Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 13: The Big Goodbye (VH... Cover Art

Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 13: The Big Goodbye (VHS)

Patrick Stewart (actor), Jonathan Frakes (actor) and Joseph L. Scanlan (director)

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When Captain Picard seeks some much needed recreation in the Enterprise's newly revamped holodeck, he decides to take a fantasy vacation as his favorite fictional private eye, Dixon Hill, a hard-boiled, trench-coated defender of WWII-era San Francisco. Picard's thrilling account of the computer-generated verisimilitude persuades a few shipmates to join him: Commander Data, Dr. Crusher, and some guy you've never heard of. Guess who gets shot when the holodeck malfunctions and its artificial creations turn very real and very deadly? The cast plays up to the genial humor of the witty story, and guest star Lawrence Tierney is a hoot as a Sidney Greenstreet-type villain philosophically intrigued by the notion that he doesn't truly exist. All that's missing is the playfulness that could have sent this over the top. Like many Next Generation episodes made before the show found its own voice and tone with the introduction of the Borg, "The Big Goodbye" suffers in comparison with the original Trek. One looks back fondly to Kirk and Spock's similar brush with '30s-style gangsters ("A Piece of the Action"), which had a goofy, go-for-broke sense of the situation's absurdity which this show lacks. And for all Picard's going on about the stunning reality of the simulated San Francisco, this is a disappointingly set-bound episode, cramped and confined when it most needs to break out of its story and breathe freely. --Bruce Reid

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