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Taking Measure of "The Measure of a Man"

Celebrating TNG's "The Measure of a Man," which aired 30 years ago today

"The Measure of a Man"

One of Star Trek: The Next Generation's most memorable and most dramatic episodes, “The Measure of a Man,” premiered on February 13, 1989. Thirty years on, the hour holds up well, as its story -- Picard arguing that Data is a sentient being with the accompanying freedoms and rights -- remains as timely as ever. The ninth episode of TNG's second season, it was scripted by Melinda M. Snodgrass and directed by Robert Scheerer.

Let’s touch on some anecdotes and additional facts about "The Measure of a Man":

The Daystrom Connection

Referenced for the first time ever here, the Daystrom Institute is a sweet tip of the cap to the Richard Daystrom character from the TOS episode "The Ultimate Computer."

Coming Up Aces

In another first, the officers' poker game debuted in "The Measure of a Man," with Geordi, Riker, Data, O'Brien and Dr. Pulaski at the table.

Clyde Abides

Yet another first: 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..."

Regula Redux

There’s a reason why Starbase 173 might look familiar to eagle-eyed fans. And that's because it was a re-use of the Regula I space lab model from The Wrath of Khan.

The Wild Card

Snodgrass, a former attorney, earned her first television writing credit with “The Measure of a Man." The episode was nominated as Best Episodic Drama by the Writers Guild of America Awards. Snodgrass, who is best known as an author, is currently on the writing staff of the upcoming show, Wild Cards.

The Unkindest Cut

When the first "Measure of a Man" cut ran 13 minutes long, several scenes and bits were trimmed. Snodgrass had been given and held on to a VHS copy of the entire episode, and that VHS helped the TNG Blu-ray team restore the episode to its full running time. That version was released in theaters and as part of the Blu-ray release. In a essay Snodgrass penned in 2012, she wrote, "I realized many of the scenes cut were 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."