Andy Dick isn’t having a good couple of weeks and there’s a reasonable chance they’re just going to get tougher for him. But there was a time most knew Dick as the clumsy, nerdy reporter on the popular sitcom NewsRadio. It was during that happier time that the comedian and actor not only got a chance to make an appearance in the franchise he’d loved for years, but as an “improved” version of an already beloved character. Andy Dick played the EMH Mark II in a season 4 episode of Star Trek: Voyager.
In “Message in a Bottle,” Seven (Jeri Ryan) discovers a presumably abandoned relay station network that stretches all the way to the distant Alpha Quadrant — the home the Voyager crew believes it will take them decades to reach. An Alpha Quadrant ship is within range of the network, but it will only stay that way for so long. Discovering that the only type of message that will be able to traverse the entire network without degrading is a holographic one, The Doctor (Robert Picardo) — himself a Emergency Medical Holographic (EMH) program — is sent through to contact the ship. Unfortunately, it turns out the ship where The Doctor finds Andy Dick’s character has its own problems.
When The Doctor arrives in the Prometheus’ sick bay, almost everyone aboard has been murdered by Romulans. It turns out the Prometheus is an experimental new ship and the Romulans want their hands on it. With no flesh-and-blood officers to help him, The Doctor activates the ship’s EMH, expecting to find himself. Instead, Andy Dick appears as the EMH Mark II.
Andy Dick might be the big guest star of “Message in a Bottle,” but it’s really The Doctor’s chance to shine. Throughout Voyager, The Doctor is often depicted as arrogant, complaining, and utterly useless in the face of violence. But by the time this episode rolls around the hologram has had four and a half seasons of Star Trek episodes under his belt and, compared to the EMH-2, he may as well be Indiana Jones. It’s a wonderful opportunity to show his character has grown since the beginning of the series.
Andy Dick isn’t the only guest of note in the “Message in a Bottle.” Judson Scott appears as Commander Rekar, the leader of the marauding Romulans. If you don’t remember his other Star Trek character, we’ll give you a hint: he helped steal a Starfleet ship in another appearance too. Still stuck? Well, he did show up in season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but his most memorable role in the franchise was as Joachim in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Joachim was the righthand man of Khan (Ricardo Montalban) — who captured the Starfleet ship Reliant — and the only one of Khan’s followers with both the guts and the good sense to question the obsessed villain’s orders.
The next brush Andy Dick had with Star Trek wasn’t quite so dignified. For 2006’s Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner, Dick let his freak flag fly and showed up cosplaying as Spock and reading erotic Kirk/Spock fan fiction.