Memory Alpha summary
|via Star Trek; and no one in this picture looks odd at all!|
"Elementary, Dear Data" could have been one in a series of franchise experiences randomly name-checking famous historical and/or fictional things, and it could have been one in a series of franchise experiences randomly featuring a transporter and/or holodeck malfunction, but...
It becomes something else entirely. The holodeck is challenged to give Data a worthy rival. Since he is playing the part of Sherlock Holmes at the time, the creation takes the form of Holmes' arch-rival Professor Moriarty. But then this Moriarty literally takes on a life of his own.
Predating the historic "Measure of a Man," which discussed the substance of Data's own artificial life, as well as the matter of a different remarkable hologram entirely, Voyager's Doctor, the creation and predicament of Moriarty, a self-aware construct, "Elementary" marks a considerable development in the season's efforts to find the heart of Next Generation, exploring not only the show's characters, but finding something entirely unique for the series as a whole.
What could easily have been a gimmick episode easily forgotten not only becomes something special very quickly, but is later followed up with an even better episode. What more do you want me to say about it? Best of all it not only serves Data extremely well, but is perhaps the best example of Dr. Pulaski's true legacy. Without her, Moriarty would not exist.
four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character