Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2, Episode 9

The Measure of a Man (11 Feb. 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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When Data resigns his commission rather than be dismantled for examination by an inadequately skilled scientist, a formal hearing is convened to determine whether Data is considered property without rights or is a sentient being.

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Storyline

At Starbase 173, the crew have a bit of leave. Data learns some of the intricacies of playing poker while Captain Picard runs into an old friend of a sort, Captain Phillipa Louvois, who established a new JAG office at the base. She once prosecuted him, unsuccessfully, but there is admiration at least, on both sides. Problems arise however when Commander Bruce Maddox receives permission to disassemble Data to determine how he functions. When Data expresses doubts about Maddox's likelihood of success, he refuses to undergo the procedure and resigns his commission. He soon finds himself the center of a judicial inquiry to determine if he is just a machine and a piece of property or a sentient being who has the right to make his own decisions. Captain Louvois finds herself sitting in judgment with Captain Picard defending Data's claim against Commander Riker who is forced to present the opposing arguments. Written by garykmcd

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11 February 1989 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Data's storage capacity is stated as 800 quadrillion bits. In modern terms, this equates to 88.818 pebibytes (PiB), or more simply, 100,000 terabytes (TB). See more »

Goofs

During the trial, Picard clasps his hands in front of him and looks down; the shot then changes to show Picard still looking down but his arms are apart. See more »

Quotes

[at the hearing regarding the civil rights of androids like Data]
Capt. Picard: Now, the decision you reach here today will determine how we will regard this... creation of our genius. It will reveal the kind of a people we are, what he is destined to be; it will reach far beyond this courtroom and this... one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty and freedom - expanding them for some... savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him and all who come...
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Connections

Referenced in King of the Nerds: Trek Wars (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

 
It could be used in an ethics class!
30 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Too many people look at the Trek stories and shows as "just science fiction" but Gene Rodenberry had much more in mind. This episode stayed true to Rodenberry's vision and made us think and question. It looked at themes of Civil Rights and Slavery.. it looked at ethics, morality and science all intermingling.

There was some excellent acting in this one. Whoopi Goldberg, Diana Muldaur, Patrick Stewart & Brent Spiner all played their prospective roles particularly well. But, in my opinion, it was the character of Riker that played the most difficult role in this story and Jonathan Frakes pulled it off excellently!

The character of Lt. Commander Data, the android crew member, was an ingenious invention of the Next Generation writers. Each time they explored his character the more interesting he became. This story, by Melinda M. Snodgrass, however, is the best of those explorations of character. It could be used in an ethics class! It is a definite "must see!"


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