Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2, Episode 3

Elementary, Dear Data (3 Dec. 1988)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 880 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 6 critic

An attempt to provide Data with a challenging Sherlock Holmes holodeck RPG scenario backfires when its Prof. Moriarty character accidentally becomes self-aware.


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Title: Elementary, Dear Data (03 Dec 1988)

Elementary, Dear Data (03 Dec 1988) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Episode cast overview:
Wesley Crusher (credit only)
Biff Manard ...
Diz White ...
Ensign Clancy (as Anne Elizabeth Ramsay)
Richard Merson ...
Pie Man


When the Enterprise arrives a few days early at its rendezvous point to meet the USS Victory, the crew have a bit of leisure time on their hands. For Data and Geordi Laforge, it means a trip to the holodeck and 221B Baker St. With Data in the role of Holmes and Laforge as Dr. Watson, they take on a challenge from Dr. Pulaski that Data couldn't solve a genuine mystery. Data has a bit of time adjusting to a real mystery - as opposed to one for which he knows the outcome. In giving the holodeck computer its instructions however, Geordi's specifications for an opponent results in a far superior creation than expected putting them and the entire ship in danger. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

3 December 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although it is commonly believed that Sherlock Holmes is a character in the public domain, Jon Lellenberg (American representative of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate) maintains that the Doyles retain copyright on the character until an expiration date in 2023. Paramount Studios (producing company of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)) obtained permission from the Doyles to make Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) (acknowledged in that movie's end credits), but considered similar permission unnecessary for "Elementary, Dear Data," which they believed fell under the parody clause of copyright law, and thus aired the episode without notifying the Doyles. (ST:TNG producer Jeri Taylor, who joined the show in 1990, once incorrectly wrote that Paramount was wholly ignorant of the Doyles' property, but Lellenberg straightened this out.) The Doyles then wrote to Paramount that they were flattered by the episode, but felt it remained within their legal sphere, so they wanted in on any further Trek usage of their characters. Although Brent Spiner was eager to play Holmes again, nearly 4 years went by before Paramount and the Doyles agreed on a "reasonable licencing fee" for the follow-up episode Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ship in a Bottle (1993). See more »


Data, as Holmes, takes Whittaker's Almanac off the shelve and returns it backwards, pages facing out, instead of the title. Data does everything as precisely as possible, so he would have put the book back correctly. See more »


Lieutenant Geordi La Forge: The Doctor was right. Finally, we have a game worth playing.
Moriarty: [entering the scene] The time for games is over.
Lt. Commander Data: Professor Moriarty, I presume?
See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation End Credits
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

this is wonderful!
6 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A lot of the loose threads are left for other episodes. I'm not just referring to ship in a bottle, but also to measure of a man. Admittedly it bugged me when the Issue of Data's computer-like intelligence, which was the catalyst for the doctor's challenge and thus for the main problem, was not answered but one would need an entire episode at least to answer it and that is given to them about 6 episodes later.

For now Moriarty is a great villain and well performed by Daniel Davis. The entire episode has a metaphysical plot-hole the size of this continent but hey, Star Trek IS metaphysical! watch the above named episodes to get a sense of fulfillment to the issues raised. There are a few minor errors but this episode is amusing, intriguing, silly and classic all at once. Of how many episodes can that truly be said ? 4 or 5 stars.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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