Few concerned within the making or watching of 2002’s Star Trek Nemesis would say that it was a implausible send-off for the beloved characters of The Subsequent Technology. Over seven seasons, TNG grew to become one among Trek‘s most nuanced and constant entries (although nonetheless one which was able to producing horrible, foolish, and simply plain bizarre episodes). However Nemesis is a flat motion film outlined by skinny characterization, a tacky one-note villain, and distracting plot contrivances, and it did so poorly ($67 million on a $60 million price range, in a time earlier than “perhaps it can make some huge cash in China” was a factor) that it foreclosed any chance of one other sequel. The forged and people characters, the pondering typically went, deserved higher closure.
Star Trek: Picard has been the TNG continuation you’d get for those who wished for a TNG sequel on a monkey’s paw. The primary two seasons made solely intermittent use of any non-Picard characters, and the brand new characters have been both annoying or bland or each. The present’s artistic workers makes use of “convoluted twists” as a stand-in for clear and fascinating storytelling. It is a present strictly for die-hard Trek completists, and it is simply the worst of the 5 Trek exhibits in energetic manufacturing as of this writing.
The present’s third and last season has been pitched as a real TNG reunion, and if nothing else, it is good to see the clear affection these performers nonetheless have for each other. However Picard continues to be Picard, and lots of the characters and plot factors within the season thus far (we have seen the primary six episodes of a deliberate 10, although this piece will solely consult with particular occasions from the season premiere and the trailers) are eerily paying homage to those that made Nemesis so unsatisfying.
The film model of TNG
My favourite writing on the Star Trek motion pictures is Darrich Franich’s Leisure Weekly collection that revisited every movie main as much as Star Trek Past‘s launch in 2016 (the hole between Past‘s launch and right this moment is formally longer than the hole between Nemesis and J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Trek reboot movie). Franich is not notably variety to any TNG motion pictures, for causes I broadly agree with. These are crystallized in his piece about 1998’s Star Trek Rebellion, which is partly a dialogue with a then-unpublished ebook known as Fade In, written by Trek author and producer Michael Piller (who died in 2005):
However Fade In is on the market, for those who’re on the lookout for it. And it’s, I believe, the primary important ebook about screenwriting within the new century, a snapshot of Hollywood on the daybreak of the franchise period: A portrait of the artist amidst company necessity, narrative continuity, the perceived necessities of fandom, the hazy method that actors in iconic roles can know all the things but nothing about their very own characters, the urge to vary, the simultaneous urge to not change an excessive amount of. Piller writes how he wished this ninth Star Trek film to recapture the spirit of Subsequent Technology, to indicate how the Enterprise crew [w]as deep-down a household. Piller writes:
Throughout seven years of the tv present, Picard had emerged as a person of nice precept and ethical integrity. He solved issues together with his mind and communication expertise and would by no means hearth weapons until fired upon. This aspect of him had not been explored within the different two characteristic movies.
I kind of love this concept? I kind of agree? Generations and First Contact each landed on the concept Picard wanted to finalize into a person of motion, wanted to battle Malcolm McDowell throughout a rocky missile ledge, wanted to hold massive laser rifles earlier than dangling above acid mist carrying John McClane’s Die Laborious tank-top. Absolutely there was a method to make a movie with Picard the thinker, Picard the outwitter, Picard the intelligent? However somebody disagrees with me, disagreed with Piller. One of many main Picard consultants, really: Patrick Stewart, who allegedly writes a protracted and considerate (and infrequently fairly humorous) memo again to Piller declaring that these TNG motion pictures wanted to be completely different from TNG, that the feelings and motion wanted to be larger, that an excessive amount of sentimentality results in heroes round a campfire singing “Row Row Row Your Boat.”
I do not disagree with Patrick Stewart about what made for a profitable franchise blockbuster within the late ’90s. However the primary drawback with Picard as a TNG reunion automobile (which is generally however not solely separate from its issues as a present) is that these heightened, flattened film variations of the characters are those who made it again to TV. There is a scene halfway by way of the primary episode of the brand new season that encapsulates this.
Picard and Riker, once more drawn out of semi-retirement, board a Federation starship. The captain they’re trying to work with (Liam Shaw, performed by Todd Stashwick) is neither awed by them nor notably inclined to provide them something they need. He additionally appears, like too many Star Trek characters, to have skilled his personal actuality primarily by watching Star Trek.
Riker: Not a fan of jazz?
Shaw: Mm. No, I’m not. I like construction. I like meter. I like retaining tempo and time, which is why you’ll in all probability discover this inspection boring, for the likes of you two.
Picard: Making certain the situation of our starships can be boring?
Shaw: Effectively, we can’t be blowing issues up. Taking or participating in hearth. Crash-landing, expectedly or unexpectedly. You realize, the same old for you boys.
This picture—of Picard and Riker as rule-breaking, property-destroying, authority-flouting cowboys—is a wildly inaccurate evaluation of their characters on The Subsequent Technology. TNG was, kind of infamously, the slowest, talkiest, and most diplomatic of Trek exhibits, all the time extra inquisitive about monologuing than capturing torpedoes. The present leaned into this to provide it a long way from the Wild West feeling of the unique collection, simply as subsequent Trek exhibits like Deep House 9 and Voyager leaned more durable into fast-paced motion to differentiate themselves from TNG. Picard was the consummate rule-follower, all the time able to drop a soliloquy about responsibility on anybody he thought wanted to listen to it.
Nevertheless it is an correct description of the film model of Picard. And there are different indicators, past plentiful references to the occasions of the flicks; the season has a mysterious, mustache-twirling villain with a big warship, each retreads of Nemesis and Star Trek (2009). The tune that performs over the top credit is the primary theme from First Contact.
So, sure, the final season of Picard is lastly giving us what the present arguably ought to have been from the beginning: a full-fledged Subsequent Technology reunion that includes the complete authentic forged (plus just a few enjoyable surprises). However for higher or worse, that is the film model of a TNG reunion. And beneath that, it is nonetheless a season of Picard, with all the near-misses and unevenness and frustration that entails.