Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hero Worship   Rewatch 
April 22, 2021 3:42 AM - Season 5, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Data subjects a grieving child to brutal criticism of his model-building skills.

Memory Alpha is designed to exceed human capacity:

• It was during the filming of this episode, on the sixth day of filming, that the cast and crew learned of the death of Gene Roddenberry. The news affected everyone deeply, especially Marina Sirtis, whose father had passed away exactly ten years before.

• The story of the fire in La Forge's childhood was originally conceived as a potential telepathic memory invasion for the following episode, "Violations".

• Michael Piller saw this episode as a good example of how the character of Deanna Troi was expanded in later seasons. He commented, "I think 'Hero Worship' and, as a whole, this has been a very good season for Deanna Troi. We have used her as a counselor as well as she has ever been used. She certainly had more time on screen and what I think has come out of it is proof that she is really a wonderful actress and has levels of credibility and truth on the screen. I'm a big fan of hers and she really rose to the challenge this year." He also joked, "Jeri Taylor and I say that since we've been here the counseling scenes have become much more numerous and realistic. But that experience doesn't come from practicing – it comes from being a patron!"

• In contrast, writer Joe Menosky commented, "It was a Troi-heavy episode, and I had a love/hate relationship with Troi. Loved the actress, but hated the character. I used to say that having a full-time therapist on board the Enterprise – in a command position no less – would date our series more than any other story element. And in retrospect, that was true."

• Brannon Braga enjoyed the episode. He remarked, "I like 'Hero Worship' the best of all the kid shows because it's the most interesting. Good performances and an intriguing mystery, thinking that aliens had destroyed the ship. […] Picard's saying, 'Make him the best android he can be,' and the scene where Data confesses to wishing that he knew what the taste of malted was like, is very touching."

"His world is gone, Data. We're gonna have to help him build a new one."
- Troi, on the tragedy of Timothy losing both his parents on the Vico

"Timothy, your head movements are counter-productive. Can you be still?"
"But you do it."
"The servo mechanisms in my neck are designed to approximate Human movements. I did not realize the effect was so distracting."
- Data and Timothy

"You sound like you don't want to be an android."
"I am an android. That will never change."
- Timothy and Data

"I would gladly risk feeling bad at times, if it also meant that I could taste my dessert."
- Data, discussing advantages of being Human

Poster's Log:
Not sure why they decided to go with two kid episodes in a row, but this one's probably a bit better than "New Ground," even though "New Ground" is maybe more engaging because we know Alexander's coming back. The Timothy actor has harder work to do than Brian Bonsall in the last one, and pulls it off. The script likewise runs right up to the edge of saccharine but never teeters over the brink IMO.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
I'm no astronomer, but I bet a black cluster? Is pretty lackluster.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't rewatch this one. I always skip it. The kid is too annoying as an android and I feel frustrated for Data for having to deal with him. I know that sounds cold considering his trauma, but I just can't do it.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:27 AM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

One of the first things that this episode reminded me of was this Calvin and Hobbes strip. Kids enjoy playing pretend--when I was a kid, we actually played Starfleet vs. Klingons--and sometimes will act out stuff that may or may not have deeper roots in whatever they're going through. I loved the scene where Data is helping Timothy comb his hair back--a task which he's somewhat struggling with because he doesn't actually have to do that himself.

Raising a Spock-esque eyebrow at Joe Menosky's "I used to say that having a full-time therapist on board the Enterprise – in a command position no less – would date our series more than any other story element. And in retrospect, that was true." I think that maybe it's that kind of comment that's more dated; the recent wars have shown how badly some of the returning service members have been hurt psychologically, and maybe more of them could have used a counselor at or near the time and place of their trauma. (This article in Rolling Stone describes some of the problems that even the most elite soldiers in the US Army have with dealing with their wartime experiences, and the tragic results thereof.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:29 AM on April 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Wait, didn't we already do "The Bonding"? Oh, never mind, it's the OTHER one. The show's been on for five years, so they clearly felt some need to Cousin Oliver it up. I chuckled at the establishing shot of Data drinking his polysaccarides.

Re: the counselor as part of the command crew, it may reflect the perception of therapy as a fad/elite consumer good at the time?

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Explore Black Cluster is a pretty easy 35 points. There aren't too many personnel with the Leadership/Stellar Cartography combo, but we'll see it on a couple Starfleet captains later in the run. Alternatively, you can just send a huge brain trust. Decently popular mission. Klingon players could later sacrifice a few points for a free Outpost instead. 2E got a version as well, it's more difficult, but not by 2E standards. Lacking in affiliation restrictions, it was fairly popular.

I'll extend some credit to the Trek Sense of the fan card Hero Worship as well, though after the First Contact set in '97, it's generally been a bad idea to include 'the Borg can ignore this' type cards. Doing away with them was one of the major improvements in Second Edition.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:22 AM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Cannot stand this one, first time I've rewatched in many years, it's maybe not as bad as I remember, but this was definitely the point at which teenage me started to not really expect new episodes to be good. Two orphan episodes in a row!?!!?!?!?! The phrase "We were attacked, we were attacked!" is deeply etched in my mind, as my high school buddy and I used to use it mockingly.

Interesting how the writers comment on this as a Troi episode.. I just see it as them leaning into low-concept Data episodes. Data with a kid! No, not one he constructs, but he makes friends with a sad kid and learns how to take care of them. No, not over the radio, but actually in person this time.

Also, how many times have they been about to die, and when they try to use more power that makes it worse, and more power again, but that makes it worse, and one more time with all the power they possibly can, and oh my gosh, that made it worse!!?!? Okay, if I was a writer I would probably fall back on that crutch a few times too.

And one more thing, I mentioned this last time it happened, but Data: You had time to explain what was going on, you didn't have to just say "drop the shield." For god's sake, just say "drop the shields and the wave will dissipate, our energy output is causing this." It's like 2.5 seconds, much less than the inevitable back and forth that your lack of explanation creates.
posted by skewed at 8:51 AM on April 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I always really liked the episodes like this that seemed to be about real people I could recognize doing things I understood, as opposed to the sci fi stuff which was like, OK, space battles boom boom things blowing up, loud, wow, who the fuck cares about this. I thought having tv shows like that was normal and the way things should be, then I grew up and realized everyone else hated that, apparently.
posted by bleep at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I just want to express my appreciation for the “above the fold” summary, which gave me a good guffaw.
posted by obfuscation at 11:44 AM on April 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

Yes, it's especially noteworthy.
posted by skewed at 12:00 PM on April 22, 2021

I also laughed at the summary - thank you!
posted by brainwane at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2021

This one is fine as far as it goes. Really pretty simple. I like Joshua Harris as Timothy. Both Troi and Data have good scenes with him. The writers don't do him any favors though by dumbing him down a bit; when Tim is working on the temple and he tries to put on a horizontal piece without putting columns on both ends to keep it up, it just looks really dumb. And then to have Tim break down and yell how he can't do anything right. That was a pretty fake little bit right there, they could have some up with something different. Otherwise he was fine.
posted by Fukiyama at 5:44 PM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hero Worship is another episode that hints at bigger things. The SS Vico (NAR-18834). Boom. Definitely not just another redshirt starship (looking at you, SS Tsiolkovsky). And definitely not another group of wacky, early seasons scientists. So who owned the Vico? Where did its crew come from? This is where it would have been nice if the writers room had gone the extra mile to show us a little more of the Federation beyond the confines of the Enterprise and Starfleet.
posted by Stuka at 11:29 AM on April 23, 2021

A show about a non-starfleet ship in the Star Trek universe would be really cool, it's something they sort of touched on in ST:Picard, but the La Sirena and her crew are a minor part of the overall plot at best.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:53 PM on April 23, 2021

Of all the kids that there are episodes about, the one that wanted to be Data is probably the one that young me identified with the most.

The teacher's outfit gave me strong TOS vibes, and to a lesser extent the kids in that scene. And then when Timothy starts acting like an android he starts wearing a shirt clearly inspired by Data's uniform.

It's a pity O'Brien wasn't on shift. I bet he could've beamed through all that victurium alloy.
posted by ckape at 7:12 PM on May 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I used to say that having a full-time therapist on board the Enterprise – in a command position no less – would date our series more than any other story element. And in retrospect, that was true.

What a deeply weird thing to say.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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