Monday, June 25, 2012

TWITrek Character Insight No. 9: The (holographic) Doctor

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, our subject is The Doctor from Voyager.

The Doctor is officially known as the Emergency Medical Hologram, which is a holographic program configured to provide medical services to a crew without enough doctors and nurses on board. With no medical personnel alive on board the Voyager following the trip to the Delta Quadrant, The Doctor becomes the Chief Medical Officer by default.

Although the Doctor was programmed with medical knowledge to treat all known illnesses and to perform over 5 million surgical operations, his program was also capable of learning and adapting to new situations.  This ability to adapt allows the Doctor to develop social skills, hobbies, and relationships with the crew of Voyager over the course of the series.

This development does not begin in earnest until Kes volunteers to become a medical assistant and notices the lack of respect for the Doctor from the crew.  Once Janeway grants the Doctor some autonomy such as control over his activation and deactivation sequences, the Doctor begins to develop as another member of the Voyager crew.

This development includes romantic interests with a Vidiian, a love of opera, a family life with a holographic wife and kids, ethical subroutines that cause him to deal with loss and decision-making as a human would, and the experience of taste and touch while his program was downloaded into Seven of Nine's cybernetic implants.

The Doctor has trouble selecting a name for himself throughout the series, but he settles on Joe after trying out other names like Kenneth, Lord Schweitzer, and Schmullus. The Doctor also adds to the old Dr. McCoy lore by saying "I'm a Doctor, Not A _____" multiple times in the series.

The Doctor's holographic nature enables him to save the ship and crew members on various occasions, including when the Kazon took over the ship and abandoned the rest of the Voyager crew on a desolate planet.

One Notable Quote comes from The Swarm in season 3 (episode 4):  
The Doctor: "You claim that you're my friend but you don't even call me by my name."
Kes: "That's because you don't have a name."
The Doctor: "No name? That's ridiculous! I'm... My... I demand you tell me my name!"
Best Episodes Featuring The Doctor:
Lifesigns, season 2 episode 19
The Swarm, season 3 episode 4
Real Life, season 3 episode 22
Latent Image, season 5 episode 11

Actor: Robert Picardo played The Doctor, and he has also appeared on Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis as well as the movie Gremlins 2, Electric Bugaloo.  He also entertains currently on Twitter @RobertPicardo

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