Star Trek: The Next Generation (1990) – Hollow Pursuits, and The Most Toys

Captain’s log: stardate 43801.4

First airing on 30 April, 1990, this episode, written by Sally Caves introduced fan favourite Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz) to the Trek Universe.

Barclay is smart, but shy, suffers from some anxieties, and releases them through escapes to the holodeck. In fact, he slips away every chance he gets, as, within the programme of the holodeck he is in control of his life, can stand up to others, and even pursue romantic relationships.

But what happens when the rest of the crew discover their doppelgangers in Barclay’s imaginary world (a very funny moment – but also serves as commentary on perceptions of others, as well as our fantasy life)? And will he be able to get past or deal with his anxieties to do his job?

I love how Picard (Patrick Stewart) stops the belittling of Reg behind his back before it even gets started. It also points out how easily we can judge others just because they don’t fit in.

The episode has become increasingly relevant as we, as a society, have seemed to shy away from actual physical interaction and lose ourselves in social media. We choose to  interact with one another via tweets and likes, hiding behind the safety of perceived anonymity. Life is easier there, we can strike out at others , fantasise, pretend to be whatever we want.

But that isn’t life.

Life can be scary, upsetting, and push us out of our comfort zones, but it has to be faced. And in the case of this episode, as Barclay takes the first steps to truly interact with his surroundings, co-workers, and life he gets to play a part in saving the day.

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Captain’s log: stardate 43872.2

This episode debuted on 7 May, 1990.  Written by Shari Goodhartz this Data (Brent Spiner)-centric story features a strong performance by Saul Rubinek as a collector, who kidnaps the android, faking his destruction, and adding him as the centrepiece of his massive pantheon.

Data is forced to come up with a way to escape, but at what cost?

It’s a sharp episode, but also poignant. Originally the role Rubinek played, Kivas Fajo, was meant for David Rappaport. A suicide attempt by the diminutive actor caused him to lose the role, and Rubinek re-filmed a number of scenes already shot. Two months later, Rappaport took his own life.

I always delighted in this actor and his performances, and I’m sorry that it ended the way it did.

Having said that, it’s still a fine episode, and it’s something to see Data pushed to extremes and see how far he’ll go to protect others and survive.

The Human Adventure continues Thursday with a real tie-in to the Original Series, the appearance of Mark Lenard as Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) father, Sarek.

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