'Star Trek: The Next Generation': The Top 10 Episodes

6. THE MEASURE OF A MAN

LOG ENTRY When the Enterprise docks at a starbase, its crew members encounter two old adversaries. Comdr. Bruce Maddox (Brian Brophy), a coldhearted cybernetics expert who once opposed Data's entrance into Starfleet Academy, seeks to dismantle the android, which he believes to be Starfleet property. And Capt. Phillipa Louvois (Amanda McBroom), who long ago prosecuted Captain Picard in a court-martial, presides over the trial that results when Data refuses to comply with Maddox. Data's rights as a sentient being are recognized in the end, but not before a tense courtroom showdown between Picard (who defends Data) and Riker (whom Louvois forces to reluctantly prosecute his comrade).

CRITIQUE Is Data man or machine? Patrick Stewart's background in classical theater was never more evident than in the fiery oratory Picard summons to answer that thorny question. (Jonathan Frakes' tortured turn as Riker is pretty impressive too.) With its poignant details and its far-reaching ethical considerations, ''Measure'' was the first time audiences saw what The Next Generation was truly capable of.

TRIVIA The lines of poetry that Maddox comes across while rifling through Data's book — ''When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes/I all alone beweep my outcast state'' — are from Shakespeare's ''Sonnet 29.'' — Simon Vozick-Levinson

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