When Starfleet manages to establish monthly communications with Voyager, their first transmission contains some bad news. Doctor Lewis Zimmerman, the creator of the Emergency Medical Hologram, is dying of a seemingly incurable disease. Believing that the knowledge he has amassed in the Delta Quadrant has given him an insight into a cure, The Doctor has his program transmitted back to the Alpha Quadrant in order to treat his creator – only to find that Doctor Zimmerman is an unwilling patient.
Reginald Barclay and Deanna Troi front this sequel of sorts to Pathfinder, which sees Robert Picardo pulling double duty as both The Doctor and his creator. Whilst entertaining, the story goes pretty much as you’d imagine – two men with massive egos continually rub each othe rup the wrong way, until their friends conspire to put them in a position where they are forced to see past their differences. Like much of latter season six Voyager, the plot is nothing if not entirely predictable.
That being said, Life Line is certainly more lively and memorable than other recent episodes. Everyone is having fun, and the dialogue flows readily, with comic moments aplenty – such as Deanna Troi’s impassioned labelling of both The Doctor and Zimmerman as jerks, immediately echoed by a talking iguana saying “jerks”. I did feel a little uncomfortable at the ‘cranky old professor has beautiful and devoted young assistant’ trope, but other than that, it was an enjoyable ride.
Let’s take a look at the history of Doctor Zimmerman and the EMH.
- 2371: the EMH is a prototype on Voyager and the Equinox. It later gets rolled out to over six hundred starships, including the Enterprise-E.
- 2373: The EMH is in active use. Doctor Zimmerman starts working on a long-term medical hologram, or LMH. Plans for this appear to be scrapped after the template human, Doctor Julian Bashir, proves unsuitable.
- 2374: A prototype EMH Mark II is in use aboard the Prometheus.
- 2376: The EMH Mark I is considered obsolete and a failure by this point, and has been reassigned to scrub plasma manifolds. The EMH Mark III and IV are widely available.
- Doctor Zimmerman looks a lot older than he did just three years earlier in Doctor Bashir, I Presume.
- Speaking of which, Doctor Zimmerman says he hasn’t left Jupiter Station in over four years, which doesn’t quite with the timeline of his visit to DS9. Maybe he was rounding up.
- By this point, The Doctor’s hobbies include opera singing, painting, chess and holo-photography.
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 17
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5
Summary – Life Line: Double Robert Picardo!