Star Trek 583: Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy

583. Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy

FORMULA: Hollow Pursuits + Phantasms + The Emissary + The Corbomite Maneuver

WHY WE LIKE IT: The ECH. The musical.

WHY WE DON'T: The notion that the viewer is anything like the Hierarchs.

REVIEW: This is the one that starts with a hilarious musical number about the Doctor saving Tuvok from Pon-farr. So yeah, comedy episode. And for all its silliness and even cheesiness, it works! A new daydreaming subroutine goes screwy and the Doctor starts losing control of it, and we're privy to his many fantasies. The stuff where all the girls are fighting over him have varrying value (Mulgrew's not very good at it, but Dawson and Ryan are - and I love the boyish Tom Paris hoping to be B'Elanna's rebound), but the Emergency Command Hologram scenes - essentially what the Doctor's version of a Captain Proton scenario - are always appropriately over the top. Especially the cheesy ECH transformation sequence.

Egg-headed aliens have tapped into his program and are seeing all this, but not any of his real perceptions, so naturally, they get the wrong ideas about Voyager. It's a plot that is mostly benign and that goes well with the comic aspects of the episode. Better to not think of the "Hierarchy" as fanboys, watching Voyager and sadly mistaking it for "reality". It seems to hint at something like this, but doesn't do a very good job of it. Their strict, nigh omnipotent and invisible, command structure is interesting though, and we hopefully learn more about these space shlubs over their next appearances.

The comedy has real heart too. At the core, the Doctor's self-improvements are not just driven by ego, but by a desire to help his friends and crewmates. There's an unexpected selflessness to it, one that melts Janeway's heart. The silly plot's manipulations of course force him to make fiction a reality as he takes command of the ship, totally unprepared for it. Though Janeway is pulling the strings, it's the Doctor's own initiative that saves the day, and we'll see later how he is rewarded with actual ECH powers. So this episode isn't just good fun, it has bearing on future Voyager continuity.

LESSON: The Borg have no nipples.

REWATCHABILITY - High: I laughed out loud. What more can I say?


I adore this episode. As you correctly noted, that scene where the EMH's ultimately altruistic motives come out and Janeway's heart melts - that rather surprisingly comes right at the end of a high comedy sequence - really help to make this more than "just" a comedy episode.

Are the Hieracrchy really supposed to represent the fans, though? I didn't pick up on that. I thought them more likely to represent some myopic bureaucrats on the production side of things, perhaps.
Siskoid said…
They probably weren't, though they an episode like this gets kind of cheeky, there's sometimes a sense that in poking fun at themselves, they also poke fun at the fans.

The egghead who's spying on Voyager becomes a fan of the Doctor by watching his adventures on a screen... that kind of thing.

But like I said, it's better to avoid that line of inquiry because it leads to a dead end, i.e. they didn't really pursue it.
Austin Gorton said…
"I laughed out loud. What more can I say?"

That you laughed out loud, in a good way :)

With Voyager, sometimes you just never know...