:34am (UTC -5)
@KL: Well, you're right about Jammer's rating bias, but it isn't fair to dismiss his reviews out of hand. They're always well thought-out and worth a read. That said, the impression that Trek's scores must rate against a DS9-centric system is rather annoying at times. See, the way DS9 was written most closely resembles the way literature courses are taught. It obeys the rules of modern fiction quite well. It usually lacks that special quality which cannot be so quantified which makes Trek special, but there it is. This is a minimum 3-star for me.
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Forgot to mention that the spam question used to be Picard, but was changed after someone hacked in and started spamming the pages. If it happens again, I expect the new answer to be Janeway.
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 11:30am (UTC -5)
Elliott, thank you for setting the record straight about the spam question. That is indeed the reason it was changed.

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

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

But I will defend myself and say that I took both on their own terms. Maybe they aren't from the same viewpoint you might have taken, but that's why they are my reviews and not yours. :)
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
@KL: It's not Jammer's fault that VOY failed to utilize its initial premise, failed to develop almost all of its regular cast members (other than Seven, the Doctor and maybe Janeway), that it completely disregarded continuity after season 2 and that was BY FAR less daring than TOS, TNG, DS9 and even ENT.

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

But it was an amazingly frustrating series that drew natural comparisons with DS9 because -- as Jammer said -- the two series aired almost concurrently.
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
@KL That's a bit aggressive =( But while Jammer might have a DS9 "bias", I'd say that's just his opinion of what works and what doesn't. Whether any one particular person agrees or doesn't agree, isn't that what a review is, an opinion? It's going to be subjective one way or the other.

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

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

Random off-topic fact: I'm tickled by how the way the Trek community is divided by TNG, DS9 and Voyager parallels the way Law and Order fans are divided by L&O, SVU and Criminal Intent. Like, perfectly, it's uncanny (Trial by Jury may or may not line up with Enterprise, haha...the parallel falls apart there).
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 10:14am (UTC -5)
"To accuse me of bias is okay and maybe even fair, though I would argue there are reasons for my so-called biases. But at some point, if you have to take umbrage at my spam question, you are just looking for evidence against me where it simply does not exist."

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

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

Ultimately, DSN is a good apple and Voyager is a good orange.
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 10:42am (UTC -5)

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

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

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

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

So what if the shows ran concurrently?

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

Granted, these reviews are his opinions, and I would've give them a lot more credibility if I haven't heard so much about Deep Space Nine this and Deep Space Nine that.
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
@KL: Well, it's certainly possible that you and Jammer could agree on Voyager's overall failings and disagree about the rating of an individual episode.

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

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

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

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

Voyager really never did. It played it safe for the better part of seven seasons, leading to mundane drama for much of the time (with the exception of some truly good episodes). But the drama was often mundane because we knew, by the fourth season, the consequences of what we were seeing were meaningless at the end of the hour.
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
I loved this episode, but I have to say: Worst guest actor EVER! The alien woman was so bad she would have fit right in in a John Waters movie. I would guess she slept with a network exec but she's not even that attractive. Maybe she's someone's family member or something?
Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 2:42am (UTC -5)
I for one think this review is right on the money. I found myself alternating between highly amused and highly irritated throughout the course of the episode. For example, it seemed completely out of character for the Doctor to make the choice he did, to the point that I wonder why Janeway or anyone else never thought to check his program to see if the aliens were manipulating him.

I agree that the actress who played Tincoo was like nails on a chalkboard. According to a couple of short internet bios I glanced at, she's actually a fairly busy actress and has even won a handful of awards (albeit, ones I've never heard of). It could be that she was simply way out of her element here. Also, it appeared to me while watching the episode that 100% of her dialog was dubbed. Whether by her or another actress, I have no idea. For those reasons I think she probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. In any case, it was astoundingly poor casting and it severely hurt the episode.
Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 2:28am (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode for the most part. As a musician myself, I tend to enjoy episodes of Trek that revolve around or at least include music. Yes, it had its faults, but I thought it was a very effective episode.

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

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

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

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

Wow, I've gone on way too long. I'll just end by saying that the final scene between Doc and Seven...absolutely beautiful and heartfelt. I squeed.
Mon, Aug 12, 2013, 3:04am (UTC -5)
The episode had a lot of problems. Plus those already mentioned, did the writers really need to throw in that dig about people wanting to be friends with celebrities in order to feel important? The meta-condescension was a real turn-off.

That said, the whole thing was worth it for the scene between Seven and the Doctor at the end. Awwwwwww......
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
as always, my favorite parts were the interactions the doctor had with B'elanna, tom, janeway and 7. always made for witty or meaningful conversation. the plot is just away to allow these conversations to happen.

2.5 stars
Lt. Yarko
Fri, Aug 30, 2013, 2:25am (UTC -5)
HAHA! I had to laugh at that fractal opera! What a mess! I love Janeway's look when the copy doctor goes low.

Probably one of the most memorable episodes of Voyager. Everything Robert Picardo does in this episode is great. I agree with Jammer that the aliens of the week were pieces of crap.
Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed Robert Picardo as the Doctor. I didn't enjoy the way the crew generally treats the doctor. In every Doctor-centric episode, it seems there must be petty abuses and general disregard for what the Doctor thinks and feels. It's not very "Starfleet."

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

The more episodes of Voyager that I watch, the more I dislike Janeway. She is just plain mean.
Mon, Dec 16, 2013, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
I think the rudest (and most annoying) thing the Qomar do is stand up in the middle of Kim’s clarinet performance and say « We want to hear the Doctor ». That’S the stuff real musician’s nightmares are made of.

« A technical piece that’s truly weird and emotionally vacant; a human would call it awful. »
As surprising as it may sound, there is a fanbase for the kind of music that was used to represent Tincoo's composition. It's amazing how tastes can vary.
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 2:35am (UTC -5)
See, I kinda liked Tincoo's piece. It was certainly no stranger than some of the 20th century classical music I had to study while in college.
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
The episode is brilliant for a number of reasons. The Qomars reminded me of gifted children who see numbers and math much differently than most people which also explains their direct no nonsense social skills.

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

Most notably, and I can't believe no one has commented on this. Tincoos piece is the ORIGINAL Star Trek theme, brilliant!! If you don't believe me, go back and watch it!
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
Hopefully the Qomar became so fixated on their dreadful caterwauling Doc clone that they got completely steamrolled by the Borg.

Such should be the fate of all one-note species!
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Awww 2 stars? I think this is in the top tier of Voyager episodes, it's funny, makes some good satirical comments about the nature of fame, uses the doctor's blustering egocentricity to great effect. Really fun. xD I agree the basic premise is dubious, how would the Qomar really have avoided ALL contact with music... when they have evolved the ability to produce and enjoy it... but all in all it's just a great episode. :P

Wilma - is Tincoos piece really the original theme? I tried to listen to it again and couldn't notice, but that's awesome... is it just the same notes in the same order but for different lengths? Or changed in some other way?
Thu, May 15, 2014, 3:16am (UTC -5)
Ok, the plot is a mix of challenging idea (a civilization that doesn't known music) with 60s bad awkward silliness. Although it also has the good 60s awkward silliness as well.

More importantly, Doc's inner struggles are very touching. His debate with the captain is already worth one of the stars star by itself. And his few interactions with Seven, in this episode, are outstanding! Among the best things I have ever seen in any Trek. The last scene touched me deeply.

This one is certainly flawed, but it has to deserve more than 2 stars.
Thu, May 29, 2014, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
I thought it was a good episode. I find the Doctor's behavior to be quite human. To suddenly be a superstar would turn anyone' head. It would be rather robotic not to be affected by it. It's easy to say you would turn your back on cheering fans, but harder to actually do it.

I did note that they used public domain works that they didn't have to pay for, but in retrospect, that may be a good thing, for a couple reasons. Licensing copyrights can be a mess. The movie Heavy Metal sat in limbo for a time because the music rights were limited. The other reason is that the public domain works are timeless. If they had chosen works that were popular at the time, the episode might have become dated really quickly. You can't know what will hold its popularity.

Creating a duplicate hologram to sing for the Qomar was the logical solution. The Qomar prefer their hologram's music, but it is sterile, all math, but perhaps that's just a matter of taste. I believe the Doctor would eventually have become disillusioned with the Qomar as they wanted more and more of the sterile music they prefer.

But this Qomar hologram - will he ever exceed his programming and want to become more that just a singer? It would be ironic if he wanted to learn medicine. Or the the Qomar see their hologram as little more than a mobile iPod?
Mon, Jun 2, 2014, 1:42am (UTC -5)
"I know, alot of the music being made today is pretty forgettable, but there are some very strong compositions and musical styles that (in my opinion) will probably stand the test of time. It only seems logical that centuries from now some of our songs will be held in the same regard that some early songs are today."

I want to hear The Doctor sing a Lady Gaga song. Or a Katy Perry song. That would be freaking hilarious.
Sun, Jun 22, 2014, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
It seemed as though the writers weren't sure whether they wanted a comedy or a serious drama and so they tried to have both--and that didn't work so well. I agree with Jammer that this episode had high high points, and low low points, but I think the two-star rating is harsh. I would give it a 2.5 at least.

I loved the final concert scene and it is that scene which I believe really makes this epsiode a worthy one. (One thing I wasn't clear on though was whether or not the crew at that point knew that the Doctor had changed his mind and would not be staying on the planet after all. After his final performance, they show Janeway wiping away tears, and I wondered whether she cried because of the music, or because at the time she thought it would be the last time she saw the Doctor?)

Jammer wrote, "Tincoo brings out her new-and-improved singing hologram, which sings a technical piece that's truly weird and emotionally vacant; a human would call it awful. It's a spectacle that's simultaneously bizarre, hideous, hilarious, and painfully heartbreaking. "

I wouldn't call the piece "awful" or "hideous" but agree with all the other adjectives. The piece was so weird and bizarre that it was hilarious. Yet I still find it interesting.

And it was sung by the hollowest of holograms (Picardo did a great job playing the emotionless Qomar-ized hologram), hilarious (lol @ Janeway's eyebrow-raise), and heartbreaking because you realize that the Doctor has just been replaced by the Qomar in the same way that you might excitedly replace an old refrigerator with a new one that has an ice maker.

I liked Janeway's line at the end and Mulgrew's delivery: "Resume your normal activities. All of them."
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Another EMH growth episode. I'm not against that at all BTW. I love Picardo. A fun ep, with lots of issues as others have pointed out but...

For this moment alone I'll give this episodes 3.5 out of 4 stars.

"EMH: Oh, Seven, I didn't see you. I suppose you've come to gloat.
SEVEN: I have something for you.
EMH: What is it?
SEVEN: Fan mail.
EMH: Delete it. I don't want to read another word.
SEVEN: Then I'll read it for you.
EMH: Seven.
SEVEN: Dear Doctor. I regret that your last performance was not as successful as you'd hoped. There are still those who appreciate your unique talents and admire you as an individual. I'll always consider myself your loyal fan.
EMH: Who's it from?
SEVEN: It's signed Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of unimatrix zero one."

snif, snif...

We see 7 grow here too. Anther's feelings and freindship mean more and more to her.
Mon, Oct 6, 2014, 10:32am (UTC -5)
This quote by a poster had me thinking. It could have been a larger rating had the writers shown growth in the crew or more so the aliens . I'm not usually a fan of "Our way is better than yours we shall show you.' but I really wanted that female alien to really get that you can be creative and intellectual. That there's validity to the use of expression and creativity. She could have been the catalyst for change for her society. Instead it was a doc lesson ep where I don't think he needed.

"I believe the heart of the theme is that you can't cut creative expression out of your
society. Otherwise you'll end up dry, emotionally stunted and sorely lacking of a way to
connect with others in a way that transcends simple verbal communication. I believe that
having the Qomar's speech patterns and interpersonal interaction be so stilted and
awkward was done on purpose to illustrate this very idea."
Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 6:36am (UTC -5)
Justin said:

"I can't believe they had Paul Williams guesting on a show all about music and there wasn't even a passing reference to one of his songs. One line of dialogue would have sufficed:

Qomar fan: That was beautiful, Doctor.

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

I agree--that would have been perfect. Having Paul Williams on this was one of my favorite parts. He clearly is having a really good time playing the pompous character.

I think this episode would have been so perfect without Tincoo.
Sun, Feb 28, 2016, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised that we didn't see Seven of Nine and the Doctor do a duet for the Qomar, espescially during the Recital. It would have been interesting to see where the episode would've gone if Seven was adored by fans as well.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
I came fairly close to flat out hating this. From the ridiculous premise ("tell me more about this Earth word - music") to the jarring tonal shifts to Picardo's scenery chewing it just didn't work. But the worst thing about it - and Greg nailed it above - is that it takes away the Doctor's dignity. He acts like a prick, everyone calls him on it, he goes ahead anyway, and then he is left looking like a prick when it all falls down. It's impossible to sympathise because it's his own insufferable arrogance and ego that got him in that situation. So quite what the writers here were trying to achieve you have to wonder.

There are a couple of nice scenes with the Captain and with Seven and frankly that's all that stops this getting a big fat 1. 1.5 stars.
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 11:52am (UTC -5)
This was an excellent episode - and I completely disagree with Jammers assessment of the aliens - they were extremely consistent, and it was the understated and frank flatness of the Tincoo that foreshadowed what was coming. It was like watching the Doc run full tilt at a brick wall - the anticipation of the impact was reasonably suspenseful .. when will he work this out, when is he going to wake up?

If the aliens were nice - this would never have worked - their holier than thou attitude was supposed to be annoying - in fact I found it quite amusing. They did deserve a few kicks though - but nobody delivered. "I'm sorry - Gandalf isn't signing any more autographs - you'll just have to go back to the Shire."

The idea that the Doc wouldnt leave the ship, that he fell for it too easily? Hah - the Doc's ego has never been under control - and it is the cause of most of the flak he gets from the crew. We always see the Doc misreading sarcasm - its not new, and his ego has never been under control, and neither has his sense of under appreciation.

This situation hits both of his principle flaws - and hits hard - I had no problem with the premise of his character just loosing control under the circumstances - I would have been surprised if he had shown any caution. Its always been very clear - the Doc is always ready to listen to anybody who strokes his ego.
Thu, May 12, 2016, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Ugh This is the only Doctor episode I refuse to ever watch again. I hated the Qomar even worse than the TNG Ferengi and found the Doctor considering leaving voyager unbelievable. He has a duty to the ship that should take priority over any hobbies he has. and was Created to tend to the sick and injured!
Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 8:33am (UTC -5)
One more comment.

I think they could have accomplished everything in this episode without the Doctor deciding to leave Voyager. I think they went too far there and that was out of character for our EMH.

3 stars for me.
Voyager Fan
Mon, Aug 8, 2016, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode although I will concede that Janeway allowing the Doctor to leave is a little unrealistic, especially since the new Chief Medical Officer will be her Chief Pilot (hope helm control can be routed to sickbay). LOL. Nevertheless, a fun and entertaining story.
I particularly liked the scene with Janeway and the aliens in sickbay (and the look Janeway gave the Doctor due to the aliens' obnoxious attitudes) along with the scene with the Doctor in the mess hall when he calls Janeway by her first name as well as the goodbye scene between the Doctor and Seven. The last scene with the Doctor and Seven was also good.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, this was pretty bad. The aliens were terrible. Voyager giving up their only real doctor? Not believable. Tom is primarily a pilot and also most likely to get himself killed doing something stupid.

The Doctor wants to spend the rest of his life with people he met a few days ago? A woman he just met with whom he hasn't yet discussed the nature of their relationship?

I thought Tincoo (WTF kind of name?) made her feelings for the Doctor clear, so it just doesn't work when she replaces him. It isn't like he misunderstood her. I felt she really had fallen for him, but then just dismisses him.

And I honestly don't think Janeway would kowtow and simper so much. They're aliens with advanced technology, but unless they can open a wormhole that can send Voyager straight home there's no use being so submissive.
Sun, Sep 4, 2016, 11:32am (UTC -5)
I think I agree with the consensus that there was potential and some moments but way too overdone. I totally agree that the writing and direction seemed very disingenuous in pretty directly claiming Tincoo had fallen in love with the Doctor and then claiming that wasn't what she meant (and for the Doctor to think he could still win her back when she hadn't actually liked him as he thought she did was just really dumb).
I think this episode is also the only time it seems Seven has romantic feelings for the Doctor, hurt not just because a friend is leaving, due to vanity, but hurt more deeply because she wanted to romantically be with him ... and that idea doesn't work.
Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
Hilarious stuff. Seems to me that as advanced as these people are supposed to be couldn't they make their own singing doctor? (***)
Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
oops. guess I should have finished the show before I finished my comment lol
Wed, Nov 16, 2016, 4:09am (UTC -5)
Great. 3 stars

I don't know whether anyone other than Picardo could've pulled this off, but he was awesome.

But a planet of oompaloompas that can't sing?
Sat, Feb 4, 2017, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Uninteresting and absurd premise, but as usual Picardo deliver a great performance and help the episodes for being a complete dismal.

The idea of Doc face his fair challange to improve himself and facing humanity aspect is already beaten to the death (Darkling, Reallife, Retrospect, Latent Image, Warhead, Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy).
Not to mention we have abundant episodes of Seven dealing with basically the same thing, only with a bit different angle. It's getting old!
The premise of Doc indulging himself and self-absorbed to a 'rockstar', is pale and not interesting (irrelevant as Seven may say) compared to the other episode!, and the plot that deliver the premise is way silly and absurd, alien who never heard a song eh... not even a tone?
Hello... Universe is full of that thing, ever heard of resonance frequency, wind blowing.. etc

There are some good dialogue and moments though. I like the exchange between Doc/Janeway, particularly the way Janeway acknowledge Doc as close to equal being, treat the EMH like an adult and capable crew member, allow him to made important decision for himself.
It's kinda ironic though, because so many times Janeway pose as a motherly figure and treat her human crewmember like kid, which is annoying.

B'ellana exchange is also compelling, she reminds the doctor in subtle way that his skill and achievement is still integral part of technology pieces and can't be seperated just as is. "I can even reprogram you to a whisling teapot, but if I do that, you wont be you anymore.."

Too bad Seven has to suffer by being stupid courtesy of dumbscript. She's not smart enough to aware of humanoid foibles now? Can't have recognized the Komar "fan mail" and go for red alert?
BTW.. Tuvok, anyone can trigger a red alert eh? Well, at least you didn't lose shuttle this episodes!

Overall, the performance of Picardo and some good dialogue prevent this to being complete abysmal.. But it still below average episodes, just barely watchable for me.

2 (**) star
Sun, Apr 9, 2017, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
I don't disagree with others about the flaws in this episode, but I really enjoy it just because I love the Doctor and it's funny. Nothing wrong with that.

As far as the Captain allowing the Doctor to leave the ship--he was absolutely right that if a flesh-and-blood member of the crew decided to leave the Captain would have no problem with it other than missing the person when they left. Why IS the Doctor any different? I don't understand those who think a fully-realized hologram like the Doctor isn't a person. When he was first activated, it was like the birth of a baby--who then learns and grows and adds things to his programming. I don't see why the Doctor is considered any different. He's just a different type of person.

My other thought is why the Tincoovians were so un-thrilled at Doc's final performance. They hadn't heard the new hologram at that point--Tincoo says she'd just created him. This is the first performance of the new hologram, so they have no idea how "great" his singing is going to be. So why are they so bored by the Doctor's brilliant song? (Love the little moment when the Captain wipes away tears). I know the writers were trying to show how fame and admiration is fleeting; I just felt they handled it awkwardly. Having the aliens desert the Doctor AFTER they heard the new hologram would have made more sense.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 8:56am (UTC -5)

If memory serves, it was a "higher math" thing. They just didn't "feel" the math in his operatic choice.
Paul Allen
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 6:30am (UTC -5)
2 stars, upped to three by the scenes between Seven and the Doc.

Wed, Apr 19, 2017, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Had some decent moments, but the worst moment was Janeway agreeing to let him leave the ship. Unless she did so knowing he would come back, it's unthinkable to believe she would deprive her crew of their CMO for the rest of their journey, flesh and blood or not. Yes, he's an individual, but he's also a member of Starfleet. You don't just get to desert your assigned post on a Navy ship because you find your calling at some foreign port.
Mon, May 15, 2017, 5:28am (UTC -5)
To add my twopenneth on the comment argument/debate about DS9 vs VOY, it makes sense in some ways to compare the two as they ran concurrently (as in they were filmed and shown together, and they are set in the same time frame). I am a huge Voyager fan, as the basic premise (which I also agree was squandered) was the most appealing to me and I think it's got the funniest and most likeable characters. That said, DS9 was a better show week in, week out, as it was much better written, frequently made me gasp in shock (rape, prostitution, war crimes, suicide cults, demons), and just FELT like the most powerful and important of all Treks. But like I said, apples and oranges, comparable because they are sister shows.
Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 7:47am (UTC -5)
I actually really liked this episode. While I didn't believe the Doctor would leave Voyager just for fame, that wasn't my take on the episode. To me there was a more subtle side to the episode with the Doctor's relationship with Tincoo. He felt like she cared about him, like he was special to her. People on Voyager liked the Doctor but he was never more than a friend.

I think that underscored the scenes with Seven.

Perhaps I'm giving Voyager too much credit, but to me the episode felt like it was calling back to "Someone to Watch Over Me". The Doctor had developed feelings for her but in the end she'd confirmed she didn't return them when she'd told him she didn't feel there was anyone on board suitable for her. Continuity's not a big thing on Voyager. However, singing been something they'd bonded over, ending "Equinox" by going to the holodeck together just the two of them and a tuning fork.

So to me, again perhaps reading more into it than was there, this episode wasn't just about the Doctor chasing a chance for fame. It was about him realising that while people may care about him, no one on board, particularly not Seven, feels about him the way he thought Tincoo did. Then in the end the Doctor realises that Tincoo didn't actually care about him at all. It's not just a typical "big ego" episode where a character gets full of himself and It turns out he shouldn't have, there is actually a sad theme where a character who has no one on board realises they really are alone.

In that sense Toncoo's strange demeanour works since it justifies the Doctor's confusion about what she feels. Wanting to delete his medical database to sing her piece is like many desperate men who, worried about losing the woman they love, think they can change themselves to keep her.

Only at the very end does he really understand. Then Seven, giving him that "fan mail", shows that even if she doesn't return his feelings, at least people really do care about him.

Again, maybe I'm reading more into it than is there, but to me it was actually quite a good episode.
Planet of Hats
Mon, Jul 10, 2017, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
I didn't mind this episode for the first two-thirds or so, but I did find the characterization of the Doctor to be somewhat unbelievable. As much as the holodoc might have become amusingly insufferable over the years, I got to the point where I couldn't quite swallow my disbelief enough to believe that he'd want to leave Voyager behind. As much as the Doctor may be massively arrogant, his reasons for leaving the ship seemed incredibly forced and not all that credibly positioned.

I actually had no problem with the characterization of the Qomar considering that their hat is being emotionally stunted calculating machines. I'd assume that the performers gave the performance they were told to give. Not necessarily engaging, though, and again, the lack of engagement made the Doctor's big decision seem all the more unbelievable.
Tue, Aug 15, 2017, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
2 stars

Really? The writers actually thought this was all a good idea? An episode feeding Robert Picardo and the Doctor's opera fixation
A very dumb episode from start to finish with no redeeming value even as mindless entertainment. Also the whole Doctor debate was over by now as to his rights etc
Mon, Sep 25, 2017, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
1.5 stars

And again another f***ed Up episode with am egotistical doctor who is way over his head and disrespect his friends and the Voyager crew who have mostly supported him even though legally and technically he should not have any rights at all. Piece of equipment and data file. Like a sub routine developed personality and was given equal rights.

The doc talks of love and being appreciated... Both has been experienced by him before. But again he forgets. Is ungrateful...

He is sort of a star fleet officer. Though not in rank, he is part of the crew with certain rights but also duties.i really doubt that essential personal of a sort of military organization (as is Starfleet) would ever be allowed to quit for personal gain. Certainly not a captain. Security office. Engineer and certainly not the doctor.
What is more to this is that he would deliberately risk his colleagues lives to sing... To sing 🤣🤣🤣!!! How ridiculous once again.
But probably I am alone in this.
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
Four stars

- the tenacity of doing an episode about singing
- laughed out loud with the tiny hologram duet
- discussion with captain: was a fresh take on the debate, mixing duty, friendship, human vs technology and ego
- the copy of the doc: did not see that coming, and such a surprise rarely happens to me on voy
- heartfelt fanmail of seven

Some real emotion, all in all

Anybody else notice the alien of the week were all shorter than normal? Nice touch on top of the standard head thing. Made them different a bit more.
Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
Jammer's first paragraph sums up this episode and a lot of this series perfectly.
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
There's too little quality material in this episode and far too much fluff (Doc's singing -- which isn't bad, just that it's not what I watch Trek for). The Qomar were a dreadful new introductory alien species in VOY -- just plain annoying and what I really can't stand is terrible guest acting which is so evident in the Tincoo character.

Literally nothing happens for the 1st half of the episode -- basically Doc singing and getting admired. It's fun for the 1st 5 mins. or so but after that it needs to go somewhere. Where it goes has potential with Doc deciding to resign and arguing with Janeway about his right for self-determination. This idea of Doc's sentience and desire to grow is a good one and a Trek staple, but here it's drowned out by too much crap. But the arguments made by Doc/Janeway are good and one feels that Doc striking out on his own will be revisited in a future episode. Doc basically needs to be treated like flesh and blood crew. That's fine.

However, I can't believe Janeway would allow Doc to engage in his fantasies to such an extent and allowing the Qomar to dictate the relationship so unilaterally -- there was no mention of getting anything in return for all the music and Doc's performances. For a supposedly more advanced race, you'd think they might not be so selfish/inconsiderate -- or maybe this is simply poor writing/conception.

Clearly Picardo's one of the more engaging actors on VOY and the holographic doctor, along with 7 are the 2 stars of the show. Doc has a fun personality and it's clear him and 7 have a special bond -- the emphasis of that in 2 scenes in this episode is one of the few highlights. Paris is also useful for analyzing the human condition from his particular angle.

Doc gets a slice of humble pie -- that much is nice for his development. He realizes he has mis-judged the situation when the Qomar audience applauds the "improved" hologram -- makes sense. But the whole interaction with Tincoo was terrible. I don't think I can think of a more wooden character / terrible actress in Trek.

1 star for "Virtuoso" -- very close to 1.5 stars for me but there is far too much wrong with this episode. Talk about terrible execution of a mediocre premise. One can enjoy the lighthearted parts (there are many) before the real issue of the episode is underway. I think this episode is symptomatic of what was wrong with VOY -- the series has built quality relationships (between Doc/7, Doc and the crew) but it doesn't always come up with the right situations to make those genuine feelings get expressed.
Chris P
Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed these aliens because they're actually alien. I like to ask: "Would I be able to live amongst those people?" 99% of the time the answer is yes because the Voyager aliens are just humans, sometimes with a few attributes turned up and a few turned down, often meaner than average, but with human attributes. These people were legitimately horrifying in a delightful way. They seem to have almost no empathy. They think in a different way. They have no interest in the things that would interest me to the point that I don't think they'd even notice a beautiful camp fire or the joy of making someone smile. I could not live amongst these people. I would be truly alone and that makes them scary.

The wooden acting by Tincoo and some other Qomar worked as storytelling shorthand for how weird these people are. We knew that they weren't empathetic but, through their awkward acting, we also knew that they were *weird as hell* and we could assume that this extended into other areas that the episode did not explore. Actual aliens. On Voyager!

I recommend watching Voyager without attempting to immerse yourself. Don't take the stories or science seriously. Turn your brain off and the show works pretty well with and those aforementioned storytelling cheats float by without impacting your brain shields.

No, the doctor would not want to leave Voyager. And no, Janeway would not allow it. If you try to take these characters seriously as part of a serial then you're going to be miserable. They are puppets and this week's puppet story is another "what if..." As with most Voyager episodes, it's expendable. I'm on my third Voyager viewing and this time I'm trying not to take continuity seriously. I say enjoy the goofiness and story for their own sake.

The episode kind of brushed up against the grass is greener principle. Do we appreciate what we have? Do we notice what we have? What could make us abandon it? For the doctor, it seems to be adoration.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
The other day I stumbled across an episode of 'My Favorite Martian' on TV, for what must have been the first time since I was a kid. Martin, for somereason had become a folk singing sensation. Rather than being reminded of Boothby, I was instantly reminded of Robert Picardo (in this, and especially the ep where he daydreams hypo-spraying Tuvok while singing Verdi). It was so uncanny I was convinced Picardo must have had Ray Wakston's character partly in mind.
Fri, May 10, 2019, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I won't post too much. I mostly agree with both the positive and negative assessments that have been posted before.

I did like how the folks on the planet didn't just say "Oh, you're right, we must see music your way" and went off doing their own thing.

But I did wonder how they never, even by accident, ever invented a wind chime? :)

Have a glorious day... RT
Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
Clearly this episode wasn't meant to be taken too seriously. It was fun to see The Doctor's smugroutines on overdrive and Robert Picardo really sold it--he was wonderful to watch.

The Doctor's farewell performance of "Rondine al Nido" in the Qomarian opera house was so moving it brought tears to my eyes, which is about the last thing I was expecting. And that look on his face when his replacement started singing Tincoo's obnoxious composition was hysterical and a little heartbreaking too.

To echo a few comments above... I think the awkward, overbearing line delivery by Kamala Lopez-Dawson (Tincoo) and the other actors playing Qomarians was probably intentional. It wasn't "bad acting" so much as trying to make these characters appropriately ridiculous (much like the Pakleds in the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION episode "Samaritan Snare"). It fit the story.

Not bad at all.
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 4:51pm (UTC -5)

"The Doctor's farewell performance of "Rondine al Nido" in the Qomarian opera house was so moving it brought tears to my eyes, which is about the last thing I was expecting. "

What really got me was when Janeway wiped her tears from her face.
Tue, Aug 13, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -5)
It didn't bother me to much when I watched it back in the day, since Doctor IS obsessed with praise and validation, especially for things unrelated to his original purpose as an EMH, and I even thought it was little rich of the crew to be so pissed off at him after Latent Image, but now I do wonder if Doc is in character here. In "The Swarm", when given the choice between erasing everything that made him who he is since the pilot and his ability to serve as a Doctor, he immediately chose the the former. Yet he is willing to abandon the crew and the patients he could save for this?
JC Lavoie
Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:43am (UTC -5)
The worst thing about this episode is that the Doctor is willing to leave Voyager without a surgeon. Tom Paris is a capable medic, but the EMH is the embodiment of 24th-century medicine. After everything they've done for him, he's willing to leave a crew of ~150 people to chase one fleeting love interest. This episode almost makes me lose any empathy I had for this character, and he's actually been one of my favorites because of his dry, witty humor. He's a hologram, he made a family once... What happened to them? If he wants a soulmate, he could ask the computer to make his holographic wife self-aware - if he even saved the program, that is. That leads me to wonder; His daughter died and his wife and son were distraught, did he abandon them too? Did he provide the emotional support they needed, or did he delete the program? How well do we really know the Doctor? I could go on, but I'd start digressing about his conduct in other episodes. He's still an interesting character, but this particular episode stinks. I much prefer the EMH's character development in episodes like Lifesigns. Lifesigns is one of the best episodes of the series. Danara Pel... now there was a real love for the Doctor. That was such a poignant episode, which is probably why I find Virtuoso so objectionable. Oh well, at least the singing is nice.
Sleeper Agent
Sun, Nov 10, 2019, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Oh come on everybody! Janeway obviously knew he wouldn't go through it in the end. Her reaction in their last scene clearly shows it.

If one doesn't take this one too seriously it's quite enjoyable - and this is coming from someone who isn't very big on the Doc.

Ryan and McNeill are great, Dawson and Mulgrew magnificent.
Wed, Dec 25, 2019, 4:59am (UTC -5)
Virtuoso is a golden episode of Voyager and I'm happy to defend it. It has a cute scifi premise and a well realised alien race. The emotional journey the Doctor goes through is very strong for an ep of Star Trek with lots of local peaks. The argument with Janeway is intense. I like the farewell scene with a Seven. The moment the Doctor realises Tincoo not only can not love him like he wants but also never understood the beauty of music at all, is ace.

People say Tincoo is poorly acted?!? I completely disagree. When the Doctor pleads with her to understand that she is hearing his artistry and his soul, the way she ghoulishly replies "I've duplicated that too" is a perfect scifi moment. She is truly alien in this show and it's great.

Then we have the final performance of the Doctor, where he channels the pain from his foolishness and humiliation into his art, an epic case of "show don't tell" which drama often fails at, giving the best performance of his life to a disinterested audience. Pathos, man. Song choice is excellent. Then the episode ends with a tidy scene about Seven's fan letter. This episode has genuine emotional heft. I really love it.

Finally the episode is funny. The aliens are so smug but deservedly so, the Doctor is hilariously quick to burn bridges with his long suffering comrades, and the duet he sings with himself is laugh-out-loud.

I really rate this one very highly.
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 8:58am (UTC -5)
Ok, so if the doctor eventually decided to stay anyway... How would he be transfered? Surely his program doesn't fit in the mobile emitter (which, is, in fact, an emitter, and not a pen drive)... Surely instead of cut/paste they could copy/paste him and send a duplicate? The whole premise is botched
Tue, May 12, 2020, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Ah... nice to come to the end of a decade+ long comment thread and find that the very last one above (by William) addresses the thought I was left with after watching this—as did another, prior. I'll address each below:

The Doctor deftly pointed out to Janeway that, where "duty" factors into things, everyone else on Voyager was there because they willingly committed to it and to Star Fleet (including those who started as Maquis until they were all stranded. Ceska exercised free-choice in changing loyalties. She became persona non-grata, but it's not like at some point she was going to be captured and "forced to be a Star Fleet officer" again.

If Doc were NOT a sentient being, then of course, he isn't implied to have or endowed with any "agency," and therefore stays aboard as The Doctor. But by this point in the series, my understanding has been that Janeway and crew accept him as a sentient being—not created or intended to be thus, but having evolved due to their distinct circumstances and the people and situations with which he's engaged over time.

Thus, he should no longer to be viewed as "property" of Star Fleet." He is not a "slave." Considering his sentience, it's rather... generous?... for The Doctor to have even been willing to continue on as doctor, once he had evolved into developing so many other talents and interests.

I'm trying to recall all the Star Fleet legal stuff that went on regarding Data, given that there had been controversy around him and those in the Federation opposed to recognizing his sentience and right to exercise agency. It would be interesting to learn if the levels of such things were indeed comparable between The Doc and Data.

Now, to the aspects of Doc (having originated "merely" as a program + projection):

The idea of Janeway and others not wanting Doc to leave Voyager for reasons of crew morale, their friendship for him, and his place in their bonded "family" there... those all make sense.

But the idea that, if Doc leaves to join the Qomar, Voyager would be left without a Chief Medical Officer makes no sense. They have the original schematics or whatever for Doc's *original* programming. Yes, they would lose their beloved friend and colleague, but they could just boot up a new EMH to serve the crew's medical needs. This one might or might not become sentient of course, because its circumstances would not be the same (such as how The Doc had needed to remain "on" almost constantly when they first arrived in the Delta Quadrant.) Or who knows, perhaps B'elanna could enhance this or that subroutine. They could have a full replica of Doc from a backup even. Or, change the face of a new EMS for an entirely new actor to join the show.
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Loved this episode. Worth at least 3 stars, very likely more!

Funny, dynamic, interesting, different. What's not to like!
Stephanie Holm
Sun, Dec 27, 2020, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
Jammer is right....the acting job by the woman who played Tincoo was excruciatingly bad to the point of distraction. This was a strangely goofy episode. I did love the duet with his miniature self.
Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 4:43am (UTC -5)
Just a couple of comments since this episode was only alright.

1. For an episode centered around music, I was more than a little annoyed that the range of music the show decided to go with was so limited. Opera, jazz, and American folk. Perhaps its my own musical tastes, but I'd have loved to see the Doctor expose the Qomar, and the audience, to other types of music. I'd have gotten a kick out of seeing the Doc sing some metal music or rap. Also, as any episode involving music eventually reaches, I'm perpetually perplexed by the idea that Star Trek's musical interests (at least for the shows I've seen) essentially stop at the mid-20th century and are limited to Europe and America with the occasional Klingon drinking song thrown in. While, yes, I do know this is an American show, I think it'd be nice if the series expanded its musical repertoire just a little bit. Be a bit more radical. Tom and Chakotay mentioned rock and roll music. Why didn't they have the Doc sing some Elvis?

2. When Janeway was arguing with the Doc about resigning his commission, why didn't she just point out that Tom clearly can't handle the advanced medical procedures a Chief Medical Officer would need to know? It wouldn't be just Tom. It'd be any of the nurses who also work in Sick Bay. None of them can do what the Doctor can do no matter how much time they spend studying medical textbooks. It just seems like an open and shut case to me. The Doctor's arguments about humanity and individual rights don't hold much water to me when he's clearly the only truly capable physician on the ship. But maybe that's because I don't view the Doctor as the same as a full flesh and blood human no matter how much the show tries to convince me otherwise. At the end of the day, he's a hologram. A hologram with medical skills that vastly surpass the ability or potential of anyone else in Voyager's crew.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 9:52am (UTC -5)
A couple thoughts on the limited music. Getting anywhere into the realm of pop culture would risk seriously dating the series. Locking it in to the time it was produced, so to speak. The old music is so old it doesn't matter, and yet we can still relate to it as civilized or sophisticated. TNG is squarely an 80s TV show, but it does a good job of (mostly) avoiding the tropes of the day, so it holds up. Had Cetacean Ops (dolphin tanks) actually appeared on-screen, Riker played a synthesizer instead of trombone, and Beverly's plays were instead re-watching of The Cosby Show, it would pull people out of the story. Also how much "pop" music from the 1600s do we listen to today? That's where we are compared to TNG/DS9/VOY. Only the best of the best remains, and there's not a whole lot of it. The show could take the Bill and Ted route and make up some near-future music, but without any contemporary 24th century stuff I think it was just too much extra effort.

Also, the music isn't usually the point, so going all-in on something contemporary would be a distraction. If the Doctor was singing something crazy like the diva from The Fifth Element then it wouldn't be possible to contrast his curated repertoire with the algorithm-based synth dreck Tincoo "composed" for her hologram. Similar for Data and his painting. He should be laser-etching holograms in silicone crystal wafers, not smearing oil pigments on canvas. But if he did that, then that's all we the audience would be focusing on. Not his desire to express creativity and understand emotion. There'd be too much "what" and "how" while losing the "why."

The more cynical take is that modern songs, even covers, would require licensing deals and extra fees. When the production won't pay SAG for a couple extras to speak a line, then it's not too surprising they'd want to avoid the cost (and hassle) of getting rights clearances. In a more modern context, there's even the concerns about playing in international markets, where music/imagery/pop culture needs extensive vetting lest it offend China's social gatekeepers. Yes that's a much more recent thing, but even back in the day, bland and inoffensive almost always won out over the alternative. Rick Berman was famously anti-music in the sense that he wanted the musical score for the episodes to be background wallpaper. We only got a little more than halfway through TNG before he fired composer Ron Jones for being too good at his job, leaving the rest of that series, plus DS9 and VOY in a bland musical wasteland.
Eric S
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
Does anyone rally view the Doc as a person. I can’t bring myself to think of him of more than a sophisticated subroutine. “Hell no you’re not leaving Doc, you don’t really WANT to leave, you’re just programmed to act this way, so I’m rewriting your program.”
Fri, Sep 10, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
Hasn't it been established that the Doctor's program has been backed up and a complete likeness of himself could just be activated if something happened to him.
Sat, Oct 2, 2021, 4:30am (UTC -5)
"Also how much "pop" music from the 1600s do we listen to today? That's where we are compared to TNG/DS9/VOY. Only the best of the best remains, and there's not a whole lot of it." Jeffrey Jakucyk Feb. 19, 2021.

Great point. Although I admit to listening to John Dowland hits on a regular basis. His "Come Again, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite," (1597) hits my resonant frequency on many days. To me it is one of those 'best of the best' remnants of a bygone age. Then there's Praetorius. Ahhh.

Music is time travel. Wish we could have Doc back and do a segment where he would serenade Seven with a lute...maybe just a short piece.
Chris L.
Sun, Dec 26, 2021, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
I kind of agree with some of the posters here that suddenly wanting to leave Voyager seems out of character for the Doctor, and that his griping of bias and mistreatment ring… ahem… hollow.

However, when taking into account that in the previous episode he spent three whole years on an alien planet, and nobody ever knew or treated him like a hologram while there, this actually makes some sense and gives Voyager a depth of continuity that it sorely lacks most of the time.

I might be giving the writers too much credit, as his three years on the planet and recent return are never addressed, but I thought it might be forbidden to explicitly bring in continuity from the previous episode, so they did it more subtlety. I mean, I figured it would otherwise be a heck of a coincidence that this came immediately afterwards.
Thu, Dec 30, 2021, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
JANEWAY: "I wasn't aware we were on a first-name basis."

They couldn’t even be on an any-name basis.
Paul H
Tue, Jan 25, 2022, 7:42am (UTC -5)
To Chris L. I think you ARE giving the writers too much credit here. Really, it seems to be just random what order the episodes appear in - so you can have B'Elanna being depressed because all her Maquis friends have been killed in the Alpha Quadrant in the Delta Flyer building episode, even though she's actually heard about this happening nearly a year ago and had time to recover from her grief in the previous Season. They quite often fool with the characters of the crew just to make the plot of the episode of the week work, which Jammer is annoyed about in various reviews!

This is actually one of my favourite Voyager episodes - I liked that the alien race was *Really* alien, and also that they were not aggressive, just annoying. Plus I guess it helps that I like opera and I like "Doctor Singing" episodes
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 25, 2022, 9:14am (UTC -5)
@ Paul H,

You're an opera fan and yet you like hearing Picardo sing? ;)
Mon, Jun 27, 2022, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Everyone seems to hate this episode, but I've always regarded it as a strong episode, very close to four stars.

One thing Voyager did better than TOS and TNG was construct planets where the local's aren't villains. Voyager is guilty of this as well, of course - it shoe-horns violence and villainy into plots that don't need it - but it also gave us many episodes where the local cultures weren't hostile.

And so we have episodes like "Prime Factors", where the aliens are friendly. We have "Emanations", "Random Thoughts" and "Eye of the Needle", where the "villains" turn out to be quite considerate. We have "The 37s", where we land on a planet where everyone's revealed to be nice. And we have this episode, where the aliens-of-the-week are welcoming and just want to listen to music.

Jammer, and many commenters, have said the aliens in this episode - the Qomar - are annoying and badly acted, but I thought they were great. They're supposed to be smug, arrogant and a little robotic. They're supposed to be a bunch of cold, inconsiderate math geeks.

And this is necessary for all the episode's interesting juxtapositions. The Doctor is famous for being cold and arrogant, and just a "collection of mathematical algorithms", but this episode argues that he has ineffable qualities that transcend mere code and data structure. He's more than machine, and more than the causal chains that make him, and that make humans. This may be naive, or wrong, but it's also endearing. We love the Doctor; we want to believe he is (and we are) special. We want to believe he is more than code.

The Qomar, meanwhile, find specialness in code itself. They put romance in mathematical terms (one plus one). They write music to "capture the intersection of fractals". Things are interesting to them only insofar as they respond to the mathematical patterns undergirding these things. This leads to interesting scenes in which they're almost sociopathically cold and dispassionate. They don't seem to care about your feelings, or who they hurt, and yet in they're fondness for underlying patterns and math, they're attuned to the very "soul" Voyager's crew see (or perceive) in the Doctor and each other.

The crew of Voyager love the Doc because he has "individuality" and because they have a "history" with him, but the Qomar are reading people and things in the same way, just on an even deeper level. When Janeway sees an advanced Qomar hologram spouting ear-busting gibberish it's grating to us, but to these guy's it's like looking at the soul of the universe. It's almost religious to them.

There's a good scene where Janeway and the Doc argue over him leaving Voyager. He thinks that she and the crew treat him like "just a piece of technology", and she argues that he's being cold and unfeeling toward the crew. They both think the other is being as dispassionate as a machine. They both think the other is as cold as the Qomar.

Which is why the episode has to end with Seven of Nine. In a rare moment, her machine-like stoicism cracks, her coldness gives way, and she expresses her love and friendship for the Doc. One thus gets the sense throughout the episode that behind the math - the cold calculations of Janeway ("I have a crew to think about!"), the arrogance of the Doc, the coldness of the Qomar - is something more. Something loving or spiritual in a secular sense.

Anyway, the episode abounds with good scenes and lines. Seven's final scene is great, Janeway gets some good sparring in, the alien planet looks cool from space, and there's one brilliantly dark exchange:

DOC: "When you listen to me, when my singing moves you, you're not just hearing notes. You're hearing my artistry! My soul!"

TINCOO: "I've duplicated that, too."

In terms of flaws, I thought the final Janeway scene should have been placed before the Doctor's final song. Its position unbalances the final act; the Doctor's song needs to be the climax, with the advanced hologram briefly coming next, and then the final Seven scene.

I also thought the Doc's final performance should have been longer and somehow more affecting. Maybe I'm a cold Qomar, but it didn't move me as much as I'd have liked. Seven's fan letter did, though.

Anyway, I think Jammer and most comments here underrate this episode.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 12:26am (UTC -5)
@ TheVeritableTrent,

Here's an alternate take on the episode: Doc is a vain and self-centered jerk, and finally meets a race he thinks he has sympatico with: they are also vain, self-centered jerks, and they adore him. Naturally he wants to send his crew down the river without a paddle so that he can go and be praised for eternity, which we can all relate to. Little does he realize they are bigger and more efficient jerks than he is and they throw him down a bigger river and smack him on the head with the paddle. Joke's on him: he got the race he deserved. Except that he ends up able to come crawling back to Voyager because they're softies, and frankly need a doctor.

The unintentional moral here is that Doc has to stay with Voyager because any club that would have him as a member...well you know the joke. Or maybe it's that if you're rude and arrogant it's better to stay away from your own kind. For unintentional irony I'd agree on four stars. If the episode was supposed to portray Doc as sympathetic then the rating should be...much lower.
Eddie O'Hanlon
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 7:28am (UTC -5)
I just rewatched this episode and it has definitely been underrated. The aliens are a little one note for sure, but everything else was frankly uplifting with more depth than people give it credit for.

To the criticisms: the Doc is not selfish, more naive. This episode is about him learning to discern between fanatical devotion and real love. Think of the Doc as a teenager with his own insecurities about how the crew value him. And the crew did need a wake up on his value as well. Watch Paris and Seven less than subtlely hurt in their scenes, and Janeway... wow what an arc. Her tears at his final performance, beautiful. Her smile after his humility asking for reinstatement. The teenager is growing up.

The general themes around fandom and it's fickleness is pretty well handled, and there's a fun element to the merch and fan mail stuff.

Yeah, I re-evaluated this and love it. 3 or 3.5 stars for me.
Gilligan's Starship
Tue, Nov 8, 2022, 10:45am (UTC -5)
The two reviews above mine by @TheRealTrent & @EddieOHanlon encapsulate many of my feelings abut this episode. 2.5 stars bare minimum, and probably 3 stars on Richter's Scale of Entertainment ;)

I don't have a problem with the aliens, their stilted awkwardness (which they eased off a bit after the opening scenes) reminded me of the aliens in Galaxy Quest or Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory. I loved how they clumsily & over enthusiastically learned how to applaud. They even went to the trouble of casting actors who were all similar in height--most likely so they wouldn't contrast 5' 2" Paul Williams.

Speaking of which: you have an episode devoted to music, and your guest star is Paul Williams, a Grammy Award-winning songwriter/composer and he's got like, what---two scenes? Did he just happen to be on the Paramount lot that day, and someone thought it would be cool to have a pop star in this ep? What a waste!

I do agree that a better solution from the technically advanced Qomar would have been to offer to make an exact duplicate of the Doctor in exchange for the original. They would have had to play much of the 2nd half of the plot differently, but they still could've pulled it off.
Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 4:29am (UTC -5)
This is what y’all got for telling them Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy was great
Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 5:02am (UTC -5)
It’s interesting that this feels like the forst time the crew (esp Janeway) sees the Doctor as someONE with passion and strong emotions instead of something to take a moralist stance about sentience. Janeway esp has been dismissive of that so this felt like a proper arc for her.

That being said this is pretty fucking bad. Without Les it would've been much worse.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
Robert picardo can act and he can sing. I just find the charater a little bit to much and its annoying. I (mostly) like Neelix better.

Did I like it or not? It was quite funny. But this time not because the dialouges with Seven (they were indeed good) but B'elanna's efforts to help him to "tiumph in arrogance ans self-absorption".

Roxanne Dawson/B'elanna was underused as actress / character.
Mon, Jun 19, 2023, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Illogical episode. My objection is that it is plot-driven rather than character-driven. I realize that the Doctor has to suddenly abandon the close personal relationships he's developed for years otherwise there is no show. But that's a plot requirement and is inconsistent with the qualities the Doctor has developed over the several seasons. It's jarringly out of character for the writers to sabotage him so mercilessly.

The saving grace of the episode is Seven's reading her "Fan Letter" at the end. As I work through Voyager this year, I'm struck by what an appealing character Seven is. And I don't mean how the stunning young Jeri Ryan portrayed her, I mean the character herself and the qualities she embodies. That such a great fit was found in matching Ryan to the character is a bonus.
Sat, Sep 23, 2023, 4:59am (UTC -5)
For me this episode falls flat on its face because of how obnoxious the Qomar are. At first they speak to the Doctor as if he has a mental disability and similarly judge the rest of the ships crew because they are of the culture that produced him, then fawn over him when he hums a tune? Nah. The Qomar can get in the bin and stay there.

As to the scene where the Doctor resigns his commission? I think it's less about the Doctors rights as a hologram (ala season 2), and more how he's an indispensible part of the crew.
'You'd let Harry Kim go!'
'You're not Harry Kim. Harry's expendable. You're not!'

Sorry Harry.

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