Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 9

The Measure Of A Man

Aired Unknown Feb 13, 1989 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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out of 10
306 votes
  • Stronger than anticipated

    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!
  • contridictory episode

    in season 2 episode 9 the issue that seems to be brought up here i thought was solved this is proven case and point by In "Measure Of A Man," it is established that Data has the right to make his own decisions as much as any other sentient being. If this is the case, and Lal is the same form of life as Data, where in the world does the Admiral get the idea that he can dictate what Lal does? straight from the trivia and quotes of the episode . did they not want to just deal with data being a parent and those issues alone? or is this an indirect way of dealing with women's right issues? but why did they just throw away the decision of the JAG officer? if this is possible could they do something like this to Data? in spite of all this i find it a touching episode and very emotional but it is still good but unfortunately still leaves a slightly bitter taste in my mouth because of the possible undertones.
  • This was a great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The setting of a court case along with the balancing of ethical and moral issues is what made this a very good episode.

    This was a great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The setting of a court case along with the balancing of ethical and moral issues is what made this a very good episode.

    By thinking of Data as just a computer, or the beginning of a new race, and how his mind works, really makes you think. I love Picard and Riker in the court case and it shows that the law system is the same as the basic US legal system.
  • When the "Enterprise" arrives at Starbase 173. Captain Picard meets and old acquaintance Captain Phillipa Louvois. Commander Maddox who also is on Starbase 173 informs Captain Picard of orders to transfer Lt. Commander Data under Maddox's command. Maddox

    When the "Enterprise" arrives at Starbase 173. Captain Picard meets and old acquaintance Captain Phillipa Louvois. Commander Maddox who also is on Starbase 173 informs Captain Picard of orders to transfer Lt. Commander Data under Maddox's command. Maddox's intent is to disassemble Data. in order to learn how to build more androids like Data. But Data knowing his rights decides to resign Starfleet. Maddox says Data can't resign he is propery of Starfleet because Data is a machine and not a human. Which begins a legal battle is Data sentient being? I recommend this episode it is worth a 10.0
  • Brilliant

    Probably one of my favourite episodes of the show, this was a series classic and a pivital episode also. Brent Spiner as Data was outstanding in this episode, he was brilliant! Without this episode, Season 2 wouldn't have much memorable about it. This episode made the Season in my opinion.
  • The episode that legally declares Data as an independent individual, setting a precedent for all artifical lifeforms to come...

    I love this episode because every character undergoes a significant amount of development. When Commander Maddox visits from Starfleet and announces his intention to conduct experiments on Data\'s brain in an effort to duplicate the technology and create more androids, all characters are forced to consider whether or not an artifical lifeform has inalienable rights. When Data first voices his objection to the procedure, even Picard tries to convince him to go through with it. But when a trial begins to determine whether Data is a person or property, the situation gets complicated quickly. Against his will, Riker is appointed to represent Starfleet, and he makes a convincing argument that Data should not have any rights at all. But ultimately, Picard proves that Data has his own opinions, desires... dare I say feelings? This episode marks the day when Data takes a significant step toward his ultimate dream... being treated as a human.
  • A superb episode not only of season two but of the entire series....

    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.
  • Over 25 Years Later,This Episode Still MEASURES Up !

    The most memorable moments of The Next Generation and the key to its popularity come from the cast and characters. Most often you will read that the series didn't really discover that secret until the 3rd season. This episode is an exception. It was all about character. Picard, Data, and Riker are obvious, but Geordi and even Dr Pulaski contribute well.

    Then there is Guinan. Her assistance to Picard at his moment of crisis is poignant and indelibly marked in my mind. Between this episode, The Best of Both Worlds and I, Borg, she has provided some emotionally impacting moments to the show.

    Rick Berman used to list this as his favorite episode when asked. I have it right after The Best of Both Worlds on my list simply due to how big that story was and the movie-like feel to it. However, this episode tugs more at the human heart. THIS IS A MUST SEE.
  • Data is reassigned to a cybernetics specialist who wishes to perform a dangerous dissection on him. Data's right to refuse is brought to the regional JAG office for ruling.

    One of the best (if not the best) episodes of the early seasons. Not only did it provide substantial character development for Data, but it also provided a window into Picard's past. The parallels between the fight for Data's right to choose and several real life situations present and past was what made the episode so compelling to me. Picard's court argument was riveting: it highlighted Stewart's strength as a dramatic actor. A very well done episode overall.
  • This episode addresses the pivotal question of what makes a man. It also establishes Data as more than just a side character--especially important as he plays a central figure for most of the series.

    Measure of a Man is an incredibly important episode for TNG because of the focus on classifying who or what Data is. For the whole series, Data is an integral character, and to accept him as a character, the question between man and machine had to be addressed.
    The episode is structured in a way that allows us to think our way through the question with Picard. We had considered Data to be interesting and entertaining up until this point, but was he the equivalent of a human? We had been positioned to believe so by the series, but could we prove that to be the case? It was only Picard\'s gut feeling that felt Data to be a \"self,\" an independent being. How could feelings stand up in a court of law?
    Giunan\'s allusion to slavery was effective and placed in the correct portion of the episode. We had been considering the question for 40 minutes, but hadn\'t considered what it would mean for Data to be property and infinitely reproducible. The culture of Slavery viewed their slaves in the same way that we had been viewing Data; they were a fixture of the environment, but separate from us and useful only for maintaining society\'s present condition. With the hindsight of 150 years, we can say that that thinking was fallible, tragically so. Picard is given the opportunity to stop it before such a system comes into place. And we, knowing the consequences, are cheering for him to succeed. It\'s a very engaging episode, to say the least.
    My only question: How could Star Fleet ever have considered someone who willingly entered its organization to be its property? Would they have gone after Data for research if he hadn\'t have been in Star Fleet at all?
  • Starfleet Excellence!

    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.
  • The Enterprise must defend Data's status when Starfleet demands his reassignment for study.

    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.
  • One of the best episodes in TNG and a big leap forward for the series - a great story beautifully realized by fantastic writing and exceptional acting.

    Up until this point the second season was a substantial improvement on its predecessor, but still somewhat lackluster. But "The Measure of a Man" was a massive leap forward, much better than any of its predecessor and easily worthy of mention next to any other episode of the series.

    "Issue shows" in TNG, especially in the first two seasons, tended to be somewhat heavy handed as the writers bludgeoned us over the head with the moral. In this one, the story seems to be about something bad that's going to happen to a favorite character; it's only later on that we realize (maybe at the same time at Picard) the moral implications.

    The writing on this episode is among the best -- maybe THE best -- on the series, and I was very surprised to learn it was an unsolicited script by Melinda Snodgrass. Riker and Picard's speeches in the courtroom are particularly memorable, but upon a second viewing a bunch of other gems popped out at me. The histories of various characters -- Data and Maddox, Picard and the JAG -- provide some additional electricity to the plot.

    The acting is also exceptional. Despite this episode being "about Data", this is at least as much a Picard episode -- and Patrick Stewart gives a tour-de-force performance, his best up until this point. Brent Spiner and Jonathan Frakes are in peak form, and the two guest characters (Maddox and the JAG) execute perfectly. Guinan's 3rd appearance on the show is the first substantial one -- she would reprise her role as Picard's conscience in future seasons.

    I could write more, but I'll end this review with 3 nice touches that I enjoyed:

    1) The poker game makes its first appearance. Despite not being directly related to the main story, it provides the perfect setup for what follows.

    2) Data's going-away party was a clever idea. Data's ripping off the wrapper is just perfect.

    3) Riker's preparation for his prosecution. The excitement he shows at discovering Pinocchio's weakness, followed by his horror at experiencing this excitement, was again a nice touch.
  • One of the show's best episodes - an exceptionally well-played morality tale

    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.