Rob: Welcome back to Subspace Radio.
It is me, Rob, and joining
me as always is Kevin.
How are you?
Kevin: I'm a card carrying member
of the Cellar Door Society, Rob.
That's how I'm
Rob: Damn right you are.
Kevin: Holodeck mysteries.
Sign me up.
Rob: We are here to discuss, uh,
two episodes of Star Trek for you.
Prodigy is hurtling towards
their season finale.
We have Ghost in the Machine
and Mindwalk to discuss.
And that's also branched us out as always,
every week to talk about, uh, to discuss
a larger topic in relation to Star Trek.
And this week we'll be going into
the depths of, uh, the holodeck
and what that means for, uh, the
cast and crew of whatever Star
Trek series we wanna focus on.
And whether it's just there for
novelty, for leisure, or does
it help them, you know, heal
Kevin: I'm really looking forward to
finding out which episodes you've picked
Rob, because there is a large oeuvre.
I feel like we could do easily
three episodes about holodeck,
holodeck episodes of the
Rob: Well, it is, it is something
that is very much, uh, a beast of
the new generation of, of Star Trek
that was frontiered by, that's a real
word, uh, by the Next Generation crew.
And that has led the way for Deep
Space Nine, and of course, uh,
Voyager to just run ragged with the
concept of, uh, the holodeck episode.
Kevin: I have it on good authority that
there are some episodes of the Animated
Series in which the original Enterprise is
established to have a recreation deck that
can recreate holographic environments.
So neither of us knows
about those episodes.
So if you're sitting out there thinking,
oh, you missed the best holodeck
episode, it's because we haven't
watched the Animated Series yet.
Rob: And we, and we have on record, it is
out there in Subspace Radio world that we
will be doing a, um, a, a marathon of it
Kevin: gonna do it.
If only Star Trek was about to take
a break for a couple of months.
Rob: and if only, you know, some
of us were going on holidays for
some extended period of time.
But well, let us go onto, uh, uh,
the, the deck of the Protostar.
Let's discuss how the crew are
dealing with their situation.
Last time we found them, they were
deep in, uh, the neutral zone.
They are being, uh, chased by.
Rear Admiral Janeway's ship,
and all hell is breaking loose.
They cannot make contact.
Otherwise, the device within
the Protostar will corrupt
everything that is Federation.
How are they going to move to their
next step, their next, uh, plan of
making contact, but also keeping free
and their dream of reaching Federation,
will they ever have that happen?
So two episodes down, Ghost in the Machine
is the first one we're gonna focus on.
Um, so Kevin, I will turn to you.
How did you find this particular episode?
Kevin: Uh, I thought it was great fun
in, in the tradition of holodeck episodes
that should not be taken too seriously.
Uh, I felt like this was another, uh,
character revealing episode of Prodigy.
We had Preludes not too long
Rob: Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.
What was that?
Kevin: We had pre-loods?
What other ways can we say it?
Rob: Yeah, add as many
different syllables as you want.
I love it.
Kevin: That's right.
Uh, we had that episode that explored
their backstories and now we are like
revealing their, their secret pastimes.
The things they, they do when they're
alone on the holodeck are now all
out there for them all to know about.
And it's a great excuse to kinda get
under the skin of these characters
who, uh, you know, obviously they
have some secrets from each other.
Rob: Yeah, it's, it's a really interesting
concept which we'll be exploring into.
And you mentioned it about the
holodeck episode can be an episode
of frivolity and a bit of silliness.
I've got a bit too excited and used
up two of my most, uh, favorite
holodeck episodes in a previous story.
So those ones are particularly,
uh, Take Me Out to the Holosuite
is very, very light and fluffy.
However, there are, uh, episodes in there
that can have some, some hitting stuff.
And this has a sinister little tinge to
it with how far this, uh, contaminated
program has fitted within the Protostar.
So much so that it's actually infected
the Janeway hologram and causing her to
manipulate the crew against, uh, yeah,
without her knowledge, which is like
some actually really sinister stuff
to have that brought into the show.
Kevin: it is a perfect blend in my
mind of, um, an excuse to reveal
character by going on this varied,
whistle stop tour of their, their,
you know, spare time holo programs.
And seeing the variety of what these
kids have created for themselves
on the holodeck is really exciting.
The fact that Zero loves solving
mysteries, uh, and Jankom thinks
that's dumb and would prefer to street
fights to work out his, his demons.
Uh, like that kind of thing.
And then the fact that it is all, like
the plot aspect of this is, this blend
of their favorite pastimes was created
maliciously by evil hologram Janeway,
uh, asking the computer to create a,
a distraction for while she cleverly
extracts Dal's command codes and then
takes the ship off into Federation space.
I love that the, the mix of the light and
fluffy, the fun, the character stuff, but
just simmering beneath the surface and
revealed at the end is that nasty twist
that advances the plot of the season in a,
in a, yeah, as you say, a, a creepy way.
Uh, I really loved it.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, uh, you know, Kate
Mulgrew does, does beautiful work in
showing that real horror and shock that
she's a, a liability and she had no
Kevin: Oh, a couple of really
beautiful, like the two things that
I love the most that gave me the
tingles in this episode, and it's
just because I'm that kind of nerd.
We'll come back to this when
we talk about the holodeck
episodes that I've picked out.
But the moment at the start where they
realize we never left the holodeck,
that gives me the Star Trek tingles.
I show up for that
Rob: it's a really clever moment.
It's, it, it's actually beautifully done
that they've gone, we've never, we haven't
actually left is a beautiful reveal.
Kevin: And similarly at the end,
the reveal that this whole time
Janeway has been programmed to not
work in their interests, but in the
interests of destroying the Federation.
Rob: that ship wants to
get to Federation space.
It to infect the entire Federation.
Kevin: And the only reason she has
not undermined them before now is
that their interests were aligned.
And that, that creepy sense that
the logic was there waiting to,
like the trap was there, waiting
to be sprung this whole time.
Uh, that also gave me the
ooh, the chills of, wow.
That is, that is good.
I love that
I'll have to put on my Kevin Yank hat
of um, being a stickler for some of the
little minor details, because we have
explored earlier in the season the fact
that they've just gone, right, well,
we can't go to Federation, we will
keep doing the good work of Federation.
So they kind of, there was that point
there a couple of weeks ago where they
just went, we're gonna do the job of
Federation without going to Federation.
So it's so, so finding that logic
jump of going, okay, so this one
in this moment where they've got,
Kevin: It is a bit ambiguous.
I think what they would have us believe
is that their, their previous missioning
was still in service of setting
themselves up to join the Federation.
Now, would Janeway trust that that
would also set up the Protostar
to set off its bomb Federation?
I think we, it was, as you say,
established pretty early that that
was what the crew was trying to avoid.
Yeah, maybe it doesn't quite add up, but
this is the thing about Star Trek is when
the writing is good, when the characters
are rich, you don't, you're happy to
suspend disbelief and go along with the
story, even if it's a little tenuous.
Rob: and we are all nerds.
So they got us in with the fact
that of course, Zero is a nerd as
well and wants to do an escape room.
So you know that that's gonna immediately,
that's our kryptonite as nerds go.
No, we all wanna do escape rooms and
Kevin: How did you feel about
your favorite character?
Gwyn, not having a holodeck pastime.
Rob: Yeah, yeah.
I, I, I, I was, um, I always like
to bring it into other franchises.
There's a great episode of, uh, Red
Dwarf, where they all, uh, get stuck
in their own, uh, fantasy world.
Um, but the ship's
computer, Holly doesn't.
And they go, what did you get?
Oh, mustn't have any fantasies otherwise
that, or the screen was fuzzy, and you go,
all right, okay, that's a good cop out.
So, um, I'd be very interested to see, you
know, where, where Gwyn would go to relax.
But she has given herself
the characterization of,
she doesn't really do that.
Kevin: She's too serious.
Like the fact that she doesn't have a holo
program is the interesting information we
Rob: the most relaxed, we got her
that episode was her using the
whipped cream and just pouring it
directly into her mouth after the
question, who would whip cream?
Kevin: What, what
psychopath would whip cream?
Rob: I do like the fact that they
have, you know, they've combined,
uh, ice cream and emotional eating.
Uh, very much so.
You're feeling bad.
Here's a scoop of ice cream.
Feeling, you're feeling depressed as well.
Here's another scoop of ice cream.
So, I mean, one of the things, I think
I've mentioned it earlier, the, like, the
vistas and the space, uh, um, landscape
shots that we've got are incredible.
Some of the facial expressions, have a
little to be desired, especially like
on Jankom and, um, some of the others.
So it's all on the vocal performances, but
just what they got with the subtlety out
of Janeway, like pretty much a cliffhanger
on her shock and horror of the end of
the episode was, uh, was quite well done.
Kevin: There are moments where you can
see they've invested the extra effort.
The one that comes to mind for
Jankom Pog in this episode is
when they're eating the ice cream.
And Jankom's like, oh, I would
really love to, what did he say?
What I wouldn't give to
slap his soggy jowls?
Talking about Dr.
Noom, mean Tellarite doctor,
uh, on Janeway's ship,
Rob: We've all had We've all had
Kevin: He says, what I
wouldn't give to slap his soggy
jowls with words, of course.
And you see him like
catching himself there.
And there is a thing that goes on
on his face because later we see
that he's, he has actually been
slapping his soggy jowls in, in street
fighter program on the holodeck.
But what he says to his
friends is, oh, I'm growing.
I, I can fight with my words.
And you see there is something that
they've clearly purposefully animated
on his face where like, what's
going on in his head is different
than what he's saying out loud.
I, I applaud the subtlety.
I think it's that moment succeeded.
But those moments are the exception,
uh, where they have taken the
little extra care in a a point where
they feel the acting is important.
And I do like the fact they, um,
uh, connected Prodigy to Lower Decks
with one of the holodeck simulations
turning black and white when they
went when they went into the Key Club.
Established of course
in Star Trek: Voyager.
I don't know if that's on your
list, but, uh, seen some black
and white holodecks before.
Rob: We have, I'll have to wait
for, um, that part of the episode.
So, um, yeah, there wasn't much in
the way of pushing forward, but there
was definitely another big obstacle.
And with any of these type of series,
the threat now is from within, which is
that, you know, the big sinister reveal
of like, it was one of us, um, which
was, I never thought they would go for
that, that turn, there was that extra,
uh, twist of the knife that, um, the
person who has been their mentor and
their trusting advisor and their source of
inspiration really has, um, has, you know,
unwittingly been behind this problem.
Kevin: Uh, let's talk about Mindwalk.
Um, what did you think
our body swap comedy.
Rob: Look, we are back
to a body swap episode.
Um, it wouldn't
Kevin: I know two in,
two in one year, I think.
The other one was Strange New Worlds,
uh, Spock and T'Pring have their hijinks.
It was there.
It's interesting with, with, uh, the
Strange New Worlds one, when you've
got two Vulcans swapping with each
other, so it's an act of subtlety.
With here they've gone.
This is, this is, this
is where the money is.
This is where if you're gonna do
a body swap episode, do it between
like a rear admiral and a teenage
slash clone genetic experiment.
That's, that's where the good thing is.
That's where you wanna see Kate Mulgrew,
you know, acting her socks off, acting all
teenagery and doing the, the finger guns.
And even though it's animated, I could see
Jane, I could see Kate Mulgrew doing that.
Kevin: Every comedy moment in this
episode for me had two waves, and the
first was me laughing at the character
and then the second was me laughing
at Kate Mulgrew such a great time.
Rob: Oh, and the like incredible moments
of, you know, Janeway meeting Janeway.
Kevin: Yeah, we got it.
Rob: But it wasn't even Janeway.
It was, it was Dal Janeway.
Oh, well, ultimately they did give us the,
Rob: They did do the
Kevin: Mulgrew on Mulgrew
scene we were craving
Rob: To, you know, to
quote Bruce McAvaney.
Oh, I would've passed out.
Nearly passed out, Kevin.
Too much Mulgrew from I'm there going, I
want more of it, and they gave it to me.
Be careful what I wish for.
Oh, nearly had a heart attack.
Kevin: When they, when they like
pan the camera across they can
switch which character we're seeing.
I, I was like, well done.
I applaud a show that is willing to
give the audience what they want, even
though it may not technically make sense.
Like all of us were willing to go
there at that and accept that for the
next few minutes we would be watching
two Janeways standing together.
And they trust the audience to
understand what they did and to know
that it's Dal's body there, even
though what we are watching is, is
not literally what is occurring.
Rob: It's a beautiful, it's a beautiful
thing about animation is they, you
know, not only are you having to
create an entire character and entire
environment and world, you are also
using those film techniques and those
cinema techniques and how you do those
tricks and gimmicks that have been used
through cinema over a hundred years.
Kevin: an episode on non
naturalism in star Trek because
it's rare, but it is good when
Rob: Very much so.
And that, and, and it's been, it's been
used thousands upon millions of times of
that transition from behind a character's
head to see the character shift back.
We've seen it multiple times, especially
in these body swappy type episodes,
and to see it in animation form.
We accepted it as fans, but
also it's an animated show.
We can accept it even more so there, but
to go through the process of as if it were
real life, like with real actors on, on
a set was, was a remarkable thing to do.
Um, and yeah, the, with all that fun
and to have those profound moments,
it was a very, you know, yeah, I,
I, I did, you know, well up a bit.
It was a beautiful moment with
these, these two versions and,
Kevin: Oh, and yeah, that
poignant moment contrasted with
the full on slapstick comedy.
This is not the comedy
series of Star Trek.
That's Lower Decks at the but I'm
gonna say this was the funniest half
hour of Star Trek I have ever this.
This is funnier than anything
Star Trek has ever done.
Rob: And some really clever
stuff in there as well.
Like funny, silly stuff like
slapstick comedy in animation
form is what, you know.
It was built for animation was built
for, but if you look at the, the, you
know, the greats of Tex Avery and Robert
McKimson and Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones
in the, in the Warner Brothers days of
Looney Tunes and, um, the great, you know,
physical comedy, uh, animation in anime.
But, uh, bring it in this form, which
is so based on like the restrictions of
movement and the limited, uh, movement
and physicality there, to bring in moments
like slipping off the chair, which is
Kevin: it was working on every
Rob: Reacting when he could, when, Janeway
Dal could figure out the, the charades,
Rob: And then being caught by them.
How's it going?
Kevin: Just keeping the old body in
Rob: Doing the stretches.
Yeah, doing ah, just stretching up here.
Kevin: Uh, um, the, yeah, the physical
comedy was there, the voice work
was there and the script was there.
Uh, just the first line
of Hello Starfleet person.
I am the Admiral, obviously.
Thank you for your service.
During, uh, red alert.
It just, oh, it had me from the
first moment and it didn't let
It was hilarious and beautiful as well.
And finally, like for me, cuz I've been
so anxious about the fact, I mean, I've
got invested in the storytelling of it
in a weekly, you know, episodic nature.
But I'm there going, okay, finally.
Janeway is on track now.
She knows everything.
Now she knows why.
At the end of the episode, she's
in prison because her silliness
behavior is all that type of stuff.
And they're going, she
knows, she's been figuring it
That was earned.
Like you were talking last week
about, um, how you did, you were.
You were not enjoying the twists
or the stretching it out of Janeway
thinking the, the kids were the
bad you're like, oh, come on.
I know we gotta do it.
I know that's, that's television
drama nowadays, but it's tedious.
This to me feels like the
opposite of that, where it
was fresh and it was earned.
Well, especially, I'm, that's
just me frustrated because
I'm invested in the story.
And so when it, when we finally
got the payoff this week, I
went, that's good storytelling.
That's great for Janeway to be there
in Dal's body to just look around and
go, so you couldn't do any of this.
You have been protecting Starfleet.
You guys are more staff lead than anyone.
Um, and then of course,
revealing the tragic, uh, truth
of he's genetically augmented.
Kevin: Oh, when she said he's an augment
all of us Star Trek fans know what
Yep, yep, yep.
I can't stop quoting this episode.
I changed my mind, not in a weird
way, but in a totally normal
change my mind sitting there in the
captain's chair given finger guns.
It was absurd that the, like Admiral
Janeway's crew did not relieve her of duty
But again, when everything else is
working, we're happy to go there.
We're happy to suspend
disbelief to go on the
And to get to that point where,
yeah, of course they're, they're
gonna be thrown into the brig.
Of course it's gonna happen,
but there's no other option.
But it was a hell of a ride to get
as many finger guns and stretching
out and, you know, calling red
alerts and stuff like that.
And, you know, not in a weird way.
In many ways, I dunno if I've
seen Dal that much as a kid.
Uh, especially cuz he's been quite
broody and trying to figure out who
he is for the last couple of episodes
of going This is him, you know, you
know, teenagered up to about 150.
And at the same time, it all, they maybe
turned it up to 11, but I felt like
we'd seen the, the 10 version from him
Rob: We have, yeah, not for a while.
It's been a lot of broody stuff
cuz he's been, you know, jealous
of, um, of, uh, Billy Campbell
coming back eye patch or he's
Kevin: And we have to recognize Brett
Gray as well, who the contrast of him
playing Janeway in Dal's body was also
like, to me it highlighted the things that
we were seeing of Dal in Janeway's body.
Uh, the, the difference remarkable and
it did play as the Janeway we know.
Rob: He did an incredible job,
Brett did an incredible job.
Especially that first moment when
it cuts back and Janeway is there
saying, I understand now I understand
everything and you just feel that relief.
But also, you know, I've been wanting
to see, you know, Mulgrew with Mulgrew,
but I was kind of a little disappointed
as well going, I'm totally fine
with keeping with Bret's voice with
this interaction cuz he did such a
great job in capturing that essence.
Cuz in may ways he had
the less showboaty role.
He, you know, Janeway in the rear admiral
form is just that subtlety with the
vocal changes was beautiful as opposed
where Kate Mulgrew just had all the fun.
So, but it, it wouldn't have worked
if Brett didn't capture the essence of
Kate Mulgrew's Janeway so beautifully.
It was a very beautiful,
I was impressed by like
Kate Mulgrew as Janeway.
She has got that.
Um, it's a very unique voice that's,
that's, um, It's been parodied at
times, it, it is, it has got a, a, a
timber that's, it's, it's reminiscent
of the gravelly captains that we
have had in men in the past, but
it's the higher, like uh, range.
Uh, and it's very unique.
And I feel like whatever Brett was doing
was capturing that in his, that same
thing in his, his teenage boy voice.
That it had that same gravelly aspect
that we, we recognize from Janeway
that, uh, like really sold it for me.
Rob: Yeah, it's not really a
twang, but there is a definite.
Yeah, maybe it's a twing of, of her voice.
And, and I mean, I've only just
realized this, um, recently.
Kate Mulgrew is not new to
the world of voiceover acting.
She, um, uh, was incredible as Red Claw in
the early nineties Batman animated series.
yeah, so she went up as this,
uh, international, um, uh,
criminal mastermind called Red
Claw who goes up against Batman.
So she was there.
Uh, fighting, uh, Kevin Conroy,
uh, lest we forget, um, as Batman
and, uh, Selina Kyle as Catwoman.
So she did a couple of episodes
back in the, you know, that iconic,
uh, award-winning, uh, great
classic Batman series, the animated
series back in the early nineties.
That's, uh, where I first got, uh, to know
her before she moved into, um, uh, full
body form in, uh, in, in, in Star Trek.
Well, the experience
definitely showed here.
Rob: Very much so.
And it ends on the ultimate cliffhanger.
We've got the, uh, Protostar surrounded
by not all the California class,
Kevin: Yeah, I am, I am
well and truly over these.
Um, a hundred ships arrive at the same
place within a second of each other shots.
Rob: We are, we are good old days of Star
Trek where, you know, if you just, you
know, you don't have any reinforcement,
it's you versus the other ship.
I I mean, even if you buy that, the entire
fleet is going in one place, the idea that
they would dramatically drop out of warp
at the exact same moment is illogical.
Every time it does it, it pulls
me out of the reality of the show.
Rob: I still, I I do find that
they're just all there for one ship.
You got other stuff to do, people?
Kevin: Exactly is the emergency?
We know the peril that the Federation
is in, but they don't know.
And the, and is that case of,
well, the p the peril is for us
because we know what will happen.
So in normal situations they just call
an extra ship or two, but no, they
have to call all those ships there.
So, eh, they're going, yeah.
That's more for us as it is for
the actual reality they're in.
Kevin: Oh well.
I, I still am very much looking
forward to the next two episodes, which
are our season finale in two parts.
Rob: Supernova, apparently.
Kevin: Talk about some holodecks.
Rob: Talk about some holodeck episodes.
I went on a bit of an adventure.
I went up and down and around.
I looked at, uh, numerous sites for, you
know, they listed like top 10, top 15
holodeck episodes from all of Star Trek.
Um, and so, uh, would you
like to go first with,
Kevin: Yeah, I, I, I will start
us where the holodeck began,
which is in the Next Generation.
And, uh, I feel like much like the
transporter was established in the
creation of the Original Series as a,
an engine for stories to occur, Gene
Roddenberry put the holodeck on the
Enterprise D as a tool for stories to
be And very quickly, uh, the writers
of that show started telling stories.
In season one we had the award-winning
episode, The Big Goodbye.
But I'm gonna skip over that one because
it is very first holodeck episode.
And beyond that, it's a
little unremarkable if
Rob: And that's in season
one as well, isn't it?
I thought the holodeck ones
didn't come until later.
They hit it so early on.
Kevin: A, uh, one of the few
high points of season one.
Like, season one's pretty rough, but
The Big Goodbye is worth a rewatch sure.
But the first one that jumps out
to me is, well, this is a pair of
episodes and it starts in season
two of the Next Generation episode
three Elementary, Dear Data, which
is, it has already been established
that data is a Sherlock Holmes nerd.
This is the, this is the time where
Geordi takes him on a holodeck
date and is like, guess what?
I booked the holodeck for us.
We're gonna play Sherlock Holmes.
Uh, sure enough, Data in instantly solves
all the mysteries because he has an
encyclopedic knowledge of all the novels.
Geordi is not too careful with
his wording to the computer and
creates an arch nemesis capable of
defeating Data in the form of, uh, Dr.
Rob: Played by the brilliant
Daniel Davis, uh, Niles from the,
uh, The Nanny as, uh, Moriarty.
He's incredible actor.
He was the, I dunno why he was slumming
it in The Nanny for so long, wonderful,
incredible charismatic performer and
does incredible work as Moriarty.
Now this episode is not my
favorite Holodeck episode.
Again, it suffers from being very
early where they were still, you know,
the characters were walking around
going, oh, look at all these details.
Haven't you been on a
holodeck before, doctor?
Not one of this sophistication.
Like it was very on the nose that
you could tell the a, the, the, the
writers were still figuring out what
to do with this thing as a tool.
So they had the characters
walking around agog at the, the
technology, which is a bit boring.
But, what stands out to me in this,
uh, and it's very similar to what
happened in the Prodigy episode that
we looked at, Ghost in the Machine,
in Ghost in the Machine, Janeway or
Hologram Janeway gives the order,
Create a holo program to keep the crew
distracted indefinitely, no restrictions.
And the computer just generates some
stuff, like the computer does a remarkable
job with that, that that very basic
instruction of creating something.
And you wonder just how amazing are these
computers that they can create this stuff?
Rob: It is a bit of the magic
wand going, um, it's science.
Kevin: Yeah, and in this episode, Geordi
says, in the Holmsian style, create a
mystery to confound Data with an opponent
who has the ability to defeat him.
And it is also very much
like the computer just
Rob: It, yeah.
Kevin: You know, it has a bit of a
power surge in the process that Worf
notices on the bridge, but it creates
a sentient hologram outta nowhere.
And later Geordi is apologizing
to Captain Picard for not
choosing his words carefully.
And I'm thinking if the hologram is that
dangerous, that if you give it the wrong
order, it's gonna create a life form.
Uh, I think maybe, uh, maybe we need to
go back to the drawing board with this
piece of entertainment technology that
Rob: this, this, this should not be used.
Let's, let's stop using it.
Kevin: The, uh, safety protocols break
down in this episode, not for the first
time, uh, but in, in this early episode,
they call it the mortality failsafe has
broken down, which I thought that was a,
that was a particularly awkward turn of
Rob: Oh, look, my, my, my mortality as
failsafes have, have been failing over the
last couple of years, and morality, so…
Kevin: I know, I know the feeling.
Um, the reason I bring this up
though, is I wanna pair it with the
sequel episode in season six of the
Next Generation episode 12, Ship in
a Bottle in which Moriarty returns.
At the end of Elementary, Dear Data,
they realize they have created this,
this seemingly sentient hologram.
They don't know what to do with him.
They promise him that they will put
him in active memory and they will
revive him when they, they have
figured out how to let him live a life.
And in Ship in a Bottle, uh, he
accidentally gets reactivated and is
outraged that no one has done anything
about him yet in the four years that he
has been dormant in the computer's memory.
He decides to take matters
into his own hands.
And the way he does it is by tricking the
crew members into thinking they have left
the holodeck when actually they haven't.
And it has the exact same thing that we
saw in, uh, Ghost in the Machine, where
there is that deeply creepy moment where
Data throws a tool to Geordi and Geordi
catches it in the wrong hand revealing
that he is a holodeck simulation.
And, uh, Data turns to Picard and says,
Captain, we never left the holodeck.
And your, your, your stomach sinks
and you, you get the, the tingles.
And it is, it is just as
powerful way back in TNG.
So that's the one I really wanted to bring
to the table here is Ship in a Bottle.
It is beautiful that they, they
solve the challenge by doubling down.
They create a holodeck within a
holodeck within the it is a beautiful
twisty logic episode of TNG.
Much like, uh, one of my other
favorites Cause and Effect
that we talked about recently.
Um, yeah, Ship in a Bottle, see it.
And without giving anything away, if
you have watched the trailers and the
previews for the upcoming season three
of Picard, definitely rewatch this
one before season three of Picard.
Rob: Well, that's the, that's the thing.
I'm a, I'm a massive, uh, Holmsian,
uh, Holmsian fan I've been ever
since I was in high school.
And so I remember I sought
out watching, uh, but I only
thought there was one episode.
So think I may have only, I, I may have
only seen the second one cause I do
Kevin: Oh, good.
Rob: do remember
Kevin: is, is still quite awkward
and I feel like, uh, Moriarty's
character is not fully formed as well.
He's a bit of a, a
stereotypical arch villain.
He's got a lot more to work with in
the second episode where not only
is he playing the layer of Moriarty,
the fictional character, he is also
playing the layer of Moriarty who
has learned he is a holographic
recreation with agency and it's
Rob: I do remember that.
I do remember Moriarty out in
the real world type of stuff.
So yes, I will go back and revisit those.
Cause I have seen the trailer
for series three of Picard and
there is a certain appearance,
which I was very excited to see
Kevin: Hmm mm-hmm.
Rob: So, yes.
Well, speaking of um, uh, oh, the
journey that I went on, uh, Kevin,
which led me back all the way home.
Of course I could go far and
wide but there is only one
place that I can come back to.
I could come back to Terok
Nor, with Deep Space Nine.
And when it comes to, uh, self-aware
hologram programs, uh, there's no better
than, let's go back to the very first
episode of the light bulb himself, Mr.
Vic Fontaine, um, in a very important
episode for me and the importance of,
uh, what a holodeck program can do for an
individual's confidence and personality.
Let's go to His Way with
my favorite character, Odo.
We've had six years of will they,
won't they, with Odo and Kira and the
one episode where they finally get
together and all thanks to the, uh,
matchmaking work of, uh, Vic Fontaine.
Kevin: Vic Fontaine, a holodeck character,
who unlike the Doctor, unlike Moriarty,
I feel like there is never a sense that
Vic Fontine has overcome his programming
and is ready to step into the real
world as a life form and yet no less
interesting as a character for it.
I, I respect the line that they walked
with Vic Fontaine, that they, they created
a, a character that meant something to
the audience without performing a magic
trick and saying he's a real person.
Rob: It was very much a case of he's
a hologram, he knows he's a hologram.
Um, there is a, a journey within
his character over, um, He's only
really in Star Trek for a couple
of episodes in, uh, from, so he
appears in episode 20 of season six.
And then, uh, his episode
appearances are quite infrequent,
but he does make big leaps and
bounds as a character within that.
But there's not this existential
type of, uh, crisis with him.
It's just a case of what he likes to
work within, within his little sphere.
Played brilliantly by James Darren, who
you'll all remember as the young hotshot
traveler through time in The Time Tunnel,
um, all grown up as the crooner here.
Um, and this is his first appearance.
So they spent a lot of top heavy start
of this episode explaining everything
of going, yes, he knows who he is and
this is how they did it, through this
program here and here and here and here.
Um, so you have to get through all
that Star Trek layers of description
before you get to the meat of the
episode, which is, uh, Odo, um, seeking
relationship advice, from Vic Fontaine.
What I love about Star Trek and I do
it throughout their entire life, is
build up this mythology, this almost
magical type of perception of Earth
past, so 1950s Vegas is this, they speak
in this weird, you know, this weird
language and they talk about people
Kevin: You get the sense, it's like the
way we play Dungeons and Dragons today,
that it's a, it's a very fictionalized
version of a period of history,
that's what the 1950s are in Star
Rob: Very much, a lot of beautiful
backlighting of the colorful
lights on the stage to really, you
know, illuminate almost this, uh,
uh, this light behind this godly
type of angelic light behind Vic.
Um, which has of course explored the
realities of that with Sisko later on
in Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang, where he's
refusing to go there because of what
the 1950s meant to black Americans,
which is a beautiful dose of reality
that's, um, you know, that Avery Brooks
just goes, let's bring that twist in.
Um, but at this point it's this, you
know, he's almost, he's Cupid, he's
this magical musical creature to
be there to, uh, guide Odo through.
And it's beautiful to watch,
uh, rewatching it today, how
far the characters have come.
Especially cuz last time we talked
about, um, uh, these characters, we were
looking at their appearances when they
were during the occupation of Bajor.
we had a very dark and
very gritty, um, Quark.
We had a, a, a tenacious,
aggressive, violent Kira.
We had a cold, um, distant, uh, Odo.
And here with season six we've
got, we've got Odo and Quark
hanging out in Odo's, uh, quarters.
And, and Odo's like confessing
to him what he has to do.
And Odo's is there, I just came here
to report some, some disturbances.
And then you just started
opening up about your feelings.
Can I go now?
Kevin: So good how far
those characters get to
Rob: And they've still got that, that
biteyness there, but it's beautiful and
especially, um, uh, Kira and Odo as well.
I love, I mean, I'm al I'm always
a sucker for the, the awkward
Romeo, and the distant Juliet.
But it's just beautifully played.
And yeah, René Auberjonois and Nana
Visitor are just incredible actors.
And and to finally have them, yeah,
you believe this, you believe this,
you can see the friendship that
they've developed over six years.
You can see this relationship
that these characters have had
for, for, for, for over a decade.
And you can see, um, this
romance finally happening.
And I, I remember the first time
I saw it, I'd like cheered and got
up on my seats when I was like a,
a, you know, you know, gosh, I was
something early twenties when I first
saw it and watching it again today.
It's, it was a great use of the, the
holodeck and using Earth's past, you
know, no nonsense, no caught up in the,
the jargon and the rigmarole of the
Star Trek world to just have, you know,
someone call someone a pally and, um,
let's, let, let you know, let's do this.
You gotta experiment.
You gotta practice.
How do you get to
Carnegie Hall, pally boy?
You gotta practice, practice, practice.
Kevin: Some of these moments that are
so rich in later Star Trek series are,
to me, they are like expanded versions
of something that happened in a small
way earlier in Star Trek history.
This episode where Vic Fontaine becomes,
Odos relationship counselor is, to me,
it's an expansion of an idea that we
saw way back in TNG with Data going
on the holodeck to get advice from
a standup comic on how to be funny.
It's a very short sequence.
It, it's played for laughs.
It's in the episode The Outrageous
Okona, which has a link to, uh, the
recent appearance of Okona in Prodigy.
This is season two, episode four of TNG.
But yeah, in it, Joe Piscopo, uh,
performs as a standup comic who's
like coaching Data on how to be
Rob: I was about to ask who and I was
there for whatever reason I'm going.
It had to be Joe Piscopo cuz
Kevin: Doing his best
Jerry Lewis impersonation.
Rob: because he was everywhere
and then he was nowhere.
Like I remember in the eighties he was
like, it was him and Eddie Murphy were
the two stars on Saturday Night Live
and then Piscopo, he went nowhere.
Kevin: So all I'm saying is Vic
Fontaine owes everything to Joe Piscopo.
Rob: And rightly so.
And there's a beautiful moment, um cuz.
Yeah, going back and rewatching it
for this show, watching the beautiful
Duet between Avery Brooks and James
Darren at the end of Badda-Bing,
Badda-Bang with The best is yet to come.
Um, but in this episode, uh, Odo
comes into hand in his reports to
Sisko, who's got a very minor role.
He's only in it for like this one scene.
And, um, Odo's there waiting and he
just starts, starts humming and singing.
And Sisko goes, oh, no, keep going.
And then they start doing a
little bit of singing together.
It's a beautiful little cute moment,
like in the height of the Dominion, you
Kevin: He wasn't always grumpy that
Rob: He wasn't always, and,
and neither was, uh, was Sisko.
It's a Um, so yeah, that was my,
uh, uh, first taste of how, um,
you know, the hologram can do well.
And the welcome introduction of, uh, Vic
Fontaine into the Star Trek Universe, a
Kevin: You mentioned Badda-Bing,
Badda-Bang as well, which
we've talked about before.
So there are at least one or two
other Vic Fontaine focused episodes.
Is, is that another one that's on your
Rob: There is, there's the one that
we, that next prominent one that
this is like, if we are doing the
Vic Fontaine trilogy, there's this
one's number, this is the New Hope.
The next one is gonna focus on
was the Empire Strikes Back.
And of course we've done
Return of the Jedi with
Kevin: All right, let's
go straight into that.
So we're going into, uh, season seven,
episode 10, It's Only a Paper Moon, which
Kevin: was hoping this
would be on your list.
Rob: it's incredible episode.
I mean, uh, the MVP for this season
and for most of Star Trek, um,
was Aaron Eisenberg, who is, um,
sadly missed, uh, was incredible,
incredible character actor.
And the, this is his like
shining, uh, achievement in all
of his time on Deep Space Nine.
It's an incredible story.
It's in the height of the Dominion War.
A couple of episodes beforehand,
uh, Nog had been, um, uh, was on,
uh, assignment with, um, some of the
other members of Deep Space Nine.
He was injured and he lost his leg.
Um, and he's been in, uh, therapy,
getting a replacement leg.
And this is his return
to, uh, Deep Space Nine.
And he is clearly not coping.
He is not coping well.
He's walking on a, uh, on a cane,
which he doesn't need to use.
Um, he is done with talking.
He's done with all the, talking
with the, with the shrinks, with the
new Ezri Dax and the, the doctors
back on the station he was at.
He just wants to be left alone.
Uh, he spends all his time sleeping 18
hours and when he is not sleeping, he's
listening to the one song over and over
again that, uh, he listened to while he
was on the operating table with his leg
lost that Bashir played, which was Vic
Fontaine singing, I'll Be Seeing You.
Um, and he listens to
it over and over again.
And he finds himself late one
night, unable to sleep, and he
goes into, um, Vic Fontaine's,
uh, hologram and he stays there.
Uh, Vic again, he went from being
matchmaker to being a therapist to
help try and get, um, uh, Nog out of
his PTSD and find himself to become a,
an active member within reality again.
It's an incredibly powerful episode.
It's a beautifully played story,
um, not pulling any punches, um, and
dealing with, with trauma and guilt
and pain and hurt and, and fear.
It's played beautifully.
And, uh, Aaron is just,
just knocks out of the park.
There's a incredible scene right
at the end where he finally
confronts, uh, Vic about why he
won't go back into the real world.
And he's just, and it's the beauty of the,
the, the magic of special effects and,
and makeup that the Ferengi uh, makeup
has been developed so much so they can
be worn and looks beautiful, but you can
have real emotion and tears and pain and
anger come out of the actor's face and it
doesn't withdraw, doesn't take away from
their performance at all and enhances it.
And so, yeah,
Kevin: Through all that makeup, uh, you
Rob: all that.
Kevin: it's incredible work.
Rob: It's an amazing episode.
It's a big episode for, for Nog, but it's
also a big episode for Vic cuz Vic gets
used to having Nog there and Nog starts
looking upon Vic's holographic world as
more than that and how they can expand
and build a new casino and make revenue.
Vic stays on.
His program, stays on for longer than he
is, and he talks about the fact that he
is, he's on for, you know, an hour or two
or a couple of minutes for just a song or
maybe a bit longer for a romantic evening.
But this is the longest time that
his program has been running.
So he is starting to
feel worn out and tired.
He, he can travel to different
places in, in his hologram world.
Um, and he starts to get this ambition
about building this new casino.
And so when Ezri comes to talk to
him about, oh, this is all part of
your plan to help with the healing,
you don't care about all that stuff
as well, you actually see and Vic's
face going, oh yeah, that's right.
No, um, no,
Kevin: Yeah, switch me off.
I don't care.
Rob: Switch me off.
And yeah, the great thing right at the
end when Nog comes back in, in uniform,
there's a beautiful moment where he
comes back down out of it and, um, it.
Uh, incredible performances from
Armin Shimerman from Max Grodénchik
as Rom and Chase Masterson as Leeta.
They're just waiting and he
comes down and they go, you okay?
He goes, no, I'm not, but you know,
I'm, I'm ready to come back and
Kevin: Freaking great.
Ron, a Ron Moore episode, my
favorite Star Trek writer by far.
Gets all the kudos for the, uh, political
dramas, a beautiful personal story here.
If, if I'm not mistaken,
there is no B plot here.
Rob: Yeah, there are moments of,
like, there are little bits of comedy
when, when Rom, Rom does describe
him as, My crazy one-legged son.
But just like when Leeta and Rom
come to share the good news that
Rom's been given a promotion and they
said, Oh, we'll have to celebrate.
He goes, well, we did last night.
It was all impromptu you.
And then you see the shot of Ezri talking
to Vic and they cut back to this grieving
father and, and stepmother not being
able to communicate with their son.
Um, but the advancement of this
light bulb, pally boy, as Vic calls
himself, is at the end of the episode.
As a thank you gift, Nog has arranged
it with Quark so that the program is
running 26 hours a day, and that leads
on into the problem that happens, of
course, with uh, Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang.
But this joy, this joy cuz there's at
the end of, um, uh, the previous episode,
uh, his way, um, Odo comes back at
the end and says, thank you very much.
And he goes, Hey, before you
close the program, just let
me finish off this one song.
I feel like just singing.
And at the end of this episode, he
goes, you can sing as much as you want.
The program's running all the time.
It's a beautiful moment.
Kevin: there we go.
We've done the trilogy,
oddest of orders, but, uh,
Rob: wobbly, wobbly, timey, wimy,
bit of Doctor Who stuff, dawg.
I've gotta bring that into this world.
So yeah, again, top-notch performances,
and that joy of the romance, of
the revelation of His Way, but
balanced out beautifully here with
the trauma of what Nog's going
through and the, the hope at the end.
And I, I love that beautiful moment
of him just saying, admitting him,
breaking down and going, I'm afraid.
I'm just so scared.
Um, and Vic saying, you
know, he's scared of dying.
And Vic says, but you're
dying in little pieces here.
Um, yeah, it's a beautiful moment.
So yes, that's my, uh, they're my two, um,
I've got, uh, so I've got
one more pair of episodes.
Um, And it straddles TNG and Voyager.
The TNG episode is season three,
episode six, Booby Trap, in which
the holodeck plays a very small part.
This is an episode where the
Enterprise gets, uh, snared by a
thousand year old trap in a war zone.
And they need to find a way out of this.
In order to solve this problem, Geordi,
who starts the episode, uh, on a
bad date on the holodeck, and this,
this definitively establishes Geordi
LaForge as being hopeless in love.
Um, so he's feeling sorry for himself.
He's feeling quite lonely.
He has a great scene or two with Guinan
bemoaning his, his luck with the ladies.
But in this moment of crisis, he
discovers the recorded logs of Dr.
Leah Brahms, who helped to design
the warp engines of the Enterprise.
Rob: And who appeared in Lower Decks.
Kevin: Yes, she, she appeared as an
object of desire for nerds in Lower Decks.
And, uh, this is the episode in
which you get to find out why
people lust after Leah Brahms.
Um, but, uh, Geordi is the first
because one thing leads to another,
and from these voice logs, he ends up
prompting the holodeck to accidentally
create Leah Brahms in person.
He, he gives a, another one of these
poorly worded orders that the holodeck
goes way above and beyond to answer.
Says something like, show me which
parts can handle the extra energy.
And suddenly, uh, a hand appears over his
shoulder and taps the, uh, the display and
Geordi goes, whoa, did I make that happen?
And the computer says, yes, you asked
Leah Brahms to show you the thing.
So obviously I had to create a
picture of Leah Brahms for you.
Um, she is completely
like devoid of emotion.
She is just like an emotionless
recreation of the picture of Leah Brahms.
And at a certain point, Geordi,
working long hours, goes,
Could you add a personality?
Uh, and the computer goes,
oh, I don't know about that.
And he goes, well, did she ever debate at
the, these, these intergalactic debates?
And the computer goes, yeah.
And he goes, do you got any log entries?
The computer goes, yeah.
He goes, well smash 'em all together
and make a personality for me.
The computer goes, there'll be like a 20%
error, uh, on the personality I create.
Geordi goes, I could live with that.
And sure enough, she's brought to
life in this very charming partner in
crime in Geordi's efforts to design
their way out of this booby trap.
I bring this up just because to me, this
is fascinating, once again, this idea
that holodeck can create the most amazing
things with the most tenuous of inputs.
Rob: with a couple of debates,
you can have a personality
with 20%, you know, difference.
Kevin: What it reminds me of in the
here and now, uh, for us, Rob, is what
we're seeing happen with these machine
learning powered artwork generators
where you can type a description like
in a fine art style, show me a planet
crashing onto an airship with elephants
standing around partying, and it will
crunch away and a few minutes later
you'll have six versions of that prompt
in a reasonable facsimile of something
that a human artist would create.
Uh, and I feel like when we first
saw these episodes of the holodeck, I
was like, well, that is the fantasy.
That is thing that will never happen.
I completely disbelieve this.
But inch by inch, these, these like
computer programs that can take a giant
amount of data and through a prompt,
much like the ones Geordi gives to the
holodeck in these episodes – Geordi
says, in the home style, create a
story to bamboozle Data, like that's
not far off from what we're now doing
on our desktop computers with artwork.
So it's feeling more and more reasonable
and within reach, which is scary, frankly.
Rob: It's, uh, terrifying.
That's why I haven't done any of
the AI, uh, generated artwork.
Kevin: There is a, an ironic twist in
this episode, Booby Trap, because the
way out of the booby trap, ultimately
the, the one that Geordi is at first
considering is to hand over control
of the Enterprise to the computer,
which can make course corrections
more quickly than any human being.
And Picard and Riker have a conversation
about this where Riker skeptically says,
well, computers have always impressed
me with their ability to take orders.
I'm not as convinced of their
ability to creatively give
Kevin: This, this after Moriarty
has created on the holodeck.
Um, so yeah, it is, it is funny to watch
the science fiction writers grapple
with what is possible and what is not
possible, what is plausible and what's
over the line into the realm of fantasy.
Rob: Well, especially this time in
the late eighties, early nineties.
It's that, you know, it really
is the birth of type of, you
know, AI and holographic, uh,
what is reality type stuff?
It's been explored in little bits,
but this is when they're going,
no, let's bring this theory into
drama on a television stage.
Kevin: And the episode of Voyager that
I paired this with is season five,
episode eight, Nothing Human, which
much as I had described before is
taking that same idea that we saw in
a very tiny sequence of scenes in that
episode of TNG, and blowing it out into
a full length, full episode what if.
In Nothing Human, B'Elanna Torres gets
attacked by a, uh, parasitic, non-humanoid
alien, uh, that kind of latches onto her
and is killing her, slowly but surely.
And the Doctor, uh, on Voyager
says, I don't know how to cure this.
Uh, his exact words are, I may be
a walking medical encyclopedia,
but even I don't know everything,
my matrix simply isn't big enough.
And so the solution they come up with is
to create another hologram, which Harry
Kim, who is apparently expert enough
as a holographic engineer to create.
He very much as we have seen
from Geordi, throws a few records
into a holographic matrix.
Uh, the ninja move he says
is Add a recursive algorithm.
Solves everything on Voyager.
Uh, and they create, uh, a, a
simulation of a famous xenobiologist
who happens to be Cardassian.
Kevin: But he has the knowledge
to heal, uh, B'Elanna Torres.
B'Elanna is not happy about being,
having her life saved, even by
a simulation of a Cardassian.
And partway through the
episode, this Cardassian is
revealed to be a war criminal.
But that was all off the, like, none of
that was ever formally discovered, and
therefore was not part of the records
that were used to create the simulation.
So the simulation is aghast.
I, I didn't know I was a war criminal.
I'm just a simulation.
Are you gonna judge me for the of
the real person that I'm based upon?
Uh, and so it does create a,
a arguably meaty, dilemma.
An ethical dilemma for our characters
to grapple with, but it's all
stretched just a bit too thin over 45
minutes in this episode of Voyager.
It's played very, very ham-fistedly.
You see every twist coming mile away and
um, yeah, they lay it on a bit thick.
And finally, the holodeck is just a
bit too magical in this episode for me.
At one point, in order to try to
figure out how to save B'Elanna's
life, the Doctor, who is a hologram,
collaborates with the Cardassian,
who is also a hologram to recreate
on the holodeck a simulation of the
Cardassian's uh, lab, his lab at home.
And the Cardassian goes,
oh, I wish I had my tools.
I remember them in every detail.
The simulation remembers
them in every detail.
Uh, so they create this simulation
of a lab for two holograms.
Then they bring a hologram of the alien
into that holographic environment, and
they start using holographic tools to try
things out on this hologram that a and
somehow this, all of these simulations
are supposed to add up to something
that will work in practice on B'Elanna
Torres lying, uh, lying in sick bay.
It's all very unbelievable.
Rob: That's a, that's a big magic wand.
Kevin: The computer that
doesn't know things has created
a simulation that can know
Rob: There's a, yeah, there's
a lot of leaps of logic that
you have to, get to that point.
It's very much like a copy
of a copy of a copy going.
It's like in, in, uh, uh, uh, Blade Runner
where there's that, that the technology
they had in eighties version of the future
of yeah, 2019, that futuristic time of,
you know, scanning in on a photo and then
being able to turn the angle within a
photo and get a clear view of it going.
Kevin: Turn and enhance.
Just because I mentioned it earlier
in the black and white episodes, um,
we have, we have on Voyager, the Bride
of Chaotica!, which is a hilarious
comedy romp again, in which Kate
Mulgrew play very against character.
Rob: Yeah, very much.
Kevin: tell the actor is loving it
in a way that the audience loves
the episode all the more for it.
Um, I have not seen it recently enough
to get into the detail, but this, this
list has reminded me that I should
probably go back and watch Bride of
It's a Tom Paris type episode
in the style of like your
Tom Paris and Harry Kim get together
and play this, this, uh, serialized,
uh, flash of, uh, uh, adventure setting.
But um, in the Bride of Chaotica!,
uh, the whole crew gets in on the
act for reasons that I'm sure are
explained in science fiction, uh,
Rob: Very important.
I'm very excited.
Um, so yes, uh, thank you for joining us
here this week to discuss, uh, not only
two episodes of Prodigy, but also um, uh,
what the Holodeck means within the Star
Trek world and what it, uh, means to us.
So we've only got two more episodes to go.
The two, uh, big season
finale, two parter,
Kevin: I'm so excited.
I have not been excited for a
finale of a Star Trek season
this way in quite some time.
This has actually worked twice.
It's been a beautiful journey that
we've been going on to get to this
point of they are in Federation space.
The Federation is there, you know,
Kate Mulgrew as Janeway knows
everything, but she's imprisoned.
How it's gonna be great to
see how it all plays out.
And this is a kid show.
Nickelodeon are doing this with,
uh, with, um, with Paramount.
God bless them.
All right, well, uh, we gotta sign off so
we can go and watch this new Star Trek.
Rob: What are we doing here?
We should go watch.
See you next time.