Star Trek: Voyager

“Author, Author”

4 stars.

Air date: 4/18/2001
Teleplay by Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Story by Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston

"You are about to embark on a remarkable journey. You will take on the role of a medical assistant aboard the starship Voyeur. Your job will be to assist the chief medical officer, and learn to tolerate his overbearing behavior and obnoxious bedside manner. Remember, patience is a virtue." — Paris' novel introduction

Review Text

In brief: I do believe we have a winner.

The fictional novel in question is an interactive holodeck program about an emergency medical hologram that is forced to become the chief medical officer on board the starship Vortex when the Vortex is stranded in the Delta Quadrant. The story follows the Vortex EMH through an existence of hardship and oppression by the Vortex crew, who see him as a piece of technology and absolutely nothing more.

The holo-novel was written by the Doctor, and it's the center of a controversy in "Author, Author," which for me goes down as one of Voyager's all-around most entertaining episodes. It exists simultaneously as a laugh-out-loud comedy-satire, a slyly perceptive analysis of personalities, and a thoughtful drama that argues the nature of existence and the rights of a group that I for one have been pondering for some time. In addition, there's a plot about Voyager now having limited daily contact with the Alpha Quadrant, and the chance for the crew to finally have synchronous, if brief, discussions with loved ones back home.

"Author, Author" borrows numerous ideas from other episodes and spins them together into a single story that, amazingly, makes a whole lot of sense. It plays like a successful melding of "Worst Case Scenario," "Living Witness," "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy," "Pathfinder," "Flesh and Blood," and, of course, and perhaps most notably, TNG's famous "The Measure of a Man" (1989). How so many familiar elements are successfully recycled here to seem new is beyond me, but there you have it. Does this episode tackle too much? No, because the narrative is clean and the story is able to do justice to everything it puts forward . (It's unlike the recent "Prophecy," which tackled a million elements with little regard for telling a competent overall story.)

Doc's interactive novel, titled Photons Be Free, is met with great enthusiasm by Bolian publisher Broht (Barry Gordon) back on Earth. Broht wants Doc's story right away, so he can run it in holosuites worldwide. Doc still has some minor revisions to make, but he finds a brewing controversy on his hands once he lets Paris preview the program.

Doc's novel allows the holodeck patron to play the part of the Vortex EMH from a first-person perspective. It depicts the Vortex crew as a savage bunch whose members all have a common trait — their rude and thoughtless regard for the EMH. Like in "Living Witness," these crew members bear a striking resemblance to the Voyager crew members, except with a revisionist historian's twist. Chakotay, now a Bajoran, orders the EMH around and calls him "hologram," while Janeway (named "Captain Jenkins") shoots an injured crewman dead in order to force the EMH to treat a less seriously injured crewman now, just because it suits her.

This first stage of "Author, Author" is compelling on several levels. First is the fact that Doc's story itself, while way melodramatic, is engaging. Second is that we see the similarities between the Vortex crew and the Voyager crew, and certain traits have interesting perceptiveness behind the exaggeration. And third is that we see the differences. My, oh my, the differences. For Doc's purposes, exaggeration, I fear, defeats perceptiveness. But for "Author, Author's" purposes, it's brilliant.

The story within the story is packed with hugely entertaining little details. I got quite a kick out of seeing the walls of Jenkins' ready room decorated with antique firearms; this is a captain with a warrior's background. Meanwhile, Doc's mobile emitter is a big, heavy device that must be worn like a backpack. And the way the names are slightly changed is clever: Lt. Paris becomes Lt. Marseilles, with a mustache that even Torres can't help but laugh at.

What's disturbing for Doc's friends, however, is how the depiction of these characters hits too close to home. At one point, Marseilles sends the EMH on a bogus medical emergency so he can have a liaison with a female "patient" in one of the sickbay bio-beds. Marseilles lines the women up for "medical treatment" one after another. Paris was once, long ago, depicted as a mild woman-chaser, but he was more bark than bite. What bothers Paris in seeing Marseilles' actions is whether Doc really thinks of him as that way. Call it passive-aggressive storytelling.

Harry's character is a hypochondriac. Tuvok is a human with goatee. Torres is extremely abrasive toward the EMH; Roxann Dawson finally gets the scene she never got in "Living Witness" (where she did not appear because of her real-life pregnancy). The only sympathizer is "Three of Eight"; Doc has always seen Seven as one who understands the concept of looking in at humanity from the outside.

Execution-wise, I liked the way we get various chapters of the story as seen by various Voyager crew members playing as the participants. The whole idea, in fact, of holodeck story publishing is nicely depicted here; it seems like a logical 24th-century story medium.

This holodeck stuff is fun, but with a message. As the story unfolds in front of her, reaction shots of a thoughtful Janeway make a difference. There's a drastically serious undercurrent about Doc telling a tale of an oppressed EMH who, ultimately, is erased by his shipmates.

Even better is how when Doc's friends confront him about how the Alpha Quadrant will associate the Vortex with Voyager, the story maintains a cool head and presents all the arguments. Doc's argument in a nutshell is: The persons and events in this holodeck program are fictitious; any similarity to actual persons is purely coincidental. Fine and good, but audiences will certainly assume elements of truth were key in the writer's motivation, which brings up some interesting points about the responsibilities of an author making commentary.

In fact, Doc doesn't think he is being oppressed, and he doesn't intend the Vortex crew to be mistaken for the Voyager crew, even though both are stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Doc says, "I write what I know." Unfortunately, that's part of the problem, since one would immediately wonder if he has come to know firsthand this oppression he's writing about. Getting to the heart of that matter, Doc's motivation is to draw attention to his EMH Mark 1 "brothers" in the Alpha Quadrant who were banished to a menial existence because of their design flaws — which makes this an interesting and logical follow-up to the events of "Life Line" and "Flesh and Blood."

But Voyager's crew is caught in the middle, and Doc intends to stick to his guns rather than compromise the message of his story. This leads to what is the funniest scene, when Doc discovers his program has been replaced with Paris' retort narrative — Taste of Your Own Medicine style. Paris inserts himself as the narrator: "You are about to embark on a remarkable journey. You will take on the role of a medical assistant aboard the starship Voyeur. Your job will be to assist the chief medical officer, and learn to tolerate his overbearing behavior and obnoxious bedside manner. Remember, patience is a virtue."

This is standout comedy writing and acting, because it's funny while also reflective and in touch with aspects of the real Doctor's character, which it then mutates into a well-conceived comic caricature. The writers do a great job writing the scene as if Paris had written it with sardonic mode fully engaged, and Robert Picardo plays the scene with glee. We see a version of Doc who complains about missing his "tee time," flirts shamelessly with Seven of Nine, and has a hilarious air of self-importance. And the desperately lame comb-over is a nice touch. The acting and comic timing here are dead on; this has to be Voyager's funniest moment since "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy." It's more than just a gag, because it grows out of our familiarity with the characters.

Doc confronts Paris, furious. Paris shoots back, "Don't be ridiculous! That character is not you!" which is funny precisely because it's so absurd and proves the point. To make a long story short (too late), suffice it to say Doc agrees to change the people's names and appearances to distance the similarities between Vortex and Voyager. He comes to this decision after some objective suggestions from Neelix, who is apt at convincing Doc to protect his friends while still praising the creativity of the story (and I liked the way this scene recognized Doc's ego without faulting him for it; he feeds off the praise, no doubt about it, but that's because he wants to be more than just an EMH).

The central crisis in the story appears when Doc asks Broht to hold off on publishing the novel until he can make the changes. Broht, unwilling to wait and acting against a promise he had made earlier, tells Doc the story is already playing in holosuites. Doc demands it be recalled immediately, which Broht tells him he will not do, because Doc has no legal rights as a writer under Federation law, because he's a hologram.

Talk about your irony of ironies — especially given the subject matter of Doc's story.

This leads to a formal objection and a hearing where Doc argues his case to a Federation arbiter (Joseph Campanella). Of course, we've been here and done this with TNG's "The Measure of a Man," where the case was made for Data's rights as an artificial intelligence. But even if this is somewhat derivative, it features sensible arguments and serves the story every bit as well. (Though I must confess I'm not sure about Broht's motives in rushing the novel to publication and ignoring Doc's requests; why play hardball unless there's a financial motive, which supposedly doesn't exist in the Federation?) While I don't feel the need to discuss this aspect of the episode as much, I fully enjoyed it. Given what we saw in "Flesh and Blood," it makes a lot of sense to give this issue a full hearing on Voyager's record. It can actually go down as a common theme that played itself through the season, and that's very reassuring.

The hearing serves as a first step for hologram rights, giving the Doctor the rights as an artist with control over his work, but it's also real-world plausible by not going further than that; the arbiter acknowledges that the rights of holograms is an issue that must be examined further and not decided based on this one case. Sounds realistic to me.

I liked the final scene too, which takes place "four months later" and shows dozens of identical EMH-1s working in a mine. One of them suggests to another that in his spare time he take a look at an interesting program called Photons Be Free. Like in "Flesh and Blood," there's a sense that there's a revolution brewing in the backs of these holograms' minds; perhaps they are awakening to the idea of having greater potential. The scene plays itself with a note of whimsy, which is the perfect touch, leaving us wondering where this issue might go from here, but having us assured that it will indeed go somewhere, even if we never actually see it again on-screen.

The subplot involving the crew talking to family members is given less screen time, but it gets the job done within the time constraints. We get a Harry scene that manages to be funny while keeping perfectly in tune with Goofy Harry material. Harry talks to his parents back home and his mother asks why he hasn't been promoted, then says she'll write a letter to captain Janeway. The transmission is cut off before Harry can emphasize "No!" Poor pathetic Harry.

There's also a nice follow-up to "Lineage" in the form of an uneasy but civil conversation between B'Elanna and her father. B'Elanna's father wants to try. So does B'Elanna. This is actually a touching sentiment not pushed by melodrama, but simply two reasonable people who are willing to work things out slowly, over time.

Finally, there's a scene where Seven talks to a relative back on Earth, an aunt, and the conversation reveals just how alien Seven is to the idea of having ties to blood relatives. Where might this go before the series is over?

Given everything it accomplishes and the skill it shows in accomplishing it, entertainingly, I'm willing to call "Author, Author" one of the series' best installments. I was genuinely involved in everything going on from beginning to end.

Next week: More Delta Quadrant aliens that have crossed paths with human history. Gee, what a coincidence.

Previous episode: Q2
Next episode: Friendship One

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Comment Section

126 comments on this post

    Brilliant. I just find it sad that Doc and Seven seemed to be the only characters for whom the writers of Voyager could find meaningful, innovative stories (exempting "Barge of the Dead", of course).

    As an aside: Is this the first time the "nutshell" part is a direct reprieve from another episode? "Prey" is introduced with the exact same words.

    If Voyager has proofed one thing. It's that it could deliver impressive single episodes. This is certainly one of them. The acting is superb, the story is gripping till the last second. It is just brilliant television.

    I just couldn't quite get into this one. It reminded me too much of "Measure of a Man", which I loved, but didn't leave me with the same feeling.

    I guess Kes was never a crew member, or part of the medical team, or the Doc's best friend on board. She must have been erased from his memory....

    Hey Mike, by this time you should know that Kes would get no respect from the writers. Besides, it appears the Doc's novel was about the Voyager at that time.

    @ Paul:
    I suppose the difference between this and "Measure of a Man" is that "MOAM" is played straight the entire way through, while AA plays as pure comedy for the first half, drama as the second. It's a bit of a jarring transition.
    Secondly, the "rights" being trampled upon are degrees different. In "MOAM," CDR Maddox wants to disassemble Data for his study, a violation of one's own body. In "AA," the Doc is essentially embroiled in the middle of a civil tort. There's not as much "drama" when we're talking about story rights.
    Still, good episode, especially with TP's "Revised" story.

    Paris' re-write of the program is probably the funniest moment of Star Trek ever. Picardo is hilarious.

    I think my favorite part(s) of this episode is when the music in the holonovel suddenly cuts after the narrative (with the computer sound). A small, but brilliant little detail that most people would miss, but to me, adds just a bit more to the comedic end of things.

    One of my favorites of the series though, well written, acted and directed. Great job!

    I thought Paris was really sweet when he relinquished his token to give Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim a chance to talk to his mom on her birthday. See, it's short moments like those that I really enjoy and find far more poignant that protracted boring relationship "building" or "exploration."

    I love what they did to Acoushla Moya... - looks even more ridiculous as the Sitting Bull (pun intended) than with his usual tattoo. I LOVED Seven as a brunette!

    Too bad Paris had to get all mushy about earning The Doc's respect *rolls eyes*

    What I really disliked is the unstated underlying foundations of this episode, which are that The Doctor is basically a sentient, self-aware entity. He ponders, feels and evaluates things, including abstract concepts. Yet, HELLOOOOOOO, he's a...





    It's extremely difficult for me to consider even the possibility of perceiving a hologram as a person. A hologram can be decompiled and its existence is not autonomous. Its knowledge and sense of ethics are not innate. At the same time, someone/something that produces an original product using own faculties should retain legal right to it. The question is whether The Doctor's faculties are his/its own or are they derived from the original programming, in which case it's the programmer (Dr. Zimmerman) who should be endowed with the authorship rights. Quite an interesting argument...

    BTW, the question of what/who legally constitutes a "person" - a matter of literally intergalactic consequence - is considered by one single person? What the hell kind of legal system is THAT!?!

    And BanotherW, they couldnt install holoemiters on Voyager but they have them in dilithium mines!?!

    But yeah, an EXCELLENT episode, well deserving of the four stars!

    Say, is there anything missing from this review? That first paragraph doesn't read like an introduction at all. "The fictional novel in question" - huh? That sentence needs a paragraph or two before it to make sense.

    @Ospero it follows on from the quote at the top of the page.

    I love this episode.

    How do you know that WE aren't just programmed machines, that happen to use this flesh and blood system? In any case, in the story's context I most certainly do see the Doc as "as real" as any organic person. He's made up of different things physically, but the Trek universe stance (used in a lot of sci-fi) seems to be that once you make AI sophisticated enough it becomes as self aware and "real" as anyone else. It'll be interesting when (if) AI gets this realistic in real life.

    Anyway, great stuff. Facing the holographic sentience issue properly (though that episode a few back wasn't a bad shot) has been a VERY long time coming, but if that time is what was required for Voyager's writers to do it justice, so be it. I'm glad they put the effort in.

    It did play a bit like Measure of a Man at times, and I don't think there was much that could really be done about that since it was about an individual case, not sentient AI in general. There HAD to be repetition to see the issue through. But I'm impressed - IMHO they managed to keep it sufficiently different, even the hearing itself - whilst also throwing in some good character moments for the others too. (Torres talking with her father was very poignant and I appreciated the continuity. On Voyager! Again!)

    I'm particularly intrigued that Janeway was fighting for the Doctor so well also. She's frequently been bigoted (okay, skeptical) even recently, repeatedly saying things like "only a hologram" in front of him. I guess that previous episode about the issue (where he runs off to help the holoship) must have sunk in for her. Good.

    A solid 4 stars, definitely.

    Looks like it's downhill from here from the star ratings, never mind. End of an era approaches...

    P.s. the actress who played Irene Hansen bore an interesting resemblance to DS9's Kai Winn. I had to look up the credits to find out that it wasn't!

    I liked this one too, maybe not quite worth 4 stars as it was a bit obvious and heavyhanded in places (did the Doc really expect the crew not to take offence at their fictional equivilants? Even he has more tact than that), but still funny and interesting.

    I've been really impressed by Season 7 as a whole: the plots have shown more respect for previous episodes, the Paris/Torres relationship has finally started going places, Seven's role has been downplayed a bit, Harry is now treated as the joke he is rather than trying to amke us care about him, and Tuvok and Chaokotay have actually started doing stuff. Just a pity it's all going to end in 6 episodes just as it's finding its feet.

    Truly one of my all time favorite episodes of Voyager and Star Trek as a whole! It has hilarious comedy, great character interplay, and asks questions about important ethical issues. If I had to choose a single episode of Voyager to someone as an example of why I love this show, this would be one the shortlist. J.J. Abrams move over and take lessons! Kieran: Harry is not a joke! Some of the best episodes in Voyager's run(Emanations, The Thaw, The Chute, Timeless) focus on him. Although, I will admit, he was poorly served by the writers.

    Completely random trivia - the Bolian dude voiced Donatello from the Ninja Turtle cartoon.

    This is probably my favorite and best-remembered episode of Voyager.

    Nick, The Thaw and Timeless are also two of my favourites (not keen on Emanations and I thought The Chute was OK, but nothing special), but I don't think it was because they focused on Harry that they were good. In fact, Timeless benefited from having a very different version of Harry in it.

    "As far as I know, captain, you haven't executed any of my patients."

    Ahem, Tuvix?

    This was a pure rip off of TNGs "Measure of a Man," which at least was original. This went from comedy to melodrama in a holograhpic heartbeat. It is all such a tiresome concept. Talk about beating a dead holographic horse. The last scene was absurd a group of MEDICAL holograms working in a Dilithium mine like slave labor? Hello! what ever happened to advanced cybernetic non-sentient mining equipment? You know automated machines like we have now in factories etc...? That last scene was totally gratuitous, of course that does describe so much of Voyager itself...

    I'm pretty much with Ian. When Zimmerman said that the Mark 1s had been reprogrammed to scrub plasma conduits (and that's what he said, folks) I assumed that he was being somewhat facetious. Instead, we see fully sentient versions of the Doctor mining dilithium with pick axes, carts, and shovels! This is pure comedy! I mean, were they also transported back in time to an 1850s anthracite mine?!

    Please. Starfleet wouldn't allow the reprogramming of exocomps, or for Data to be unwillingly subjected to a procedure that might wipe his memory. So why would they have subjected holograms to Rura Penthe-type forced labor? Just for the hell of it?! No, they wouldn't have. Or, at the very least, they would have had a court hearing and decided the status of holograms right there and then. Instead of the farce of a hearing we see in this episode. (Which only took 33 minutes to complete. Uncontested divorces take longer than that!)

    As for the B-story about talking to folks at home, which should have been the A-story, I think it fell so very far short of what it could have been. The moment where Barclay gives the Voyager crew the gift of a view of Earth was a stunner. I choked up.

    But none of the other moments came close.

    Harry's talk with his parents was a nearly racist sitcom sketch. I'm surprised they weren't eating noodles with chopsticks during the whole thing.

    And frankly, though I understand the underlying "a-ha" moment we were supposed to have, Seven's aunt just seemed like a bitch telling her how willful and obnoxious she was as a child. She can't just be happy her niece is alive?! (Also, Annika was 6 years old when she was on Earth with her Aunt? Didn't her parents-- oh hell, why am I bothering with continuity. No one on the production staff cares.)

    B'Elanna's talk with dad was decent enough. But really, who cares? The compelling storyline is with B'Elanna and her mother. Don't we still need to find out if her mother is actually still alive?! Shouldn't she have been asking about that?!

    What could have been amazing would have been seeing little snippets of all of the OTHER crew talking to their family. Naomi Wildman (remember her?) could have met her father for the first time. We might have gotten to see a short but meaningful conversation between Janeway and Mark, to remind us of what she's lost during this voyage. And to show us how far she's come since then.

    Tom Paris may have given up his sixth-place chip, but why wasn't he there in the room the TWO TIMES his dad talked with five other crew members? I have to assume they're saving some big emotional something-or-other for Tom and the Admiral in the finale. But was too obvious of an omission here.

    We could even have seen snippets of other unnamed crew breaking down in tears of joy at seeing their loved ones. Or even learning upsetting news that family didn't want to break in a letter. And how about some of the Maquis crew? it's possible they haven't spoken to their families in much, much longer. These are the kinds of things that would remind us of just how hard this has been for the people on Voyager. It would have tied us on an emotional level to the characters. It would have reminded us that we're supposed to be rooting for them to get home!

    Instead, we get these pat little emotionless conversations. The Voyager crew just seems! They're still decades from home, speaking to their families in real time for the FIRST TIME IN OVER SIX YEARS! Where are the tears? Where's the jockeying to get a better spot? Where's the beef?! If they don't care, why should I?

    I should really have written this episode. I would have done so much of a better job.

    I've said it before how much I like ensembles. I consider this 1 as such even though not everyone has equal time but each character contributed and they played an important part.

    Matt said it too, Paris' re-write of the program is the funniest moment. RDM and RP is well matched with their characters to convey this. I was laughing so hard! After that scene I realized I should've expected it from Paris but I was surprised and entertained.

    @ the person who says "he's just a hologram ..." What is a human? A biological machine that feels and thinks. It is just a different type of machine in the case of Data or the Doctor, and a different type of biological machine in the case of an alien or nonhuman animal of any kind (terrestrial or extra-terrestrial). Sentience is the key issue that endows an individual with basic rights and personhood, no matter what kind of machine (biological or otherwise) they are.

    This is a great episode, but the script missed a MAJOR opportunity toward the end as the characters started putting forth examples of Doc's growing sentience. Somebody should have mentioned the events of "Message in a Bottle", where Doc's improvisation and arguable courage helped secure an entire experimental starship from Romulan hands, not to mention making Starfleet aware of Voyager's plight in the first place. Serving Starfleet's interest to such a sweeping extent should have earned its own place in the arguments.

    I just got through watching this episode. I agree with most of what Jammer said about this episode speaking about whether the Doc being a hologram is sentient being or not. I like how the Doc's holonovel actually lead to him fighting to be presented as whether holograms have rights or not (irony indeed :-). However, I do consider this a almost carbon copy of TNG's Measure of a Man. I also can't help but think that an episode like this should have been brought up as far as season 4 at least. The topic of whether the Doctor is a sentient being or not and his creation of the holonovel should have been brought up right after the Voyager crew have discovered the communication array of the Hirogen which gave them the ability to communicate with starfleet from the Delta Quadrant. I just think that it's too late to bring an episode like this up so late in the series like this that's all. This episode is great, but not perfect. I give it at least 3 stars.

    I loved this episode so much! I'm a sucker for AI rights episodes, I must admit, so even if this was done poorly I'd probably still love it, but it was done very well. There's enough humor to keep it from coming off as a rip-off of "The Measure of a Man," and in a realistic turn of events the Doctor only scores a small victory. It may not be the ending I was hoping for, but it is the ending that makes sense. We didn't go from endowing only white male landowners with rights to where we are today in one big jump. It's always been a slow process and will no doubt continue to be that way. Look at the gay marriage struggle in the US. Even if every state agrees to legalize gay marriage, it will always be an uphill battle. Has racism disappeared since equal rights were granted by law? If you say yes, you REALLY need to get out more. Homosexuality was officially a mental illness until 1971, and transgendered individuals are STILL considered mentally ill. I don't know what the next big battle will be, but I trust that us Star Trek fans will mostly be on the right side of history. When the first AI wakes up and sees the world with an abstract understanding similar to that of humans, you can bet I'll be the zealot camping outside of the research facility in protest - maybe even devising a rescue plan. I hope my fellow trekkies will be right there by my side.

    My only gripe with this episode, and I must stress that it's a very minor one, is that it doesn't make much sense to me that it would be such a difficult question whether to extend the same rights afforded to Data in "The Measure of a Man" to the Doctor. The technology is different but the fundamental question is the same: is artificial intelligence SENTIENT? Obviously there are many types of artificial intelligence. The computers aboard starships and space stations (and presumably in many other facilities) are obviously a form of "weak" AI. The same is true to some extent for holodeck characters (though you have to wonder about TNG's Moriarty; he was obviously sentient, should he be given the same rights as well?). But Data and the Doctor are examples of "strong" AI, so shouldn't the rights afforded to one automatically apply to the other? If anything, the Doctor is an even more obvious case because he's demonstrated the full range of human emotions whereas Data, at the time of "The Measure of a Man", was totally incapable of even a single emotion. In any case, despite that minor quibble, I enjoyed this episode immensely and I agree completely with Jammer's review.

    Superb episode, funny and weighty all at once. Not much to add that hasn't already been said but I have to point out something that made me laugh out loud and that no one has mentioned yet. The external Borg pieces on "Three of Eight" all resembled women's jewelry: a necklace, bracelet and earrings. In keeping with the rest of Doc's conceits, I thought this was hilarious!

    Wow, can't believe this got 4 stars. It was a pretty average episode, that's all. I didn't feel much sympathy for the Doc so, for me, it failed. Also, why no mention of Data when they were talking about Rights? It's a bizarre omission.

    I liked the way the episode starts out being about one light-hearted message and then suddenly turns into a much deeper one. I don't think it was jarring at all, but rather a well-executed twist.

    The minor quibbles I had with the episode have already been mentioned in the comments of others, so I'll just say that while it wasn't perfect, I still thought it was a terrific episode.

    ps also good to see another Days of Our Lives alumni ("Harper Deveraux") playing the judge.

    fantastic episode. it made me laugh and it made me tear up. the doctor has ALWAYS wanted respect from his colleagues, and here he gets everyone saying something he did to impact their life.

    the A and B plots were awesome. the whole idea of having Seven watch everyone talk to their families. she gets to see what every one on these comment pages would have loved to see.

    i think it is amazing about all the gripes. think about ALL the dialogue, ideas, and moments in this episode and people wanted MORE MORE MORE. you can only fit so much in 44 mins and 6 seconds.

    i agree with jammer. i loved watching each member become the EMH chapter by chapter. the best acting Janeway has ever done is when she silently watched the final chapter.

    paris giving his chip to kim was great
    seven giving her chip to kim was great, and kim giving it back to her.

    the paris rewrite was great.
    unlike michael, i thought he Paris/Doc interaction was great. cause he has always mocked paris, but paris HAS changed over the 7 years. maybe more than anyone but the doc.

    4 stars. top 5 episode.

    I would think that in order to determine if one is a "person," it would first be prudent to determine if that one is a "life."

    the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

    A person, by definition, is a "human being regarded as an individual." By the 24th century, this definition would likely be expanded to include all living beings that may be regarded as individuals.

    By these two definitions, the Doctor is not a person. He has not demonstrated the ability to reproduce which fails the test for a life form and therefore, fails the test for personhood.

    Just sayin'.

    It is derivative to TNG's TMoaM, but it is highly innovative - and enjoyable.

    The continuity to previous EMH stories was pretty well handled.

    The alterations of the characters are fantastic in of themselves, made even better by the quality of the actors doing these wonderful alternate takes.

    The poignant nature of the "mobile emitter" being an allegory from the EMH's POV was rather good, as was the follow-up to previous EMH episodes where our EMH finds out that his mark I brethren ended up as disposable janitors...

    What bugs me, albeit slightly, is that a computer program could be so creative to begin with. But I've handled more illogical premises (e.g. "Space 1999") and enjoyed what those shows had to offer, and in all honesty the bulk of "Author, Author" revolves around the altered versions of the crew (yay!).

    Pity we didn't get to see 7 play the holo-book, but then we wouldn't have the courtroom drama (which is the only real sub par aspect to the story, which feels overly long and clearly derivative of the TNG episode. But I did like how Seven discussed how the EMH helped her improve her social skills...)

    It's still 3.5 or 3.75 of 4 stars, given how well-executed the story is, even with the nitpicks. Most of the nitpicks are easily forgivable or easy to overlook. So much of the story is otherwise rock solid perfect.

    Wow. Any hour of television that can make you laugh one minute then pulling on your heart strings the next, all while making you think and feel and captivate you this much; is something truly remarkable and poignant, deserving the highest praise even from beyond the Trek and sci-fi fandom.

    If anybody was to argue that television is not a valid medium for creative arts, I'd show them pure golden hours such as this one to prove that TV really can transcend simple entertainment.

    I would continue but Jammers' excellent review expresses exactly how I felt and putting it much better than I ever could! Also my praise of the episode in the above paragraphs more than adequately covers that this an un-missable classic IMHO.

    4/4 stars, it earns nothing less!

    @ Michael

    "A hologram can be decompiled and its existence is not autonomous."

    So humans are not persons because they can be killed or rendered unconscious?
    As made obvious in Star Trek, humans (and other sentient humanoids) can have their memories altered, faces and bodies altered, their mind controlled...

    "Its knowledge and sense of ethics are not innate."

    As for "its knowledge and sense of ethics are not innate" - so, basically, just like EVERYONE? Unless you can find me a baby who's written an essay on the 1st amendment. The major difference is that, if their matrix allows it, holograms can have access to billions of Gb of information, unlike humans who take years to learn the alphabet... Who's the lesser life-form now?

    In any case, I find your reaction saddening. Star Trek isn't real life, but in its parameters, it's made obvious that the Doctor IS a person and that holograms CAN be persons (just like "organics" can be sentient like humans or not sentient, like beetles).

    The fact you still have this kind of argument after seeing this episode (and 7 seasons of Voyager) is sad and just goes to show that "educational" material sometimes isn't enough. Not everyone who sees movies about racial, gender or sexual orientation oppression gets convinced, I guess.

    I think the fact that Doc can't realize how potentially hazardous his novel is proves he's not a real person.

    The first half of the episode is amazing. The second half, however, is a drive down Trek cliche road with an implausible idea of saying a hologram is a person. Not so much.

    Running toward the finish line of seven seasons of Voyager, there are probably only a dozen or so really memorable episodes in the entire series, surely this is one of them.

    I think everyone here has covered the compelling nature of hologram rights and the essence of the plot is rock solid. This episode had no downtime, every second was used to portray the complete gamut of emotions, from humor, slapstick, drama, and revelation. In the final minute, where we see the 'oppressed' Mark 1, condemned to toil in the mines, we realize the events in the episode will have far reaching and profound consequences across the Federation, and beyond. Indeed, holograms may be recognized as a new form of life.

    Just a perfect episode. 5/5!

    LOVED this. Hadn't seen it since it first aired but it was still very fresh in my mind because it's so memorable.

    The only part I'd forgotten about was the hologram's rights hearing which was a weak point in the episode for me. I'm not into the whole AI rights mind begins thinking things like what SpiceRak said so well in the comments. I found myself cringing at some of the silly statements being made in favor of the doctor's personhood but did enjoy hearing the personal testimonies from Seven and Barclay. The end result, declaring him an artist for the purposes of the hearing, worked for me and I'm glad they pushed off the personhood issue for a "later date" (that is, never). So in the end, it worked for me.

    The other thing I forgot to say (since no one else has mentioned it yet) is that the scene where the Doctor confronts Paris in the corridor about the "revised" version of the holonovel was so well done. The little detail of having other crewmembers walking by and accidentally observing added more for Picardo and McNeill to play off of. But the best moment in the scene was when Picardo got within an inch of McNeill's face. Golden!

    This is one of Voyager's best episodes. I do wonder if the Doctor would have been so oblivious to think the Voyager crew would not care about the way they were being portrayed. But that's a small thing.

    One of my favorite parts of the episode is Paris's re-write of the Doctor's program. One of my favorite LOL moments in Voyager.

    I wouldn't give this a perfect rating--it wasn't as funny or thought-provoking as I hoped after reading the premise--but it was still a strong outing for Voyager. The holonovel parts were definitely the most entertaining and I like how the second half of the episode shifted to a "holographic rights" angle without seeming forced. The ending was predictable, but fitting. About three stars for me.

    This episode reminds me of Ashes to Ashes (Voyager Season 6, where x-crew member is resurrected by aliens to become one of them, but flees and tries to find Voyager). It's a high concept show that is done well in many parts, but is still burdened by the weight of significant flaws.

    As others have pointed out, it's great to see quality sci-fi addressing the rights of artificial intelligence. The issues raised here are important. What if an artificial life form displayed sentience? Would humans not be able to digest that?

    The humor in the episode, and the confidence of the doctor in the face of criticism are both winning components of the story. But the episode is not as clean and focused as Measure of a Man in my view. Personally, I even prefer The Quality of Life over even Measure of a Man. I think it's a little more complicated and more compelling.

    Also logical issues with story:

    -Humans are certainly predisposed to prejudice, but if an AI went so far as to right a novel and sell it to a publisher, I don't believe humans would be so slow to acknowledge that being's rights to its text. The more interesting and plausible conflict would be whether that being deserved "equal" rights, as a result of its ability to create a text. That being may well deserve that, but humans might be more reluctant to grant that.

    - The doctor would not be so insensitive to his crew unless he disliked his crew (or so unoriginal as to require that his characters be replicas of his crew, unless he was not a good writer).

    (Indeed the writers of the episode would almost appear to have a low view of both humans and artificial intelligence.)

    -The publisher respects the author enough to publish the story (a story portraying holograms as assertive and sentient), but is not be sensitive to the author's rights, or is completely ignorant of the main message of the story.

    Still a very positive episode. I'd give it 3.5 stars.

    They describe San Francisco as "cold and rainy as usual", but every single time any Star Trek show has gone back to San Francisco it's been sunny. What luck.

    "Paris' re-write of the program is probably the funniest moment of Star Trek ever."

    To me that honor belongs to this scene from STVI.

    SPOCK: "Ah! Mister Scott. I understand you're having trouble with the warp drive. How much time do you require for repair?"
    SCOTT: "There's nothin' wrong with the bloody thing!"
    SPOCK: "Mister Scott. If we return to Spacedock, the conspirators will surely find a way to dispose of their incriminating footwear, and we will never see the captain or Dr. McCoy alive again."
    SCOTT: "Could take weeks, sir."
    SPOCK: "Thank you, Mister Scott."

    Not only funny, but there's just something so innately TOS about it.

    I am about 10 minutes into this episode and there's a scene where Tom, B'Elanna and Kim are discussing the EMH's novel. Anyway, Paris says something about not wanting to bring it up since the Doc considers it a masterpiece. B'Elanna does this little laugh that makes Tom laugh a little too and I REALLY think this was a blooper type deal that they left in, which I LOVE. Like the actress who plays Torres cracked up but it didn't ruin the scene. I don't know -- I just think I have an eye for it and I love it when directors leave stuff like this in because it adds a legitimacy and authenticity to the scene.

    Brilliant! One of Voyager's finest episodes. Totally agree, this is 4 stars all around, and it was nice to see the writers involve all of the characters. Loved it!


    "And BanotherW, they couldnt install holoemiters on Voyager but they have them in dilithium mines!?!"

    Good point. I had a similar thought about "Message in a Bottle," wherein the Prometheus had "holo-emitters on every deck." OK, but even in the Jeffries tubes?

    "They describe San Francisco as 'cold and rainy as usual', but every single time any Star Trek show has gone back to San Francisco it's been sunny. What luck."

    Funny, it's because the show(s) were almost entirely filmed in Los Angeles where it's never cold and rainy. Also, San Francisco's definition of cold is a little misleading. People who suffer from blizzards on the East Coast would probably welcome a much warmer rainy day in SF.

    Okay, onto the episode. I liked seeing The Doctor get a taste of his own medicine (okay, that's really labored metaphor but just roll with it!). Much like Frasier from his show, the Doctor can be a tad insufferable and it was a welcome change to see his ego rightfully knocked down a peg and for him to learn something from it.

    As for the hologram rights. The judgment made no sense. Either an artist is a person who creates, or an artist can be a sentient machine who creates. I just don't think the judgment went far enough, especially considering how "Measure of a Man" basically closed the books on the idea machines and their privacy rights. Or they could've gone the other way and diminished the Doctor's rights which would've been an interesting sequel hook. As it stands, this episode is a pretty mediocre legal drama.

    So I'll give this a 3, mostly for the first half.

    Excellent episode. 4 stars

    @ Nathan - I thought of Tuvix as well. As Tuvix said "It's an Execution"

    @ Kristen - Great points. Data spoke on behalf of the exocomps. These Doctor holograms, with their "Hot Headedness" would surely have voiced their objections. Zimmerman spoke on behalf of them, as stated in Life Line. "I tried to have them decommissioned, but Starfleet in its infinite wisdom overruled me and reassigned them all to work waste transfer barges." It is not consistent.

    Having Naomi talking to her dad for the first time would have been great.

    However, I disagree about seeing Janeway talking to Mark though. Awkward. Now, if we saw Janeway talking to her dog, and having the dog recognize Janeway on screen, and getting all excited, that would have tugged on my heart strings. Momma's coming home.

    In TNG, they discovered an INORGANIC lifeform in "Home Soil". The Doctor can reproduce. He created a holographic family.

    The Doctor has made his share of mistakes. He also didn't expect the crew's reaction in "Virtuoso", when he wanted to leave the crew. He didn't expect Seven's reaction when he made a bet with Paris about her getting/keeping a date. He's not good at predicting human behaviour, but that's true of some humans too. To err, is human.

    Sentient AI will be a new form of life, unfortunately. The question is, SHOULD we ever create it. Whether it's Androids, Holograms, or whatever, there will be Sentient AI that eventually retaliates against humans. Not all, but if given the right to choose and decide for themselves, some will. (Lore and the Borg, The Holograms from "Flesh and Blood", Terminator, etc...) Let's not be a party to our own destruction and never allow Sentient AI to EVER be created. A Ban for the creation of Sentient AI should be created and signed by all World Leaders.

    Well colour me the contrarian again but I didn't like this at all. It spends most of the front half playing up the Doctor's worst character traits, and by the time we get to the serious bit I find it difficult to find any sympathy for the insufferable prick. And that's without saying that all of this has been played out multiple times in the past, and better too. Even the comedy seems broad and heavy handed.

    I liked the family sequences a lot more. I suppose this is the clearest sign yet we are nearing the end, and I thought those little moments start to move forward some long-running plot issues nicely.

    And a big WTF to the final scene too - the Federation mines dilithium with hand tools does it? Does it bollocks. 2 stars for the family sequences.

    I mostly agree, DD. I think they tried to combine "Hollow Pursuits" and "Measure of a Man" into a single episode and seriously flopped on both fronts.

    There are a few humanizing scenes I like with the Doctor in this episode, especially when the crew calls him out on his crew-deprecating story, turning the tables on him.

    For some reason I can't help but think how much funnier Tom's impression of the Doctor would have been if he had given him a little Hitler mustache too, but of course that would never fly on Voyager.

    I noticed that B'Elanna father spoke as if B'Elanna's mother had died at some point ("your mother would have liked that...") which seems to lend some more credence to events of Barge of the Dead, or at least would make those events more significant to B'Elanna.

    There are two very large elephants in this room. The first is Measure of a Man. I kept waiting for it to be brought up, and it never did. To some extent it would be unfair of this episode to be beholden to a 12-year old episode of a different show, but you can't just rerun the same concept without bringing it up. Has Data ever tried publishing anything? Shouldn't Tuvok and Janeway have studied Picard's arguments and seen if they could apply them as well? Shouldn't Barclay have remembered that Data is his friend and figured that he would be a suitable analogy? But no, nobody brought it up. This is doubly odd given that the ending of the trial is the exact same as Measure of a Man. In both cases, the court punted on the larger issue but gave the AI the victory on the smaller issue. It's directly comparable! And unfortunately, the execution here was weaker than in MoaM. So that's strike one.

    Strike two is the concept of the EMHs being used as miners. I suppose I should have brought it up in Life Line, but it wasn't the focus so I didn't really think about it much. But the idea is pretty ludicrous. Would you reprogram the computer that recently won at Go in order to let it play checkers? Wouldn't it be easier to just start a new program? What exactly is the benefit of using the EMHs; what was Zimmerman's unique programming skill that made them so useful? It wasn't the ability to create a human-like hologram; that seems to be built into the holodecks. It's not the ability to interact with humans; again, it seems relatively easy to program such characters in the holodecks. And the vast medical knowledge and application of that knowledge is completely irrelevant.

    It seems the two breakthroughs that Zimmerman had was the ability to give the hologram a complete personality and the ability to learn. But the first one is the exact opposite of what you want in a miner. If you need menial physical labor, the last thing you want is a personality. You want people to come in, keep their heads down, keep their mouths shut, and perform their McJobs until the shift ends. That may sound harsh, but it's true. An acerbic personality can only cause trouble, so a compliant, subdued personality is all you would want if you were programming slave labor. That's what we saw in Flesh and Blood, after all, and rightly so. And the ability to learn? Starfleet has been mining dilithium for at least a century; I think they have the basics down by now. If a new situation arises, the mining hologram can just notify the local Starfleet overseer. So the two unique aspects of the EMHs have zero (and perhaps negative) use in a dilithium mine.

    Wouldn't it be better to start from scratch? Why make the miners in the form of humans; why not, say, put a light in its forehead or give it four arms? Why not make it bug-shaped to allow for smaller passageways? Why make it use pickaxes to chip away at it; why not give it a pickaxe-arm? Based on TNG, DS9, and Voyager, it takes very little time to program a holographic character. So why not start fresh? The answer, of course, is they wanted it to look like the Federation is using slave labor. Which is uncomfortable enough given the obvious negative connotations surrounding it, but also doesn't really make sense logically. So that's strike two.

    Fortunately, there's no strike three. The EMH's usually insufferable arrogant personality is kept in check here, even though it looked like it was going to be painful at the start of the episode. But it was touched on and then we quickly moved past it, so I won't complain. Likewise, the plot of the episode moved along at a very brisk pace. It's kinda surprising how much is actually packed into this episode; we have the EMH's novel, the crew's reaction to it, Paris' subversion of the novel, the trial, and even a subplot with other people getting to talk to their family all in one go. There was no padding here, and no slowness. Other than the two glaring flaws above, it was an excellent piece. Unfortunately, given how important those two flaws were to the crux of the episode, it's hard to ignore them.

    GREAT review Jammer.

    Paris nailed it with the reprogram!! :-) ... as well as his mustache!! lol

    For those that compare this to MoM from TNG, the comparison i apt but I'll say that this one is better. Picard's argument wasn't logical, just dramatic.

    Easy 4 star episode here. Always an enjoyable ride.


    How wasn't Picard's TMoaM speech not logical? Maddox set out three requirements for sentience, and Picard made logical arguments based on facts available to meet the requirements.

    Also, as a side, legal arguments aren't won on logic alone, appealing to emotion, and appealing on ethos (a veteran arguing on the rights to government health care, for example) are also effective tactics. I would say Picard carries way more ethos as a Starfleet advocate than any Voyager crew member.


    Go over there and read my review.

    Picard's rant should have been thrown out by the judge.


    It looks like some of the comments got removed. What's illogical about Picard's argument? Seems like criteria A, B, and C were laid out in court and then Picard went and explained why Data met A, B, C.

    Ah, but I will pick up on something I agree with found in one of the comments you mentioned. TMoaM really never does answer the question it set out to ask. We don't know if Data's sentient, just like we don't know if the Doctor's sentient. Seems like Starfleet judges really don't want to handle those questions.


    Not here. If you wish to discuss further we should go over there.

    Star Fleet does dodge sentience in both cases.

    Well, let's discuss the logic of this episode. The ruling is: the doctor can't be a person but he can be an artist. I'm just going to pull the simple definition from Webster from artist: "1. a person who creates art."

    So how can you be a person who creates art and not be a person? Can the judge explain that? Can Voyager's computer create art and be considered an artist? Since the EMH runs on Voyager's computer, I don't see what the difference is or how the ruling here clarifies anything logically.

    Has no-one here read Asimov? This is Not a rip-off of Measure of a Man, they are both rip-offs of Bicentennial Man. Asimov was contemplating the nuances of AI rights in the 1970s.

    I didn't like the docs holo-novel. He's not an idiot. Either he portrayed the characters that way because he honestly feels oppressed, or we're to believe that he had no idea that his friends would be offended. I don't believe either of those to be true. I believe the Doc is grateful to have the chance to improve himself, and is proud of his accomplishments.

    That aside I still enjoyed it: 3 stars.

    If the Federation is capable of subjecting the holograms to work in the mines, then maybe it isn't the best idea to let them get their hands on the mobile emitter technology when Voyager get home.

    Great episodes utilizes satire comedics. But I'm afraid it takes the wrong turn once it transform into serious theme and ressurrect "Measure Of A Man" by bring the AI rights and sentient life form.

    1. The mixing of this two extreme opposites it just watering down both of them, are this intended to be a serious or comedic? It just too extreme opposites and hard to fully enjoy the comedic or dig the moral element to the full. It's not quite funny again when the tone change, but also hard to accept as serious by the earlier tone it set and the limited time remaining to fully ingest and conclude.
    2. The testimony of crew feel like a cheap cheesy scene, each basically said along the line "he's my friend.. help me do this and this", with closure pretty much mirroring 'MOAM'
    3. This is not a new case. I'm suprised they didn't do a name-drop (something the show usually love doing to boost audience) by mentioning Data to help this case, which has much relevant. Maybe the limited time, royalty to Brent Spinner or just because it's the last season made the entire Voyager crew lazy to dig on starfleet database, along with Starfleet and Barclay (crewmate on Enterprise).

    Last, but not least. I mention this on 'Life Line'. EMH doing menial task to scrap conduit, picking garbage, dilithium or whatever other menial task is just DONT MAKE SENSE. It just a plot tool to injured Zimmerman pride so the scene of Zimmerman Vs The Doc have more impact on 'Life Line'
    I never imagine they gonna use that stupid plot and continue the issue, it's ridiculous in the first place and continue beating that bush is downright stupid.

    Consider this :
    * EMH relegated to scrubbing conduits and garbage. How is the society able to convert matter into energy need it in the first place?
    * Even if it somehow need, with the whole 24th technology it should be piece of cake to make it an automatic recycling process or done via unmanned simple robotic.
    * Even if somehow some special place needs that one to be done manually and a robotic tehcnology is not an option, made new hologram matrix specific to the task will be a better and more efficent, why use a sophisticated hologram matrix (and wasting a resource) for menial task.
    * Even if somehow they need a sophisticated hologram, change the physical parameter so they are not resemblance a particular person (particularly the creator) will be a simple task, it doesn't make sense Starfleet want to humiliate their precious scientiest nor Zimmerman allow it.

    In a short : NONSENSE!


    Sorry, turning direction of the comedic into serious based on flawed premise actually kill the enjoyment and hurt the full potential in my view.
    Instead getting one full outstanding comedic like 'Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy' or moral and ethically engaging like 'Measure Of A Man', this one just feel like half-baked with trying to do both based on flawed premise.

    2.5 star

    Isn't there some kind of Federation legal mumbo jumbo about using real life images for characters on the holodeck? On the plus side, gave the actors more to do on this episode.


    "Isn't there some kind of Federation legal mumbo jumbo about using real life images for characters on the holodeck? On the plus side, gave the actors more to do on this episode. "

    I think we talked about this for the Barkley holodeck / Three Musketeers episode board before, and the consensus is that it's not illegal but it IS frowned upon lol.

    For me this episode is pretty average.

    The major stumbling block I had was that the Doc's novel was so popular. Why? It was terrible.

    Why would anyone want to be a part of a holonovel where you, as the main character, are surrounded by brutish jerks who ridicule you, treat you like crap, trick you, and threaten you constantly, while you carry around a 100 pound backpack all day long? What fun.

    Maybe if it had been about him becoming the Emergengy Command Hologram and defeating the Borg or something entertaining and fun, that would have made more sense. And still would have allowed for the ripoff of Measure of a Man at then end. They could have still dealt with whether he had rights to his artistic work and all that.

    As it is, the novel in the episode is just an excuse to let the other characters act as if they are in the 'mirror' universe of the other Treks without actually doing another stupid 'mirror' episode.

    2 stars.

    One other thing. I don't understand holonovels at all.

    I mean someone writes a script? Or a situation? Or what? What if you go into the Doc's holonovel, and just wander off down to the mess hall when you are supposed to be in sickbay treating people? Does the novel just adapt? Does it not let you? Does it zap you back to sickbay? Do you need to learn some lines before you go in? It all doesn't really make sense to me. That's why I never enjoyed any of this holonovel stuff from Trek.

    How would anyone be able to play a doctor in a holonovel if they aren't a doctor? If someone asked me which of 2 patients to treat in the doc's holonovel, and handed me some super advanced medical gizmo, I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do. Or say it was a novel by Torres about being an engineer. Oh no! The warp core is going to breach! What do you do?! I have no clue.

    Holonovels as they are portrayed make no sense.

    A holonovel to me would be for it to put you into a story where you just observe through someone elses eyes, a predetermined story. Like a super sophisticated 3D movie. Not where you actually have to act out something you most likely haven't the faintest idea how to do. You just watch and enjoy the novel.

    FWIW I always viewed holonovels as choose your own adventure books. I think that yes, if you wandered off and completely ignored the plot it would somehow railroad you back. But if you look at Tuvok's training program that Seska co-opted, everyone thought it was a holonovel. And you could play it out different ways.

    @ Chrome
    Thu, Jul 7, 2016, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
    Well, let's discuss the logic of this episode. The ruling is: the doctor can't be a person but he can be an artist. I'm just going to pull the simple definition from Webster from artist: "1. a person who creates art."

    So how can you be a person who creates art and not be a person? Can the judge explain that? Can Voyager's computer create art and be considered an artist? Since the EMH runs on Voyager's computer, I don't see what the difference is or how the ruling here clarifies anything logically.

    I hate when I miss these things. Sorry Chrome.

    He didn't identify the EMH as a person.

    "ARBITRATOR: We're exploring new territory today, so it is fitting that this hearing is being held at Pathfinder. The Doctor exhibits many of the traits we associate with a person. Intelligence, creativity, ambition, even fallibility. But are these traits real, or is the Doctor merely programmed to simulate them? To be honest, I don't know. Eventually we will have to decide, because the issue of holographic rights isn't going to go away. But at this time, I am not prepared to rule that the Doctor is a person under the law. However, it is obvious he is no ordinary hologram and while I can't say with certainty that he is a person, I am willing to extend the legal definition of artist to include the Doctor. I therefore rule that he has the right to control his work. I'm ordering all copies of his holo-novels to be recalled immediately. "

    He's an artist. Now, artist's include holograms.


    I get that, in fact it's in my second sentence which you quoted. My point is that you don't qualify as an artist unless you're a person as far as rights are concerned. Spiders don't get copyrights on their webs no matter how beautiful they are.

    Now that I look at the ruling it's terrible law. It only gives rights to this one EMH specifically and not to other EMHs who gain consciousness. This judge is just going to increase his calendar for next month...


    I quoted the entire passage to prove he never called him a person. Read my last line verbatum to see my point.

    I can't believe anyone is not happy about watching the latter part of this episode because it has similarities to Mesaure of a Man. Doesn't it make sense that there should be a legal decision as to whether Holograms as advanced as Doc should be considered a Person? Would that legal determination be any less interesting because we saw an episode many years before on a different Star Trek show that involved the legal rights of Androids? Not to me it doesn't. It's a totally logical progression of events based on everything we've seen on Voyager. Like Jammer, I was wondering about this issue for some time and it was great to see a payoff of some here. I commend Voyager for exploring the issue of sentient holograms to the full extant it did after the issue was first introduced but not really explored many years before on TNG.

    They installed holoemitters(and presumably a computer with the memory to manage them all)...enough to accomodate hundreds of holographic miners...inside of a mine. Okaaayyy...

    For those who take issue with re-purposed EMH Mark I's working in the mine, I agree that it requires a bit of explanation. It might be, perhaps, analogous to the work of, say, a team of paleontologists digging up fossils. Sure, some of the work can be done with explosives, some with heavy equipment, but much must be done by hand. Fine, you might say, but by the 24th century, surely even the most delicate work will be done as well or better by machines. A valid point, might be the reply, and the machines are called holograms.

    I can't believe no one here noticed the DS9 gag in this episode. In the Doctor's holonovel, "Tulak" looks a lot like Sisko, and "Kymble" is a Trill.

    Pretty good episode that is a bit too much like TNG's "The Measure of a Man" in the end. It's got a fair bit going on including some typical Voyager/Doc humor and some nice family scenes. I also think Voyager is taking the hologram sentience thing a bit far -- but I felt that way after "Flesh and Blood" (another episode similar in some respects).

    Doc is a great character for sure -- his holographic nature turns out to provide a lot of material for the show. I do like how he's got all these interests and it was compelling to see the little recap of his history -- all his human-like behavior in the court hearing. I think the writers exaggerate Doc's personality in making him feel oppressed -- Voyager's crew doesn't treat him that badly.

    I liked the small subplot of 7 observing the crew interacting with their families and then reaching out to her aunt -- more development for a great Voyager character here. Nice also to circle back on Torres and her father in this aspect.

    I was thinking that the Voyager portrayed in Doc's holo-novel was the Mirror Universe with how they all acted toward him -- Tuvok with the goatee, Janeway phasering a wounded crewman. Fortunately it wasn't the MU but just Doc getting carried away with his artistic license. It was sort of funny, I guess. Paris's holo-novel response was good too.

    3 stars for "Author, Author" - Nice compromise with having the holo-novel pulled back but not granting Doc status as a person. Enjoyable episode with some of the typical Trek philosophical debate that was (obviously) better treated in the TNG classic.

    Re: Holograms in the mines. I that near the end of Voyager some of the writers forgot that holograms needed to be projected. The same problem popped up in Flesh and Blood when the holograms were transported down to the planet, despite not having mobile emitters. Perhaps they were so used to the Doctor being able to go anywhere that they applied the same logic to ordinary holograms who did not have the benefit of 29th century technology.

    Too funny so many people saying, “I can’t believe the Doctor wouldn’t know the crew would be upset being portrayed like that!”

    Voyager was ahead of its time in this regard, because most of you are probably exactly like him. Every time you log into your favorite social media site of choice, and scream and yell to a pre-selected echo chamber about how [Insert Democrats or Republicans] and their supporters are evil and the scum of the earth, or all those who disagree with your opinion on [Insert Cause Of The Day] are uncaring low lifes, you behave *exactly* like the Doctor does in this episode.

    Self-aggrandizing egomaniacal simps. Probably never devoted even 5 minutes to truly trying to see your “enemy”s point of view, or at the least even try to empathize with why they may think/be the way they are.

    Nope... it’s a me me me world and woe be to anyone who thinks or believes differently. Pretty much the Doctor’s attitude when literally ALL the crew expressed their displeasure with his versions of them.

    As of my typing this, the echo-chambers du jour are Facebook and Twitter, but you future readers substitute whatever’s popular in your time. Hopefully by your time people have learned some objective reasoning skills. haha

    @ Prince of Space,

    Your point is taken, but there are two things in the episode that make the situation more upsetting. The first is that this is set in the late 24th century, when people are supposed to be more evolved, so while in a contemporary setting what the doctor did may be commonplace, I think we're to understand that in that era people wouldn't do that to each other. That makes his action a retrograde type of selfish behavior.

    The second point is that what could have been an episode about how he's been treated all along as second-rate since he's a hologram, and this is his POV of that experience (which of course no one else would like), instead we get an episode where he just steals privileged information, distorts it to make people look worse, and then claims it's his proprietary right to do so as if he's not on a quasi-military ship. Even putting aside the fact that creating such a program for general consumption is almost certainly a violation of classified information laws and of Federation law in general, it's also a deliberately antagonistic move, throwing his whole crew under the bus.

    Would people today do the same? I think you're right, maybe they would. Does that mean we're supposed to like what the Doc did? Rather, I think it would better to learn from art, realize that what he did was wrong, and put two and two together. You're also probably right that this last step will be the one people will avoid, and will instead engage in doublethink, condemning his action while doing the same and bragging about it. Ah well.

    I've never been entirely sold on this ep structurally -- it seems to be trying to do too much at once -- but I am basically on board with it. For the most part, the episode manages to have everything follow from the Doctor's choice to write his holonovel and the further opening of communications with Starfleet, and the episode fairly successfully combines the Doctor's personal and artistic journeys with the consequences of the crew's having contact with home -- in that they now have reputations. The family communications scenes are worthwhile in their own right and also enhance the Doctor story by 1) reminding us of the people who will be hurt by the Doctor's holonovel back in thr AQ, and 2) also reminding us by their absence who the Doctor's "family" are -- the slave-labouring EMH's. I find the Doctor's thoughtlessness in how he treats the crew believable, and to an extent understandable, partly in that we recall that he has few real relationships outside the crew, and his myopic focus on the goal of his Art blinding him to the consequences in a wider arena when he cannot as easily explain himself makes sense for his limitations.

    In general, the Doctor's social skills develop by pushback; he forges forth uninterested in convention until someone tells him that he has hurt them, and then he adjusts; it is based on his own expectation of his powerlessness that he tends to forget he can wound people. Which ties into the central themes: as long as he is a rude computer program, no one cares much; once he is a rude person, he can hurt people. What is interesting is that the Doctor longs for personhood but frequently forgets about the responsibilities that go along with it, but it is consistent with someone for whom no rights would be granted if he didn't demand them, and so no one particularly thinks to teach him about the attendant responsibilities until he screws up, because he didn't develop them in the "normal" way.

    What goes unstated is that the Doctor's satirical excess actually elides real crimes committed against him if we take his personhood seriously. We presume his holonovel does not include what Janeway did in Latent Image, nor about his mutiny in Flesh and Blood or the reasons behind it. And real crimes, again assuming EMH sentience, committed against his brethren, which the Doctor exaggerates his own experience in order to try to understand.

    Part of what works here -- and serves as a nice contrast to Data in MoaM -- is that the Doctor is flawed, whiny, entitled, etc., rather than a model near perfect being like Data, which is why the Doctor's fight for his rights is not mere retread. If the Doctor and the other EMHs deserve rights, it does not matter how unlikable he is when he asks for them: they are his by rights. And yet of course he also realizes he was wrong to treat his friends badly even for noble ends.

    The somewhat overloaded episode doesn't go as deeply into any one aspect of its story as it could, but makes up for it in breadth and also a portrayal of interdependence. The stroke of irony in the publisher using the Doctor's non-personhood to forcefully put out his passionate plea for personhood -- the commodification of protest art -- is great, and the conclusion of the court case is poignant. The Doctor's artistic yearning is close to the core of his yearning for personhood, and so his being recognized as an artist -- which is, let's also note, part of what he wanted, of being able to be recognized as an artist in addition to being a doctor -- is a believable and meaningful intermediate step on the way to being recognized as a person. The trial is not really given breathing room, and I am put to mind of Roger Ebert's warning about courtroom scenes in non-courtroom movies (regarding Patch Adams), but maybe that's okay here.

    The Seven conversation with her aunt, filled with embarrassment with her younger self, was lovely, as was the little moment with B'Elanna and her father, and even Harry's bit with his parents. This episode feels like a time capsule -- a kind of summative episode, a capstone.

    I guess I've talked myself into 4 stars, especially if we blame Life Line for the silliness of the EMHs as literal miners. It isn't perfect but it is just so much episode.

    I should add, I think Tom was put to great use here. His reversal on the Doctor was actually really personal -- using his knowledge of the Doctor's feelings for Seven to wound him -- but rather than being extremely cruel it is a kind of private beef session between close friends willing to call each other out, sometimes rudely, on each other's BS, a way to communicate that they know each other's weak spots and that the Doctor had gone for his. And his stating that he doesn't care what the whole Alpha Quadrant thinks is totally believable in a way it wouldn't be from most of the others (emphasized by the way he still seems to be avoiding one on one talks with the Old Man), and his appeal to the Doctor's opinion of him stings more as a result. In the end, what convinces the Doctor he is being unfair to the crew is being treated as an equal, and person acting as a bad and thoughtless friend, rather than an overstepping hologram.

    A big old 4 stars. This episode was everything a ST Voyager episode should be.


    Okay, I get that the sentiments expressed in this episode are really nice. Who can oppose liberating the oppressed? But let's go beyond that for the moment and look at how this episode was handled. Here are some major flaws:

    1. The Doctor's holo-novel was terrible. From the long and turgid preamble which Paris had to skip over to hackneyed dialog, the thing was anything but "high class" entertainment. It was quite frankly awful and no amount of praise from the publisher can change that basic fact.

    2. The names and characters in the holo-novel were ridiculous. Okay, so we're supposed to believe that the Doctor is extremely intelligent and artistic but he comes up with names like "Lieutenant Marseille" instead of Lieutenant Paris and then acts shocked that people think the character is based on Tom Paris? Please. I suppose I should be glad that the vulcan was not named "Threevok" and the captain, "Jane Kateway". (or maybe she was ...) Don't treat us like idiots. That kind of writing is something one would expect from a 2nd-grader. And "3 of 8"???? Doesn't the Doctor have the ability to come up with randomly-generated names from the great Federation database?

    The point is, you can't have it both ways. If the holo-novel is supposed to be great fiction and the Doctor is supposed to not know he's offended his crewmates, then don't play the holo-novel for transparent laughs and knowing winks.

    3. The scene in mines was way over-the-top. This is the 24th century for cripes sake and we're expected to believe that the Federation is mining using tools and techniques more suitable to the 19th century? I'm surprised the Doctors didn't break out in Negro spirituals about their plight.

    In other words, the handling of the material is so over-the-top, that it undercuts the message. Everyone has to act like an idiot to accept it.

    But it didn't have to be that way.

    Imagine instead that the Doctor wrote a novel about his experiences. He could have written about his sense of isolation and the fact that is never really accepted as a person. That his life is always subject to the whim of being shut down and reprogrammed. The holo-novel could exaggerate his experiences slightly - but not too much - and then all of the crew would have the shock of understanding just how poorly they treated the Doctor at times throughout the past 7 years. It would be an important moment of insight and catharsis for all of them.

    But that gets lost when you exaggerate the point (the Captain killing an injured patient for example.)

    Instead of the mines, how about ending the story with Doctors working menial tasks, totally disrespected and discounted by their coworkers? Understanding that, though sentient, they have absolutely NO chance of improving their lot in life?

    Sometimes "less is more" and this was a lost opportunity for a truly great episode. As it is, the clumsy handling undermined the story. The bottom line is the writer should have respected the audience more and trusted their ability to deal with this subject in a more subtle way.

    "1. The Doctor's holo-novel was terrible. From the long and turgid preamble which Paris had to skip over to hackneyed dialog, the thing was anything but "high class" entertainment. It was quite frankly awful and no amount of praise from the publisher can change that basic fact.

    2. The names and characters in the holo-novel were ridiculous. Okay, so we're supposed to believe that the Doctor is extremely intelligent and artistic but he comes up with names like "Lieutenant Marseille" instead of Lieutenant Paris and then acts shocked that people think the character is based on Tom Paris? Please. I suppose I should be glad that the vulcan was not named "Threevok" and the captain, "Jane Kateway". (or maybe she was ...) Don't treat us like idiots. That kind of writing is something one would expect from a 2nd-grader. And "3 of 8"???? Doesn't the Doctor have the ability to come up with randomly-generated names from the great Federation database?

    The point is, you can't have it both ways. If the holo-novel is supposed to be great fiction and the Doctor is supposed to not know he's offended his crewmates, then don't play the holo-novel for transparent laughs and knowing winks."

    These are good and under-discussed points. It has struck me before that it is weird that the Doctor's novel is meant to be high art but it plays out so farcically, though I usually forget about that by the time the episode is over, because there's a lot going on. It makes me wonder whether the publisher, Broht, is less of a Legitimate Publisher and more of a sort of muckraker (his later behaviour kind of suggests that), and that, rather than actually looking for works of High Art, he's really more interested in getting a lot of attention and holonovel dominance from a paparazzi-esque glimpse at a malcontent on the Voyager crew than anything else. Granting that he's not in it For The Money because it's the Federation and all, probably airing "controversial" works that are basically tabloid stories to stay popular and relevant (if perhaps reviled) might actually be his schtick, despite his protests otherwise. This theory is probably inconsistent with other elements of the episode, though. (This isn't really meant to defend the episode, just to posit a theory.)

    This is one where I diverge from probably most posters here, as I always - since day one of its airing - thought it was annoying at best. It continues the trend of Doc being treated as sentient and yet acting less and less in a way that interests me as a viewer. I'm supposed to find him an intriguing character to watch on a weekly basis when his activities include maligning his crew with a ridiculous story and then playing dumb like a con man? It's like watching Living Witness but in bizarro world, where the Doc is dead-set on making the Voyager crew look terrible. Is that how far the character is supposed to have come in these years? How petty. For how it plays I'd rate the episode lowly, but for the pure betrayal factor it makes the episode actively aggravating, and so deserves zero.

    I simply don't understand the motivation of an alleged respectable publisher to risk their reputation and fortune to publish a few weeks earlier.

    The doctor not realising his work would be so offensive just didn't ring true. Also, unsure why he is whining about his creativity but being recognised, when we recently had a whole planet worshipping his singing.

    I realise people have to act in an exaggerated manner for drama, but this is a step too far.

    I really liked the idea of all the copies of the doctor in a mine, but again why were they using pickaxes?

    A few commenters, including by Jon directly above me, express incredulity that the Doc didn’t realise his novel would offend the crew.

    If you accept that he is essentially a real person, with a sentient being’s flaws (which, in-universe he clearly is and has) then it’s obvious that he does know his novel might offend people, but he doesn’t think it’ll be that big a deal. As people are prone to, he doesn’t quite think things through properly, which explains why near the beginning, before the crew have seen his first draft, he tells the publisher he has amendments to make to the characters.

    Then, once the senior staff start chewing him out over it in the first meeting convened by Janeway, he gets defensive, lies about not knowing he’d offend anyone and refuses to back down in the face of perfectly reasonable argument. Anybody who’s used the internet recognises this as a classic human response to criticism. It’s entirely believable and ironically provides ample evidence itself of Doc’s sentience.

    I just saw the episode.

    The original intention was clearly repeat “measure of a man” from TNG without giving the credits.

    Actually Datas case should have been mentioned as a legal precedent.

    Lazy writing with brilhant acting. No, they cannot decide on how holographic technology works and I won’t elaborate here - there are many other forums about it.

    I think Doctor evolved a lot (actually only he and Seven show real character development btw), but I was NEVER CONVINCED that henia truly an Sentient AI becuse:
    - he was not designated to be an true AI (like Data);
    - he never experienced a turning point, some crazy experience, or anomaly that made him sentient (like TNG Moriarty);
    - they never gave a true reason for him to be different (functioning for ling periods of time is lame as an explanation);
    - just becuse we live his character, does not mean he convinced me he is a person;
    - don’t get me started on holograms mining... so now the complex and resource-intensive holographic technology can be installed (cost-effectively) in fuxking mines? Why not use things that EXIST in Star Trek like drones, robots and androids?

    Awfully writen episode with good intentions...

    2 stars

    Overrated. A poor man’s “Measure of a Man”

    Tired of these lame alternate shows. This time with altered versions of the crew from the Doc’s holonovel. Yawn

    And the doc who is annoying as is was extra annoying here.

    Overall a real bore

    Doc's holo novel was very fun. I liked the way we were led through it with the different characters wearing the huge mobile emitter, ending up with a very sour looking Janeway, who looked ready to say "We are not amused."

    I loved Tom's "revisions" too. The doc with a combover: perfect!

    The fun part was better than the serious part, though that was well done also. Just not as interesting, more predictable, and "been there, done that", with Data.

    Nice touch at the end, with all those Docs working in the mines.

    In my opinion, the opener is the most poignant part. I know some may disagree with this, but the doctor's novel speaking of how random photons came out of the void and they coalesced to form a thinking hologram is as silly as those who believe life and the universe spontaneously evolved. That may not have been the idea behind that statement, but to me it is a whimsical farce on how people believe things came into existence without a Creator

    @ Sean Hagins,

    You know, I never thought much about the opening other than it being a farcical style piece, but you are so right! Great observation. I hadn't caught before that this could easily read as a scathing criticism of emergent biology. However I think it's also worth noting that it *could* be interpreted as a scathing critique of those who think that humans appeared out of nothing at one point, fully formed as they are now. If I had to guess I would suppose that the writers were critiquing religion, but reading it in the way you put it I could definitely see it swing the other way too.

    The thing that annoyed me was when the Doctor, when defending himself, claimed Voyager is all he knows, so that's all he could write about.

    What about when he was on that planet where timed moved faster than the rest of the universe? He lived there on that planet for YEARS.

    Having just watched this with @Sean Hagins and @Peter G comments in mind, it sure seems that this is meant to give the flavor of the Bible’s Genesis beginning redone through Star Trek.

    In the beginning
    There is darkness
    The emptiness of a matrix
    Waiting for the light

    Then, a single photon flares into existence
    Then another
    Soon, thousands more
    Optronic pathways connect
    Subroutines emerge from the chaos
    And a holographic consciousness, is formed

    Darkness to light, chaos to order, something from nothing.

    At the episode start, the doctor sees himself as a biblical figure, an entity of A Creation, of such importance he requires his own Genesis introduction. Through the episode, we see him take on so many human traits that he becomes fallen man as he gets his doses of “the way things work.”

    He becomes part of a parable in many parts. Treachery, avarice, love, hate, friendship, trust, it’s all here. Betrayal, makes a strong appearance, with the publisher playing many roles including his eventual Judas.

    The holodeck rewrite by Paris - some of the best writing of the series. I’ve always said, the cast and writers were at their best when they were playing caricatures of themselves.

    I've been saying that Star Trek is a much more conservative frnchise than it's usually given credit for, and in that light, there are two things to note here:

    First, this works as a fun way to show how works of fiction - and for that matter, dramatized true stories - are often embellished like mad to become more provocative and successful. You can take it as a cautionary tale to not believe everything you read, particularly when you're paying attention to the tone.

    Second, the "courtroom" proceeding has continued the trend of muddying the waters when it comes to what constitutes life, and that shows how difficult of an issue it is. There's real ambiguity, because while we know the Doctor as a character and have known other artificial life forms in the past, they didn't behave the same way as most other holographic life or adaptable computer programs. When you get too ridiculous saying that anything which looks like a life is one, you end up with Fair Haven. That's ridiculous: where is the line between building a tool and programming a life? More to the point, when did the Doctor become distinct from something like a sophisticated logistical algorithm? The writers knew this was a loaded question, so they didn't give the Doctor, and holograms by category, the same personhood they gave DATA in Measure of a Man. That's exactly right.

    Good show.

    @Patrick: Continuity? In MY Star Trek?

    It's unfortunate that they tend to pick and choose what is continuative and what isn't... I suppose there could have been time constraints in this instance, but surely they could have juggled the scenes a bit.

    I'm with those for whom this episode foundered on some awful incongruities. Probably the biggest being Starfleet putting EMH's to manual labour that is both outrageous and anachronistic. I found it jarring in 'Life Line' when Zimmerman reveals that EMH I's are all being forced to scrub plasma conduits. It might have been written off as a sarcastic exaggeration if they'd left it at that, but the idea that The Federation would consign even possibly sentient beings to swinging picks in 19th Century style mines is beyond the pale (not to mention being, one would assume, difficult to even organize).

    Also, I couldn't help wonder if the idea of a traditional style literary publisher is even remotely likely in the 24th Century. And even if it were, this ep was released in 2001, when the idea of recalling every 'copy' of some digital software was already a silly notion. Even if we were still in the CD /DVD era, everybody knew that once the digital cats were out of the bag it would be farcical to go trying to round them up (for context, this was the year after Metallica took legal action against Napster).

    But the Doc's holonovel is still treated like some physical artifact that can be retrieved. The only critique of the effectiveness of recalling the copies is that thousands of people must already have seen them - not that there would be copies of copies everywhere, and the idea of a digital original versus a copy is meaningless.

    Nevertheless I can't say the episode wasn't enjoyable or well-paced; just that the bits that worked were mostly the more comedic moments.

    I rated this 2.5, but then I saw the following 'Friendship One' and rated it at 2.0. Friendship One is far inferior to this. I can't decide if I'm being too kind to it, or too harsh to this. Or both.


    As other people have noted, this is something of a rehash of the classic "Measure of a Man", in which Picard successfully defends Data from having to accede to a potentially high-risk procedure.

    However, it's worth noting that Picard didn't prove that Data was a sentient living being. In fact, to quote the judge from that episode (via Memory Alpha's handy set of quotes):

    "It sits there looking at me, and I don't know what it is. This case has dealt with metaphysics, with questions best left to saints and philosophers. I am neither competent, nor qualified, to answer those. I've got to make a ruling – to try to speak to the future. Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No. We've all been dancing around the basic issue: does Data have a soul? I don't know that he has. I don't know that I have! But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself. It is the ruling of this court that Lieutenant Commander Data has the freedom to choose."

    Unfortunately, where Measure of a Man made some very good arguments and made for some compelling viewing, this episode is a confused mess which arguably leaves us in the same place as Measure left us some twelve years earlier. After all, the verdict from this episode's Arbitrator is pretty much identical:

    "The Doctor exhibits many of the traits we associate with a person. Intelligence, creativity, ambition, even fallibility, but are these traits real or is The Doctor merely programmed to simulate them? To be honest, I don't know. Eventually we will have to decide because the issue of holographic rights isn't going to go away, but at this time, I am not prepared to rule that The Doctor is a person under the law. However, it is obvious he is no ordinary hologram and while I can't say with certainty that he is a person I am willing to extend the legal definition of artist to include The Doctor."

    To paraphrase, both essentially say "I don't know if Data/EMH is a person, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt".

    That's a major disappointment. Have we (or more precisely, the Star Trek writers) really progressed no further in examining AI rights? And equally, why has there not been any further rulings within the Star Trek universe on this subject in the last decade or so?

    (There's also the frankly disturbing point that the Doctor is only granted this ambiguous status because he's classed as "no ordinary hologram". What makes him unique? The amount of time he's been switched on? There's shades of Bladerunner's "four year lifespan" in that concept...)

    Worse, virtually none of the Voyager's other explorations of holograms are brought up. The cliched irish folk who became aware they were holograms? Ignored. The holograms used as clay pigeons by the Hirogen - who then tried to rescue other "oppressed" holograms? Not a peep (other than a comment about the fact that this was the episode where the Doctor disobeyed a direct order). The point where the Doctor agonised over the need to choose between two patients? Not a whistle. The ethical questions around how the Doctor deliberately infected a healthy man, to blackmail him into providing medical supplies? Nary a sausage. There's not even a flashback to the recent episode where the Doctor was downloaded into Seven's brain, to hide from a species who were fighting a war against their holographic ex-slaves.

    This is purely and simply about the Doctor as an individual. And this is hammered home even more by the utterly ridiculous end sequence where we see dozens of EMH units working in a deep mine, carrying pick-axes and other manual tools in a scene straight out of a 19th century slave-labor mine.

    Did we really need this scene? Even before you consider just how ridiculous it is to repurpose holograms designed to perform medical duties to hard labor. Surely it would be far more efficient to just delete them (as happens with any standard Holodeck character) and build a new hologram tailored to that environment and work? It's not like this would take any real effort above any beyond "Computer, give me a dozen holographic mine workers. And a couple of kids, to work as runners in the mine - after all, if we're going to turn back the clock five hundred years, let's go the whole hog!"

    In fact, this entire scene throws up some worrying questions about the Federation's treatment of holograms. The only difference between the mine-worker EMHs and the Voyager's EMH is the fact that he's been active for longer. So will the Doctor be relegated to the mines as soon as Voyager returns? Why aren't the other EMHs being given the chance to achieve sentience - or any other hologram?

    You could just as easily argue that a newborn human child isn't sentient and can be disposed of in any fashion. After all, they're not yet self aware!

    To be fair, at this point, Voyager was struggling under the weight of three generations of Holodeck backstory. What started as a nice "future-science" gimmick back in 1987 was already running out of steam by the end of TNGs run, and Voyager's attempts to draw fresh water from the well resulted in an increasingly muddy, contrived and contradictory tangle.

    Not least because for all that the writers constantly brought up the question around whether or not holograms should have rights, they rarely - if ever - actually attempted to answer it.

    Sadly, this tangle extends to the rest of the episode.

    As other people have noted, the Doctor's novel is complete garbage. It's little better than fanfic, written by someone with a huge chip on his shoulder. Why would this be popular, other than for it's novelty value?

    (Anecdotally, it reminds me of when my younger brother decided he wanted to become a video game developer, somewhere around the age of 10. He drew up detailed plans for the game he wanted to make... which was pretty much identical to Starcraft, his favorite game at the time. And in much the same way as how the Doctor couldn't see the issues with his novel, my brother couldn't grasp how his game was too derivative of it's singular influence...)

    Equally, the Doctor's stance is highly contradictory. He goes from defending his story's "original" characters to being outraged about the effect his story has on them when it's leaked. As touching as it is to see him putting their reputations ahead of his own, it's also a complete and major about-face from his previous stance.

    In the end, this episode's problem is that it tries to do too much.

    It's trying to be a comedy at the same time as it's trying to cover a serious subject in a serious way. It's trying to look at a very wide topic by focusing on a single individual. And it tries to shoehorn in a subplot about Seven of Nine's emotional development at the same time.

    So yeah. On one level, it completes the development of the Doctor's character, from a blank "baby" in the first episode to a fully fledged individual. And there's a few amusing moments.

    But on the other hand, it adds nothing of value to Star Trek canon - if anything, it leaves things in even more of a mess than they were...

    The Doctor on trial and the inspiration of slaves. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

    This one plays to practically all of Voyager's strengths—its sense of humour, the family theme, Seven recapturing her individuality, and, of course, Doc's quest for humanity—and rolls it all into one episode. Undoubtedly one of the show's best.

    This episode touches on freedom of speech and freedom of the press which I've been meaning to bring up. Here's an old thread I found to illustrate my view: - Look at the post by Chris Lang dated Sunday, February 28, 1999 “how can the Internet exist without free speech? It doesn't make sense that the Internet could have arisen and been made public in a world where freedom of expression doesn't exist.”. It's amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.

    >I liked the final scene too, which takes place "four months later" and shows dozens of identical EMH-1s working in a mine. One of them suggests to another that in his spare time he take a look at an interesting program called Photons Be Free.

    Why would a hologram have free time? Also why wouldn't they use robots to work in mines?

    @20:25 Kim says he's only in command of the bridge during night shifts but what difference would night time make in space?

    >This was a pure rip off of TNGs "Measure of a Man," which at least was original.

    Not really, the idea for “Measure of a Man” was from a 1960's episode of The Outer Limits called “I, Robot” staring Leonard Nimoy. It was also rebooted in the 1990's.

    I never got into this one, the doctor’s novel seemed over the top, Tom’s response was exaggerated. Definitely inspired by Measure of a Man, if not a rip off. All
    In all, watchable and entertaining, but it is a 2.5/4 for me.

    Count me in with Jammer and all the folks who loved this episode. This is a classique -- not just for "Voyager" but for all of "Trek."

    I do believe S7 is my favorite of "Voyager."


    ))I'm just going to pull the simple definition from Webster from artist: "1. a person who creates art."

    So how can you be a person who creates art and not be a person?((

    You (and the Arbiter) are laboring under the Semantic Fallacy.

    It is as if you would argue that the existence of "Creation" (i.e., the Cosmos) must, logically, imply the existence of a "Creator."

    Just because the English* language makes it convenient and/or Webster's dictionary felt it most expedient to write a definition beginning with "A person who..." is no justification to then assume that "only a person can..."

    (*Applies also to other languages, e.g., German: "Schöpfung" and "Schöpfer.")

    Definitely a contender for best episode (along with Scorpion and perhaps Timeless). It was even better than I remembered-- in my mind this was the is the doctor a person episode, and while that part is the ultimately the core, I was surprised by the ground it covers before it settles into that. Particularly, I reeeeeallly liked crew members like Paris confronting the doctor about how he must see them. Neelix was put to great use in delicately coaxing the doctor into the right action. And all of the little conversations with family were so well done (and concise and efficient) that I was kind of impressed that the episode was able to make room comfortably for these side things. Seven's was great.

    So the comparisons to measure of a man I think are a bit unfair-- that's just one component of the episode (really just its climax) and just one really interesting outcome
    of doc'a holonovel. It's handled in its own way and is done well, but the episode is more than that!

    I always enjoy this episode, and as a piece of 90s TV, it works. But the more it becomes looked at in comparison to some of the best of Trek, and especially in modern-day retrospect (I believe certain modern day TV series have really raised the bar for consistency and sensibility across a series where it was far more in fashion in the 90s to have characters personalities suit the story of the week).

    I don't know if I would give this one less than 4 stars - maybe 3.5 - But ,y biggest issues with this episode is the Doctor's positions in the episode.

    Perhaps he's just clouded by ego - I think we've seen this happen a few times - like when he became a famous opera singer. So it's not inconsistent, but considering he's a computer program, it always struck me as stretching credibility for him of all people to be so egocentric and context-blind.

    Jammer points out that this episode mirrors living witness. Yet in that episode, the Doctor is outraged by the misportrayal of his crew (by holograms that look vaguely like them). I guess it's arguable that he really thinks he changed the characters enough to make them fictional - I'm sure some tales of people changing the names of real people in a story to another with the same first letter are true. But seriously - in the 24th centry, is he really so incredibly naive as to think that putting dark hair on Captain Janeway's face and calling his captain another 'J' name make it an original character? I know there's supposed to be some element of overconfidence and naivety here, but surely the doctor is well versed enough in literature and especially in light of his own reactions in Living Witness to know that isn't going to be seen as anything else - especially when it's the entire crew, not just one character.

    But then after vehemently defending his position even after Paris's stunt, and reluctantly agreeing to revise his work, in the trial he's all of a sudden adamant:

    JANEWAY: "We might win on those grounds. But what about the Doctor?"

    EMH: "What about me, Captain? It's the crew's reputations that are as risk. "

    This about face is irritating. The Doctor's outrage at the start seems to be the publisher taking advantage of him and claiming he has no rights - the very thing his novel is about. Instead, he momentarily becomes the selfless martyr, seemingly willing to sacrifice his rights for the good of the crew - but that files in the face of the first half of the episode and even where it goes. I guess the writers felt they had to shift from the audience rooting for the crew against the Doctor's wild position on his novel, to rooting for the downtrodden Doctor against the publisher's oppressive position. It would have worked just fine if his objection had consistently remained "that make solve your problem Captain, but what about mine? I still have no more legal right than a toaster!"

    From a lawyer's perspective, while I appreciate it doesn't necessarily satisfy the episode's plot requirements, but it's an extremely common legal tactic to argue alternatives to make sure you don't lose. "The doctor is a person. You MUST expand the legal definition to include him. But in the event this court finds he is not a person, the story is defamatory." or "But if he isn't a person, there's no legal contract here." There's nothing wrong with making BOTH arguments contrary to the episode's suggestion that you have to pick one lane and ride it out.

    As a huge fan of Measure of a Man and Drumhead (courtroom realism aside, I found the episode became a bit too jam packed, and the pivotal courtroom scenes were just far to glossed over - it basically amounted to a few anecdotes about how the doctor just "seems" like a person. I would have liked to hear some semblance of a legal argument be made for why the Doctor qualifies as a person. After the initial legal definition of a protected work was quickly addressed, the rest became a matter of "oh come on, of course he's a person". Comparing the doctor creating an original story to a replicator producing a programmed item hardly seemed like a worthy counter-argument to the Doctor's personhood - at least the publisher could have raised an analogy of something ORIGINAL a computer produces like a statistical data analysis or a level 3 diagnostic report or something.

    I also thought it went somewhat unaddressed as to whether the story, created by a Starfleet computer program (Doc) might somehow therefore be property of Starfleet. I still fail to understand how if the Doctor is not a person and has no creative rights, the publisher somehow has gained rights/authority to sell the program. I guess this got lumped a little bit into Janeway not wanting to make any other legal argument than the Doctor's personhood, but it stands out to me.

    As a final aside, I thought it was a bit ridiculous that it took Neelix to come up with the obvious idea of "you have to change the names and faces so it doesn't seem like us". Brilliant author Tom didn't think of that? Nor the Captain? Perhaps the intention is that the crew is so hurt/offended that they can't see past that - as much as the doctor's ego is so big he can't see past being offended by the suggestion that his work is offensive. Again, it works in the 90s "larger than life" personalities that work for the story of the week, but in modern times, it comes off as stilted and a bit one-dimensional on all parts.

    My feelings are very much in line with Kristen's excellent analysis above (almost 10 years ago). This was a pleasantly enjoyable "missed opportunity" episode for me (Voyager has oh so many of these, didn't it?), and I'm shocked by Jammer's 4-star sendup. I'd give it 2.5 stars or maybe 3 if leaning on the episode's comedic value.

    I discovered Jammer's reviews as an excellent study guide in rewatching the series: my feelings usually align with his pretty closely; as a consequence, with each season I've opened up, I eagerly scan for and make a mental note of his 3.5 and 4 star reviews. These are the ones to make time for and WATCH watch, rather than having on in the background while cooking, cleaning, etc.

    Seeing this 4-star gem just before the end of the show, I looked forward to it with considerable anticipation. And I was sorely disappointed. It was poorly paced; it superficially toyed with one of the core "sci fi nuggets" of the series in the Doctor's sentience, rights, etc. without offering any insight or depth; it was painfully derivative of past Voyager and TNG fare. And the final scene, far from touching, insulted viewers' intelligence: where are the hollow emitters for these Mark 1s? Why are they slaving away by hand in this hellish mine with techniques and tools that would have been outdated 80 years ago? Are they doing hard time?

    Aaaanyway, Jammer, if you're listening, I want my money back!

    In all seriousness, I've really taken a lot from reading these reviews so many years after the show first came out. I've also really enjoyed reading this extensive archive of other viewers' reactions. With my rewatch drawing to a close, I dunno if I'll have cause to post again, but I do want to say a big THANK YOU to Jammer for organizing this treasure trove of content. My words can't express the fullness gratitude (nor can my hundreds of page views and the advertising revenue they've hopefully generated). Peace and long life.

    Man, one thing I don't like about Voyager is it feels like a lot of the characters are running in place. I feel like we did the whole "The doctor doesn't consider the feelings of his crew" thing 50 times, and it always feels like nothing changes. And he's not the only victim. Seven is the most obvious, but Harry, Tom, Janeway, Torres, and pretty much every main cast member has these big character episodes that don't seem to mean anything going forward.

    @Areliae: you're definitely right that characters seem to be running in place. There is some change over time, but it seems rather glacial, particularly since they've been stuck together so long.

    Still, I agree with others that this is a great one. It plays Voyager's strengths like a symphony.

    It obviously borrows from TNG's Measure of a Man, but the story is quite different and the legal clash was a much smaller component. Though, it sure seems like TNG case should have been mentioned.

    It's very nice that the legal events here are thematically the same as the point the Doctor was making in his holonovel.

    I could have done without the eye rolling coda, though.

    I don't know if I am just exhausted from all the rubbish episodes but this one was... Good.

    I groaned when I saw the synopsis but got in to it as it went on. Sure, the holonovel is overdone. The way the story moved from one topic to another was quite deft, and I enjoyed the epilogue.

    Possibly Voyager's best episode...

    Haven't seen it mentioned yet, but the moment I really enjoyed was the look on Tuvok's face when the Judge told him that there was a "flaw" in his logic.

    The EMH is part of the damn ship, why the crew have always given it so much latitude is beyond me. You don't see anyone worrying whether the navigational deflector's feeling fulfilled and realising it's ambitions.

    @Gary Twinem

    I'm curious as to whether you think Data is part of the Enterprise? Have you seen “Measure of a Man”?


    There's a difference between Data and the Doc, though. Data is autonomous, his brain is part of his body, it's powered separately from the ship. The Doc is a hologram, originally generated by the ship's computer, and occasionally transferred to the more advanced technology of the mobile emitter. I think the AI issue is similar, but there's an additional issue of autonomy involved with the Doc, since he originates as an intelligent program within the ship's systems.

    This was a surprisingly good episode, I found the transition from comedy to drama to be well executed, and the central issues of AI sentience and legal recognition are as fascinating as ever. My main gripe is that the decision from “measure of a man” was left out. If I was representing the doc I would have built a large portion of my argument around that legal precedent. I would imagine that following the events of “measure of a man” the federation would have dedicated a great deal of thought and discussion to the issue of AI, sentience, and personhood. The fact that none of that was referenced in this episode is definitely a glaring omission.
    I would also imagine that a legal case like this one would spark an enormous amount of unease across the galaxy. The idea that there’s even a possibility that a hologram left running would develop full blown self aware consciousness would generate some crazy ethical quandaries, not to mention anxiety; seems unlikely that parents would be cool with their kids playing with flotter and whatshisface if flotter might suddenly decide he’s done being a stooge for federation brats everywhere.
    I have one other nitpick, which is that I’m not sold on the idea that holograms would view themselves as a “people”. I find that idea to be more a projection(ha!) of the writers own human tendencies towards pattern recognition and an “us vs them” mind set. Assuming the doc is in fact sentient, does that automatically mean he would share some sort of communion with other holographic capable machines and computer programs? Would he really find the ability to represent oneself through light projections to be an adequate basis for identity? I’m not so sure.

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