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Tag: Star Trek: Picard

Why Star Trek: Discovery and Picard are Worth Watching Now

If you haven’t been following these series on Paramount+, now’s a great time to finally check them out. Here’s my review.

When I was a kid, I watched the first reruns of the original “Star Trek” and was completely engaged by the adventure and adrenaline-fueled fun. I connected with this family of characters and it locked me in to follow an ever expanding universe of Star Trek stories and characters for the next several decades.

I’ve continued to watch Star Trek throughout my life. All of the series, movies, different timelines and the recent iterations on Paramount+.

And Star Trek has been evolving along the way.

Finding Balance in “Discovery”
“Star Trek: Discovery” currently represents the new norm, and the writers have clearly worked hard to boldly go where no Trek has gone before. They even introduced four-letter words into the scripts. I’m still stinging from the first time they dropped the F-bomb (although I’m finally getting used to the occasional salty language).

“Discovery” has paid significant attention to presenting us with a truly diverse set of characters. DE&I themes run deep throughout. Bravo.

“Discovery” also focuses on feelings. A lot.

Kirk never needed to talk through how he felt. But these Star Trek characters do. Yes, it’s more realistic, but it sometimes slows the pace of the show. You’ve just got to get used to it.

Speaking of feelings, “Discovery’s” scripts often point out how much the crew love each other. There’s lots of hugging and crying.

When this started, I wanted the stories to first spend more time with the secondary characters. I didn’t really know them. So I didn’t really buy all of the intimacy that writers were suddenly pushing into the scripts.

In this fourth season, that dynamic has finally been properly balanced, and the love/respect/admiration factor is more believable.

Fully Embracing the Cliffhanger
I’m also pleased with another important factor that “Discovery” is finally getting right.
It’s the classic Trek cliffhanger moment that gets you so excited for the next scene or episode.

A great example is the pre opening-credits scene that sets up the entire episode. The original series did it so well, and I’m really happy that the writers have paid more attention to that device.

I always love it when the image suddenly cuts to black, I hear the opening notes of the Star Trek theme, and then I get that tingle of adrenaline. Or maybe you catch your mouth curling up into a little smile. That’s when you want to say, “Thank you.”

“Star Trek: Discovery” has finally landed in the back half of its fourth season.

“Picard’s” Reunion
The second season of “Star Trek: Picard” is also a blast to watch. As I write this, “Picard” is only two episodes in, but this series clearly holds all of the cards. It packs together the best of the more evolved style of Star Trek storytelling with classic Next Generation Trek. It feels so good to be going back to this future.

More Jean-Luc, played by Patrick Stewart, and Seven, played by Jeri Ryan. More Borg queen, this time played by Annie Wersching. More Q (John de Lancie) and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg).

More classic starship designs, with a crazy new Stargazer. More classic uniforms and less developed transporters. The sounds and special effects are all so familiar. And they tap into little pleasure nodes throughout my brain that haven’t been activated for so many years.

This entire series has a huge impact. How can it not? I know this family. This Star Trek. These characters. And the new characters are well defined. You don’t have to wait four seasons to really get to know them.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, resistance to “Picard” is futile.

Star Trek Happiness
I’ve stuck with Star Trek across the decades like a dedicated football fan. Some years are better than others, but you don’t give up, because you just know the next year is going to be a winning season.

We’ve got two winning Star Trek seasons going on right now, simultaneously.

Fans aren’t always looking for something entirely different. Sometimes what’s old can be new again. And when the new finally aligns with what we already love, then you’re going to have happy Trekkies.

Yes, they’ve finally made it so.

Locutus, Is that You?

“Star Trek: Picard” is going back to the future by drawing heavily on its past. But not how you’d think.

Nobody escapes the ravages of time without stacking up some serious scars along the way. It doesn’t matter which future ‘enlightened’ century you’re from.

That’s the major premise of “Star Trek: Picard.” And after watching seven episodes of the first season, it’s entirely clear what’s going on here. And I’ve increasingly enjoyed what the writers are doing.

Core Damage
Forget the story… Good Romulans. Bad Romulans. Data’s daughters. Abandoned Borg. Federation conspiracy. That’s not really what’s important.

This new “Star Trek” series is essentially about broken people, just trying to hold it together. Trying to figure out how to play the cards they’ve been dealt. Trying to make the right choices.

And as for Picard, we don’t get the great captain we once knew. Oh no… Since the last time we saw him, he’s made a few bad decisions (for the right reasons).

So, now the great Jean-Luc is having a tough time getting out of bed in the morning, and I’ve got to admit, I was interested in what the heck had happened!

I think it’s a great premise for this new series on CBS All Access, as opposed to more standard-fare plots that focus on new alien species each week.

Reunion
Yes, something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark. But, all is not bad. We are still in the same hopeful galaxy that all Trekies have grown up in.

“Star Trek: Picard” also gives us a chance to reconnect with some of our favorite “Star Trek” characters… Seven of Nine as well as Riker and Troi.

Everyone here has their own demons to deal with. And as we already care deeply about these characters, how they’re coping is especially interesting. But even when our heroes from back in the day are down, they’re not out. Come on… this is still “Star Trek,” right?

Unfortunately, the reunions are short-lived as the larger plot focuses on the newer characters. Nevertheless, as a viewer, it still feels like enjoying a cup of hot cocoa on a cold day.

“Shields Up!”
“Nepenthe” (episode 7) with Riker and Troi was an especially healing experience to watch.

No, the band’s not getting back together, but seeing that they actually could after all of these years is an affirmation to Trekies, who have remained committed to the core of “Star Trek” (just substitute the dinner table for the old Enterprise ready room).

Honk if You Like the Borg
This enduring emotional connection is a solid reminder why “Star Trek” is not “Star Wars.” It’s the journey that matters, not the next light-saber sequence. That’s what “Picard” really focuses on. Traveling through life can often be the most challenging journey of all.

(Minor spoiler alert)
In one moment mid-season, a former Borg spots Picard rushing through a hallway and calls out hopefully, “Locutus, Is that you?!”

You can detect a hint of desperation in his voice.

Yes, even the Borg (some of them) are having a rough go of it here. They’re not the bad guys anymore.

I smiled. Not because it was funny, but because it was so unexpected. Yet so perfect.

It’s an insignificant moment in the larger story, but it’s a gem, because it successfully taps into the deep culture of Star Trek, built across decades.

The series may have started off a little slowly, but it’s this attention to the many details from past “Star Trek” series that’s making “Picard” particularly delightful.

Family
If you’re a Trekie, and you haven’t tried “Star Trek: Picard,” you really should. In so many ways, it’s successfully returned to the core of what makes “Star Trek” great.

It’s always been about family.

Is Star Trek: Picard Any Good?

If you were hoping that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” would get the band back together one day, you’ll be disappointed with what “Picard” has to offer. Instead, this series takes Picard in a new direction. Here are my thoughts on this new course.

“Star Trek: Picard” has arrived, and as a life-long “Star Trek” fan, I should be ecstatic with not one but two new “Star Trek” series to watch on CBS All Access.

Well, not exactly. But I do keep paying money to stream them. So, that says something right there.

I’m also not so annoyed that the producers keep messing with the original formula for “Star Trek.” I respect the need for “Star Trek” to evolve.

That said, since “Star Trek: Discovery” premiered, I think it’s also become clear to the producers when they have strayed too far from the source material. I feel the second “Star Trek: Discovery” season was more enjoyable than the first due to the ongoing presence of Captain Pike, played so well by Anson Mount. It was the perfect way to connect that series back to familiar territory.

The Picard Maneuver
The producers have clearly used the same tactic in creating their newest “Star Trek” series. What better way to anchor this one than center it around Jean-Luc Picard, played by the great Patrick Stewart?

The story follows Captain Picard fourteen years later, after his retirement from Starfleet under complicated circumstances. He’s down… but not out.

Of course, there’s an important reason why he feels compelled to leave his family’s vineyard and come out of retirement, and the Romulans seem to be at the center of the problem. There’s also a Borg cube. (Enough said.)

For me, the fact that the writers have picked up from the plots of 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis” and J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” is compelling, but I’m not sure if other more casual “Trek” viewers will find that same narrative pull.

Not “The Next Generation”
If there’s any doubt, you should know that “Picard” is absolutely not Season 8 of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” There’s an entirely different cast of characters in this series, although some legacy characters do show up from time to time.
(Data is in the first episode. Don’t worry about how. It’s explained.)

My favorite new character is Laris, played by Orla Brady, a Romulan former intelligence operative and current employee at Picard’s vineyard. In these early episodes, she’s essentially serving as Picard’s Number One. (His dog holds the official name.)

Even though the writers seem hell-bent on continuing to use four-letter words in their scripts including the f-bomb, Brady is the first Star Trek actor to actually pull it off with a sense of style.

Taking Time to Get to Warp Speed
So far, the producers of “Picard” have performed a successful narrative balancing act by giving Trekies what they want with plenty of Easter eggs, while not making the whole experience feel like you’re a nerd attending a “Star Trek” convention.

After watching the first two episodes, I do need to admit that the series is taking some time to set itself up. It’s not exactly slow, but I’d prefer that the plot move more quickly beyond what I already know from watching the promos for the series.

But in case there’s any doubt, I’m in. I do plan to watch the rest of the season. In fact, I’m already more invested in “Picard” than in the upcoming “Star Trek: Discovery” season 3, which is seemingly rebooting itself… again.

An Inclusive Viewing Universe?
With the current movie series sputtering to a halt, the future of “Star Trek” is currently in the hands of “Picard” and “Discovery.”

I do continue to wonder about the audience that CBS is trying to attract. Sure, there are still old-time Trekies out there who will pay CBS All Access to watch, but what about the next generation of viewers?

Sure, bringing Jean-Luc Picard back is a huge hook for “Star Trek: TNG” fans, but there’s been an eighteen-year gap here. That’s an eternity to recapture a viewer’s attention.

I think it’s also fair to say that “Star Trek” hasn’t maintained the same cultural gravity as the “Star Wars” universe.

Plus, kids can’t join this party due to the bad language that’s sprinkled into the scripts.

So, that might leave a relatively narrow segment of the viewing population who will rush to sign up for “Star Trek: Picard.”

We’re Just Getting Started
Still, for those who are already predisposed, I’m here to report that “Picard” is certainly ‘engaging’ enough to spend time with. (You thought I wouldn’t get to that pun?)

With the exception of the original 1966-1969 series, new “Star Trek” shows have often had uneven early episodes, including “The Next Generation.”

And when viewing “Picard” though that lens, I’m actually quite excited to see what comes next…

Let’s make it so!

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