Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 1 Episode 12

The Big Goodbye

9
Aired Unknown Jan 11, 1988 on CBS
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (13)

7.7
out of 10
Average
262 votes
  • Data, Beverly and historian Dr. Whalen join Picard in a Holodeck recreation of 1940s literary P.I. Dixon Hill. But a scan of the ship from an insectoid race malfunctions the programme, trapping them inside. One of the first season's most likable eps...

    9.5
    This review contains spoilers.

    When I think back to the first season of 'The Next Generation', many of the lesser (and sometimes rather dire) offerings slip through the cracks of my memory; But "The Big Goodbye" is always on that has really stuck in my mind, for being a really fun offering, and – although maybe not a classic in terms of the entire show's run – is probably one of the best episodes from the first season.

    It had been briefly glimpsed in a couple of previous episodes, but this is the first episode to really explore the Holodeck in any great depth. Of course, the whole concept of "the Holodeck malfunctioning, putting crew members in danger" was used many, MANY more times in TNG, as well as 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager', and, let's be honest, probably overused. And even beyond that, while I admired the scope that the Holodeck could offer, I often felt a bit cheated and disappointed that whole episodes would but effort into a Holodeck environment, when, in the Trek universe, the Holodeck isn't even "real" (if you get what I mean); I always wanted to see the crew beam down to some exciting new planet instead.

    Either way, beyond those overall Holodeck opinions, I've always really enjoyed "The Big Goodbye". And, watching it, you get the impression that Patrick Stewart loved making it, as he seems really "into it". Not only a chance to flesh out ol' Jean Luc (developing him from the rather stern character of "Encounter at Farpoint" and first few episodes) into a more rounded character, but just throwing him into something that you can really believe Picard would love.

    There are also some nice character moments for Data, and even Gates McFadden gets something a little more interesting than usual to do as Dr. Crusher. The episode plays mostly as a gentle comedy, and this is where it succeeds over some of the "comedies" (from all eras of 'Trek') that try far too hard to be funny, and often come off as embarrassing or even disastrous as a result (*cough*early TNG episode "The Naked Now" for example*cough).

    Of the guest cast, Lawrence Tierney is great as polite Mob boss Cyrus Redblock, and, as his snivelling henchman Felix Leech, Harvey Jason is also fun.
    When historian Dr. Whalon (never seen before or since in the series, naturally) was introduced, I kinda knew from the off that he'd end up badly injured. Actually, I was a little surprised that he didn't die, and in that respect, part of me feels that maybe one of the regular crew could have been put in his place; surely the threat of a familiar crewman injured and needed medical attention would have added further urgency to the proceedings.

    Some people have commented that they didn't like the (unseen) insectoid race, the Jarada, that the Enterprise is due to liaise with (with Picard stuck in the Holodeck, this is the main "drive" of the story). Personally, I didn't mind this at all, as it left a lot to the imagination, and it made for an interesting variation from the standard "humanoid race of the week". (Incidentally, the original script did have the Jarada appearing, complete with descriptions for their wasp-like appearance, but this never came to fruition due to budget restraints.)

    For the most part, this is a really engrossing tale, and I love the setting. If I do have any gripes, it's that the later stages, particularly the whole hostage situation in Dixon's office, start to drag, and are too over-talkative, causing the episode to lose it's momentum a bit. Then of course, Wesley plays a big part in saving the day *yet again*(!), but I like the overall story enough to overlook that on this occasion. I wasn't sure about the climax, where Redblock and his crony actually leave the Holodeck and exist on the Enterprise for a few moments before fading away – I'm sure some Trek buff can prove me wrong, but I didn't think this could happen; but I suppose this could be put down to dramatic license.

    But those minor quibbles aside, on the whole this is one of the (shaky) first season's most pleasing episodes. By this point, things were starting to feel less uncertain, and episodes such as this have a certain feel of classiness to them. I seem to recall, when I first watched this episode in my early teens, when it appeared on BBC Two here in the U.K. in December 1990, that my father (who hadn't really taken to the new incarnation of 'Trek') really enjoyed it too, and often referred back to it. Heck, the next week's edition of 'Points of View' (the long-running BBC viewer feedback programme) even closed with a clip from this episode, after people had phoned in saying how much they had enjoyed it.

    All-in-all, this probably wouldn't make my Top 10 all-time favourite TNG episodes, but by the splashy first season standards, "The Big Goodbye" stands as one of the most fun, likable tales from the first year. It's one of the first real episodes to make the viewer really care about what happens to the characters, and it's gentle, not-trying-too-hard-to-be-funny tone works very well. It does have it's niggles, as I've mentioned above, but I like the overall idea and setting enough to give this one a very reasonable 9.5.
  • The Maltese Star Trek....

    7.5
    Star Trek goes a little film noir (actually I suppose it would be post noir....) here in "The Big Goodbye." Here the episode mixes Star Trek with three great elements of 1940s film noir: a little bit of Raymond Chandler's Private Detective Phlip Marlowe, a dash of John Huston's Bogart-leading The Maltese Falcon, and 40s film noir star himself Lawrence Tierney.

    When the holodeck breaks down, Picard, Data, and Dr. Crusher are stuck inside of this 1940s PI story where the safety protocols have been disengaged and angry mobsters are after what Picard is supposed to have as Detective Dixon Hill.

    This episode is often praised and while "The Big Goodbye" definitely is one of the better episodes of The Next Generation's first season it is not a great Next Generation outing. Firstly, why is Picard so fascinated by the holodeck? Shouldn't he be up on that as the ship's bloody Captain? Then, of course, Wesley Crusher is called upon to save the day.... again. He's a freaking boy - sure, make him smarter than most kids his age but there comes a point where his out-smarting the smart adults angle really gets annoying. Picard and Crusher also engage in a bizarre flirtatious byplay - bizarre because it does not seem to fit their characters at all. Finally, Brent Spiner is forced to use some sort of stereotypical '40s accent and lingo - obviously played up for comedic affect, this ends up not funny in the least.

    But "The Big Goodbye" is, nonetheless, one of the better episodes of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The look of the holodeck's 1940 world is great (getting an Emmy nomination for the episode's cinematography) and Picard gets a lot of great things do to while inside of the holodeck. Probably the best part of the episode is the portrayal of the holodeck characters finding out that exist: Are they real? Can they leave the holodeck? Will their lives continue when Picard ends the program? This is a very interesting Trek question and makes this Trek episode a little bit more than just entertainment.
  • 1930s meet the 24 Century...with good results.

    8.5
    This has always been one of my favourite episodes of the first season, right from my first viewing of it when it first aired. Subsequent viewings have only cemented this like in my mind and also makes it apparent that it is one of few truly better written and developed episodes of season one.

    As is mentioned in other reviews, this is the first episode to feature the commonly used holodeck malfuntion plot device and as a result it comes off as fresh and interesting right from the start. It is also the first episode in which we really get to see for the first time what the holodeck is capable of creating for the in-show characters. Of course we as the audience know that everything 1930s that we see is just a set with a digital portal doorway, but if you allow yourself to be absorbed into the show and what it is trying to propose, then you can see the amazement of the characters to what they are seeing (classic cars, buildings, geography etc) as justified as the recreation of the `world` by the holodeck is a true feat of technological mastery. When we again step back and return to a critical audience member, we are also for the first time tickled by the potential storylines and future mishaps that could take place when the holodeck is used as a plot and story element.

    Plot development through technology aside, we are also treated to supurb writing and a story that keeps the viewers attention firmly fixed on the screen. The acting of the cast makes you truly believe that the characters of Picard, Data and Beverly are all actually fascinated by and want to take part in a recreation of a period based story. You can especially see this when Picard recounts his initial voyage into Dix`s office to the bridge crew in the conference room; he is like a kid describing his first time playing a particular game or reading a particualr book. It is also apparent in his eagerness to return to the simulation appropriately dressed for the time period. The story itself; particulairly the final showdown in Dix`s office where the crew member is shot, is suspenseful in it`s development and satisfying in it`s conclusion. The fact of a holo-character becoming slighly aware of his true exsitence and the existence of another reality hints at events and issues that will surface in later episodes.

    A definite highlight of the episode is Gates McFadden done up in 1930s era clothing and mimicing the use and application of makeup in the police station. Hard to imagine that we would be losing her for season two!

    Biggest drag on the episode is the subplot storyline of the contact between the Federation and the insect race. The insistence on the proper pronounciation of their dialect and the extremes to which they are supposed to take it is just plain annoying. Better left forgotten.
  • Picard does 1940s PI

    8.7
    Two of my favourite plolines rolled into one. Picard playing Dixon Hill and a holodeck malfunction. This is the first example to grace our screens. What works very well here is that we actually have a plausible danger hanging over the Picard, Data and Bevs. With the history expert dying, there is a real fear that the holodeck characters will harm our protaganists. Though it doesnt happen, only right at the end is the threat gone with the anataganists suffering a most unpleasant fate! The ticking clock of Picard required to give the welcome speech to the alien race is a great device to keep the intensity level high.

    Picard and Bev in costume and in "character" is one of the best parts of this episode, but Data part wins hands down!

    A great episode.
  • One of the best episodes of the 1st season, and the first in a string of many "holodeck malfunction" episodes.

    7.5
    Holodeck malfunctions were used so many times on TNG (and its successor series) that they became a cliche, but this is the very first -- and it's not bad.

    Initially starting as a diversion for Picard (who is apparently as unfamiliar with the technology as the viewer), several crew members' lives become endangered once the holodeck stops functioning as intended. There's some genuine tension near the end -- a rarity in most season 1 episodes. Lawrence Tierney is great as the head mobster and his mildly annoying lieutenant (Leech) is very good too.

    As far as the actual characters -- you can tell they are having great fun; lots of (somewhat uncharacteristic) flirting between Picard and Crusher, as well as lots of gags surrounding Data (he's from South America!). Gates McFadden was somewhat underused during the 1st season, but here she takes full advantage (particularly in the amusing makeup scene). And the final holodeck scene, with Picard's holographic friend pondering his existence, is actually poignant -- I'm surprised that the season 1 writers were capable of such a thing.

    That said, it is not without its flaws. The "real world plot", involving protocol-obsessed insectoid aliens, is completely worthless. The writers completely overdo the Enterprise crew's lack of familiarity with 1930s Earth. And man... was it really necessary to have Wesley save the day yet again?
  • A slice of insubstantial fun - nothing more, nothing less.

    7.1
    'The Big Goodbye' marks the first of a new tradition in Trek: the 'holodeck-malfunctions-endangering-the-crew' sub-genre.

    You know what: this is fun. It's certainly not an exceptional episode (we'd get many superior holodeck episodes later in the series), but it is nevertheless a delightfully refreshing change of pace and the cast and crew seem to relish the offbeat nature of the episode.

    The story, which is actually quite sparse and simple, is told at a leisurely pace and although the sense of danger and menace isn't entirely effective (I mean, come on, the worst that will happen is that Picard will be late in delivering a speech to a bunch of insects!), the novelty factor succeeds in carrying the episode and sustaining interest.
  • Picard gets stuck in the holodeck in a Dickson Hill book when the holodeck misfunctions. Everything quickly goes wrong when the characters of the program come to life and shoot one of the crew members.

    5.0
    Definately not one of my favorites...I actually found this pretty boring. However, it does help develop our knowledge of the holodeck and a little of Picards personal life...which i guess is ...boring.

    This episode could have been better if it would have been based on a better story or something instead of Dickson Hill.

    The most fascinating thing about this episode seems to be the race of lizards or whatever that we never get to see....

    Too bad this episode waited till the last sentence to get some humor in it. Im talking about when Picard says "Step on it!" instead of engage....this was only mildly amusing, however.
  • "Have a good time?" I surely have.

    8.0
    Here it is the first holodeck malfunction episode. Troi tells Picard that he should relax before meeting with the Jarada, so Picard decides to spend time in the holodeck by playing the 20th century character Dixon Hill, Private Investigator. But when the Jarada probe the Enterprise, the holodeck malfunctions and Picard, Data, Dr. Crusher and a 20th century historian Mr. Whalen are trapped with the safety limits off. When Mr. Whalen gets shot, Picard must figure out a way to get him to sick bay and at the same time try to avoid getting anyone else harmed.

    This is the first and one of the best holodeck episodes by TNG. Data in a zoot suit, a Picard & Bev moment and Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs) plays the well mannered gangster boss, Cyrus Redblock. Very fun to watch, I recommend this episode.

    I give it 4 out of 5 stars. (8.0 on TV.com)
  • You'd think that they'd stay out of the holodeck after this, but nnnoooooo!

    4.0
    Again, never mind the plot holes and never mind how potentially entertaining the game of dress-up is. The whole thing is just too out-of-character. Picard discusses his "vacation" in a meeting, and he takes time talking to a fictional character during a diplomatic crisis. And have the transporters stopped working? The episode is just too unworkable and too many plot devices had to be used to get the characters in a dangerous situation.
  • The holodeck malfunctions while Picard, Data, and Dr. Crusher are running a Dixon Hill private detective program.

    7.0
    TNG introduces us to the holodeck here. It had been seen before in this series and in the animated Star Trek, but this is the first episode devoted completely to it (and the first with the "newly upgraded" holodeck with fully interactive modes instead of static backgrounds), and as such it lays the groundwork for many future episodes. The episode itself is a breath of fresh air for the first season, with new sets and a different sort of cinematic style (think "Maltese Falcon"). Unfortunately, the story begins to drag towards the end as (once again) there's too little story to fill the hour and everyone ends up doing a lot of talking as the episode nears the close.
  • Top 10 best episode

    10
    I remember when I first saw this that I absolutely loved this episode. And I still do. It ranks as one of my all time favorite TNG episode. It had great characters. Great interactions. Humor. I just loved it. And the ending with Picard's speech was a great dialogue. I wonder how many times Patrick Stewert had to go over those lines until he got it right? Probably not many.

    Great episode.
  • The “Enterprise” needs to contact the Jarada , a insect like race. The require a formal greeting in their language. They regard any mispronunciation as a insult. Captain Picard is practicing the Jarada language to make sure he speaks correctly. He is beco

    9.3
    The “Enterprise” needs to contact the Jarada , a insect like race. The require a formal greeting in their language. They regard any mispronunciation as a insult. Captain Picard is practicing the Jarada language to make sure he speaks correctly. He is become stressed and decides to use the holodeck to relax. He selects Dixon Hill detective novels as a holodeck program. He is amazed by the detail and accuracy of the holodeck. Jarada while probing the “Enterprise” inadvertently cause the holodeck to malfunction. Can Wesley retrieve Picard before the Jarada race becomes angry. I rate this one a 9.3.
  • There's a reason this episode won a Peabody Award

    9.5
    A fun homage to Chandler and Hammett, with all the archetypes, this episode is plotted using every device in film noir. You can tell Patrick Stewart is into the "Dixon Hill" character, as is Brent Spiner, and this was probably Gates McFadden's biggest acting stretch during the tenure of the series. Lawrence Tierney (the longtime film noir staple) is there too!

    Watch it. Have fun.
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