133 – Virtuoso

Grade: C-

Virtuoso (2000) on IMDb


Voyager has towed a damaged ship on board, which belongs to the Qomar. They are a race of people who are dedicated to mathematics and science, and they consider themselves superior over all other humanoids. Then they meet the Doctor. At first, they don’t like being treated by a hologram. Then he starts singing and they are completely captivated by him.


I’m not really a fan of this episode. Robert Picardo is by far the best actor in this series, and he usually gets the very best scenes. But honestly, he’s not my favorite character. I usually find him to be rather annoying – especially when he sings. It was nice at some point, but it has gotten old – at least with me anyway. In this episode, he sings a lot. Oh, it fits with the storyline, but it sure seems like a lot. If you like to hear his singing voice, you’ll probably like this episode. I, on the other hand, have already heard his singing voice far too many times and this is not why I watch Voyager. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to know I didn’t really care for this episode.

But it isn’t all bad, however. It was pretty funny to see an alien race that thought so highly of the Doctor’s singing that they turned him into a global star. Actually, I thought there were several very good scenes in here as well. The scene in which the Doctor sings about lost love was the most emotionally powerful scene this season, but it was followed very closely by a very nice ending scene when Seven reads the Doctor one last letter from a fan.

But then there are also a whole lot of scenes that just didn’t make much sense to me. First of all, I can’t really believe the Doctor would have been so overcome by his fans that he would seriously consider resigning his commission and staying on the planet. Some of his arguments about never being respected by the crew just sounded so hollow. Of course the crew respects him. If this had taken place in the 2nd season, I would have been able to buy it. But we’re well into the 6th season by now and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind really that the Doctor is a full-fledged member of the crew by now. And just because these crazy aliens have never heard music before, he suddenly decides to ignore years of progress on the ship?

Besides, the Doctor is a hologram – a computer program that was designed to treat injuries and heal people. Yes, the Captain has allowed him to develop a personality beyond his original programming, but I don’t see how a computer program can suddenly decide to do something completely different.

Aside from that, I found it to be extremely ironic (and equally hard to believe) that while these aliens never see him as anything but a walking mp3 player, the Doctor has no way of noticing this. Doesn’t he remember that in the opening scenes of this episode, these aliens have no respect for him at all as a doctor? They treat him with a lack of respect not seen on this series since the pilot episode. How could the Doctor possibly believe that these aliens value him at all when they don’t even respect him for being what he was programmed to be?

I don’t blame the episode for introducing the somewhat important argument of sharply declining interest – is the Doctor a computer program or a sentient individual? Does he have the right to choose what he wants to do with his life? I mean honestly, does your laptop have the right to demand to be a vacuum instead? No, that’s foolishness. Of course the Doctor has the right to quit Starfleet and run off with an alien woman, just like he claims Harry Kim could do. (In fact, hasn’t Harry already tried this a couple of times?) But the “am I sentient or not” argument has been done to death in the Star Trek universe, and certainly in Voyager. Somehow when Data had this argument for the 5th time it didn’t bother us as much, but here the 50th time I’ve seen this argument is at least 45 times too many. There just aren’t enough twists and angles to this argument to merit extended discussion on the subject. So, I give this episode zero points for originality and relevance.

Then there’s the dramatic scene when we finally see the Doctor has been replaced by phony who can simply make sounds. Obviously, he doesn’t really sing and the music is completely devoid of any sentiment whatsoever. How could the Doctor have been so duped by a group of aliens who have absolutely no feelings? Well, that’s not my only problem with this scene. It actually wasn’t even necessary. We already knew it was coming because it had been shown just a few moments before. And then the scene goes on far too long. This is one show that thinks way too highly of itself.

Really, we knew the Doctor wouldn’t be staying on the planet when it ended, even if we didn’t expect it to end the way it did. But we have yet another example of the Reset Button. Everything is back to normal and the ship is on its way. Hooray! Despite the excellent scene at the end, nothing will be any different on this show and the Qomar and the Doctor’s experience with them will never again be mentioned on Voyager. This is why I find this series to be so dreadfully mediocre. It is filled with some incredible and pointless scenes in the same episode, week after week. There are never any lasting effects from one episode to another. How did this series survive for seven years? Oh yeah, it was the only show UPN had that anybody watched at all.

Oops. At the beginning of the episode, the Qomar girl is about a foot shorter than the Doctor. By the end of the episode, she’s only a few inches shorter.

Of Note

The image of the Qomar city looks exactly like the first planet destroyed by the Krenim in the Year of Hell episode. Oh well. So much for originality.

Notice the really bad CGI in the scene when the miniature holographic Doctor is singing with the life sized version. Neither of the Doctors knows where to look.