The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Virtuoso"

by David E. Sluss

29 January 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: The National Association for the Advancement of Short People might be pleased with it, but it's hard to imagine that anyone else is.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 4.0 (F)

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: The Doctor's love interest (or whatever), a mathematician from a race of intellectually superior Forehead Aliens, had this gem: "What about the most important equation of all: 1 + 1?" That's not an equation, honey, that's an expression.

RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: I won't mention the Bajoran noses and the generic alien city matte painting, but instead I will ask how often are we going to get the same tired old "Doctor's rights as a sentient being" material? This week's speechifying on the subject contained nothing that we haven't seen dozens of times before, and worse, this shouldn't have even been an issue in this instance. Hologram, human, or Horta, Voyager's Chief Medical Officer, who is apparently the lone full-time member of Voyager's medical staff, should not be permitted to resign, given Voyager's situation. And yet Janeway grants The Doctor his request, turning the crew's medical care over to -- Tom Paris? If that doesn't get her court-martialed, I don't know what will...

MILLI VANILLI OF THE WEEK: A couple of the musical numbers sent me into a nasty flashback of the last season of DS9, in which a couple of whole episodes ("It's Only a Paper Moon," "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang") featured the crew playing second banana to Vic Plantain, the holographic lounge singer. Disturbed as I was, I still managed to notice that about half of The Doctor's songs were sung by Picardo, while the other half were quite obviously sung by someone else. I don't have an objection to this per se, but I think that a decision to use either Picardo's voice or someone else's throughout should have been made, because the result of not doing so is jarring and almost laughable in places, such as The Doctor's final performance, which is supposed to be moving (even bringing a salty tear to Janeway's eye), but is ruined by the alternate voice and by Picardo's less-than-accurate lip-synching of it.

NEW SOCIOLOGY OF THE WEEK: So we have an alien culture in which no one has ever sung, never hummed a tune? I'll give points for trying to present a culture that is different (while deducting a couple for unimaginative makeup), but I'm not sure how plausible it is. Plus we have a "superior culture," which Janeway acknowledges is more advanced technologically, but except for Janeway saying so, there's certainly no evidence of it. The Komar's ships, cities, buildings, etc. appear to be no more advanced than, say, Cardassia's. And the Komar obviously don't know what they're talking about, as there are any number of questionable uses of mathematical terminology in the crap that they spout, in addition to the howler cited above. As another example, when two of the Doctor's groupies descend upon him in sickbay, one asks him whether he has ever "solved simultaneous equations." Now any Komar mathematics junkie (and anyone who studied mathematics above the middle school level) would know that this is a basic problem. For a culture of mathematicians, asking such a question would be an grave insult, like "Can you walk and chew gum at the same time?" So these groupies, in essence, tried to cozy up to their idol by insulting him.

FALSE DRAMA OF THE WEEK: Seven's dire warning of Komar sabotage efforts was apparently an effort by the writers to inject something of interest into this brain-dead script; they failed. First, Seven didn't exactly fall off the turnip cube yesterday. She's smart enough, and by now aware enough of humanoid foibles, to have recognized the Komar "fan mail" for what it was rather than panicking and issuing a read alert. Oh, and can just any clown on Voyager initiate red alert whenever they feel like it? A bad sequence all around. I commend Voyager's staff for not going with the obvious in this story, i.e. having the Komar steal The Doctor, requiring Voyager to engage in a technobabble shootout to get him back, but still, you have to put something of value in the script. Except for the two scenes between Seven and the Doctor, which were genuinely well-written and well-performed, there's really not much here.

CHEAP SHOT OF THE WEEK: It seems the writers took a couple of digs at Trekkies by way of the behavior of The Doctor's fans. The best example, of course, was the brief shot of several Komar men who had shaved their heads in order to emulate The Doctor's hairstyle. Seems isomorphic to Trekkies wearing Spock ears and Klingon scalps if you ask me...
 

Previous: "Blink of an Eye"
Next: "Memorial"
NEXT WEEK: We might as well press the reset button now, as Voyager's crew is subjected to the horrifying realities of war, and must be returned to their old selves by the end of the hour.

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