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.