The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Big Goodbye

Every Star Trek trope had to begin somewhere, and love it or loathe it, this is the first holodeck episode. Captain Picard is delighted by his new holonovel about private detective Dixon Hill, so much so that he even invites Crusher, Data and ship’s historian Whalen along for the ride. But when an alien scan causes a holodeck malfunction, Wesley and Geordi must figure out how to get Picard and the others out of the holodeck in time for an important exchange with an easily offended alien race.

I’ve made no secret of my dislike of holodeck episodes, and I feel like it started right here at the beginning. Seeing Picard in a detective’s uniform isn’t enough to make me very interested in the Dixon Hill side of the story, whilst the holodeck malfunctioning and trapping everyone inside is something I’m only going to get increasingly annoyed about as the series progresses.

Why don’t they…?

  • Picard is supposed to deliver a greeting to an alien race in their own language, where the slightest mispronunciation could cause great offence. So, since the message is audio-only, why not pre-record the message with a ‘perfect’ take instead of risking it on the day? Heck, they don’t even need Picard – they can just use Wesley’s Picard voice imitator from The Naked Now.
  • Why would deactivating the holodeck cause Picard and the others to disappear? Would they be indiscriminately dematerialised along with all the other holodeck materials? Why would this even be an option?
  • Can’t Picard and the others just be beamed out of the holodeck?
  • For that matter, why doesn’t the holodeck have better safeguards? Who programmed it so badly that it doesn’t have any exception handling? Why is there even an option for the safeties to be turned off, making it lethal? When I play video games, I don’t want to actually die when my character loses a life.
  • Since Data is much stronger than a human and almost indestructible, why doesn’t he just beat up all the holodeck bad guys once the situation gets serious?
  • How are the holodeck villains able to exist at all in the Enterprise corridor? The holographic projectors shouldn’t project anything outside of the confines of the holodeck.

Summary – The Big Goodbye: Don’t be a redshirt on a holodeck visit.

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