It has been 18 years since Star Trek moved forward in live-action form. Despite a yearning in the fan base to move humanity’s greatest adventure forward and show us what happened after Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek caught the reboot disease.
Bond, Batman, Star Wars, and even Star Trek itself just went backward. Prequels, reboots, the desire to tell stories that had already been hinted at.
Star Trek had Enterprise, the TV show. Then it rebooted with a 2009 JJ Abrams action-adventure version of itself that brought us a brand new timeline in a brand new reality, but still, it features old characters and retold stories.
There may have been novels and continuation comics, a prequel graphic novel in Countdown to lay the groundwork for the Kelvin timeline and the 2009 reboot, but never truly forward. Certainly not in live-action form.
So it is no surprise that Picard is met with such anticipation. The first chance to really see what followed Star Trek: Nemesis that, despite its faults, left some tantalising threads hanging.
Data making the ultimate sacrifice. Picard needing a new Number One first officer as Riker finally stepped out of his shadow to captain his own Starship.
In this show, it has been 14 years since Picard stepped away from Star Fleet and everything in the vineyard is less than perfect.
Picard is not sleeping well. He’s having nightmares. He is feeling his age. Something happened that he does not like to talk about that made the ultimate Captain, and eventually Admiral, step away from the Star Fleet he loved.
An intriguing place to pick up his story. But importantly, is it any good? Our most excellent Head Of Tech here at The Last Movie Outpost has already given his thoughts on the show. Care for a second opinion?
After all this time can it possibly be a worthy story to tell, told in an engaging way? Can it move this whole universe forward while still feeling like Star Trek? Like it belongs?
In short, yes. This feels like Star Trek. Most importantly Picard as a character feels authentic. When CBS decided the Star Trek mine was not yet hollowed out and exhausted it brought us Star Trek: Discovery. And that has issues. Oh boy, does it have issues.
Unlikeable people doing unlikeable things, and in the process managing to do more in the way of crimes against canon and character than even the most ardent Trekker, of which I am not one, thought that the 2009 movie and subsequent Kelvin-verse ever did.
It helps that this tale is anchored firmly by Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard. It’s damn good to see the big man back in his most famous role and he nails it. You always knew he would. He’s an actor’s actor, up there with Sir Laurence Olivier.
Added to this is some deft storytelling. The Kelvin-verse nexus of the Romulan supernova is a key feature, baking this story into the bigger narrative and not taking the cowards way out of ignoring what some may not like.
Straight from the start with the opening sequence, it’s solid. It is nice to see the Enterprise-D again, and you wonder why it wouldn’t be the Enterprises-E until the reveal. Picard and Data together in an intimate setting immediately thrusts you back to the good times and anchoring us in the past.
Between this short scene and what follows the show manages to lay out a lot about Picard, where he is now and what happened. It’s technically brilliant storytelling at this point in that it is so economical yet so efficient. It very quickly moves to some action and injects some high stakes into the proceedings.
A Geordi fake out and inevitable wokeness is short-lived before it proceeds with the business at hand. This leads to some excellent work from Stewart as the reason for Picard’s exit from Star Fleet is laid bare.
When Picard corrects an insolent TV interviewer who discusses saving Romulan lives and he corrects her, saying they were “Just lives”, it gives us a glimpse back to the Picard we love.
There is some nice, but not overly done, nostalgia with a Star Fleet archive featuring the Enterprise-E, the Captain’s yacht from Insurrection and a banner on which the names are important. Other than this naked nostalgia everything else is well weaved into the narrative.
Is it perfect? No. The title sequence is weak no matter how many Star Trek chords they throw-in. It’s clearly going to have a mystery box element that no show can resist these days. Some of the supporting characters get very little to do so far, and at 44 minutes it is far too short. Maybe releasing two episodes would have been a good move for the premiere?
However, it is a strong start, definitely worth checking out and I’m tuning in next Friday to see where this goes.
Will they run it off a cliff? Hollywood can’t help itself so it’s with a sense of trepidation we invest in this show. But for now… let’s see!
It is worth your time. It really is. And these days, given the choices and the channels and the packages and the competition, that is the highest praise.