Star Trek TNG: 10 Episode Details You Missed In “The Measure Of A Man”
Ask most Star Trek: The Next Generation fans what their favorite episodes are, and "Measure Of A Man" is sure to be on the list. This mastercraft in science fiction drama posed one of the most fundamentally important questions for humanity to answer. What began as a simple debate about Commander Data's personal rights and freedoms quickly blossomed into a far greater, and more troubling prospect.
While the episode has reached critical acclaim and withstood the test of time without the least bit of waver, there are many things fans don't know about it. Here's 10 key details about "Measure Of A Man" that you probably missed.
10 First-Hand Experience
"Measure Of A Man" was crafted from the talented mind of writer Melinda Snodgrass. It was her first television writing credit, and she knocked it out of the park by establishing a 24th-century courtroom drama setting within the Star Trek universe, which turned into a massive fan favorite.
Although the episode takes heavy liberties with legal precedent (and outright fabricates others), Snodgrass drew on her own legal experience as a lawyer, while giving it just the right amount of dramatic flair necessary to sell a morality tale.
9 Gene Roddenberry Almost Axed The Episode
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry didn't want to produce the episode because he believed it clashed with the idealism of the franchise. According to Snodgrass, Roddenberry told her that if anyone had criminal intentions in the 24th century, their "minds would be made right," which she found off-putting.
She counter-argued that with so many different interpretations of law across multiple alien worlds, the need for lawyers would increase, rather than dissipate. In the end, she won the argument in a true lawyer fashion.
8 The Set
Upon first glance, the courtroom where the legal battle takes place for Data's rights and freedoms appears to be a uniquely new construction. However, a little redressing was enough to fool everyone.
In truth, the scenes take place on the Battle Bridge set which was used only a handful of times throughout the entire series. It also featured the same galactic map seen in the season one episode "Conspiracy."
7 The Wrath Of Khan Connection
The episode takes place aboard Starbase 173 which was set up near the Romulan Neutral Zone. The legal battle also takes place onboard the Starbase under the direction of Phillipa Louvois.
Eagle-eyed Star Trek fans will recognize the model used for Starbase 173 as the same one used for space station Regula 1 in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. It's doubtful that the two were meant to share the same design and is more obviously a model swap.
6 The Poker Introduction
The episode features a number of plot arcs that help to establish Commander Data's character far beyond what had been seen in the previous season. A number of plot elements regarding Data would be carried over to later episodes, including his "off switch."
It also marks the first time we see the Enterprise officers playing poker. While later episodes saw Data becoming quite masterful at the game, he gets his clock cleaned by Riker on his first go. This defeat immediately forces the viewer to question whether Data really had what it took to be truly sentient.
5 The Borg Connection
The first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation left several dangling plot threads in the air which hinted at an ominous and mysterious new threat facing the Federation. It focused largely on reports of Federation bases disappearing along the Neutral Zone, which was also confirmed by the Romulans.
Admiral Nakamura reveals that Starbase 173 was established in Sector 23 as a response to these mysterious threats. It would later be confirmed that the Borg were the guilty party.
4 The Maddox Party Crash
Fans of the episode may not realize that there's an Extended Edition version kicking around on the official Blu-Ray releases, and it's every bit as spectacular as one would expect. One extended scene includes Data's farewell party, which had an end section tacked on for more effect.
In this scene, Bruce Maddox crashes the party in Ten Forward and insults Data openly in a display of frustration over his unwillingness to comply. This leads several crew members to become antagonistic toward him before Riker steps in and physically removes him.
3 The Fencing Allegory
The Extended Edition also features a scene that pits Riker and Picard against each other in a way they never originally intended. While blowing off some steam by practicing a little fencing, Riker enters and discusses the upcoming trial in detail.
When Riker informs Picard that he's going to do everything in his power to win the case against Data, Picard launches into a fencing flurry, scoring a hit on his opponent before turning to him and muttering, "So am I." This allegorical reference focuses on the nature of the adversarial system which makes up the basis for our judicial law.
2 Data's Relationship With Bruce Maddox
Bruce Maddox begins his relationship with Data on an antagonistic note, arguing his very right to personal freedoms and liberties, not to mention his sentience. The ensuing courtroom battle humbles Maddox to the point where he gains a newfound respect for Data.
This relationship would grow into a personal friendship between the two, with Data making reference to Bruce Maddox later in the series. Maddox would also come to B-4's aid following the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, arguing for the same rights he had previously stood against. He was also part of a project to develop further Dr. Soong's android technology before a devastating attack led the Federation to ban all synthetics.
1 Its Award Nomination
Back in the day, it was rare for any sci-fi or fantasy property to get any sort of kudos from awards organizations, but Star Trek: TNG was different. "Measure Of A Man" was written and shot so well that it ended up getting nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Best Episodic Drama.
While it didn't win, the nomination was a huge bow in the direction of a series that many still saw as a silly kid's science fiction show. It also signaled the rise in smartly crafted, beautifully written episodes that would go on to make the show such a smashing success.