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The Trek Nation - Author, Author

Author, Author

By AntonyF
Posted at April 25, 2001 - 5:44 PM GMT

'Author, Author' - copyright Paramount Pictures Rating: 5/10
Episode: #266
Story By: Brannon Braga
Teleplay By: Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Directed By: David Livingston


The teaser of this episode was certainly a quick one, and hardly an enticing one at that. "Yeah, so what," was my first impression. I then just watched act one, and gave in for about 5 days before starting from the beginning again. Maybe I didn't give it a chance the first time, but I did give it a fair go the second time around.

I don't read other reviews before I write my own, because they would make me think about things that mightn't have entered my head. But I know, from seeing the odd comment here and there, that this episode was likened to TNG's 'A Measure of a Man.' I also remember that Michael Taylor, when I interviewed him earlier this year, also said it bore a resemblance to the second season TNG episode. However, that wasn't my impression at first. This to me was 'Living Witness 1.5,' with a dash of 'Worst Case Scenario.' That's probably why I gave in on it too; it just felt so much of a retread.

However, on my second viewing I was ready to see it all from start to finish. The first part of the episode is still too 'Living Witness' orientated for my liking. Perhaps the strain of the Doctor having to defend the crew 400 years in the future was too much of a strain on him, I thought to myself. Then I chastised myself when I realized that was a different Doctor. But from the harsh crew, to Janeway's wacky hair, it was too familiar for my liking. Incidentally, 'Living Witness' is in my top ten list of Voyager episodes, so maybe that's why I took exception to this.

We then move on to Janeway and the crew grilling the Doctor, and I'm afraid this doesn't do a lot for my appreciation of the Doctor. I've always found him a wonderful character, but of late I've seen what I think is a bit of character assassination going on. It's ironic timing that I today watched 'Flesh and Blood' again, the episode that started to seed my lack of sympathy for holograms. That episode, and this, I assumed were meant to make us believe in hologram rights more, but had the opposite effect with me.

Where will it end, I asked myself? Are they going to stop using holodecks? Back in 'The Killing Game' holograms were given to stop living beings' deaths. Then the holograms had to be saved in 'Flesh and Blood,' even though they were murderous and, in the case of Iden, a few bytes short of a floppy disk. My view quickly became holograms believe they're alive, because they're programmed to believe that. Even though I lost faith in the hologram rights issue, I still saw the doc as a special case. However, this episode marked my turn against him. Petulant and whiny, were two words that sprung to mind. He also displays arrogance when he uses the images of his crewmates for his little program, which I personally wouldn't allow for one second if it were my image being used. But the crew just sit around looking hurt (although Paris's little version was amusing). The heavy backpack was the burden he has to carry, on something like that, the Doctor moaned. This is the guy who has, for the most part, got great treatment from the crew. He plays golf, sings opera, and nearly kills the whole crew through his treason in "Flesh and Blood" and gets not even a slap on the wrist, unlike Tom's 30 days in prison for his well-meaning shenanigans. So it seems "organics" do get treated differently to holograms—they get treated worse.

Then it happened, it moved into 'The Measure of a Man.' The holoprogram was just the set up, and I can see why people liken this to the TNG episode now. And thus we enter the field of rights and wrongs of hologram life. It's pretty standard fair, Kate Mulgrew giving a notably sincere and spellbinding speech on why the Doc is a person.

The outcome of the trial was satisfactory. They didn't try to solve all problems in one go, and it was more of a question for another day. It's the very end of the episode that I didn't see coming, at all. This is where it truly takes some emotional resonance, for me at least. This is what made me think, and this is what I pondered about for some time after. Has a new slave race been created, is it right? Sadly I didn't get this thoughtful until the end moment of the episode, and after that. I then also wonder how the Doctor can speak so boldly for "his people" when he lives on the comfy Voyager, 30,000 or so light years away.

So what do I think? Well, I don't know how to sum this one up. The episode seems split between the funny holoprogram romp, and a serious "what is life" story. The two didn't gel really, making me feel as if I'm reviewing two episodes. The holodeck story was fun; Jeri Ryan makes a good redhead too. I liked Seven's conversation with her aunt, and her discovery that she was a bit of a madam even before the Borg's influence. It was good to see Richard Hurd again, who will always be Supreme Commander John to me. Robert Picardo puts in his usual top-notch performance, and Kate Mulgrew was also commendable. As to holograms… well only the final scene really had any resonance with me. Otherwise, I don't have much sympathy for the hologram plight, and the doctor's eternal feel-sorry-for-himself attitude. Star Trek seems to be intent on decompiling these races to be more Human. The Ferengi had to change, the Borg had to change, and now the existence of holograms is in question. I can't help but feel I'm seeing the Babylon 5 Telepath War in the making here (sorry JMS). But I can't escape the fact that I think sometimes a machine is just a machine, and this is partially due to the recent spat of hologram-relate episodes.

So overall, a mixed reaction from myself. The episode had some good acting, and did at least look at the tried and tested, but ultimately rewarding, story of 'What is life?' And quite rightly, it had no answers for us, just a question for us all to ponder. 5/10

Next Week: Voyager has to deal with the consequences of a pre-Starfleet Earth's stupidity.


This is the second in a series of special guest reviews AntonyF is writing of Voyager's 'Final Chapter'. Check back here soon for his review of 'Friendship One', the Voyager episode airing tonight.

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AntonyF is a freelance writer and interviewer, who will be known to some for running Star Trek Central until recently. He recently set up a new website, B5LR.com, dedicated to Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers.