Artist Inspirations: 2023 Data and Spot

2023 Data and Spot

In 2023, Hallmark will be releasing an ornament of Data with his pet cat, Spot. The ornament’s reproduces Data reciting Ode to Spot, a poem he wrote about his four-legged friend.

Spot, on the ornament, is represented as an American Shorthair but would appear in the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a male Somali cat. In subsequent seasons, Spot would “become” a female American Shorthair. After Star Trek: The Next Generation, Spot would make appearances in two Star Trek movies. Years later, we would even see Spot II in Star Trek: Picard.

2017 Picard and Data

The 2023 ornament’s base was previously used by Hallmark on the 2017 Picard and Data ornament. The red and tan base, labeled Star Trek: The Next Generation, houses the circuitry and speaker for the audio recording.

In this year’s ornament, Data cradles Spot with his left arm, his right hand near the nape of his neck. Data’s use of his left arm to anchor the feline is a hint that the ornament is based off an on-screen image because Brent Spiner, too, is left-handed.

TNG’S “Schisms” (S6, E5)

Data was not holding Spot when he recited Ode to Spot in the 6th season episode “Schisms”. Instead, Data was sitting, arms empty and by his side. In fact, the entire episode is Spot-less.

So, let’s try to find the moment that inspired the sculpt of the ornament by revisiting Spot’s television and big screen appearances.

Left: “Data’s Day” (S4,E11), Right: “In Theory” (S4, E25)

Data holds Spot in a similar position as seen on the ornament in both “Data’s Day” and “In Theory” but Spot is not an American Shorthair in these episodes.

Left: “A Fistful of Datas” (S6, E8), Right: “Birthright I” (S6, E16)

Data briefly holds Spot in a left-handed cradle in “A Fistful of Datas” but he never faces the camera in a useful way for an artist to use it as inspiration. In “Birthright I”, we briefly see Spot sitting in the Captain’s chair and in what may be the most factually accurate Star Trek moment ever…the cat just lies there.

Left: “Descent II” (S7, E1), Right: “Phantasms” (S7, E6)

“Descent II” can be ruled out since the only attention Spot receives is from Geordi. Spot is in three scenes in “Phantasms”, none of which have Data holding Spot as he does on the ornament. Instead, Data handles Spot in a two-handed hoisted position.

Left: “Force of Nature” (S7, E9), Right: “Genesis” (S7, E19)

In “Force of Nature” Data, once again, holds Spot with both hands under her front two legs. Notably, in this episode, Spot is referred to as a female for the first time. Spot’s sex is definitively confirmed in “Genesis” when she gives birth to a litter of kittens. Still, Data never holds her as he does on the ornament.

Above: “Star Trek: Generations”

Spot made her big screen debut appearing in two scenes of 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. The first scene, Data picks Spot up off the table. The second, Data holds spot close to his chest after discovering she survived the crash landing of the Enterprise-D. Neither resemble the ornament sculpt.

Left: “Star Trek: Nemesis”. Right: “Star Trek: Nemesis” deleted scene.

In Star Trek: Nemesis, Data’s brother, B-4 holds Spot in a similar position as the ornament. In a deleted scene from Nemesis, Worf and Geordi clean out Data’s room and Worf appears to take ownership of Spot as he cradles him right-handed.

Star Trek Picard’s “Et in Arcadia Ego I” (S1, E9)

Spot II appeared in Star Trek: Picard as an artificial life-form made in the likeness of an American Shorthair. Nothing in the episode seems to have inspired our ornament.

Left: “Data’s Day” (S4,E11), Right: 2023 Data and Spot Hallmark ornament

After reviewing Spot’s eleven screen appearances, we circle back to his first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The position of Spot’s left paw on the computer console is the first clue that the ornament was modeled after this moment in “Data’s Day” and not the scene from Star Trek: Nemesis. Further confirmation comes after comparing the position of Data’s arms and sleeve cuffs, they are nearly identical.

Hallmark appears to have used the image from “Data’s Day” when Data is seated and holding Spot at the computer console. The Somali breed that was used in the scene was substituted for the more common American Shorthair breed used in following seasons. The ornament shows Data standing and Hallmark needed to look no further than the 2017 Picard and Data ornament for a pair of Data legs and a Next Generation ornament base to place them on. Add the recording of Ode to Spot and we have the 2023 Data and Spot ornament!

Ode to Spot

Felis Catus is your
taxonomic nomenclature
An endothermic quadruped
carniverous by nature
Your visual, olfactory,
and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills
and natural defenses.

I find myself intrigued
by your sub-vocal oscillations
A singular development
of cat communications
That obviates your
basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur
to demonstrate affection.

A tail is quite essential
for your acrobatic talents
You would not be so agile
if you lacked its counterbalance
And when not being utilized
to aid in locomotion
It often serves to illustrate
the state of your emotion.

Oh Spot, the complex levels of
behavior you display
Denote a fairly well developed
cognitive array
And though you are not sentient,
Spot, and do not comprehend
I nonetheless consider you
a true and valued friend.

-Lt. Commander Data

Other Artist Inspirations…

1 thought on “Artist Inspirations: 2023 Data and Spot

  1. Pingback: Archives | Hallmark Star Trek Ornaments

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