July 23 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

Picardo On The EMH

3 min read

The Doctor and Seven’s influence on him. Playing the Doctor was fun for Robert Picardo because he had negative as well as positive qualities.

As reported by The Official Star Trek Magazine, Picardo described the EMH that he played for seven years on Star Trek: Voyager. “The Doctor was programmed with the capacity to learn, and to modify his behavior with new information,” said Picardo. “He was given primitive emotional subroutines, supposedly so that he would have empathy for his patients, a bedside manner, so to speak, so he could adapt and learn.”

And the Doctor desired to learn, said Picardo. “I think his most redeeming quality as a hologram, which is, frankly, probably the most redeeming quality any human could have, is that he truly desired to expand his own horizons, to learn more, and to make himself a more valuable member of the Voyager crew. Those were his most shining qualities.”

But not all was sunshine and light. The EMH was like a human, in that he had both good and bad qualities. That made playing him enjoyable for Picardo. “It was fun for me as an actor, because he also had a great deal of negative qualities,” said Picardo. “The Doctor could be very self-centered, arrogant, petulant, and cowardly. These were all great fun to play. I did not have to be heroic, brave and true the way most Starfleet officers have to be, because my original design was strictly for emergency medical situations. When I was placed in another situation, I didn’t have to respond in the most heroic way. That kind of latitude and freedom made the character a great deal of fun to play.”

The arrival of Seven of Nine in the fourth season meant changes for the EMH. “Obviously, it gave me a great character arc,” said Picardo. “In another way, though, Seven of Nine took some of the Doctor’s storylines. The first three seasons, the Doctor had all of these entitlement issues: I’d like to have a name, I’d like my own personal space, I’d like the respect of the crew as if I were a unique individual and not just a piece of technology.”

But the advent of Seven of Nine changed that. “When Seven came on, as a human who had been assimilated and was now trying to reclaim her humanity, all of those discussions about what constitutes an individual and an individual’s rights became fodder for her storyline,” said Picardo. “I surrendered some stories as a character when Seven came aboard, but I got so much more in our relationship stories.”

And where did the Doctor end up after he got home? According to Picardo, “I think the Doctor is a lecturer at Starfleet Academy, that he does speaking engagements all over the universe. He’s an occasional guest vocalist with symphony orchestras, although he still hasn’t been asked by the San Francisco Symphony which galls him!”

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