Data’s Day (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 11)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

Data investigates Romulan intrigue, mediates a spat between O’Brien and his bride-to-be Keiko, and gets a lesson from “the dancing doctor.”

A clever storytelling device has Data narrate a letter to Commander Maddox, the cybernetics expert who initially wanted to dissect him in s2e9 “The Measure of a Man.

As Data ruminates on friendship, we see him ending an overnight shift as bridge officer, spending the day socializing and carrying out mission-related ad-hoc duties, and finally starting another night shift.

I had have always liked scenes with O’Brien, so I love that his marriage was a focal point of this episode. I would have liked to have met Keiko before this episode, but on my first view I remember recognizing the actress, Rosalind Chao, from her role as Klinger’s wife in M*A*S*H (and AfterMASH).

It’s kind of touching hearing Data’s voice-over that he considers O’Brien to be one of his closest friends, even as he is unintentionally causing O’Brien to freak out on the day of his wedding.  And when O’Brien later apologies for his outburst (calling Data “sir” the whole time), it’s kind of adorable to watch these technical geniuses struggle with the interpersonal stuff.

A few years ago I looked up the “Crusher teaches Data to dance” scene to show it to a choreographer. McFadden, who served as choreographer for several Jim Henson movies (Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Muppets take Manhattan), is delightful in this long and charming “worth the price of admission” sequence. Spiner manages the comedy extremely well — even though it’s clearly a double doing the more complicated dance moves.

As Data narrates his otherwise ordinary day, the Enterprise picks up a Vulcan Ambassador on a mission to open negotiations with the Romulans, despite Picard’s misgivings. Since we are following Data the entire time, we only get bits and pieces of this story. There’s some serious lampshading when Data asks a very obvious bit of technobabble and Crusher replies, “that’s not standard procedure,” when of course it should be. Still, it’s nice to see the plot unfold from Data’s limited perspective. (I”m reminded of the episode of M*A*S*H filmed entirely from the perspective of a wounded soldier, or the ST:TNG s7e19 “Lower Decks,” which focuses on the experiences of the rank-and-file.)