By Fred Shedian
Posted at January 29, 2000 - 6:00 AM GMT

Voyager with another Doctor based character development story? Sounds like something which couldn't possibly go wrong...or could it. Although the general story outline was something I was eager to see, I was somewhat disappointed at the end result. Today, let me talk a little bit about why I found myself watching both The West Wing and Voyager this past Wednesday.

In the beginning of "Virtuoso," I have to say I was very surprised by the alien species in Voyager's Sickbay. I was waiting for someone, somehow, to full explain how these people had ended up on Voyager or what Voyager was really trying to get from them in the way of technology. Regretfully, these questions were never answered. In the meantime, we suddenly find Bob Picardo singing "I've Been Working On The Railroad" while he is working. To some this next remark may seem odd but...when did the Doctor start to sing to himself while he worked? When did we see this habit develop? I believe the scene in question would have had a much better effect if we had seen the Doctor singing while he worked for the past few months instead of a sudden "appetite" for "I've Been Working On The Railroad."

From this point, I believe the plot followed in the footsteps of the United States Stock Exchange this past week. There were one or two good scenes, but overall we were headed downwards. As other reviewers have pointed out, Robert Picardo has an excellent voice. If written correctly, I sincerely hope to hear him again. However, not in the way we saw in this episode. It is a shame when an actor's singing is better than the story line surrounding it.

Other problems I found with this episode range from why the set the Doctor performed on was clearly made out of a 24th Century version of plywood (while during TNG we saw sets which were actually three dimensional), to how the Doctor's friend on the surface was able to download/obtain information about his program (i.e.: default vocal settings, physical appearance, etc.), to the final scene with Seven of Nine and the Doctor. In the end, out of all three, the last is the one which sticks with me. Although some resolution needed to take place, I simply have to say that either the writing was god awful or Jeri Ryan and Bob Picardo's acting fell off a deep cliff during that day of filming.

Although you can say this was a good episode for developing the Doctor, it was not a very entertaining event. Stories like this confirm the reason Voyager is ranked 87 out of 99 shows each week...with year old reruns of "Boy Meets World" ten ranks ahead. Regretfully, with The Rock appearance next week, I am beginning to wonder if Voyager's writers have lost the momentum they had back during Equinox. A pity..another episode with so much potential, yet missing it's mark by the length of a football field.

On another note, those frequent readers of A Take On Trek will note that there has been a change in the column to the left of your screens. You will see that articles composed between July 8, 1999 and November 16, 1999 have now been archived on a separate page. This was needed due to the increasing length of the left hand column and the duration of this column.

Until next time...

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.