The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Elementary Dear Data

When Geordi and Data decide to spend some quality time in the holodeck playing Sherlock Holmes, Geordi soon becomes frustrated as to how easily Data is able to solve each mystery. Spurred on by Dr Pulaski’s claim that Data will never be able to solve an original mystery, Geordi asks the computer to program something more complex, only to end up creating a sentient holographic version of Professor Moriarty.

As you know, I’m not a fan of holodeck episodes, so I was never going to enjoy Data’s Sherlock Holmes at the best of times. But this episode manages to go one better (or worse), with an utterly ridiculous twist in which Geordi is randomly able to create sentient life with a mere word. Geordi is a god! Any crewmember could be a god by repeating his actions!

If I were in charge of the holodeck

  • The holodeck computer systems would be airgapped from the Enterprise main computers, to prevent anything in the holodeck affecting the operational systems.
  • It would absolutely not be possible to create sentient life, no matter what you said.
  • There would be plenty of circuit breakers to cut power to the holodeck when necessary.

Other notes

  • A note from the last episode – Data was able to just mentally ‘google’ for information when asked, compared to most other times when he has to sit at a monitor and speedread.
  • Couldn’t Data just erase his knowledge of Sherlock Holmes in order to enjoy the mysteries afresh?
  • Once again, Pulaski is utterly down on Data to the extent that someone should be contacting HR about this obvious bullying and harassment. Also, why does she think Data wouldn’t be able to solve novel problems? Yes, machine learning algorithms are limited, but Data is clearly so much more than that – he was able to graduate from Starfleet Academy, after all.
  • This episode sees yet another attempt to explain the holodeck, essentially “magical computer trickery enables us to ignore the fact that this takes place in a small room”. This is also the first appearance of Holodeck 2 rather than Holodeck 3.
  • Picard doesn’t want to kill Moriarty – I bet Janeway wouldn’t hesitate to erase him.

Summary – Elementary Dear Data: It’s a shame Doctor Pulaski wasn’t lost in the holodeck forever.

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