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"The Measure of a Man" -- 26 Years Later

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"The Measure of a Man," one of Star Trek: The Next Generation's most-dramatic and most-memorable episodes, debuted on February 13, 1989. Hard as it is to believe, that's 26 years ago. The episode holds up well, as its story—Picard arguing that Data is a sentient being with the accompanying freedoms and rights—is as timely as ever. The ninth episode of TNG's second season, it was scripted by Melinda M. Snodgrass and directed by Robert Scheerer.

Some additional facts and anecdotes about "The Measure of a Man":

Snodgrass, a former attorney, earned her first television writing credit with this episode.

  • "The Measure of a Man" was nominated for "Best Episodic Drama" by the Writers Guild of America Awards.
  • The Daystrom Institute, referenced for the first time ever here, is a knowing tip of the cap to the Richard Daystrom character from the TOS episode "The Ultimate Computer."
  • Does Starbase 173 look familiar? If it does that's because it was a re-use of the Regula I space lab model from The Wrath of Khan.
  • The officers' poker game makes its TNG debut in "The Measure of a Man," with Riker, Geordi, Data, O'Brien and Dr. Pulaski at the table.

  • Another debut: Clyde Kusatsu made the first of this three TNG guest appearances as Vice Admiral Nakamura in "The Measure of a Man." He returned for "Phantasms" and "All Good Things..."
  • Amanda McBroom, who played Captain Phillipa Louvois, is a singer-songwriter as well as an actor. She wrote the title song for the Bette Midler movie The Rose, winning a Golden Globe for her efforts.

  • The initial cut of "The Measure of a Man" ran 13 minutes long and so several scenes and bits were trimmed. Snodgrass had been given and held on to a VHS copy of the full episode, and that VHS helped the TNG Blu-ray team restore the episode to its full running time. That full version was released in theaters and as part of the Blu-ray release. In a StarTrek.com essay Snodgrass penned in 2012, she wrote, "I realized that many of the scenes that got cut were all small personal moments. A scene between Geordi and Data, in particular. There was also a cut made of a rather tense scene between Picard and Riker. I always thought that Riker was too passive toward Picard, and that there should have been real rivalry. So I put that in a scene. When you see the scene you’ll probably all know that the swordplay should have been done... differently.  Anyway, I presented the idea that while Riker didn’t want to harm his friend Data he also wanted to best Picard. I liked the scene and I’m glad it’s back."

 

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