Friday, May 6, 2022

Star Trek: The Quality of Life

Episode: "The Quality of Life"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6, Episode 9
Original Air Date: November 14, 1992

The Enterprise visits a mining operation at Tyrus 7A.  The engineer, Dr. Fallaron introduces the crew to the Exocomps, remarkably adaptable machines she has created to aid in the work.  In fact, their adaptability includes an instinct for self-preservation which Data argues means they're technically alive.

I enjoy Star Trek stories that challenge the idea of what qualifies as a living being: "The Devil in the Dark," "Home Soil," etc.  After all, it's part of the stated mission from the very beginning: "to seek out new life."  "The Quality of Life" does not generally fair well with critics, but I find both Data's sympathy for the Exocomps and the willingness of one to sacrifice itself for the others to be genuinely touching.  It is admittedly techno-babble heavy, even more so than most.

Game Notes

Oddly, the episode's comic relief comes in the beginning.  The story ran short on time so the writers tacked on a poker scene for padding.  Episode director Jonathan Frakes was disappointed that they never returned to the game in the script.

Acting Notes

Ellen Bry (Dr. Fallaron) was born in New York, February 13, 1951.  She graduated from Tufts University.  She made her screen debut in a sentimental favorite of mine: To Fly, the National Air and Space Museum's long-running IMAX feature.  

Interestingly, quite a lot of Bry's early work came as a stunt double, notably in 1978's Superman.  She is best known for the role of Nurse Shirley Daniels on St. Elsewhere.  Other television guest appearances include MacGyver, Murder, She Wrote and Renegade.  Films include Bye Bye Love, Deep Impact and Mission: Impossible III.


  1. I really liked this episode regardless of the techno babble:). I almost wanted to pet one of the machines just like a little doggie...yup I'm strange