Fame makes a man take things over
Fame lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame put you there where things are hollow
-David Bowie ‘Fame’
The concept of fame and all that goes with it are explored in the episode that was originally broadcast on January 26, 2000. This is Fame.
The Doctor finds himself a star when Voyager encounters a race who have never discovered music.
After rescuing a group of aliens known as the Qomar, they soon attach themselves to the Doctor when they discover that he can sing, something they have never heard before. It is soon revealed that this highly advanced (and rather rude) race have never encountered music of any kind. The Doctor offers the Qomar full access to the ships musical database and soon Voyager is welcomed into Qomar space which is usually off limits to outsiders.
Upon contacting the Qomar Prelate, Janeway is shocked when Koru wishes to focus on music and requests a concert from the Doctor. Voyager schedules a talent show for the dignitaries and, after a rather underapreciated set by Harry Kim and the Kimtones, it is soon apparent that the Qomar have become fans of The Doctor.
Before long the fame begins going to the Doctor’s head as fans of The Doctor begins swarming the ship causing issues. It is when the Doctor begins neglecting his duties and providing miniature versions of himself to fans, that she steps in. She soon learns that the Qomar have become obsessed with the Doctor and, before long, the Doctor not only falls in love with one of the aliens, but is offered a chance to remain on the planet with his admirers. His love, Toncoo, has even written a special piece of music that The Doctor finds difficult to sing.
Reluctant to leave but wishing to start a life with Tincoo, his new love interest, the Doctor resigns his commission only to find that Tincoo has created a replacement for him so that he can remain on Voyager and the Qomar can keep The Doctor for themselves. Distraught, he returns to Voyager to find a way to make himself worthy, but instead discovers that his place is on the ship with his friends. After a final performance, The Doctor returns to the ship asking for his position as Doctor be returned. Janeway agrees to let him resume his duties but informs him that he has hurt several of his friends in his lust for fame.
In the end, Seven of Nine confides in the Doctor that she was upset he was leaving as she has come to admire him as a friend and individual. After presenting him with her own ‘fan letter’ she leaves the Doctor to return to his work quietly singing to himself once again.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Virtuoso is a fantastic change of pace for this series focusing on The Doctor and his talent…and hubris. From the beginning of the series, The Doctor has come across as a little full of himself. In fact, his bedside manner has been called into question time and again, but, over time, he has found his place among the ship’s crew as an equal in many regards. When The Doctor is recognized for his talents outside of his normal duties, this hubris reemerges full force providing him a chance for significant character exploration and growth unlike we have really seen so far.
What I love about this episode is that it finally addresses the Doctor’s sentiance and individuality head on. When the Doctor attempts to resign his commission, Janeway dismisses the idea out of hand as, to her, the Doctor has been little more than an extremely advanced ships system. While she has always seen the Doctor as somewhat of a crewmate, the idea of letting the equivalent of a talking toaster have it’s freedom never crossed her mind. In fact, she even makes mention that she has given him plenty of latitude to explore himself while aboard the ship but has a hard time even considering letting him leave. It is when the Doctor points out her hypocrisy that she relents and admits that, while she does see him as more of a ship’s system, she also see’s him as a friend. Ironically, it is not only Janeway that saw him this way, the very fans he found in the Qomar (as well as Tincoo), also see The Doctor as no more than a musically advanced holographic being.
It is through this revelation that the Doctor discovers that the people on Voyager not only depend on him but some actually love him as a friend and confidant. One in particular is Seven of Nine who, through the Doctor’s tutelage, has become more human than she ever thought possible, even realizing in the moments that the Doctor may be leaving, that she actually has deep feelings for him that could be love.
Robert Picardo is one of my favorite actors on this series and this episode truly showcases his talent once again. His range of emotion is tremendous and I really do hope we get a chance to see his character again in future series.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
- The Qomar are an extremely highly advanced race of beings who outshine Voyager’s tech in many ways. While they are a superior species technologically, yet it doesn’t seem that they contributed much to Voyager itself despite Voyager providing the Quomar with an entirely new form of entertainment and cultural enhancement. Could the Quomar have their own version of the Prime Directive or are they just jerks. I suspect the latter.
- The Doctor falls in love yet again, only this time he doesn’t take a name so it wasn’t as serious as he made it out to be.
- In a fun bit of irony, the leader of the Qomar, Kuro, is played by Paul Williams. Williams happens to be a famed musician in real life having been responsible for songs such as Rainbow Connection and Three Dog Night’s Old Fashioned Love Song.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Memorial
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 1/29/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”