***** (5 stars out of 5)
A stupendous episode if you're a comedy geek with a spaceship fetish. Fortunately... that's me all over.
While hacking into the intergalactic satellite communication network of what turns out to be a vicious race of giant killer monsters (sort of like Verizon with bazookas), Seven of Nine electrocutes the phone operator and allows the transmission of a brief holographic message to a Starfleet vessel on the other side of the galaxy.
The message IS the Doctor, ill-prepared but quick-thinking. The vessel is U.S.S. Prometheus (no relation to the one with the black goop and giant albinos). Prometheus is an experimental warship, the construction of which was so rushed that they painted the wrong registry number on the hull. Prometheus splits into its own squadron of transforming robot lions done up in primary colours... sorry, that's VOLTRON.
The Emergency Medical Hologram can't inform anyone here of Voyager's status: they were all killed by Romulan hijackers. Well, except an untested EMH Mark 2 who would rather shut down than try to retake the ship.
And yet Mark 1 learns to respect Mark 2's more current medical knowledge ("We don't use scalpels or leeches anymore!"), while Mark 2 learns to respect Mark 1's experience. (Especially that modification Mark 1 has used to equip himself... IN HIS PANTS!)
I've read that my favourite exchange in all the bickering between the holograms was contributed by Robert "EMH Mark 1" Picardo:
"Stop breathing down my neck," barks Voyager's doctor.
"My breathing is merely a simulation," Mark 2 informs him.
"So is my neck. Stop it anyway!"
The terrified nerd duo must outdo the enemy soldiers and fly their empty warship into combat. (More's the pity- they shoot at their own forces. Fortunately, Defiant-class ships may not look like much, but they can take a pounding. That's What She Said!)
Best of all: Voyager still can't get home, but home knows where they are. They're not alone any more.
"Message in a Bottle" may be an unfortunate title when showcasing notorious drunkard Andy Dick. Still, I admired his character for fighting off his quite reasonable panic that he is out of his depth. He can't even crawl properly- he wasn't designed for anything he's forced to do. With the physical awkwardness and arrogance of a humanoid stork, there's much to enjoy about his performance. EMH Mark 2 is almost as funny as Clone High's Mr. Sheepman.