TV Review: Star Trek: Picard

The wait is over. Star Trek: Picard is here. Yes, the newest Star Trek series, available exclusively on CBS All Access, brings the long-awaited return of Jean-Luc Picard, the favorite Star Trek captain of many fans, including myself. I just watched the first episode and…yeah, I am excited. In fact, it’s been a long time since I was this excited about a new TV show. I think the last time I was this excited about a show was at the height of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as Doctor Who. It’s not perfect, and the continuity’s kind of screwy, but this was a very promising start.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Star Trek: Picard (naturally) also brings the return of Sir Patrick Stewart, portraying a ninety-four-year-old Admiral Picard, long since resigned from Starfleet and haunted by the ghosts of his past. Those ghosts revolve heavily around the supernova at Romulus, the event that triggered the alternate timeline of the recent trio of reboot movies. Picard, however, is set in the original timeline, thirteen years later.

I don’t want to give any spoilers because even from the beginning, so much of what happens is tied in with the larger plot, and you really need to see it more yourself. I will just say that I called it on Dahj’s identity right away (even though there were still some continuity problems with that).

I do, however, want to talk a little about CBS’s previous Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, and how it relates to the state of television in general. I wanted to contrast the two shows because I reviewed Star Trek: Discovery when it came out in 2017. First off, Star Trek: Picard is much better. Discovery was not as well written, had a lot more continuity problems, and did not hold my interest enough to subscribe to All Access to keep watching after the pilot.

For the record, I strongly disagree with CBS’s decision not to run the pilot of Picard on broadcast like they did for Discovery. It’s generating a lot of hype, but I still don’t think it’s as much as it would be if people could watch it on a physical television.

Apropos of that, two years ago, I complained that the move to a subscription-only service for Discovery would limit the audience and cultural reach of the show. I also speculated that I was fighting a losing battle on that front.

Well, it’s two years later, and the battle is lost. Everything is going subscription-only these days. Star Trek: Picard had me interested enough to buy a subscription to CBS All Access sight-unseen, and I’m glad I did. I previously only had Amazon Prime (because it’s an add-on to Amazon proper), but I never used it. I’ve been considering Netflix for years, but I never felt strongly enough to subscribe. Picard was enough to finally get me on the bandwagon. And who know? Maybe I’ll get that Disney Plus subscription I’ve been thinking about.

Yes, that does mean I skipped The Mandalorian. I didn’t just forget to review it. I considered signing up for Disney Plus when it came out, but I had a lot of stuff going on at the time, and I never got around to it, and then it was over after only eight episodes. I’ve said it before, and I really miss the days when a “season” meant twenty or twenty-five episodes even for a big-budget show like Star Trek. Disney Plus isn’t expensive, but the mental effort of maintaining subscriptions for everything when it would make more sense for me to buy eight episodes a la carte if I could just doesn’t feel like a very good deal to me.

Fine, Star Trek: Picard is only ten episodes, too. I don’t care. Star Trek is better than Star Wars. Yes, I said it!

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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