(written from a Production point of view)
The Doctor falls in love with a Vidiian patient whose life he saved. Meanwhile, Tom Paris' insubordination starts to go out of control.
Lieutenant Tom Paris arrives late to his duty shift on the bridge and provides several obviously false excuses. Commander Chakotay is irritated by Paris' tardiness and doesn't believe any of his excuses, informally reprimanding him for being late for the third time in a week. Before anything more can happen, Lieutenant Tuvok announces that the USS Voyager has received a subspace distress call from a small, unarmed spacecraft. The weak lifesigns aboard the vessel indicate a Vidiian female. Captain Kathryn Janeway orders Ensign Harry Kim to respond to the hail but the distressed ship does not respond. Because there are no other Vidiian ships in the sector, Janeway overrules Paris' suggestion that they may be falling into a trap and decides to have the woman beamed directly into sickbay.
In sickbay, Kes and The Doctor find an extremely complex bio-neural implant in the Vidiian's parietal lobe. The Doctor's scans find that the device is storing her synaptic patterns and processing her neuroelectric impulses: essentially, she has a sophisticated cortical stimulator built into her body. While the device appears to be functioning normally, the nerve cells to which it connects are dying, severely reducing its function. To avoid losing their patient, The Doctor decides to transfer the synaptic patterns stored in the device into the holobuffer. He then creates, piece by piece, a holographic body for her.
Chakotay reports that the ship's navigational logs indicate that the patient was en route to a remote Vidiian colony about ten light years from Voyager's present location which will take around three weeks to reach. Janeway agrees that, as long as she is sure they're safe from any possible Vidiian attack, they should return her to her people. Chakotay then turns the conversation to the behavior of Paris. Although crew discipline is his responsibility as first officer, he wishes to discuss the problem with Janeway before taking action. While she shares his concerns, Janeway leaves Chakotay in charge of disciplining Paris.
As the patient's synaptic patterns stabilize, The Doctor prepares to transfer her mind into the holographic body he has created for her while her physical body is in stasis. When she wakes up, The Doctor explains the procedure and gives her a mirror so she can see her healthy-looking self. The patient starts crying for joy, overwhelmed at the idea of seeing herself healthy once more. She reveals that she was first diagnosed with the Phage at seven years old and started receiving replacement tissue and organs shortly afterward. She is also fascinated by the fact that The Doctor is a hologram himself. She introduces herself as Danara Pel, a hematologist who had been helping treat an outbreak of the Phage on Fina Prime and was on the way back to her home colony when her disease worsened.
They both begin working on healing Pel's body, as her mind cannot survive in the computer for more than a week. Pel sees her physical body on the biobed and becomes briefly distracted before helping The Doctor.
The Doctor discusses with B'Elanna Torres his plans to extract a segment of her parietal lobe to transplant into Pel. Because her Klingon DNA is highly resistant to the Phage and compatible with Vidiian DNA, she is a perfect donor. However, Torres has reservations about the procedure after what the Vidiians had done to her previously. He begs her to reconsider and while they are arguing, Pel enters The Doctor's office, expressing her sympathy for Torres and what she went through. She asks for Torres' understanding, explaining that her species has been dying of the Phage for centuries and that in their quest to find a cure, their scientists and politicians have forgotten to have compassion for the people they seek help from. However, she is willing to accept her fate should Torres choose not to undergo the procedure. Taken aback, Torres chooses to help Pel.
After they perform the surgery, The Doctor realizes that now all they have to do is wait a few days to see whether the procedure was successful. He suggests shutting Pel's program down temporarily, as that would slow the degradation of her neural pathways in Voyager's computer. Pel, however, is too energetic to want to be shut down: she wants to tour the ship. Since that is not an option, The Doctor takes her to Chez Sandrine on the holodeck instead. There, they engage in conversation and at some point, The Doctor manages to make her laugh about his greatest medical feat: curing Neelix from an acute case of hiccups. Pel tells him how much she appreciates his sense of humor, especially because she hasn't had anything to laugh about in a very long time. She then chooses to name The Doctor "Shmullus" after her uncle, who also used to make her laugh.
The pair return to sickbay and experience a few awkward moments of silence, before The Doctor wishes her good night and reluctantly deactivates her program.
In the mess hall, Chakotay approaches Paris and asks if anything is bothering him, pointing out his tardiness and general lack of enthusiasm on the job lately. Paris laughs mockingly at Chakotay's sudden concern for his feelings, saying that his problem is in fact Chakotay himself. He expresses his frustration over Chakotay's unwillingness to let him take initiative and be creative once in a while. He states that as a matter of fact he is not the only one who has a problem with how Chakotay runs things and sardonically asks loudly to be excused. As he leaves, everyone in the mess hall – including Michael Jonas – watches him.
Lorrum, Jonas' Kazon-Nistrim contact onboard Culluh's ship, is very interested to hear of the unrest among the Voyager crew. He praises Jonas and then orders him to sabotage Voyager's warp coils. However, Jonas refuses to damage Voyager in any way and tells Lorrum that either Culluh or Seska would need to contact him if either of them has a problem with that. He terminates the transmission.
In sickbay, The Doctor is busy running a level 2 self-diagnostic on himself to assess his situation since Pel came aboard. While he thinks there is a malfunction in his tactile acuity subroutine, Kes suggests that perhaps he might be attracted to Pel and that he in fact should not try to fix anything. The Doctor thinks this is impossible, as he isn't programmed to handle romance, but Kes points out that since his programming is adaptive, everything – including romantic feelings – is possible. Nervous about what is happening to him, The Doctor describes what he feels and experiences around Pel and says that he doesn't want his program to adapt in that manner right now. He finds his thoughts consumed by her in her absence and unsettled in her presence: quite disconcerting feelings for one so used to being in total control. After a few moments of deliberation, he asks Kes how to go about exploring a romantic relationship. Kes recommends forthrightness and simply telling Pel how he feels.
While performing maintenance surgery on Pel's body, The Doctor decides to take Kes' advice to heart and blurts out to Pel, quite matter-of-factly, of his attraction to her and his desire to enter a romantic relationship. Pel and Kes are both dumbstruck at The Doctor's approach. Pel is speechless and tells him that she'd prefer to keep their relationship professional.
In Sandrine's, a very depressed Doctor runs into Paris and decides to ask him for advice on how to recover from romantic rejection, citing doctor-patient confidentiality when Paris pries for details. Paris recalls a particularly bad breakup he endured from a woman named Susie Crabtree in his first year at Starfleet Academy – which almost cost him his grade in stellar cartography. But, he reassures The Doctor that while the first love is always the hardest to get over, things tend to get better over time. However, much to The Doctor's horror, Paris reveals that you actually never completely get over someone you loved and that even years later the most trivial things can remind you of that person and make you feel just as bad and torn up inside as the day they said they never wanted to see you again. Noticing the distressed look on The Doctor's face, Paris finally realizes that The Doctor is speaking about himself and decides to give him concrete advice. After finding out a little more about the situation, Paris tells The Doctor that his approach probably scared Pel off altogether and suggests that he take her someplace special. The Doctor expresses reservations about what to do but Paris has an idea.
Meanwhile, in sickbay, Pel is sitting on a biobed nervously waiting for The Doctor. While waiting, she speaks with Kes about her feelings for The Doctor and reveals that the awkwardness and bluntness with which The Doctor confessed his feelings for her was the reason she did not admit to her feelings for him.
The Doctor waits for Pel in a holographic 1957 Chevrolet convertible on an equally holographic Mars. After a few awkward moments and explanations, he gives her a bouquet of red roses, a box of chocolates and a teddy bear and turns on the car's radio. He offers to try dancing, as he's just downloaded the subroutine that would allow him to do so, but she prefers just sitting for a while and stargazing. The Doctor points out Earth and several other astronomical highlights in the sky. They kiss and embrace facing the stars.
On the bridge, Paris is late again. Chakotay says it's all right, as they don't need him. He tells him that Grimes will take Paris' place at conn for the shift and every shift thereafter until Paris starts taking his job more seriously. Captain Janeway supports the decision all the way but stays quiet. As Chakotay starts guiding him off the bridge, Paris shoves him roughly to the floor and Janeway has Lieutenant Tuvok take Paris to the brig.
Seska contacts Jonas in his quarters to give him advice on how to implement his sabotage of the warp coils. Because she doesn't want to raise her child with the Kazon, she fully intends to take Voyager and that means having Jonas sabotage it. She begins to detail the plan, saying that they will meet Voyager at a planet called Hemikek IV.
Meanwhile, The Doctor is feeling much more comfortable around Pel and hopes their relationship will continue after they perform the synaptic transfer. However, before the procedure begins, they discover that Pel's brain is rejecting the tissue graft and that they cannot continue the transfer.
The Doctor finds elevated levels of nytoxinol in Pel's body. When he finds the hypospray with which Pel was injected to contain cervaline as it was supposed to, he concludes that somebody must have deliberately poisoned Pel. Before he can call for Tuvok however, Pel reveals that she herself administered the nytoxinol, knowing it would be fatal.
She states that she does not wish to be in that body again. She tells him that she would prefer to live a few healthy days with The Doctor, knowing they would be her last, than to spend the rest of her natural life in her Phage-infected body. She is sick of prolonging people's suffering, which is all she can do and all she feels The Doctor is doing for her by making her go through with the transfer. She says in her adult life before Voyager, she was "just a disease" but has become more than that thanks to him. She fears that he will stop loving her when she is sick again. But The Doctor argues that he would love her, no matter what her condition was. Pel seems convinced and at peace and they meet in Sandrine's. As she emerges from the shadows, she reveals herself back in her real, non-holographic body, and she and The Doctor embrace for a final waltz before she leaves for her home.
- "Chief Medical Officer's log, supplemental. Test results indicate that the holographic body is functioning normally. The patient's synaptic patterns appear to be stable, so I'm now ready to begin transferring her cognitive and motor processes."
- "Doctor's personal log, stardate 49504.3. Inaugural entry. Kes and Mister Paris have conspired to get Denara and me alone together in a place Paris considers romantic. I've never felt more... uneasy."
- "Doctor's personal log, stardate 49507.2.The more time I spend with Denara, the more my programming continues to adapt. I look forward to perfecting my romantic skills once we've completed the synaptic transfer."
"I never thought I'd see myself again."
- - Danara Pel
"You're a computer simulation?"
"An extremely sophisticated computer simulation."
- - Danara Pel and The Doctor
"The procedure is quite simple – I'll drill an opening into your skull precisely two millimeters in diameter.."
"It doesn't sound simple to me – I still have nightmares about what those people did to me! And now, you want to crack open my head, cut out a piece of my brain, and give it to her?!"
- - The Doctor and B'Elanna Torres
"Sometimes I think my people are so focused on trying to save lives, we don't know how to live anymore."
- - Danara Pel
"Romance is not a malfunction."
- - Kes
"Where are we exactly?"
"On a planet called Mars inside a primitive, land-based vehicle. It's called a '57 Chevy. Mr. Paris is quite an automobile aficionado; this is his program."
"What is it that we're supposed to be doing?"
"I believe it's called... parking."
- - Danara Pel and Dr. "Shmullus"
"By the way, Denara, I've been meaning to tell you..."
"I'm romantically attracted to you and wanted to know if you felt the same way."
- - The Doctor and Danara Pel
- - The Doctor to Danara Pel
"If you've got a problem, I'd like to know what it is."
"Yeah, I've got a problem, my problem is you."
- - Chakotay and Tom Paris
"Mr. Paris, I assume you've had a great deal of experience being rejected by women."
"Oh, thanks a lot, Doc."
- - The Doctor and Tom Paris
"Get your hands off me!"
- - Tom Paris, to Chakotay
"I have no intention of raising my child on a Kazon ship! One way or another, I am going to take Voyager, so you can either help me or suffer along with Janeway and the others!"
- - Seska
"Denara, please… don't die."
- - The Doctor
Story and production
- This episode of Star Trek: Voyager had the working titles "Untitled Doctor" and "Magnetism". 
- In writing this episode, executive story editor Kenneth Biller wanted to juxtapose The Doctor's professionalism with the character having an early encounter with romantic feelings. "I thought it would be interesting to do a story about The Doctor falling in love," Biller said. "Here's a guy who is totally and completely sophisticated in his real life, he's a completely competent scientist, totally efficient and confident, but he has no experience in affairs of the heart. So wouldn't it be funny and fun and hopefully a little poignant to see this guy essentially become a teenager. That's sort of what the parking is about. It's about those awkward moments we've all gone through when we're discovering love for the first time." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 101)
- Voyager's writing staff were originally unsure of what direction to take this episode's script. "There was an enormous amount of contention about that script," executive producer Jeri Taylor recalled. "Everybody had a different idea about what to do with it."
- This episode's first draft script was submitted on 20 November 1995. At that point, the episode was known by its working title of "Untitled Doctor". The outing was renamed "Lifesigns" by the time the second draft of its teleplay was submitted, on 4 December 1995. The eventually-used title is apparently a double-entendre, referencing both the medical procedure used on Pel, and the fact that The Doctor finally recognizes his own life.
- Multiple members of the series' writing staff were involved in drafting the teleplay. Jeri Taylor remembered, "Ken [Biller] wrote one draft that he felt very strongly about, and Michael [Piller] and I really felt it should go a different way, and he rewrote it and ultimately felt much better about it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) In fact, fellow executive producer Michael Piller cited this episode (along with "Meld" and "Death Wish") as one of a few from Voyager's second season whose development involved a great deal of enjoyment. "Those shows were more fun to write for me than the big space battle," he said, "because I like character interaction. I like what the characters are doing to themselves and there are personal stakes involved and character conflicts involved." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 79)
- One of the areas of uncertainty was how to conclude the story. "The ending was changed I don't know how many times," Jeri Taylor admitted. "We were trying to find something that felt dramatically satisfying yet sent out the kind of message that we wanted to be sending, that would be honest and yet not depressing. If you get into people dying, it's a very, very tricky area. There was an ending in which she opted to stay as a holographic character and die within days because she'd rather have lived like that, whole and beautiful, and only have a few more days, than go back to her diseased body. But we really felt that would be an irresponsible message to send. Ultimately, I think the message we were sending was that even people who are ill deserve to be loved and not to be judged on the basis of their illness." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- It was intended by the writers (at least by the time of Voyager's fourth season) that – in the Mars holodeck program, shortly after they kiss – The Doctor and Danara Pel would have an unseen sexual experience together, an encounter that constituted the first time that The Doctor has sexual relations. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 85)
- The subplot of this episode, involving Paris' disobedience, was not one that director Cliff Bole focused on, concentrating more on The Doctor's storyline. "That whole subplot led to two or three other stories," Bole later observed. "I was never really on top of it, because they were writing and developing it as we went. I was more concerned with the A-story." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15)
- The final draft of the installment's script was submitted on 13 December 1995. 
- Visual effects were utilized in the sequence wherein The Doctor and Danara Pel stargaze from a convertible on Mars. Regarding this scene, Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry explained, "The shot consists of a crane shot on set, done with a partial set. And the real set ends; there's like a little berm around where the car is parked. And then beyond that, we put a piece of blue screen, so that we could isolate the real set from where we were gonna add new material." (VOY Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2")
- Another sequence for which visual effects were required was the one in which The Doctor, layer by layer, holographically recreates Danara Pel's appearance in such a way as to essentially remove the physical effects of the Phage. Dan Curry recalled, "We had computer-generated, digital, 3D models of those various stages and then just did an effective morphing from one to the other to create the illusion that she was being holographically constructed on The Doctor's table there. There's stock software out there of three-dimensional body parts that can be taken apart, and I think they're usually for educational purposes but we use a lot of that stuff. In another life, I used to do biomedical illustrations so sometimes, if we have something specific like that, I'll just paint it." (VOY Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2")
- The maquette of a building complex in the background of the Mars sequence was mostly created with reused items, including small middle building that were actually sewage strainers, heavily reused on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dan Curry remembered, "Part of the background image I did in Photoshop and then part of it was I composited, in Photoshop, elements of freehand drawn structures and miniature structures. And some of the miniature structures were things that we use on the set a lot for different full-size, high-tech-looking objects. But I had noticed one that kind of looked like a building, so we put diffusion material inside this plastic thing [...] and used that for a large housing complex that you see in the distance, in that shot." (VOY Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2") Scenic Artist Doug Drexler commented, "When visual effects was out of dough, they knew they could count on us to kludge something together out of found objects and dumpster leavings. Dan Curry approached Mike Okuda about us bashing together a quickie model of a section of Utopia Planitia for the Voyager episode 'Lifesigns'. 'It's gonna be tiny, and on the horizon,' explained Dan, 'so don't stress over it too much.' Is he kidding? Anthony and I put this together in two days, and had a lot of fun along the way." The "Anthony", Drexler referred to was Anthony Fredickson, who, though officially a scenic artist on Okuda's staff, regularly pitched in on such occasions, earning him the nickname "King of Kludge" among his colleagues. Drexler himself was in effect "illegally" working on the maquette, since he, as Deep Space Nine production staffer at the time, was formally and legally forbidden to do "cross-over" work on any of the other Star Trek productions. Fredricson on the other hand, was officially assigned to Voyager, after Star Trek: The Next Generation had wrapped. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 325) Drexler's and Fredrickson's maquette was featured in the TNG Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Inside the Star Trek Archives".
- In the original broadcast version, as well as the VHS release of this episode, the song playing on the radio while The Doctor and Pel are in the holographic simulation of Mars is "I Only Have Eyes for You" recorded by The Flamingos. However, the VOY Season 2 DVD, the song was overdubbed with The Platters version of "My Prayer".  As of January 2020, the Netflix stream of the episode included the original audio from "I Only Have Eyes for You", but the subtitles displayed at various points: "(The Platters "My Player" plays)", "♪ My prayer...♪", "♪ With the world far away...♪", " Tonight... " and " While our heart are aglow... ". However, as soon as Pleiades was mentioned, the subtitled lyrics switch to those for "I Only Have Eyes For You" begin at " ...high " and continue in sync with what is heard playing over the radio as they kiss through the end of the scene.
- Moments after citing this installment (in common with "Meld") as one of a couple of "money savers," Michael Piller explained, "We saved huge amounts of money on those and it's because they were contained." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 79)
- Actress Susan Diol was chosen to play Danara Pel for this episode, following a difficult casting process. Cliff Bole explained, "We had trouble finding the right person to play Denara. Then, we got Susan, and she was great." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15) Robert Picardo was also pleased with the actress' performance here. He commented, "Susan Diol is a delightful lady, and she miraculously side-stepped all of the pitfalls of that role, which were abject pity." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 10)
- The plot regarding The Doctor's romance with Danara Pel gave Robert Picardo an opportunity to act outside of his usual confines, essentially stopping him from becoming underused. "The A-story [...] was a time for Robert Picardo to get away from the confines of Sickbay," Cliff Bole stated. "His character was growing stale; he couldn't do anything or go anywhere. He is such a competent actor." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15) After citing this installment (together with Season 1's "Heroes and Demons") as one of his two best episodes, Robert Picardo – in agreement with Bole – went on to say that this episode (in common with "Heroes and Demons") was "the perfect [example] of how interesting it can be to put The Doctor in a position he's not designed for. So, he had to discover how to function within the demands of an unfamiliar situation." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 10) Picardo also cited this episode as the best Season 2 episode for his character, with a close second being "Projections". Contrasting this installment with "Projections", he remarked, "I think probably as far as stretching the character and giving me more things to do as an actor, probably 'Lifesigns' was the more challenging." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 95) Picardo also admitted, "I like the way it turned out [....] It was pretty good." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 16)
- Although Jeri Taylor believed that the moral of this episode related to ill people, Robert Picardo took a different meaning from the installment, his interpretation being less about illness and more about external beauty. Of The Doctor's relationship with Danara Pel, Picardo said, "He falls in love with the real her, the horrifyingly deformed her, not this beautiful, radiant holographic being that is trapped inside her. So there are [...] analogies for life in The Doctor's discoveries – in that particular case, learning to love the inner person and not to be distracted in love by someone's physical exterior." (VOY Season 2 DVD)
- Robert Picardo was unaware, during this episode's production, that the writers intended for The Doctor to have an unseen sexual experience with Danara Pel in the holographic Martian environment. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 85) Even despite this degree of unawareness, the amount of romance here initially surprised Picardo. "It was pretty romantic for Star Trek, but that was an unusual one–they fooled me," Picardo conceded. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 16)
- One particular line of dialogue from this episode was especially challenging for Robert Picardo. Following his work on the second season, he recalled, "The hardest line I've ever had to deliver as an actor was, 'Before you, I was just a collection of protons held together by a force field....' [sic] and it went on from there." Picardo clarified that what we found especially difficult about this line was "to do it with a dewy gleam in your eyes." (Starlog, issue #231, p. 50) However, even this recitation of the line is faulty; the actual dialogue is, "Before you, I was just a projection of photons, held together by force fields."
Continuity and trivia
- This episode was produced after "Investigations" and has Stardates that are numerically after a Stardate in that episode. However, this episode is otherwise clearly set before "Investigations" and was duly aired before it.
- This episode depicts Voyager's third encounter with the Vidiians, after the first season episodes "Phage" and "Faces". The events of the latter episode are referenced in this episode, when Pel and B'Elanna Torres discuss the experiments that are done on B'Elanna.
- This is the first and only episode in which we see what a healthy Vidiian looks like.
- After being introduced in this episode, the character of Danara Pel appears in the later second season episode "Resolutions". Although this episode's script spells her name as "Denara", the script of "Resolutions" spells her name as "Danara", a spelling that is also used in the Star Trek Encyclopedia (? ed., p. ?). (Star Trek: Voyager Companion)
- When making an excuse for being late to his shift, Paris jokes that he thinks he may have missed his calling in medicine. This foreshadows his later duty as assistant to The Doctor, as well as referencing Paris' earlier assignment as field medic prior to Kes taking that role.
- This is the fifth episode in which The Doctor leaves sickbay, after "Heroes and Demons", "Projections", "Twisted", and "Persistence of Vision". In this episode he visits the holodeck.
- The Doctor states in this episode that he was activated on star date 48308. This is consistent with his first appearance in the pilot episode "Caretaker", where he is activated just over 3 days before Captain Janeway makes a log entry for star date 48315.6. His statement in this episode confirms that he was never activated before that appearance.
- The Doctor mentions in this episode that Tom Paris is an automobile aficionado. This is first established in the episode "The 37s".
- Denara's ultimate decision is essentially opposite to the one chosen in "The Cage" by Vina, who chose to continue living her illusion of beauty on Talos IV, rather than return to her own people in her now-disfigured state, a decision Captain Pike does not seem to question.
- The Doctor mentions a procedure by Leonard McCoy as The Doctor is discussing the neural implant on Pel's body with Pel.
- This episode continues the story of The Doctor's quest to choose a name, which began with his request for a name at the end of "Eye of the Needle". In this episode, Danara Pel gives him the name Shmullus. She also uses that name to refer to The Doctor in "Resolutions". However, the Doctor does not adopt that name outside of these episodes.
- Tom Paris’ indiscipline continues in this episode, as does Michael Jonas’ treachery. These two subplots are connected, as revealed in the next episode, "Investigations", where this story arc is resolved.
- The ongoing story of Ensign Wildman’s pregnancy is referenced twice in this episode, when Paris lies about having delivered the baby, and when Kes lists who has recently been in sickbay.
- Seska re-appears in this episode to talk to the traitor Michael Jonas. She last appeared in "Alliances".
The Doctor's romantic experience
- The Doctor claims in this episode that “romance is not part of my programming”. However, in the first season episode "Heroes and Demons", The Doctor appears to have a romantic moment with the holographic character Freya, including a kiss.
- The writers intended for The Doctor's romance with Danara Pel here to be the subject of an unspecific statement, in the Season 4 episode "Message in a Bottle", about The Doctor having had "sexual relations" with someone (for which he had made a necessary "addition" to his program). (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 85)
- Robert Picardo believed that an episode such as this, with an artificial lifeform having a romance, would not be possible with the character of Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. "You could never have had a story like 'Lifesigns' with Data," Picardo proclaimed, "because his technology isn't advanced enough for that. He didn't have emotions until Star Trek Generations. But because I'm the next generation of technology, if you will forgive the terrible pun, I get to break some familiar ground–as well as a great deal of new ground–because I have an emotional response." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, pp. 16-17) Although he is indeed incapable of emotions on a long-term basis until Star Trek Generations, Data has a sexual relationship as early as the first season episode "The Naked Now" (with Natasha Yar) and attempts a romantic relationship in the fourth season's "In Theory" (with Jenna D'Sora).
Reception and aftermath
- Jeri Taylor cited this as being among the best episodes of Voyager's first two seasons. She further remarked, "'Lifesigns,' the story in which The Doctor fell in love, was classic Star Trek storytelling." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 10) However, Taylor also ultimately thought this episode was let down by its subplot, involving the recurring plot threads; she was deeply concerned about these in general. Speaking of this particular episode, Taylor said, "That's the one that would have been classic if it didn't have [those] stupid scene[s] with Paris in it. It would have been one of those little jewels, but it will be forever tainted." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) She also remarked, "'Lifesigns', which I think might have emerged as one of those little classics, is forever sullied by the presence of some scenes that are just odd and out of place, and if you simply look at that episode alone, it's like what's going on here? It just poisoned that episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 18)
- Ken Biller felt similarly about this installment. "I thought that was a moving show," he said of "Lifesigns", "though it was marred by a couple of superfluous scenes that were part of this ridiculous nine-episode arc we had to do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18) Referring indirectly to the storyline involving The Doctor and Pel, Biller commented, "We sort of closed that off in twelve beats and then the action story that is continuing comes off a little baffling. You're watching this show about the doctor and this woman and then suddenly after the third commercial you come back and there are two long scenes of Paris and Chakotay going at it in the mess hall. Suddenly you're cutting to this guy sending a message to the Kazon. You almost feel as if the [network] engineers have put on another episode." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 92)
- Michael Piller cited this installment (together with the later second season episode "Tuvix") as an example of "some marvelous material" that showed that, by this point, Ken Biller had become "the poet laureate of Star Trek fourth season," even though this episode was in the second season of the fourth live-action Star Trek series. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 77) Michael Piller also implied that he thought this was an example of an episode that, despite saving some money, was also successful. (Cinefantastique', Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 79)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.6 million homes, and an 8% share.
- In the special edition magazine Star Trek 30 Years, this episode is highlighted as being one of the magazine makers' five favorite episodes of Star Trek: Voyager's first two seasons.
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 4 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 100)
- Star Trek Magazine scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars, defined as "Warp Speed". (Star Trek Monthly issue 18, p. 61)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 107) gives this installment a rating of 6 out of 10.
- One of the problems that Ken Biller had with the continuing arc was that the storyline which ends with Paris being arrested here was subsequently interrupted. Biller said of the arc, "It wasn't really planned out in conjunction with the network who schedules the shows [namely, UPN]. So you saw this whole big thing where Paris gets thrown in the brig last week on 'Lifesigns' – certainly tantalizing – and next week there is a repeat. And I think there might have been a repeat the week after that. So it's going to be three weeks or so before this gets resolved and before you find out what the hell is going on." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, pp. 91-92)
- Robert Picardo was informed of The Doctor's unseen sexual encounter with Danara Pel here during Voyager's fourth season, much to the actor's surprise. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 85)
- The costume worn by Susan Diol in this episode was later reused by actress Lise Simms (as Annorax's wife) in the fourth season episode "Year of Hell, Part II" and was subsequently sold off on the It's a Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
Home media format releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.8, 5 August 1996.
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Susan Diol as Danara Pel
- Raphael Sbarge as Michael Jonas
- Martha Hackett as Seska
- Michael Spound as Lorrum
- Johnetta Anderson as bar patron
- Gail Arias as bar patron
- James Delano as waiter
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Heather Ferguson as command division officer
- Holiday Freeman as an operations division officer
- Kerry Hoyt as Grimes
- Karl Laird as artist
- Susan Lewis as operations division officer
- Bob Mascagno as accordion player
- Karole Nellis as poet
- Shepard Ross as Murphy
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Unknown actor as Murphy
1957; 2253; analgesic; anterior thalamic pathway; appendectomy; automobile; axonal pathway; basal ganglia; bio-neural circuitry; bio-neural implant; brain; brig; cardiovascular system; cerebellum; cerebral cortex; cervaline; Chevy; chromosome; clinical study; constellation; compound fracture; Crabtree, Susie; Culluh; Cygnus; dancing subroutine; delta band frequency; Denara Pel sector; dizziness; DNA; Doctor Alpha; doctor-patient confidentiality; dosage; Earth; EMH; emission nebula; endocrinology; epidermal layer; Federation; Fina Prime; first year cadet; Flamingos, The; Foster; gigaquad; Greek; Greek mythology; hematology (hematologist); Hemikek IV; Hercules; Hercules (constellation); hiccup; Hippocrates; hives; holobuffer; holodeck; holoemitter; hologram; humor; inaprovaline; internal organ; "I Only Have Eyes for You"; Klingon; lectrazine; level 2 self diagnostic; Kazon-Nistrim; land-based vehicle; magnetic constrictor; Maje; Mala; Mars; Martian colonies; McCoy, Leonard; medicine; medical care; medical practitioner; milligram; millimeter; motor neuron; musculature; nanofiber; nucleus cuneatus; neural tissue; neuralyte probe; neuro-cortical stimulator; nightmare; nytoxinol; organs; parietal lobe; parking; Pel's mother; phage; Pleiades Cluster; posterior sciatic nerve; prenatal visit; public health; rejection; renal system; rose; Shmullus; skeletal structure; Starfleet Academy; Stellar Cartography; suicide; synaptic pattern; submicron suture; tactile acuity subroutine; teddy bear; terahertz; tetrahertz; Utopia Planitia; verterium cortenide; Vidiian; Vidiian children; Vidiian program Alpha; waltz; warp coil; Wildman, Samantha; Zimmerman, Lewis
- "Lifesigns" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Lifesigns" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Lifesigns" at Wikipedia
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