Thursday, October 6, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy"

For all VOY’s flaws--and they are legion--the powers that be have at least some awareness of the show’s strength. For the latter seasons, it best strengths are Seven and the Doctor. We have already had our early shot at a seven episode thanks to Ronald D. Moore’s short stint as Brannon Brage’s dart board. Now it is the doctor’s turn.

Quite a turn it is as well. Doctor-centric episodes work best when Robert Picardo is allowed to play a more comedic role, perhaps with some bittersweet lessons about being human involved. Picardo may or may not like hamming it up as the villain, but the times his character has had to do so are a notch below turns like in “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy.” The episode even overcomes its sitcom like plot of the Doctor indulging in a daydream program which convinces an alien race to attack Voyager, but a Lucy and Ethel plan saves the day.

Speaking of villains, this is the first time we meet the Hierarchy--unless you count the number of time the Sontarans have faced that other Doctor across the pond. The Sontarans have that distinct look of a potato sticking out of an oversized spacesuit. So do the Hierarchy. Call it a rip off. Call it an homage. Call it whatever you want, but the similarities cannot be coincidental.

Most of the episode is the Doctor enjoying his new daydream program. It involves everything from masterfully singing opera while treating Tuvok in an emergency, to fighting off a Borg incursion to--lord help him--patting Janeway’s behind. He redeems himself ever so slightly by fantasizing that Seven secretly desires him enough to give him a chance to paint her like his French girls, if you catch my drift. What you should take away from all this is the Doctor’s daydreams have emboldened him to ask for his program to be extended beyond the EMH into an Emergency Command Hologram, too. That is a little too much for Janeway’s paranoia to handle, but she says she will consider it. Perhaps that would have been the time to grab a little cheek on the old spinster. Hindsight 20/20

A low ranking member of the Hierarchy has been watching the Doctor daydream and assumes it is real. Surprising enough, the flirting with Janeway is not a dead giveaway it is fiction instead. He zeroes in on the defeat of the Borg and decides the ship should becme a legitimate target. Unfortunately, he puts the attack plan in motion before learning he has been watching dyadreams instead. Knowing he will be demoted for his error, he contacts the Doctor to fill him in on what is about to happen. He and the Voyager crew concoct a ruse to convince the rest of the Hierarchy to back down with a conflict., thereby letting the low ranking hierarchy sabe face and the doctor save the day.

“Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy” is silly fun. Picardo plays the Doctor as a egotistical kid who innocently thinks he is the greatest thing ever, but requires confirmation from everyone around him. For another actor, that might come across as unpleasantly obnoxious, but Picardo does it well. There is not much else to the episode other than fun, but that is enough.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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