Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 9

The Measure Of A Man

9
Aired Unknown Feb 13, 1989 on CBS
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Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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9.0
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  • 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.
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