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Posts tagged “Star Trek picard


With no Flash or Superman and Lois this week, we find ourselves very sci-fi heavy. Both Picard and The Mandilorian had thier finales this week and I couldn’t think of a more interesting dichotomy.  Both wrapped up thier stories just fine, but to diffrent effect.

The Mandalorian did what Star Wars does. plenty of pew pews and big booms, even a nice “We are Groot” moment. It’s ends the whole series sufficiantly, with Mando able to kick back in a quiet house on the oustskirts, while Baby Yoda plays wiht frogs by the pond. It’s fine. But it’s not quite the great hope for Star Wars that it was when it first burst on the scene. Too long a break between seasons. This allowed management to shift and the story direction really redirected. It makes it uneven. If this was really the story they intended to tell, they could have done it in about two seasons. Insted we got sideqquests, and redirects. However, I’m glad we got some sort of resolution. It was a little shoehorned, but was fine. Season was okay. I think it’s not that it was bad….but rather that it wasn’t as spectacularly good as the first two years with thier inspiration and focus.

Picard on the other hand, privides a shockingly god climax to a genuinely hopeless situation. It’s overwhelming odds and the first time I’ve felt real stakes in Star Trek in DECADES. It’s tough to make the Borg even more terrifying. Star Trek ahs tried to do it by increments – and this really does push them just another step further in the terror levels.

Not only that, they managed to introduce new characters, and set up a spin off series perfectly. A new Generation of Star Trek that I’d clamor to watch… if the current regime in charge of Star Trek had any interest in making it (They don’t). And the real shame of that is that Picard has brought viewers back. It’s undone 90% of the deconstruction and watering down that has extensively damaged the brand since Secret Hideout took it over (Perhaps even all the way back to JJ’s 2009 reboot). It’s really Star Trek done right. It’s beyond the megar sufficiancy of the Mandalorinan season3, and is the spectacular standard, (much like Mandalorian season 1-2) something we haven’t seen from Star Trek since First Contact. moreover, it’s the farewell that the Next Gen didn’t properly get with thier final film. If you haven’t watched this series….Definately hunt it down. 

And maybe hit up the Mandalorian as a light chaser.


Television week of 3/24

First and foremost, can I say that I’m glad we got back to normal on The Mandalorian? I’m told that last week’s side quest was actually a follow up to something from Andor. That’s fine, I believe you. I didn’t bother watching Andor, so dropping it in the middle of the show really doesn’t quite work for me. I realized they did the same thing with Book of Boba Fett, but that’s a show that was in need of saving. The thing is, it doesn’t count as a crossover if you’re doing an entire episode of a different show. Cross the characters over, sure. Make it a part of the show, make it integral to the story, but don’t just drop an episode of a different show in between a couple bookends and called a crossover. It was annoying enough when they were doing this for back door pilots, it’s even less interesting now.

I’m actually glad to see we’re getting some character development. It’s amazing how much expression and character they can pull out of the Baby Yoda puppet. More importantly though, we’re actually getting some interesting character development from Bo Katan as well. I’m enjoying seeing where the series takes these characters, and I tell you, the amount of spirituality that we are constantly seeing from them makes me want to dabble in building a Bible study around it.

Character development was pretty front and center in most of my television last week actually. Star Trek Picard continues to move along at a pleasant pace. One of the highlights of this week’s episode is watching Jack Crusher and the Laforge girls mount a caper to steal a cloaking device for the Titan, off of a Klingon ship in the Federation museum. It’s just brilliant. I know people are hot and cold on Captain Shaw, but I’ll tell you this, I would totally watch a show with him , the Laforges, and Jack.

The most poignant moment in the show though, came about midway. Jack and Seven are looking out over the various ships in the fleet museum and his eyes fall on the Enterprise. The real one. NCC – 1701 – A. It is my favorite ship of all time, the best looking one, with the best crew and the best adventures. There’s just something about that ship… and to get to see new footage of it in a new episode of Star Trek… it’s something we never thought we’d get.

What’s important about this scene though, is that show runner Terry Matalas takes a moment to talk directly to the audience. You remember, I’ve pointed out multiple times, the moment that I left Star Trek. It was the episode of lower decks, and mariner tells the delegation on the ship “no no, I’m making fun of you, not with you. Even more so than listening to Michael Chabon talk about how he made certain decisions on the show to anger the “wrong kind of fans”, this one really got to me. This was the writers clearly telling their audience that they hated them. They didn’t respect them. You’re stupid and only worth making fun of. Matalas is doing the opposite here. Jack spends a few minutes describing how much he loves that ship. Seven cocks her head and looks at him curiously.

“I thought you weren’t a big fan of Starfleet?”

“Not of Starfleet, of starships.” He describes the clean lines and sheer beauty of the Constitution refit… an assessment that I can’t argue. It’s a touching moment, and a very powerful bit of writing. Indeed, it’s every bit as powerful as watching Doctor Who Time Crash and seeing David Tennant look at Peter Davison tell him “You were my Doctor.” Every bit as powerful as Jon Favreau bringing Luke Skywalker back for the last episode of The Mandalorian. All these things reassure you that you’re in good hands. That your on this ride with people who respect the material, maybe even loves it.

One last note that I couldn’t help but notice. Once in a blue moon, we’ll mention my fan series. Star Trek : Icarus Flight was a TNG era series set on a Constellation class starship that sprung out of our teenage RPG  game nights. I did a few comics, mayn sketches and some student films for it. For my friends and those who know me, it’s as mucha part of the spin-off collection as Voyager or DS9. It even gets a couple of jokes making fun of it in Galaxy Quest (They qoute, word for word, one of our running gags, I kid you not). When they showed the museum, it was to my great shock and delight that I spotted my ship there. We now know the final home of the Icarus – there next to the USS New Jersey, the HMS Bounty and the USS Enterprise. Some people think it might be the Star Gazer, but nope. As far as I’m Concerned, it’s the Icarus. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. You’re not going to convince me otherwise)I couldn’t be more pleased and grateful.

The Flash was on break this week, but that’s OK, Superman and Lois was heavy enough for both shows. This is the episode that we discover Lois has cancer. Not pregnancy, not a strange alien illness, simple, aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. It’s devastating. Sure there’s other things going on in the episode. We see that ugly Mannheim is in the middle of some machinations, and working hard to cover up his involvement in creating super villains. We see Sarah convincing Nat to head over to Metropolis for a big party – place where she can meet guys, maybe even this universe’s version of the guy she was crushing on back in her own world! Jon Kent convinces Jordan to head to the same party for very much the same reasons. Talk to a girl. Try and get over this on again off again break up with Sarah. It’s all good stuff. It’s all fun. I’m still shocked at the kids don’t annoy me, but the truth is, all of it pales in comparison to this revelation of Lois being sick…. even if that plot point only takes up about five minutes of the show. It’s a tribute to just how good these actors are. Sure, there’s probably something to be said for my preexisting connection to the Superman family, but honestly, Elizabeth Tuloch has has embodied this role so well, she is absolutely the definitive Lois Lane for me. And every one of these actors are throwing down so hard, that I believe it. Never for a second do I doubt that this group of people are a family. As they come together around Lois, holding her and rallying to her, It’s far more powerful and emotional than any CW show deserves to be. It’s brilliant storytelling with characters that I genuinely am invested in.

Like I said, it was a heavy week for television. My Thursday was pretty emotional, and I sure I’m glad there’s new History’s Greatest Heists and Food That Built America to kind of shake it off a little bit and get me into a better mood before I hit work on Monday!

Television, week of 3-15.

I don’t know how to talk about Star Trek Picard without just going back into gushing. That tends to get tedious really quick, so all I’ll say is.. wow. We discover that the changeling infiltration is far worse than anyone had imagined. Remember back in the middle of Deep Space 9? The episode homefront? It was a two parter with Sisko back on Earth, and the paranoia wrapping up as to how Many people might the changelings have already replaced, and how high up the fleet might be compromised. Turns out, there were only six changelings on Earth at that time, and what they really managed to do this stir up paranoia. Well, decades later, all of our greatest fears from that episode have in fact, come true. The changelings are everywhere, And they’ve evolved to the point where traditional blood screenings don’t show them. Trust no one.
By the way? Trust no one? It’s not just Doctor Crusher telling Picard that… it’s…


I’m not gonna tell you. I want you to watch this episode and if you’re a TNG fan, You are going to plotz.

So, remember last week when I was talking about The Mandalorian? When I was describing how Baby Yoda is essential and this theory is head really refocused? Well just throw all of that out the window. This week we’ve got a very good 10 minutes at the beginning, and an OK 10 minutes at the end, the problem is the 35 minutes in the middle which have nothing to do with anything. This week’s episode bookends the restoration of mando, tying up loose ends. By the way, I heard more about living water on this episode than I have anywhere since my day is back at Moody Bible institute. The main story however, the middle section, is all about the evil mad scientists that was going to do unspeakable things to baby yoda when mando 1st picked him up and delivered him to Moff Gideon’s people. I suppose it’s an interesting enough story, but it’s really not the sort of thing you can get away with in a short season. I’m not sure where this belongs. Indeed, it feels more like a comic book supplement or a novelization spin off then something that should be a part of the series proper.

Really, I don’t know what it is about this week, because the Flash is doing the same thing! We ship off Barry and Iris to one last romantic getaway before the baby comes. Their friends are gonna throw baby shower and all that kind of stuff but first, they have to contend with a young woman who was previously dead, but brought back to life during Crisis. When she was brought back, she discovered she has good luck powers, except recently they’ve gone awry. Now she’s at the center of a police investigation, her fiancee is in a coma and the local gangsters are trying to kidnap her because of a elaborate plot involving gambling debts and The local underground casino. Flash isn’t in this at all. In fact there’s no costumes in this at all, it’s like we’re back in the early 2000s when The CW still wanted to make super hero shows like Smallville and Birds of Prey, but were too ashamed of them to actually make them look like super hero shows. All of this should annoy me. The problem is, the story is just so cute and quirky, I chuckled all the way through it. Look, this is still a definite skip if you’re binging the series or trying to do a speed run, but it is the sort of thing that can get away with in the middle of a full season of network TV. Of course, The Flash isn’t getting a whole season, so i’m still not sure what they’re thinking here.

Finally, it’s the return of Superman and Lois. I feel like they’ve done some tweaking on the S on the costume perhaps? It looks a little different. But not as different as Jonathan Kent does! Oh man, this new actor is just all kinds of throwing me off. They’re not even really dressing him the same as the previous iteration. At least some blonde highlights in that hair probably would have helped.

The episode telegraphs sets up a bunch of storylines that we’re gonna be seeing this season. A weird and cringe love triangle with Lana’s ex husband and Lois’s boss, Health problems and a pregnancy scare for Lois, and the continued weirdness in Sarah and Jordan’s relationship. That’s the one that annoys me the most. She wants space, and he’s supposed to be just wait around for her and be okay with that. To me it feels very much like Sarah is stringing him along, and it’s a little ugly. It makes me suspect that they’re prepping to dissolve her relationship with him and put her with a lesbian POC like they were setting up last year. Part of me is also betting it’s gonna be John Henry’s daughter. I just don’t like any of that. It’s an ugly way of treating both Sarah and Jordan. But perhaps I’m overreacting, I’ve been burned enough times that I spent a lot of the series just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like Picard, It’s been so good that I have a hard time believing they haven’t jumped the shark yet! Perhaps I should just unclench and enjoy myself while I can. The villain this time around was good, with a nice old fashioned look to him. “Ugly” Bruno Manheim is in the mix, and anytime you give me one of Kirby’s contributions to the Superman cast, it’s almost always brilliant.They don’t skimp on the action either. We get some good rescue action, and a spectacular knock-down-drag-out with Superman and the villain of the week. It’s everything that I ever asked for in a Superman show. We’ve got compelling hero action, and a great supporting cast of characters. Not to mention that the actress playing Clark and Lois are still knocking it out of the park. Tyler Hochen and Bitsy Tuloch may well become my definitive actors for these characters. They’re just that good.

I also fell down a rabbit hole this weekend. Remember a while back when I  mentioned the film Nintendo Quest? Well there’s an entire series featuring Jay Bartlett, the protagonist of that documentary, and his action figure quest. You see, he’s trying to amass a collection of highly sought after action figures to auction off for a London hospital. It’s absolutely riveting. It’s the thrill of all the toy shows I go to but for a better cause. It’s familiar faces and spectacular settings – taking us all the way to Power Con (The ultimate He-Man convention in Anaheim CA – I desperately want to go and I know I’ll never be able to afford it!). I actually passed on this early on because it didn’t capture my imagination enough. Things looked different on this Saturday afternoon and I was channel flipping. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough!

Wow! I’m not used to having this many programs to watch all at once! Kind of nice for a change. Can’t wait to see what happens next week. In the meantime, I’m gonna head back and finish my DVR of history’s greatest heists. I’ve never actually heard of the Museum of Natural History robbery before!


Last week! 3-11-23!

It’s pretty common knowledge that Baby Yoda was supposed to be basically written out of season 3 and a lot of the Mandalorian going forward. I’ve heard talk that the marketing department basically came to John Favro and told him “You can’t do that period it’s the only mech we can actually sell!”

Whatever happened, The Mandalorian definitely got the message and Baby Yoda is absolutely pervasive the series. He’s so ever-present to the point where he actually gets some of his own action, piloting a ship and going to get Bo Katan to rescue Mando. Mando on the other hand is wondering “How did I end up on the set of the Descent?”

It’s funny, because I watched The Mandalorian and Star Trek Picard back-to-back. It’s interesting to note how differently they both treat technology. I’ve never noticed it before, but star trek still tries to fill you with wonder at the high tech. The characters on screen are impressed and astonished by the bounty hunter ship. The method of communication that the bad guy uses to talk with her evil overlord is shocking. There’s a real healthy respect for technology and what it can and can’t do. On the other hand, Star Wars is very casual about its tech. We just assume that Baby Yoda’s antigrav stroller is just gonna float. It’s just a matter of fact that this stuff works. High Tech robots are sold with the same disdain and casual flare as a beat up ’89 Chevy. In star trek, technology is still a miracle, where it is in Star Wars it’s just a fact of their existence. I think it’s an interesting contrast.

Picard basically a bottle story this episode. Our heroes are trapped in a gravity well due the miscalculation on Picard’s part, and everybody’s going to die. It’s kind of an examination of what do you do when you know there is no hope…

Of course they eventually escape. I mean come on, we know we have another 5 episodes are so to go so that’s not really a surprise. What it is, is a chance to sit back and watch some character development. It’s an exposition heavy episode, but it doesn’t feel like it. It never drags, and because these are characters that you genuinely care about… and they’re acting in character, (Along with a few new fan favorites) It’s really just a nice little hang out at the bar with friends. That’s one of the things that I keep pointing out about how Picard really gets star trek right… for the first time In probably a decade and a half.

I remember talking a little bit last week about how the first part of the red death 2 partner here felt like it should have ended with that episode. I’m actually still of that same opinion. This second part felt a lot like filler to me, and when you’ve only got half a season, you really can’t afford to be wasting time on filler. Sure, there’s some shenanigans, with the Red Death duplicating herself like Agent Smith in the Matrix and then going all Minority Report on central city… but it still feels stretched out. Like we could have gotten this earlier. I almost wonder if this 2nd part was Entirely so that we could squeeze in a Batwoman cameo. For those who weren’t fans of the character of the show, it’s OK, it’s brief. But It really serves to showcase the service that Leslie was given a real disservice in that character. When Ruby Rose left, it always felt like they just reached out and grabbed the first lesbian they could to fill the suit. Add POC for a diversity upgrade…and that was it. That didn’t give Leslie a chance to really spread her wings as an actress, that didn’t give her a great deal of characterization beyond “gay and black”. I enjoy far more watching her chew the scenery as the Red Death. When you put this character with flaws and depth next to the fairly flat and bland Batwoman, it really becomes apparent that Leslie has a lot of talent that she just wasn’t given a chance to use in her own series. Despite being a bit of a filler episode, the Flash is maintaining a good baseline of quality, and I really am going to miss it when it ends. The news about Grant Gustin hanging up the suit for the final time last week really hit me. I’m gonna miss these characters, but after 9 years of it? It’s really a case of “Don’t be sad that it’s ending, be grateful that it happend.”

foodSpeaking of things that I’m grateful are happening, The Food That Built America has just been piling up on my DVR. I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to this recently, because it’s just such a good show, and I caught up this weekend.
They’ve moved from a lot of stuff that you would expect… a lot of the staples of American food and are getting more specific. It’s not just breakfast cereal in general now, it’s Pebbles and Pop Tarts and Eggo waffles. We explore the origins of the Buffalo wing, And marshmallow peep. One of the things that really strikes me, is how recent a lot of these innovations are apparent if you’re a Gen Xer like me, you grew up always having holiday candy for each season. But a lot of that stuff got started within my parents lifetime. It’s Interesting to understand that Pop Tarts and leggo my Eggos were born right around the same time I was; indeed, just a few years earlier. It’s almost unthinkable to realize that until the last thirty years or so, nobody really ate chicken wings or Buffalo wings outside of New York. We tend to forget that wings only gained national prominence and came of age in the early nineties… around the same time I was coming of age myself. We take a lot of the stuff for granted, and this show is particularly good in reminding us of the rapid innovation and development of our society. It helps really put us in our place in history. That’s the thing that I’m thoroughly enjoying about it, and if you missed the first season, it’s usually in frequent reruns on the History Channel. Set your DVR and get to watching this. You won’t be sorry.


TV catchup, end of February

I think it’s fair to say that the Flash bounced back after that a miserable second episode. The red death has her team of rogues going after a special super secret macguffin And the Flash needs to get there  first. However, he can’t be seen as the Flash, breaking into a Secret military facility, so hes gonna need to assemble a team – and not the usual suspects from team Flash, but perhaps.. villains?

I’ve got to say, this is a really smart way of bringing back old faces and still prolonging the whole farewell tour. We got a lot of this last season when they thought it was the end, and We got to say goodbye to a lot of the regulars. A lot of heroes…. whereas this time around, the familiar faces tend to be the bad guys. They’re fun bad guys as well, and it’s just enormous fun to watch these two groups of rogues battle out. Boomerang and the fiddler Versus the piper and goldface and Volcano dude…it’s just fun. And really, that’s what the Flash has always been when it’s at its best.

So what’s my reaction to discovering we’ve got Ryan Wilder, Batwoman herself under the mask of the red death? My knee jerk reaction is always going to be annoyance that they’re changing the comic character.. but in this context, I find myself less frustrated than usual. It actually kind of makes sense, with us tying up loose ends… and basically putting the arrowverse to bed. The thing about the arrowverse , while Arrow may have started the series, the Flash has always been the heart of that universe. He’s where we go to cross over. Barry was the firstst character to cross over to Supergirl, and that was the same year that we had our first cross over between Green Arrow and The Flash. It also makes sense with them being one of the last men standing. We’ve already had references to Kara and CatCo from the long cancelled Supergirl series, so Reminding us of those connections to Batwoman and Gotham city makes a lot of sense. Enough to mitigate my annoyance over the “sticking the girl in the man’s costume” trope, and kind of going rogue with the character again. It’s not just a capricious change either. As we see in the next episode, there’s been a lot of thought put into this. Alternate universes, and giving Wilder a real mad-on for Barry… and maybe a justified one. Indeed, I feel like Javicia Leslie actually has more characterization and a better chance to really chew the scenery and stretch her acting chops out here then she was ever given on Batwoman. I like this. I like her as a villain. I’m I’m still looking forward to each episode.

As we delve deeper into the red deaths origins, We get some real universe shaking stakes… and we’re getting it pretty early in the season. Then again, with only a 1/2 Season order this year, I suppose 5 issues in and we better start ramping things up. We’re a 3rd of the way through our final year!

And that’s the thing, I’m gonna stand by my statement that the Flash all of a sudden got pretty good. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been racing towards the end of the series now for the last 2 years, and that’s the sort of thing that makes you bring your A game. It makes me happy to think that the Flash is actually going to go out on top.

I checked out a new series this week. My wife watches the Curse of Oak Island every week, and it’s been followed by a series called History’s Greatest Heists. I’m a sucker for Pierce Brosnan in the first place, but throw him in with some true crime? This looks tailor made for me. Nevertheless, I’ve been slow getting to it. However it’s, this week they were recapping the Lufthansa heist. It’s a good solid retelling of the story, with way more detail than you’d get if all you’re familiar with is Goodfellas. I’m liking this so far. It’s not appointment viewing. It’s absolutely DVR fodder, much like The Food that Built America (which I’m also hopelessly behind on!) But still, I’m enjoying it, and eager to dig through the back catalog.

The Mandalorian came back this week, and all I’ve heard from anyone is that it was slow. I suppose I understand that, because they do spend a great deal of time getting themselves back to speed. That hiatus for a couple of years was just far too long. between The long break, as well as the meddling we saw Kathleen Kennedy eject into Book of Boba Fett, not to mention the firing of Gina Carano and the drastic change in Baby Yoda story… Just 1 or 2 of those things could absolutely sink a show. The fact that The Mandalorian manages to rise above all of them and restart is a Testament to how strong a concept this series is (And this is coming from some of those not really even a Star Wars fan…. and certainly was never as Is fascinated by Boba Fett as the rest of the fandom is).

The Mandalorian works on its return because it evokes a nice, comfortable feeling of being reunited with old friends. The familiar faces let you sink right back in and engage. It feels like picking up where we left off as if no time had passed…. making it all the more baffling that they didn’t lean into this approach with the sequel trilogy! It is very much a setup episode. A restablishment of the worlds and reintroducing the characters. Finally, it sets up this season’s quest. In some ways, it is still by the numbers… but it’s television, and that kind of predictability is actually exactly what I want here.

One of the standouts  for this season already though, is the music. In television, the music tends to be light background and flat and boring. The goal is to enhance the mood without being noticed. This year, that music is absolutely getting noticed… with strong themes and lines announcing itself and the scene. I think I want a soundtrack.

And then, there’s Picard.

Look, I was done with Star Trek, period. I was not giving these guys another chance. The current regime running the series had spat in the faces of the fans too many times. Nothing coming out of Secret Hideout was remotely recognizable as Star Trek. The closest they were coming was Prodigy, and still… no.

It took well over a dozen people to convince me to give this a chance. Voices that I respected, more than a few people who were every bit as disenfranchised as I’ve become. Even then, I turned the TV on and sat with clenched teeth, crossed arms, and a scowl on my face. I warned my family, “I’m probably gonna be in a bad mood in an hour or so”.

A reminder of the EXACT moment I gave up on Star Trek – when the writers flat out told us what they think of us.

At first glance, it just looks like more of the same. Same dim lighting, same PEW! PEW! Same S and F bombs. But then you star listening. You start watching…and you start…noticing things. You star to notice that Patrick Stweart is acting like…..well, he’s actually acting like Jean-Luc Picard. So are the others. Jeri Ryan is acting more like Seven of Nine that we’ve seen in ages. Johnathan Frakes isn’t just being a gloomy gus, he’s acting like Will Riker with all the bluster and bravado we’ve come to expect (and if anyone has cause to act grumpy it’s him. his back must surely hurt  from carrying this series) but haven’t actually seen except for a brief moment at the end of Picard Season one. You know EXACTLY what moment I’m talking about. When Riker shows up with a fleet of ugly Kurtzman-ships to rescue Picard and company (In a scene that was actually a reshoot- and originally featured Lady Admiral Hubris). Yeah. It’s that Riker we’re seeing, and every bit of chemestry that he had with Stewart is still there.

Oh and ugly Kurtzman-trek ships? Gone. Star Trek is once again the rightful repository of the most beautiful ships in science fiction. And about zarking time.Ship design was always Star Trek’s great strength, but the last ten years have been filled with flat boats with all the personality of a paper airplane. No, the titan and the unnamed Crusher vessel are gorgeous. Starfleet clean with recognizable design. I can literally feel my body relaxing as I see them – it’s a similar feeling that I had back when the TIE Fighters and Millennium Falcon first showed up in The Force Awakens after decades of prequel era ships that just felt like an unrecognizable mess of jumbled pixels.

I got through the first episode without shouting obsenities at the screen once. I don’t understand this. I’m not used to this. In fact, I was actually caught by the cliffhanger and found myself kind of looking forward to the next episode.

Wait a minuet! Did I just say that??? What the fluff is wrong with me! That’s not…I…. That’s can’t be the right sentence. You know what? Let’s just move on.

A sort of roaming Doctor on the frontier, Beverly Crusher has found herself and her son (no, not, him. She’s squeezed out a new and improved version who isn’t nearly as irritating as Wil Wheaton). She sends out a distress call to Picard, who enlists the help of Will Riker and off they come to the rescue. Of course it’s not that simple. Riker is a Captain, but one without a ship. His plan is to scam the new Captain of the Titan to take them out to the edge of Federation space and “borrow” a shuttle.Of course once they rescue Doctor Crusher – the people chasing Her and now chasing them and the Titan. It’s a monster of a ship populated with thugs and bounty hunters who aren’t impressed with Picard, The Titan or Starfleet.  The face off is another one of those cliffhangers that makes me wish I could just instantly go on to the next one….

Okay seriously. Can we figure out where those strange sentences are coming from? Because now it’s starting to freak me out.

With episode 3, we start to get deep into the characters and storyline. A conspiracy is afoot and not everyone on the ship is what they may seem. There’s a reason why The bounty ship keeps managing to follow the Titan, evenin the nebula where sensors don’t work. Back on Earth, Raffie is getting acquainted with Worf…. her handler. This is where things actually start to get interesting. Raffie was never particularly a fan favorite…. she’s always been written dower and accuseatory. It seemed like her main purpose in the first season was to be an addict, and to constantly criticize Picard… To put him in his place. Her interactions with Worf were far different. Worf dosen’t have time forany of that. He is firm and decisive. He’s still respectful, but hes not taking any of her crap. Interestingly enough, this has a positive effect on her character. It uplifts her in a way that Picard’s wishy washy approach never did. All of a sudden, their mission to unravel the conspiracy on this end of space gets interesting. It’s all due to Michael Dorn’s performance as Worf, and the way that it makes everyone around him really bring their  A game.

But then there’s this moment… Picard is finally face-to-face with Beverly Crusher. They’re alone, and he needs answers about this lost son of his that hes never met. He’s upset, angry even… and justifiably so. Crusher points out that they had just broken up for the 5th time, it wasn’t going to work. She wanted to tell him she was pregnant, but right at that moment he gotten kidnapped by romance. By the time they’ve retrieved him five days later….

“And is that all I had?” he asks.”A five day window?”

Crusher then points out and attempts on his life by a Reman sect, and then he was off to negotiate a peace treaty…

“I lost my Husband and my son to those same stars,” Beverly protests. (I suppose. Westly isn’t dead, but he’s not quite human anymore either, but rather a travler)  and she suggests, she knew she could protect HER son from those kind of things, but not PICARD’S son…

The explanation isn’t quite good enough for Picard, He still points out that she took away his choice about whether or not he wanted to be a father said this young man.  She responds that he never wanted kids, at least that’s what he told her. After all,  he was afraid he’d be abusive like his father. Picard erupts in a rage.

“How dare you do something that was told to you in confidence to rationalize your own choice here!”

He asks why she couldn’t have had faith in him… he suggested that he could have gotten out of active duty, taken a less dangerous job so he could be that father to Jack. Crusher isn’t sure she agrees.

Here’s the thing. This is exactly when the show proves that it’s actually classical Star Trek. You see, in this argument, they’re both right. They’re also both wrong. There’s two sides to this question, two sides of the same coin, and the show explores them equally. It wants to have the conversation. Much like classic star trek, it wants to MAKE you think. Unlike current star trek which tells you WHAT to think. I will flat out say that in previous seasons of Picard, and all Discovery for that matter… the same conversation would gone very differently. Picard would have shrunk away, apologizing, and admitting that he doesn’t have any argument or justification. That he was wrong, and his entire perspective is wrong. He would immediately defer to the nearest female in higher authority.

To watch this instead, to see this man and this woman, both hash it out as equals , It’s something that’s long been missing from Star Trek.

Thats the thing. Picard is actually good. I mean it’s really stinkin’ good and I’m not sure how to process that. I didn’t go in with any hope. I didn’t even go in wanting to like it (and I’d like to think that most of the time I’m more fair than that, but I’ll admit I wasn’t this time). Picard had a high bar to clear just to get my attention..and it did it. I don’t know if this is a turning point. I’m not optimistic enough for that. But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. For now….for RIGHT now. I’ll sit back and be content for this brief moment I can actually enjoy Star Trek for a change….because who knows? This time may never come again.

At least, not until Prodigy returns!

Star Trek : Prodigy

Star Trek Prodigy is back after its brief holiday hiatus. I kind of lost some momentum with the show during the break, so I keep forgetting that it’s on. However, I managed to catch up this weekend, and I’m still a fan.

Star Trek Prodigy is surprisingly episodic, though there is an overarching story with the bad guy who’s mining colony they escaped from. He’s still searching for them and more importantly, for the ship.

But that’s really not the big news. That’s not the thing that makes this work. It’s far from Star Trek Discovery or Picard, both of which traded optimistic humanism for nihilism and have mistaken cynicism for wisdom and original thought. It’s also not Star Trek Lower Decks which feels like it was somebody learning as much as they could about Star Trek just so they can trash the fans.  They’re not laughing with us, they’re laughing at us. Really. They said it out loud.

No, Prodigy feels different… Almost like… Star Trek?

One of the big differences that I’m noticing in the series is that it’s an ensemble. It’s a diverse group of misfits. And in this case, it’s truly diverse. Whereas on Star Trek Discovery, diversity just means no straight white men… (In fact as few men as possible, thanks)  In Star Trek Prodigy, we have male and female, each a different race with their own personalities and quirks. Much of the current crop of Star Trek doesn’t bother developing personalities, rather their entire characterization is the superficial… “I’m the black one”, “This is the gay one”, “That’s the black gay one!”… And the only characters getting any real development are their leads.  Star Trek Picard is entirely focused on deconstructing Jean-Luc Picard, whereas Star Trek Discovery is all about the almost Christlike perfection of Michael Burnham. They’re definitely the stars of their shows.

Star Trek Prodigy doesn’t have a star. It has an ensemble.

Thing is, this is really were Star Trek shines. It’s the thing that always worked about Star Trek. Even back to the original series, where the idea was to have a star in William Shatner, the show very quickly shifted into team mode… No longer just being about Captain Kirk, but being about Kirk Spock and McCoy as one unit… And even the second string characters each got their moments (especially Chekov and Scotty who really got development in the later seasons). Likewise, Prodigy is very much an ensemble. It’s not just about Dal, the purple captain. It’s not just about Gwyn, the albino white girl with the AWSOME thought metal sword-armlet-thing, or big rock girl ( Rok-Tahk is consistently my favorite character on this show, although gelatinous Murph comes in as a close second). It’s not even about hologram Janeway, arguably the most recognizable element of the series. She’s not the lead, but she’s also not just a supporting character. Everyone has equal weight, everyone gets equal development, everyone has equal importance. They work together to make something really special.

I mentioned in a previous post, because it’s set and the far-flung reaches the universe, and I don’t even know what time period it is, it’s not quite so burdened by the continuity. It allows it to restart. That’s a smart thing. This is very much intro to Star Trek, a good way to ease new viewers into the series. The characters act as our avatars, as they discover things like the holodeck, the transporter, the replicators, and more importantly… they’re discovering the heart that always drove Star Trek. The character, and the engaging storytelling. Unburdened by continuity, or the preachiness of current year politics, We go on adventure after adventure, experiencing first contact for the first time. We’re dipping our toe in the Kobyashi Maru, and experimenting with phasers and communicators and tricoders and discovering a few secrets that this long lost ship just might have its own.

Also because they’re experiencing all these things for the first time, because it’s all new to them, it doesn’t quite feel like just gratuitous ‘member berries when we see a hologram of Spock show up, or a picture of one of the old ships, or note that phaser designs, while streamlined, or awfully familiar (and, man…what IS it with the fetishization of the arrowhead/delta insigina in all these new series?).

In shows like Star Trek Picard and Star Trek Lower Decks, it feels like they’re just throwing as much of this stuff at the screen as possible to try and remind you “Remember how you used to like Star Trek? Remember the Klingons? You love the Klingons! Remember 10 forward? You love 10 forward!“ It’s all very shoehorned in there. Here, it feels more natural. They are discovering these things with the audience, and it feels new. The fact that there’s Klingon writing on the side of that cloaking device in the junk pile? That’s for the old viewers. Something for us to spot (but with no attention drawn to it) while the new viewers get to discover what a cloaking device is in the first place. It’s organic and natural.

I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this. Along with a lot of the traditional Star Trek designs and tropes, we get some stunning alien designs, and some real innovation. One of the bigger shortfalls of Star Trek in the late 90s, was everything started to look the same. You had the same people working on the show for 20 years, and the alien computer started to really resemble the federation ones. The lines of the ship were kinda distinct, but still felt a little too similar to everything we’ve seen before. Prodigy goes out and creates wild creatures and landscapes, trying very hard to go where no one has gone before… While still trying to maintain a reasonably familiar, comfortable look inside the Federation ship. Everything around it though, it’s so new and fresh, that the protostar ship almost feels out of place, The Federation vessel becoming the alien itself.

We’re better than halfway through the season, and we’ve had some good episodes and some filler episodes. We’ve had some things that were shocking, like watching the bad guy sneak onto the ship in the most innovative way possible, and these bad guys are genuinely frightening. We’ve had some real character development in just about everybody, and watching this team start to gel, and really become a crew. 

Look, if you’re not watching Star Trek Prodigy, this is the one to really give a try. So far I’ve enjoyed everything about it. I gave both Star Trek Picard and Star Trek Discovery a good long chance (and I’m disappointed that my faith wasn’t justified – though you can actually see the cracks even as far back as my earliest Discovery blog posts ). And it didn’t take long for me to realize these are not good shows. That they’re just not Star Trek. Honestly, I’ve been burned so much at this point, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never does. Star Trek Prodigy is solid Star Trek, and the absolute best thing to come out of Paramount+ and Secret Hideout.