Star Trek Picard
After a very controversial resignation from Star Fleet, Admiral Jean-Luc Picard has retired to his family home at the Chateau Picard Vineyards that was once run by his brother before his brother's untimely death. He lives a quiet, uneventful and restless life with his dog, Number One.
The show opens drifting through space…I half way expected to hear Patrick Stewart saying “These are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise…”. The theme music for the show is really quite beautiful, though. Then we come upon the Enterprise itself and zoom in through a window portal and see Jean-Luc playing cards with Lt. Commander Data. Then, through another portal across from them, Mars comes into view. A few seconds later Mars explodes and Jean-Luc is jolted awake in his own bed at the Chateau Picard vineyards in France. Picard shares his home with his dog, Number One, and a Romulan couple Zhaban and Laris who work for him and serve as sort of caretakers for the aging Admiral. At this point I’d like to quote my co-worker Joe here at Comic-Watch as he put it so elegantly in a social media post:
“We go in understanding that this is not going to be Star Trek as we have known it, from “The Man Trap” all the way to Star Trek Nemesis. The production style is not the same. The characters are not the same. The story content is not the same. This is not going to be about the voyages of a mighty Starfleet Ship of the Line and its crew who represent the most highly trained, best and brightest of the 24th Century. We are going to see Star Trek in terms and in a style in which we have not previously viewed it.
That’s not of necessity a bad thing. Remember Deep Space Nine took place aboard a space station that originally belonged to the Cardassians on the rough and rugged frontier of Federation space, and it wasn’t the same kind of elegant and urbane setting as Picard’s Enterprise. (Thankfully it also wasn’t some nasty, gnarly, grungy, gritty space ghetto full of interstellar riffraff, as some other works of science fiction might have done; it would have been un-Trek and I would have hated that.) It was a radical departure for Star Trek. It demonstrated how the Roddenberry ideals worked under less than ideal conditions. And it was great.
The first episode of Picard is another radical departure. And it’s very good and makes me want to see more. The *good* thing I will tell you about Picard is that for the first time since the aforementioned film Nemesis, I feel as though I am actually watching Star Trek again. When I look at this show, I know where I am. I know this world; I know this place. It’s twenty years on from Nemesis, but this world is a place that I grew up with. It is Gene Roddenberry’s universe. It is not the thing that JJ Abrams and company made of what Gene created; it is Gene’s universe. It’s not the pseudo-Trek that I call “The Faster Than Light and the Furious.” It’s Star Trek. I’m there again; I feel it.”
We get a much deeper understanding of where we are at in this series during an interview with Picard. While Jean-Luc is there to promote his cause of rehoming the Romulan people after their sun went super nova ten years earlier…an acknowledgement of the JJ Abrams movie reboot of the original series which created a divergent universe for the likes of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban to play in. Star Trek Picard is set in the original Star Trek timeline as is Star Trek Discovery. It has been 20 years since Star Trek Nemesis, the final film for the Next Generation characters. Admiral Picard we learn had a major falling out with Star Fleet over the Romulan relocation project, what with the Romulans being Star Fleet’s oldest enemies as the interviewer points out.
Elsewhere, in Greater Boston, a young woman, Daj, is in her apartment with her boyfriend when 4 intruders in helmets and black garb beam into the apartment and kill the boyfriend and throw a bag over Daj’s head. Facing death, Daj let’s loose with highly skilled fighting techniques and takes them all down. Standing there in the still of her apartment, Daj has a vision…a face in her mind’s eye…the face of Jean-Luc Picard.
Star Trek Picard is something much like reuniting with an old friend you haven’t seen in years. You secretly think “Damn, you’s lookin’ old, dude!” While Sir Patrick Stewart’s age is never called into question–we know he is older now and he isn’t trying to jump back into the heat of the action–Brent Spiner’s Data just looks wrong. Remember, it was Spiner who called attention to the fact he was aging and playing a character who doesn’t age and called for the death of Data in Star Trek Nemesis. We know that Hollywood now has the capability to “de-age” actors (Steve Rogers in Captain America The First Avenger) and the practice is becoming more common albeit expensive. So it puzzles me why this technique wasn’t applied here.
When I first learned they were going to do a series based on Picard I expected Jean-Luc to get involved in some mystery he would need to solve as he had done in several Star Trek The Next Generation episodes. But the audiences and the studios (and Alex Kurtzman) want the high gloss of spectacle in science fiction in today’s world and the more subdued story telling (and much cheaper budgets) back in the the days of televised Star Trek shows are not thought to hold the audience’s attention any more and down would go the ratings (yes, apparently the ratings do count on streaming shows as the cancellation of CBS All-Access’s Strange Angel proves). So where once we would’ve seen Picard with rifle in hand plunging into the action, we now see a feeble old man dodging blasts at Star Fleet Headquarters. And that is how it should be.
When Jean-Luc and Daj meet up we see there is indeed a mystery afoot…one involving Data, old paintings, Star Fleet secrets, and Romulans. With future episodes promising the return of old friends Riker, Trois, Seven of Nine and more, the intrepid Admiral Picard will be on the case in what looks to be an exciting new entry in the Star Trek mythos. Make it so!
I’d like to thank my friend J.A. Fludd for his help without which I never would have met my word count! Seriously, Joe is the biggest Star Trek fan i know and his help is greatly appreciated.
After having to adapt to all the changes and the controversies that Star Trek has put us through over the last 11 years it is so warm and refreshing to see the face of my Captain again...the man who made a Trekkie out of me. Sir Patrick Stewart is an actor of the utmost highest caliber and to see him return to perhaps his most famous role--the role studio execs had little faith of him pulling off and not only pulling it off but showing us Star Trek had a life reaching beyond the original crew of the USS Enterprise. However Star Trek Picard ultimately turns out, seeing Jean-Luc Picard again is a gift and gives me hope that we may one day fulfill Gene Roddenberry's dream of a united mankind.
Star Trek Picard: Engage!
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
User Review( votes)