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The Schizoid Man
Would you like to watch Brent Spiner play another kooky character while still made up as Data...? Of course you would!
Dr Pulaski has delusions of grandeur and swiftly fires off a medical log that has all of this week's exposition, leaving Picard with nothing to do when she meets up with him. It seems we're off to Gravesworld to meet Ira Graves, Data's 'grandpa', on account of having taught Dr Soong "everything he knows". Dr Pulaski is needed for a B plot so incidental it doesn't even appear on screen, so we get introduced to Lieutenant Selar, a Vulcan doctor who oddly keeps getting introduced without the honorific 'Doctor' for no obvious reason. She tells us that Graves is, well, gravely ill, with a terminal disease. He tells Data he was thinking about transferring his mind to a computer... then he dies off screen and Data starts behaving oddly. Gee, I wonder what happened!
Data is acting so oddly, in fact, that Troi even manages to detect emotions emanating from him, which is a neat trick however you look at it! Eventually, he has a mini-tantrum on the bridge forcing Picard to put him on the naughty step. LaForge gives him a scan and Troi presents a slideshow after deducing that Data has two different personalities vying for control of his circuits. I guess even in the future you still have to sit through dull presentations from time to time.
Data-Graves goes to Ten Forward to creepily hit on the young woman who he practically raised as a daughter, then goes off to engineering to beat up LaForge for no good reason. Picard finds him there, and he too gets a bump on the noggin. When the captain comes around, Graves has vacated Data and loaded himself into the Enterprise's computer, from which he will thankfully never return.
"If I stroke the beard thusly, do I not appear more intellectual?"
The line above, which is always good for a giggle, is no part of Trace Tormé's draft screenplay, which opens instead on Data trying out jokes on Guinan again, to no success. This does not set up the story half as well as Data's quirky tampering with his image, which provides better cover for his erratic behaviour after being possessed by Graves.
Rumour has it that the script also contained Data mimicking Picard's bald head... but that's also no part of the draft screenplay. I suppose it might appear in a version of the script later than the one I've seen, or in pages edited in isolation, but who knows! Whatever actually happened, this is another of those screenplays that feels ancestral to the episode on screen, and many of the great moments happened sometimes after the initial writing.
'Near warp transport' appears in the draft script as 'long range transport', but its function is exactly the same... Actually, that's not strictly correct. In the final episode, the near warp transport serves to keep Dr Pulaski on the Enterprise to attend to the stricken ship the Constantinople (named the Mary Rogers in the draft screenplay), allowing us to introduce the character of Dr Selar. This role is irrelevant in the draft screenplay because its Dr Pulaski beaming down, making me really wonder why Tormé bothered with it at all. However, speaking of Dr Selar...
Let's say hello to a fan-favourite bit part, Suzie Plakson's Dr Selar, or Lieutenant Selar as they insist on calling her in this story. She actually does very, very little in this episode. Indeed, as the draft screenplay makes clear she wasn't even part of the original plan at all, as her role was fulfilled by Dr Pulaski. I'm at a loss to explain her popularity with fans, although part of it is almost certainly the sheer number of times this character gets name-checked in future episodes, without ever appearing again. Why is that…?
The answer, of course, is that Plakson returns in a different role - K'Ehleyr. A well-informed Trek fan reports that at a convention Tormé revealed that there was a plan for a Worf-Selar relationship, something that was intended to be hinted at over multiple episodes, before eventually revealing that Dr Selar was his lover. But of course, how can this be when Selar only appears in this episode and she and Worf do nothing together...? Tormé claims that the production crew thought Plakson and Dorn had good on screen presence together, and so they decided to create a new character for that relationship. I have no reason to doubt it, given what follows, although the inevitable side effect is that Dr Selar, whose inclusion seems originally to have been intended as a new recurring character, gets entirely side-lined.
The other notable guest star this week is W. Morgan Sheppard, who gives a very enjoyable performance as Ira Graves, before passing the baton to Spiner to play the role for the rest of the episode. Apparently, the character was originally written for Patrick McGoohan, from the 1960s cult classic The Prisoner. Indeed, this episode shares its title with an episode from that show, apparently for this very reason. As nice as this would have been, Sheppard is great in this role, and I wouldn't want to excise him from this episode. He was, in fact, an old Royal Shakespeare Company pal of Patrick Stewart, and the two appeared in a production of Antony and Cleopatra together in 1974.
Sheppard goes on to have a role in Voyager as well, but perhaps his most memorable Trek appearance is in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country where he played the sinister commandant of Rura Penthe, with a marvellously devilish delight.
Models, Make-up, and Mattes
Oh my, check out this absolutely beautiful matte painting of Gravesworld!
My first thought was that this was a recoloured version of Saturn from the opening credits, but it definitely isn’t, as that has parallel lines and this has a mottled effect. Regardless, what fun to have a ringed planet, even if my astrophysics tells me no terrestrial planet has sufficient gravity to maintain this much orbital debris. Besides, I could be completely wrong! It's the only major special effect in the entire episode, which is basically a bottle show, but I'd still rather a bottle show with a great matte painting than one without!
Special thanks to Therin of Andor for relaying Tracey Tormé's convention gossip about Susie Plakson.
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