Today, March 3rd, is "Data Day." As in Data, the android second officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-D. You know. Pinocchio. The one who wanted to be human. The guy who knocked boots with Tasha Yar and the Borg Queen. That guy. Well, someone in internet-ville decided that 3/3 would be "Data Day." I'm assuming 3/3 is in reference to the episode "Cause and Effect," when Data is able to help the crew bust out of their temporal loop by programming himself to subconsciously remember the number three. He then made that number come up repeatedly in activities, culminating in him remembering to vent Shuttlebay 3 at the last second, saving the crew where Dr. Frasier Crane could not. Oh yeah, spoilers.
To celebrate Data Day, you could play the violin, read some Sherlock Holmes, or play with your cat, all while remaining emotionally detached. Seriously, sounds like a great day. For me and my house, we're going to watch my three favorite episodes highlighting Lieutenant Commander Data, and the awesome not-robot he is. Here are my picks:
Episode 3.16 "The Offspring"
The one where Data decides to procreate, building Lal and imbuing her with life--perhaps in a better way than his own creator did. Poignant in all the right ways, this gets to the core of Data's humanity, and the moral implications that being a parent of a human or an android bring. This is Data at his best.
Episode 4.11 "Data's Day"
I didn't use the picture of Dr. Crusher teaching Data how to dance!! Can you believe it?! No. you cannot. There are so many episodes with Data exploring the idea of humanity; this one dovetails nicely with "The Offspring," with Data reporting on his experiences as an android to Starfleet. He's going to be the best man at Chief O'Brien's wedding, and tries to understand love and relationships, something he actually brings into practice later that same season. This episode has comedy, mystery, and a little bit of romance. This is Data at his best.
Episode 5.18 "Cause and Effect"
I'm honestly only including this episode because of the 3/3 thing. I mean, it's "Data Day." However, it's one of my favorite TNG episodes of all time, one of the ones that told a sci-fi concept and mystery very well, with some great character moments. Data isn't the center of this episode, nonetheless, it's very good. This is Data at his best.
If that's not good enough, and you want the Data Day Party to continue through the weekend (after writing this, I'm considering it), here are ten more great Data episodes:
Episode 1.13 "Datalore" we meet Data's evil twin, and get background on Data and where he came from for the first time. We also get the Crystalline Entity, a villain who will return with a vengeance four years later. This is Data at his best.
Episode 2.3 "Elementary, Dear Data" Data and Geordi's first Sherlock Holmes adventure in the holodeck, this episode also features Dr. Pulaski, a character who many trekkies/trekkers hate because of her caustic attitude towards Data. I love that relationship, and I think it brought out more humanity in Data in one season than we would have gotten otherwise. Which is why even though season two isn't the best of TNG, it brings us some great character moments. This is Data at his best.
Episode 2.9 "The Measure of a Man" This is supposed to be one of the ones above, and is often cited as the Best Data Episode Ever. He's on trial to determine if he's merely a piece of Starfleet equipment or a true lifeform. He passes the test, but just by the skin of his teeth. He's the center of the episode, but we also get to see how his relationships with his crewmates have already become true friendships. This is Data at his best.
Episode 2.21 "Peak Performance" Another episode that uses Dr. Pulaski as a motivating factor in pushing Data to be more than he is. He plays that stupid finger/cow-milking game "Stratagema" with that melty-faced alien bureaucrat, and again, not the strongest episode, but some incredible moments with Pulaski. Who you probably hate. This is Data at his best.
Episode 4.3 "Brothers" Data and Lore are reunited with Dr. Soong, their dying "father." We learn more about both androids, Dr. Soong, and get an amazing performance from Brent Spiner in all three roles. This is Data at his best.
Episode 4.25 "In Theory" Data tries the girlfriend thing out, and despite his efforts to understand human relationships, isn't able to feel what he needs in order to continue. You know, love. This is Data at his best.
Episode 5.4 "Silicon Avatar" The Crystalline Entity returns, and Data revisits his past in order to help solve the mystery both of its vulnerabilities and his origins. The conversations, tensions, and denouement between Data and the guest scientist lady in this episode make it one of the better "sequel" episodes. This is Data at his best.
Episodes 5.26, 6.1 "Time's Arrow Part 1, Time's Arrow Part 2" Data's head is found in an archaeological dig in San Francisco, and erryone goes to help find out what happened. Strong comedy, creepy aliens, and the crew mourning over his potential loss in a manner more befitting his death than what we get in "Star Trek: Nemesis." Plus the Mark Twainiest Mark Twain ever. This is Data at his best.
Episode 7.6 "Phantasms" ...you know what, this one (Data dreaming, meeting Sigmund Freud, stabbing the Counselor Troi cake) isn't Data at his best. So I have nine episodes. Which one am I missing?