After a computer malfunction, Worf, Alexander Rozhenko, and Deanna Troi are trapped in an Old West holodeck program where all the characters look like and have the same abilities as Data.
"Captain's Log, Stardate 46271.5. The Enterprise has entered orbit of Deinonychus VII but our rendezvous with supply ship Biko has been delayed by 48 hours. In the meantime, the crew are taking advantage of the delay to pursue their own projects, myself included."
In his quarters, Captain Picard records a piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with the Ressikan flute, then stops when he finds the accompanying instruments incorrect, and after he changes the clarinet into an oboe he continues his performance, but is interrupted by the Lieutenant Commanders Data and La Forge. After entering his quarters they ask him for permission to conduct an experiment, for which they will have to take the engineering computer off-line for a few hours. Their idea is to connect Data to the ship's computer systems, so he might act as an emergency backup system in case of a ship-wide systems failure. After Geordi and Data explain the theories behind their idea, Picard grants them permission and asks to see the results when they were done. Although Geordi wants to tell him more about the experiment, the Captain really wants to continue his recording and tells them to proceed.
After Geordi and Data leave his quarters Picard continues recording, but again is interrupted, this time by Doctor Beverly Crusher. She needs to talk to him about 'Something for Breakfast' , a play she is directing, because she wants Picard to perform one of the parts. Picard tells her that he does not have the time to learn the part, and is slightly disappointed when Beverly tells him he does not play one of the leading roles but only the butler. He tells her he will think about it, and after she whispers in his ear he would be wonderful, she tells him that rehearsal will start at one-thirty and leaves his quarters.
After a short sigh Picard orders the computer to resume recording, but before he can finish the first note he is interrupted again, this time by Worf. A slightly irritated Picard welcomes Worf, and after excusing his interruption, Worf explains that he wants to use the delay to stage ship wide security drills and hands the Captain a PADD with the proposed schedule. When Picard tells him that new personnel will be joining them at Starbase 118 in a few weeks, and suggests that the drills might be better done then, Worf concurs, but suggests that in that case he could use the time to do maintenance checks on the forward phaser array. Captain Picard asks him if there is a reason why he wants to do all those tasks. When Worf tells him that there is no particular reason, he is told by Picard to enjoy himself during this free time and hands back the PADD. Worf, slightly baffled, thanks him and leaves Picard's quarters.
When Worf is gone, Picard sits down and orders the computer to continue recording and to start the Mozart playback. This time he can play his flute without any interruption.
In Worf's quarters, his son, Alexander is lying on the floor while he plays with his computer. He jumps up when he hears his father entering the room and he asks what the Captain said; Worf lets himself fall into a chair and after a short silence reluctantly admits that he has been relieved from his duties for the duration of the delay. When Alexander asks him if this means that he can go with him, Worf told him he could. Alexander cheerfully announces, "Saddle up, Father!", and places a Stetson hat onto Worf's head. There seems to be no way to escape his son's idea of recreation.
Worf and Alexander are in the Deadwood holodeck program, looking down at the town of Deadwood. This program is situated on 19th century Earth in an era known as the 'Ancient West', or better known as 'The Wild West'. They are dressed up like law enforcement officers, Worf being the sheriff and Alexander his deputy.
While Worf and Alexander are walking through main street, Geordi La Forge and Data are in engineering, preparing for their experiment. After Geordi connects an optic cable on the opened right side of Data's head to access Data's auxiliary input, he admits that he still is not used to seeing Data like this, with parts of his head opened and showing his circuitry. After Geordi completes the connection, Data establishes the link-up with the Enterprise computer and they start their experiment.
Worf and Alexander, walking down the main street, are greeted by a lady of the night who whistles at them. When Alexander tells him that Mr. Barclay helped him write the program, Worf mumbles that he must have a talk with him. Their conversation is interrupted by a gunshot and both run towards the source of the sound.
In the saloon Eli Hollander is shooting at his wanted poster; he is angry with the man who drew his picture, since he feels that the artist didn't draw him ugly enough. His Mexican partner is laughing out loud, amused by Eli's reaction. After they empty their whiskey glasses they watch as Worf and Alexander enter the saloon.
Alexander explains to Worf that Eli Hollander is the bad guy, the meanest and toughest gunslinger in the west, and Worf's job is to apprehend him if he can. Worf adjusts his gun-belt and walks over to Eli's table, looks shortly at Eli's partner and tells Eli he is under arrest. As Eli stands up from his chair he is hit by Worf, before he can say anything, and hits the floor. Alexander freezes the holodeck program and tells his father that this is too easy - it needs to be harder to beat the bad guys, otherwise the program would not be any fun to play. Alexander orders the holodeck computer to change the difficulty level to four and resets the program to where he and his father entered the saloon.
As they enter the saloon again the piano player stops and other customers get out of the way; they do not want to be hit if shooting starts. Worf walks up to Eli Hollander and tells him he is under arrest. Eli, with his hand on his gun, tells Worf that that's not a good idea, then walks up to the bar and pours himself a whiskey. He challenges Worf, and even insults him by telling him he looks likes an armadillo. One of Eli's accomplices takes a chair with the intent to hit Worf in the back; he is warned by Alexander, but too late. The chair hits Worf and breaks apart, and with a swift turn Worf hits the assailant, knocking him to the floor. When Eli's partner wants to attack Worf, Worf hits him and he and falls backwards on the table, crushing it before he hits the floor. Worf looks around for more and enthusiastically tells his son he is beginning to like this program, but Eli is pointing his gun at him and tells his men to saddle up and demands Worf's money and jewelry. Eli walks up to Worf and cocks his gun, but before he can do anything someone shoots off his hat. It is a stranger who just entered the saloon — Counselor Deanna Troi, who was asked by Alexander to participate because she loves western stories.
In Main Engineering, Data is still connected to the computer while Geordi La Forge is working at a console.
Eli Hollander is in the Sheriff's jail playing cards and tells Worf and Alexander that he will not be in there for long. When his pa hears about this he will get him out. Alexander tells him that his pa is no match for Sheriff Worf but the stranger tells them otherwise. Worf asks Deanna Troi if she could be more supportive, at which she tells him to call her 'Durango' — she was just passing through and thought she'd lend a hand when she saw them in trouble. With her feet on his desk she lights a cigarillo and tells Worf that she is not a deputy, when Worf suggested that she might help. When Worf asks her if she would consider becoming a temporary deputy, she tells him it would cost him five hundred dollars. Worf then turns to his son and tells him that they will need currency; Alexander tells him he will go to the bank to make a withdrawal and leaves the Sheriff's office.
Worf asks Deanna how she knows so much about this period of Earth's history, and she tells him her father always read her stories about the ancient west. She always wanted to play the part of the mysterious stranger. Their conversation is interrupted by Annie Meyers, the owner of the "Gold Strike Saloon". After she enters the Sheriff's office, she affectionately kisses Sheriff Worf and tells him he was so brave when he faced that evil man Eli Hollander. She tells him she will make him a special dinner, complete with a candle setting of real beeswax. When Worf tells her he cannot attend her dinner because he has a prisoner, 'Durango' tells him not to worry, she will keep an eye on the prisoner while they are dining. Worf rejects Durango's offer and gets slapped in the face by Annie, who suspects there is another woman, someone from Miss Langford's House of Pleasure, although he denies it. An angry miss Annie left the Sheriff's office, slamming the door shut. When Eli sarcastically remarks that Worf has a way with women, 'Durango' can barely suppress a laugh by masking it as a cough.
Meanwhile, in the Captain's quarters, Jean-Luc Picard is listening to the musical performance he recorded earlier. Suddenly the music changes, from his flute recording to a full orchestra playing Dvorak's Slavonic Dance, Opus 46, No. 8, although the computer identifies the performance as his: Picard Mozart Trio Program One. At the same time Beverly Crusher is rehearsing 'Something for Breakfast' together with Will Riker and some other colleagues. She finds that her play is missing when Will recites a poem, the one Data wrote in honor of his cat Spot entitled Ode to Spot, instead of the text of the play. After she checks the PADD, the script of the play is still gone. Beverly takes the PADD to Main Engineering where Geordi checks its performance and finds nothing wrong with it. It seems that when Beverly tried to retrieve her script the computer accessed Data's poem instead. Data suggests that their experiment could be the source of the problems and they decide to run a level two diagnostic on the computer while Data performs a self-diagnostic.
In Deadwood, Deputy Alexander is walking on the boardwalk back from the Bank where he got the money to pay Durango. After a quick check on the contents of the money bag he is pulled from the street, gagged, and brought to a mine by one of Eli's accomplices. Here Alexander complains that he was not supposed to be kidnapped at this time, but when he orders the holodeck computer to freeze the program nothing happens; even after a second command the computer does not respond. When the Mexican asks Frank Hollander, Eli's father, if he wants the Deputy dead, Frank answers that he is more valuable alive. When Frank Hollander steps out of the dark back-end of the mine, Alexander notices that Frank Hollander looks exactly like Data, but did not behave like Data at all.
On the Enterprise Data is in his quarters trying to do some work but his cat Spot keeps on interrupting him by jumping onto his desk and walking over his computer console. After the second time, he picks up the cat and puts her on the floor; while he is doing this he tells the cat in a Texas accent "vamoose, you little varmint". Data does not notice his accent and continues working. The interface experiment seems to be influencing Data also in addition to the other computer malfunctions.
Sheriff Worf enters the "Gold Strike Saloon" and looks around for his deputy. When he does not see him he asks Miss Annie, who is behind the bar and trying to ignore him, still angry about his dinner rejection. After telling him that she has not seen his deputy she asks him what he likes to drink. Annie laughs when Worf asks for Klingon Firewine and she tells him they don't serve European drinks, like they do in Kansas City. Annie tells him she could serve him a sherry like they do at Miss Langford's.
While Miss Annie gets him a drink, Sheriff Worf hears footsteps on the boardwalk outside the saloon, and as he looks at the entrance, the saloon doors squeak and he watches a stranger walk in with two accomplices. The stranger looks exactly like Lieutenant Commander Data. At first Worf assumes that either Alexander or Troi has invited Data to participate in the program. This new character tells Worf that his name is Frank Hollander. As Worf checks him out, Frank Hollander asks him what he is looking at and Worf tells him he is not looking at him. When Worf asks him what he wants, Frank tells him he want his son back. After sipping his drink, Worf turns to Frank Hollander and tells him that his son will have to stand trial for murder. Frank Hollander tells him that they have to work something out, when Worf refuses, he asks him if he has seen his deputy. When Worf asks him where his deputy is, Frank Hollander does not answer and Worf tells him he does not negotiate with criminals and that his son will stand trial. After emptying his glass, Sheriff Worf walks past Frank Hollander to leave the saloon but Frank grabs him by the shoulder, hard enough to be quite painful for Worf. Worf, in the belief that Frank Hollander is Data, asks him what he is doing and realizes that this is not Data at all and tries to freeze the holodeck program, but to no avail. As Worf backs out of the saloon, Frank Hollander tells him not to leave and his accomplices stand ready to draw their weapons. After a short silence, Worf turns and dives through the saloon doors while bullets from Frank's accomplices follow him on his way out.
When Worf enters the Sheriff's Office, he bolts the door and Deanna Troi, who is practicing her fast draw, asks him what is wrong; he tells her that Alexander is missing and that the holodeck safeguards are not functioning. When Deanna notices that Worf has been shot in his arm, she tries to freeze the holodeck program; when this fails she tries to contact security and Captain Picard, but all attempts to contact someone outside the holodeck fail. Worf tells her that Eli's father looks like Data but is in fact not Data and that he has kidnapped Alexander.
Eli Hollander sneers at the Sheriff from his cell, that his father might has been too rough with him, and as they look at him, Worf and Deanna see that he looks like Data. Deanna wonders why the computer creates characters looking like Data and stops Worf when he tries to force Eli to tell him were his son is. When Worf walks back from the cell, she tells him that when they finish the story, the program will automatically terminate like it is designed to, despite the non-functioning safeguards. Worf agrees with her and decides to talk to the people of Deadwood and see if someone might have seen Alexander's abduction.
In the Enterprise observation lounge Captain Picard, First Officer William Riker, Geordi La Forge and Data are deliberating on how to solve the computer problems their interface experiment has created. Computer core-subroutine C47 seems to have been replaced by parts of Data's own programming and because C47 controls library computer access and the recreational programs, among other things, this is the reason that Picard heard the wrong musical part and Doctor Crusher lost her script. Data and Geordi are busy isolating the corrupted computer circuit pathways, but it will take several hours. During their conference they notice that Data used a contraction, although Data himself does not remember using it; he even speaks with a Texan accent. Picard suggests to take Data to Main Engineering and try to examine Data's behavior; when they leave the observation lounge, Data mistakes the plant near the door for a cuspidor. Picard and Riker look at each other when they see his behavior, not knowing what to think.
In the Sheriff's Office Deanna watches how Eli shuffled his cards in exactly the same way Data does and with the same speed. Her thoughts are interrupted by a knock on the door — it is Sheriff Worf. He tells her that he has found witnesses who saw the abduction of Alexander and is told by Deanna about Eli's abilities and she tells him his father, Frank Hollander, would also possess Data's abilities. Their conversation is interrupted by someone knocking on the door; it is Frank Hollander, who wants to see his son. Sheriff Worf demands his gun, whereupon Frank sneers to take a good look at his gun, he would see it again real soon.
When Frank asks Eli how they were treating him, he complains that he has not eaten since he was imprisoned. Frank tells him that the Sheriff will pay for this and asks him who the stranger is. Eli does not know, but tells his father she is mighty good with a Winchester. Frank walks up to the Sheriff and tells him he will give him one more chance to release his son. After a short silence Worf tells him he agrees. He will release Eli in exchange for his deputy. Frank Hollander tells him to meet him in two hours in front of the livery stables and he does not want to see the stranger there and asks for his gun back. After a last look at his son he leaves the Sheriff's Office.
Deanna tells Worf that in every story she has read about the ancient west, the bad guy always broke their word, and explains to him that bad guys are not concerned about honor when Worf tells her they have made a honorable agreement. This bad guy has the speed and accuracy of an android and will try to kill him.
When Riker visits Geordi and Data in Main Engineering they have discovered that part of Data's memory structure has been replaced by the computer recreational database. More specifically, parts of the 19th century American west. Geordi confirms that this is a result of their interface experiment and tells Commander Riker that a progressive memory purge to restore Data's programming is running and will take a couple of hours to finish. When Riker asks about the computer recreational database, Geordi tells him that a memory purge is also in progress and that it will take one to two hours to complete. As Riker leaves he is told by Data not to worry, they will fix the problem in time for supper.
In the Sheriff's Office, Worf and Deanna are planning how they are going to deal with Frank Hollander when they are interrupted by several knocks on the door. It is Miss Annie, who brings Worf a toolbox with old man Newsome's telegraph machine. While Worf looks through the toolbox, Deanna nods to Miss Annie, hinting Worf to thank her so she will leave the office. At 5:14 PM Worf finishes making a simple force field generator with some telegraph parts and his combadge as a power source. When Deanna asks how long the field will last he tells her not more than fifteen seconds because the field is very unstable.
A few moments later Sheriff Worf and Eli Hollander walk out of the Sheriff's Office towards the front of the saloon. When they arrive Eli is stopped by Worf and they watch as Frank Hollander and Deputy Alexander walk into the middle of the street and stop in front of the livery stable. After lighting his cigar, Frank Hollander pushes Alexander forward, and he starts walking towards his father, Sheriff Worf, who nods Eli to start walking. Unknown to Worf, Frank's accomplices are hiding beside the street, ready to use their weapons if necessary; by now they all look like Data.
As Eli passes Alexander, he lookes at him disdainfully, and just before he reaches his father Frank, he yells at him to get down and draws his gun. Worf warns Alexander and while he runs to the saloon, Worf turns on his makeshift force field, just in time. Frank empties his gun but the bullets are stopped by the force field. When it stops working, one of Frank's accomplices draws his weapon and tries to shoot Worf but he is stopped by Deanna, who was hiding under a cover on a nearby wagon. At that time Frank's Mexican accomplice, who was hiding on a roof, throws a gun towards Frank Hollander. As he catches it, Worf draws his weapon and shoots the weapon right out of Frank Hollander's hand.
Hollander knows he is beaten and challenges Worf to shoot him. Worf cocks his weapon and looks towards Alexander, who is lying under the saloon doors, watching everything. After a short silence, Worf tells Frank Hollander never to show his face again in Deadwood. Frank calls his accomplices and walks out of the street while he throws a short look at Sheriff Worf. Deanna and Worf run into the saloon where Alexander embraces his father and tells him he is fine when Worf asks if he is alright. Worf orders the holodeck computer to end the program but nothing happens. Deanna does not understand — the story should have ended by now. Worf tells the computer again to end the program. Miss Annie, who now also looks like Data, walks down the stairs and tells Worf he is as handy with a gun as with a woman's heart. An agitated Worf repeats his command to shutdown the program while Miss Annie walks towards him. The computer shuts down the program as Annie Meyers places her head on Worf's shoulder, and Worf sighs with relief as he sees the holodeck grid appearing.
After Data and Geordi La Forge manage to restore the ship's computer, Worf looks to his son, who is almost asleep in his quarters. When Alexander asks his father if he would go back to the ancient west despite what has happened, Worf tells him if the town of Deadwood would face danger again they would need a Sheriff and a Deputy. As Worf walks back to the living quarters he notices the Stetson lying on a chair and he cannot resist putting it on his head and trying out his fast draw in the mirror. This is perhaps the only moment in any of the episodes that Worf could be seen with a clear grin on his face.
The Enterprise-D then breaks orbit and "rides" off into a sunset, keeping traditions with a Western.
"You wrote this holodeck program yourself..."
"Well, Mr. Barclay helped a little."
"I must have a little talk with Mr. Barclay."
- - Worf and Alexander, in response to a whore's catcall
"If ever I find the varmint that drew this, he'll be sorry ever put pen to paper! I'm ten times uglier than that, ain't I?"
(laughs very loudly)
"Shut up! You laugh so much, it's a wonder you ain't got flies in your mouth."
(laughs even louder) "You're very funny man, señor Eli."
- - Eli Hollander and the Bandit, while Hollander shoots at a wanted poster of himself with a somewhat inaccurate picture
"I'm beginning to see the appeal of this program."
- - Worf to Alexander, after violently knocking down two villains in the saloon on the holodeck, obviously enjoying the fight.
"You are a murderer and a thief."
"A man's gotta make a livin'."
- - Worf and Eli Hollander
"What are his rights in this century? Is there a trial... or shall I execute him?"
- - Worf, to Alexander asking what he is supposed to do with Eli Hollander now that he has been arrested
"Counsellor, I would appreciate some support in this matter!"
"Durango! I'm called Durango!"
"Yes, err... Counsellor Durango, [...]"
- - Worf and Deanna Troi, playing the Mysterious Stranger on the holodeck
"You sure got a way with women, sheriff."
- - Eli Hollander, to Sheriff Worf, after Worf got slapped by Annie.
"Vamoose, you little varmint!"
- - Data, to Spot, who is disrupting Data's ability to work
"Aw! Now isn't that a shame? Poor sheriff's been injured. What's the matter? Was ma pa' 'little too rough on ya?" (laughs very gleefully)
- - Eli Hollander, looking like Data about Worf's getting shot by one of Frank Hollander's men
"You sit tight, boy. I'll have you home in time for supper."
- - Frank Hollander, with the appearance of Data to Eli Hollander, who also looks like Data, on the holodeck
"You just sit tight. We'll have this all fixed up in time for supper."
- - Data, to Cmdr. Riker about the progress in fixing the problem with subroutine C47, in the real world
"You're not just another electronic system."
"Thank you, Geordi. Nor are you just another biological organism."
- - Geordi and Data
- Picard's Ressikan flute, first seen in "The Inner Light", reappears here and once more later in this season ("Lessons").
- The backing of Alexander's game that he plays in the beginning of the episode is made from 5.25" floppy drive face plates.
- Although the holodeck portion of the episode takes place in Deadwood, South Dakota, there is a map of the Arizona Territory (now the states of Arizona and New Mexico) in Worf's office.
- The production staff had very little time to create this episode, and Patrick Stewart actually asked that all the sets be set up at night, so they could catch every portion of daylight for shooting.
- Michael Dorn's stunt double is clearly visible during one of the early holodeck scenes, just before Worf is hit with a chair by one of Hollander's henchmen.
- The title is taken from the Clint Eastwood film A Fistful of Dollars, the first in a series of what came to be called "spaghetti westerns" because the director, Sergio Leone, was Italian. The original title was "The Good, the Bad and the Klingon", a paraphrase of the title of the third "spaghetti western", The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) (Although produced by Italian production companies, most spaghetti westerns were filmed in Spain, due to that country's resemblance to the American Southwest.)
- The original story involved a greedy land baron, but Ira Steven Behr suggested that the plot instead homage Rio Bravo. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- There is an interview with Patrick Stewart about the making of this episode in the "Bold New Directions" bonus feature located on the TNG Season 6 DVD. In the interview Stewart mentions that for this episode he watched the movie Shane for inspiration regarding westerns.
- A scene from Shane was taken by Patrick Stewart and copied as the one where Alexander looks out of the bottom of the Saloon Doors.
- A scene cut for time included a homage to The Ransom of Red Chief with Alexander as the testy captive. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- This episode was the first Star Trek episode that Robert Hewitt Wolfe wrote. He later becomes a prominent writer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- When she performed as Durango a.k.a. the Mysterious Stranger, Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) initially tried to blow rings of the smoke, but Michael Dorn (Worf) cut her off and said: "Stop it! Don't be funnier than me, this is my show."
- Patrick Stewart, out of his excitement to direct this episode, got a sunburn after forgetting to put on sunblock while shooting the outdoor scenes.
- In the "Special Crew Profile of Lt. Commander Data" on the same set of discs Brent Spiner mentions that, although he enjoyed playing all the villains in this episode, Data was "homely" as the female bartender he played.
- This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 67, 17 May 1993.
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - Data Box: 6 November 1995.
- As part of the TNG Season 6 DVD collection.
Links and References
- Brian Bonsall as Alexander Rozhenko
- John Pyper-Ferguson as Eli Hollander
- Joy Garrett as Annie Meyers
- Jorge Cervera, Jr. as Mexican Bandito
- Carl David Burks as Ensign Russell
- Nick Dimitri as a henchman
- Christie Haydon as a command division ensign
- Michael Moorhead as a science division ensign
- Unknown performers as
Uncredited Stunt Doubles
19th century; accent; American; Ancient West; armadillo; bank; Barclay, Reginald; beefsteak; beeswax; Biko, USS; Boseman; bullet; candle; clarinet; combadge; Deadwood; Deinonychus VII; deputy; Durango; duty roster; Dvorak, Anton; energy cell; European; feline supplement 127; firewine; fly; Gallagher, James; General Mercantile Company; Gold Strike Saloon; gooseberry cobbler; gravedigger; holo-programs; holodeck safeguards; Kansas City; level 2 diagnostic; livery stable; Miss Langford's House of Pleasure; money; Mozart; neural net; Template:ShipClass; oboe; Ode to Spot; Newsome; PADD; phaser array; Picard Mozart trio; pipe; playing cards; poker; positronic subprocessor; progressive memory purge; rain barrel; Rapid City; recreational database; Ressikan flute; rocking chair; sheriff; sherry; shotgun; Slavonic Dances, The; Something for Breakfast; South Dakota; Starbase 118; Subroutine C-47; sunflower; telegraph machine; Troi, Ian Andrew; US marshal; Western; Winchester
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"The Quality of Life"