Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 9

The Measure Of A Man

6
Aired Unknown Feb 13, 1989 on CBS
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
283 votes
12

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Stardate: 42523.7 When Data's rights as a sentient individual are placed under trial, Starfleet forces Riker into a position where he must prove that Data is only an Android.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Starfleet Excellence!

    9.5
    This is quite possibly my favorite Star Trek episode of them all, and that is quite something for being in the second season of TNG, a season I wasn't all that crazy about. I was captivated as this story unfolded. The scene with Picard and Guinan in Ten Forward after Riker's examination of Data was especially great, in my opinion. "The Measure of a Man" obviously makes us think about freedom of the individual, but I was surprised with how powerful it was for me and how emotional the life of an android could make me. If you haven't seen this one, definitely go find it, especially if Data is one of your favorite characters.moreless
  • The Enterprise must defend Data's status when Starfleet demands his reassignment for study.

    9.0
    This is a landmark episode about Data; but it's really a Picard episode, which gives both Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart a chance to shine. (Writer Melinda Snodgrass also cleverly works Riker into the story, and gives Guinan a break out moment that serves as a template for all future writers for understanding her niche on the show.) The JAG officer, who has a history with Picard, is perfectly played by Amanda McBroom. This installment raises the abstract, difficult, and timeless question of what sentience is, looks at it from every angle, and beautifully resolves the plot. In short, it does exactly what a science fiction show should, and is easily one of the best early season Star Trek TNG episodes. This is the one that really starts to define the introspective nature of the show and presents bigger concepts rather than better aliens. And it even introduces the poker motif to TNG. Definitely a must see for Star Trek fans.moreless
  • One of the show's best episodes - an exceptionally well-played morality tale

    10
    When this episode first aired, I was just a kid and didn't much appreciate it. To me it was dull as dishwater. But then I was a kid, and what do kids know, right? The nuance and philosophical undertones were lost on me. As was the fact that this was quite probably the best episode of TNG up to this point in the series.



    It's a classic Trek morality tale, well-written and deftly-executed. The episode builds up quietly but effectively, culminating in some pretty electrifying courtroom scenes. Riker's case against Data (and the fact he dissembles then deactives him) is plain devastating and there is a powerful twist added when Picard seeks guidance from Guinan, who deals the wild card: this is an issue that has implications of slavery. That this observation is delivered by an African-American actress makes it all the more powerful and stirring.



    A powerful episode...although I must question Starfleet's initial declaration that Data is their 'property'. A legal loophole maybe, but sure as hell paints Starfleet in a scarily fascist light.moreless
  • A superb episode not only of season two but of the entire series....

    9.5
    After arriving at Starbase 173, where Picard also meets up with former court marshall prosecuting attorney and newly-appointed Judge of the sector Phillipa Louvois, Data is ordered to report to Commander Bruce Maddox as part of an experiment that hopes to lead to the creation of more Data-like androids for the Federation (Data's complicated technology and uniqueness has made duplication impossible). The experiment is highly threatening to Data's life and he therefore resigns from Starfleet in hopes to dodge his requirement to take part in the experiment. However, Maddox claims that Data is the product of Starfleet because he is not a sentient being - he is not truly alive - and he therefore has no choice in participating in the experiment. Picard challenges the ruling and because of the current limited staff for the Judge Advocate General (because of the relatively new assignment) regulations call for the defendant's Captain, Picard, to defend - and the 1st Officer, Riker, to prosecute.



    "The Measure Of A Man" is a clear standout in Star Trek: TNG's second season - as well as the overall series. Bringing her own experience as an attorney to this terrific courtroom drama style TNG episode, Melinda M. Snodgrass writes an intelligent, engaging, and character-centered story (contrary to what some might think, the greatest focus is actually on Picard). Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, and especially Patrick Stewart all give examples of absolutely exemplary acting - Spiner giving an interesting turn as a truly vulnerable Data, Frakes as an unhappily doing his duty Riker, and Stewart as a man standing up for his friend as much as his morals.



    What the episode does particularly well is take the viewer along in this great debate. We all know that Data is a machine - but we all know that he has life and accompanying rights. However, we also do not really know why. Then there is the other side: that Data's being a machine makes him not alive and makes him property. We see both sides while wanting Data to come out of the situation OK.



    The episode's only slight trip-up is that Amanda McBroom and Brian Brophy play their guest roles a little too robotically for the irony of it all to be a sufficient cover up.moreless
  • Stronger than anticipated

    8.4
    A slow paced episode that relies on the conflict stirred up by a scientist that treats Data as property and wants to dissect him for research.



    The plot stands on its own, without any other subplots. However, the theme of slavery is touched upon - based on the fact that Data is sentient and though not human, any forced decisions that he must take would be akin to what happened to the people of Africa, as humans cannot necessarily make the best judgement as to what is sentient.



    The main struggle is between Picard (Data rep) and Ryker (Federation). THe location is based almost entirely on a starbase. Though not that stunning its a good example of what starbases look like, esp. the exterior scenes depicting an approaching Enterprise.



    Dialogue is legally-oriented as both advocates defend their pov. Cmdr Maddox character does a good job of playing the part of a passionate scientist who through the course of the story changes his mind about view of Data.



    The predictable ending, brings everythng to a close of what is a powerful subject, probably to big for an episode of ST, which is why for me it doesnt entirely work. Yet its definitely a strong candidate to watch.



    Rykers argument is actually decent and its Picard's argument that fails to be passionate enough - at least for me!moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

Clyde Kusatsu

Clyde Kusatsu

Adm.Nakamura

Guest Star

Amanda McBroom

Amanda McBroom

Captain Phillipa Louvois

Guest Star

Brian Brophy

Brian Brophy

Cmdr. Bruce Maddox

Guest Star

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg

Guinan

Recurring Role

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Miles O'Brien

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (5)

    • When Picard questions Data about his relationship with Tasha, he apparently was aware of their sexual encounter. However, since Data promised to never tell anyone about it and didn't even want to tell the hearing, Picard wouldn't know to ask.

    • Trivia: Data states that his ultimate storage capacity is 800 quadrillion bits. In more common storage terms, that is 90,949.47 terabytes.

    • Watch carefully as Riker gives Data the metal rod to bend, Data bends it almost exactly in half, but when Riker puts the rod back on the judges table its only bent to a modest v-shape.

    • The whole time Picard was trying to come up with a defense he never brought up the obvious - Starfleet didn't build Data, they found him. Data made the choice to join Starfleet in the first place and went about it the old-fashioned way by going to the academy. If Data could choose to join Starfleet why couldn't he choose to resign?

    • Trivia: The poker game makes its first appearance. First players: Data, LaForge, Pulaski, Riker and O'Brien.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Captain Louvois: Data is a toaster. Have him report immediately to Commander Maddox for experimental refit.

    • Riker: Data is a physical representation of a dream, an idea conceived by the mind of a man. His purpose? To serve human needs and interests. He is a collection of neural nets and heuristic algorithms. His responses are dictated by an elaborate software program written by a man. The hardware was built by a man. And a man will turn him off. (uses Data's shut down switch) Pinocchio is broken...his strings have been cut.

    • Data: I would prefer not to answer that question.
      Picard: Under the circumstances, I don't think Tasha would mind.
      Data: She was special to me, sir. We were...intimate.

    • Picard: Your Honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life. (pointing to Data) Well there it sits!

    • Picard: Your honor, a courtroom is a crucible. In it we burn away irrelevancies until we are left with the pure product, the truth, for all time. Now sooner or later this man or others like him will succeed in replicating Commander Data. And the decision you reach here today will determine how we will regard this creation of our genius? It will reveal the kind of a people we are and what he is destined to be. It will reach far beyond this courtroom and this one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty and freedom, expanding them for some, savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him and all who come after him to servitude and slavery? Your honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life. Well, there it sits, waiting. You wanted a chance to make law, well, here it is, make it a good one.

    • Data: (to Commander Maddox) I regret the decision, but I must. I am the culmination of one man's dream. This is not ego or vanity, but when Dr. Soong created me he added to the substance of the universe. If by your experiments I am destroyed, something unique, something wonderful will be lost. I cannot permit that, I must protect his dream.

    • Riker: You're a wise man, my friend.
      Data: Not yet, sir. But with your help, I am learning.

    • Captain Phillipa Louvois: (to Picard) You know, it adds a sense of order and stability to my life to see that you're still a pompous ass. And a damn sexy man.

  • NOTES (1)

    • In 2012 two extended versions of this episode was released.  One was a hybrid version comprised of VHS Quality video (the lost footage) intercut into the HD film and presented as a rough cut.  The other version was a complete HD version incorporating the newly rediscovered video (from the original 35mm film) with all-new special effects.  Both versions run 13 minutes longer than the original episode cut.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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