As is the case with so many first season TNG episodes, a brilliant concept is introduced and then completely mishandled.
Plot: Captain Picard decides to try out this new thing called the holodeck he’s been hearing about. Always eager to display how boring he is, Picard opts not to check out anything erotic, or even interesting, but instead chooses to take on the role of Dixon Hill, a film noir style detective. To no one’s surprise, some alien technology causes the holodeck to malfunction, trapping Picard and several others in the fictional world.
Character Development: I’m going to bend the rules a little and discuss the holodeck itself here. Early in “The Big Goodbye,” Picard is kissed by a holographic woman. When he leaves the holodeck, he caries with him the lipstick she left on his face which is later physically removed. It must therefore be assumed that makeup is replicated for use by holodeck characters. The episode concludes with some of Dixon’s enemies disappearing as they step out of the holodeck (obviously, they are “photons and forcefields”). Their clothes, stomach contents, and anything else they may be carrying disappear at the same time. It is therefore clear that the holodeck possess extreme artificial intelligence, capable of deciphering which materials to replicate, and which to project, in order to best suit the needs of the plots of both its own programs, and the TV series in which it is featured.
Forehead of the Week: This goes to the Jarada. The insect-like aliens put so much stress on Captain Picard through their demands that he speak to them perfectly in their own language without use of universal translator that he chose to escape to the holodeck for some relaxation.
Memorable Quote: “Hiya Doc. What’s cookin’?” – Data, providing minor amusement in an episode that should have been significantly funnier.