Star Trek: What Does the Future Hold for the Revered Franchise?

Star Trek: What Does the Future Hold for the Revered Franchise?

There are at least two audiences for Star Trek: Picard: The audience that already loves Star Trek: The Next Generation, which introduced Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard more than 30 years ago, is probably pre-sold on the idea of the captain boldly going across the final frontier one last time, and they’ll get at least some of what they want from it.

But I’m more interested in the other audience: Those who are intrigued by Picard but don’t know anything about Next Generation. Picard does its best to be accessible, but modern TV audiences are completists in a way that they weren’t when Next Generation originally aired, and by 2020 standards, Star Trek: The Next Generation is a hard show to get into.

The boom in heavily serialized prestige television—and the way that the streaming era has encouraged binge-watching entire seasons at a time—has also trained viewers to treat every single episode of a series as equally important. But while the entirety of Star Trek: The Next Generation is available on Netflix right now, I can’t think of a worse way to watch it. There are 178 Next Generation episodes; many have aged poorly, many are inessential, and more than a few are awful. And while Next Generation’s episodic format also led to some of the most brilliant stories in the entire Star Trek franchise, it’s pretty archaic by modern standards.

With all that in mind, I guess it’s no surprise that Star Trek: Picard, which is theoretically a sequel to Next Generation, barely even resembles it. The first three episodes feature occasional callbacks to several fan-favorite episodes (most notably Season 2’s “The Measure of a Man,” which you should probably watch before you start Picard). But Picard builds the vast majority of its story on the back of an all-new chunk of backstory: A traumatic incident many years after the events of Next Generation, which sparked Picard’s resignation from Starfleet.

Let’s start with what works about Picard. It’s no surprise that Patrick Stewart is terrific, because he’s great in pretty much anything not called The Emoji Movie. The show looks great and has some of the best action scenes in the history of the entire franchise. And Picard has a very cute pit bull named Number One who could literally never overstay his welcome.

As for the rest… well, at best Picard is a very rough work in progress. The downside of a performance as magnetic as Stewart’s is that it makes everything else look slipshod and undercooked by comparison. Apart from a researcher played by Allison Pill, none of the new characters get much to do. The subplots that don’t involve Picard directly—essentially, a bunch of convoluted politicking involving Starfleet and the Romulans—mostly manage to be confusing and boring at the same time.

Given the nostalgia that clearly brought this show into being, the most surprising thing about Picard is how unfamiliar it feels. The series is saddled with a ton of backstory to explain. The consequence is that the end of the third episode feels more like the end of a pilot—and when your whole season is 10 episodes long, that’s a lot of time to spend on an opening chapter.

It’s possible that a course correction is already on the way. That Episode 3 ending does seem to herald a more classically Star Trek direction for the show, and trailers have teased the return of some familiar fan-favorite characters who don’t appear in the first three episodes at all. And Next Generation had been on TV for more than a year, and endured some very public creative rejiggering, before it managed to put its best foot forward. Why can’t Picard do the same?


Source : Scott Meslow Link

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