Star Trek: Voyager

Season 3 Episode 22

Real Life

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Apr 23, 1997 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
168 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Stardate: 50836.2
The Doctor decides he should create a holographic family in order to expand himself. When B'Elanna is disgusted by its unrealistic perfectionism, she alters the program to include random events and outcomes with interesting and devastating results.

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  • A main plot with all the sophistication and intrigue of an episode of Andy Griffith, combined with an implausible yet forgettable subplot was so dissappointing that I joined this site just so I could write a scathing review of it.moreless

    First, the subplot: it is so forgettable that the other reviews on this site don't even mention it. Huge anamolies appear out of nowhere (oh, wait, they're from subspace, oh wait, they're from a layer between space and subspace). They emmitt so many gravitons that Tom has Voyager riding the waves like a surfer, yet current 20th century science is mysteriously unaware of the phenomena, even though it is happening in our own galaxy. Right now we're trying to detect gravity waves from across the universe caused by two black holes orbiting each other. You'd think something that gave off these kind of gravigy waves in our own back yard would be easy to spot by comparison. Of course, this series doesn't have much use for science except for providing techno-babble jargon. All kinds of ship's systems are damaged or go offline, yet Janeway decides to hang around the area in the interests of science, even though just one thing going wrong would strand them in space forever, since there's no Federation to save them. Finally it's determined that Tom make an extremely dangerous mission collecting plasma so they won't have to eat goulash for the fifth day in a row. Go back and watch again, this is really the reason he does it, no kidding. Of course, in the inevitable ensuing rescue, they loose another shuttle. What is that, the sixth or seventh, I lost count? How many shuttles did the Voyager have initially?

    Now for the main plot: Once again the doctor is allowed to screw around. Never mind that he's the second most important member of the crew. Never mind that only a few episodes earlier he almost destroyed himself with his own tinkering, never mind that the only hope of diagnostics for the doctor was sacrificed to give the doctor more capacity.

    I don't really want to see episodes about family life. There are plenty of shows out there where I can see this all day long. I watch star trek hoping for something more.

    I don't know which of his two families was more cardboard. The first was sterotypically good, the second stereotypically bad. Neither was believable. Belana programmed in some random factors, so "of course" it makes sense that the next day his daughter ends up dying. Yes, that happens in my family every week or so, too.

    Why was the doctor so attached to the family? It was totally unbelievable. In a couple of days he comes to care for these "artificial" people to such an extent? Why? And why did they care about him? Because they were programmed to. So why would some people see this as a tearjerker? There are so many layers of "artificial", how could it ever seem real to someone? I think some people just like to cry.

    Finally, when you introduce a subplot, it seems to me there should be some reason for it. It should play off the main plot like a countermelody. Some type of insight should be provided, either through similarity or contrast with the main plot. I see no evidence of this at all. Instead, I think the writers thought, boy, this family oriented episode is going to bore the sci-fi nerd, so let's through in some pseudo-scientific stuff with good special effects to keep his interest.moreless
  • Simply devestating.

    What more can be said about and episode that does so much in such a short time? The writing is unbelievable and the direction and acting nothing short of superior. I have one quantifying rule which distinguishes a perfect piece of work from a good or even great one. Can it make me cry? I wept openly during parts of this show, and outright sobbed when during some others. I am not an easily swayed person. I don't just sit down and cry at every tearjerker. Part of me is always aware that I am not watching reality. No matter how real, its not really. So when the writing and directing and acting are THAT good, its saying something. Who among us hasn't wanted to 'turn off' life at some point, when things become too much to deal with. And during that key scene, it made me think of those times when I might have wished JUST that. It tied me into the character, the moment. For that one perfect second, I FELT it.

    So so many of had our doubts about The Doctor when Voyager was first introduced. But throughout the show he grows, in his character AND to the viewers. This episode is among the best of the series, in my humble opinion. Bring tissues ladies... and yes, even some men too.moreless
  • Real Life

    Real Life was a superb episode of Star Trek: Voyager and I really enjoyed watching this character driven episode which focused upon the Doctor and his desire to experience "Real Life" with a family. His first version were to perfect so Torres helped him reprogram them to be more realistic. What happened next was both amazing, and very fun to watch as the Doctor found out just how hard it is to have feelings and be a part of a family. Meanwhile the rest of the Voyager crew encounter some strange spacephenomena which they try to investigate with almostdisastrous consequences. The last few scenes were great. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek: Voyager!!!!!!!moreless
  • Finally, a somewhat plausible character development for the Doctor…

    Finally, a somewhat plausible character development for the Doctor…

    Just three episodes removed from the disastrous "Darkling" where the Doctor altered his subroutines to try and improve his personality, he's at it again.

    He's created a family which is "The Brady Bunch" minus four since he only has as two kids. Torres finds the family unbelievably sugary and alters the program to randomize the characters to make them behave more realistically. The Doctor ends up with a busy wife who can't manage her own affairs much less the homestead. His daughter is now a real risk taker. His son wants to be a Klingon warrior.

    Needless to say, the Doctor is frustrated but overall, it works. He does gain an appreciation of compromise within the unexpected. He learns to try and deal with this.

    There are a couple of downsides to the episode. The holodeck family takes a downturn towards melodrama when the risk-taking daughter is injured and is going to die. Melodrama is the introduction of an outlandish event mainly to gage character reaction. It rarely results in character growth or appreciation even though it might inspire tears and etc. It's generally a cheesy way to short circuit real character development. Since this happens with the daughter dying, it's not nearly as good as if the Doctor had to resolve family problems without the "tragedy" having occurred.

    The second drawback to this episode involves the subplot of Voyager exploring a space/subspace event producing eddies and possible plasma they would harvest. This is totally unrelated to the Doctor's story beyond Tom Paris being a risk taker, same as the Doctor's daughter.

    Nevertheless, the overall impact of the Doctor having a family and learning to cope with human inconsistencies is very solid and helps develop his character dramatically.moreless
  • It was entertaining.

    I thought this was a great episode of Star Trek Voyager. Maybe it was underrated by some viewers, but I felt that it was a refreshing story and was well written. Robert Picardo did a great job as the main focus of the show. He is a really good actor. His character the "Doctor" learned that family life was very much more than a rosey deal. He found out that life has its ups and downs. As far as the rest of the show went, it was just filler. It was okay, but it felt like the writers just threw something in there for the rest of the cast to do. Thank you.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The plasma eddy Tom's shuttlecraft is pulled into reuses the CGI footage used for the Badlands in the show's pilot episode "Caretaker".

    • Goof: When B'Elanna and Kes visit the Doctor's family, B'Elanna freezes the program. However, a few moments later, the background shows the the fire still burning.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • B'Elanna: (when the Doctor's idealized family gets to be too much for her) If you think that this is giving you an accurate impression of being in a family, you are sadly mistaken!
      The Doctor: I don't understand.
      Kes: They're kind of perfect.
      B'Elanna: They ARE perfect, ridiculously perfect. No one has a family like this, this is a fantasy! You're not going to learn anything with these... lollipops!

    • Paris: (reading from "Women Warriors at the River of Blood") "Rorg turned his fierce eye upon her and B'Nea felt her heart begin to quicken even as her hand went to her dagger. She had intended to plunge it into his throat, but something about him made her hesitate..." B'Elanna, is this a Klingon romance novel?
      B'Elanna: Klingons do have what you might call a romantic side. It's a bit more vigorous than most.
      Paris: I think I'll read it. Maybe it'll give me some ideas about how to make your heart quicken.
      B'Elanna: Its not a technical manual, Tom.
      Paris: Well that depends on what you mean by "technical."
      B'Elanna: To an engineer, that means specialising in particular systems.
      Paris: I think that definition works.
      B'Elanna: Well I can't promise I won't put a dagger in your throat.

    • The Doctor: If I know you, you'll push it to the limit. You enjoy flirting with danger.
      Paris: You know me too well.
      The Doctor: You were undoubtedly one of those children who had to climb the highest tree, scale the tallest cliff.
      Paris: That was me.

    • The Doctor: You're in fine physical shape Lieutenant. You may go ahead and engage in this reckless activity.

    • The Doctor: Your hard head has protected you again, Lieutenant.

    • Paris: I guess all of us would avoid that kind of pain if we could. But most people don't have that choice.
      The Doctor: Well fortunately, I do.
      Paris: Is it so fortunate? You created that program so that you could experience what its like to have a family. The good times and the bad. You can't have one without the other.
      The Doctor: I fail to see why not?
      Paris: Think about what's happened to us here on Voyager, everyone left people behind and everyone suffered a loss. But look how it's brought us all closer together. We've found support here and friendship and we've become a family, in part because of the pain we share. If you turn your back on this program you'll always be stuck at this point. You'll never have the chance to say goodbye to your daughter or to be there for your wife and son when they need you. And you'll be cheating yourself of the chance to have their love and support. In the long run, you'll miss the whole point of what it means to have a family.

  • NOTES (0)