64 – Real Life

Grade: B-

Real Life (1997) on IMDb


The Doctor is messing around on the holodeck, trying to learn what family life is like for a human being. He invites Kes and Torres over to his house for dinner, and they’re both disgusted about the disturbingly sweet (and fake) interactions between his family members. Torres offers to help make his simulation more realistic.


There were three scenes in this episode that really made it stand out to me. First, Tom Paris meets B’elanna Torres in the mess hall and has a very charming conversation with her. It appears this could be the start of their romance, though we have seen hints of this before. Their discussion seemed very natural, and both of them played the scene extremely well. I am glad to see that even in a Doctor-centric episode, not all of the character development focused on a hologram.

The second scene was near the end of the episode when Paris gives his advice to the Doctor. Both actors really do a great job in this scene, but especially Robert McNeill. His advice is very sound, and just exactly what the Doctor needed to hear.

The third scene is right at the end when the Doctor faces one of the biggest challenges any father can face – the death of his child. This is a very touching scene, and one that I wish Star Trek would do more often.

But aside from those three scenes, the rest of the episode is rather pedestrian. For one thing, after Torres makes the “improvements” to the Doctor’s program, his family seemed a little too extreme – but maybe that was the point.

Something else that bothered me was that the B story distracted from the A story. Just when I was becoming involved in one story, it switched to the other. It was far too abrupt. I would have rather seen them get rid of the B story entirely and spend all of their time with the Doctor’s holodeck family and his friends on the ship.

One thing that I really hate is that this show spends so much time developing the Doctor’s character when he’s only a computer program. Is it too much to ask to see them develop Chakotay, Tuvok or Paris instead? Maybe this show just had too many characters.

Of Note

As far as I know, this is the only time we ever see the Doctor’s family on this series. The fact that we don’t see or hear of them ever again completely negates everything the Doctor supposedly learned about real families. We spend all this time watching the Doctor learn about how “real families” live, and then he completely abandons them later. I really think Paramount hated their viewers.

This is also the very first time I have ever heard of any Federation ship that had the ability to beam aboard a shuttlecraft using a transporter. Bizarre.