Few were involved in the production or viewing of 2002 Star Trek Nemesis would say it was a fantastic farewell to the beloved characters from The next generation. Over seven seasons TNG became one of Trek‘s most nuanced and consistent entries (although still one that was able to produce abominable, sillyAnd just weird episodes). But Nemesis is a shallow action film characterized by thin characterization, a cheesy one-note villain, and distracting plot inventions, and it underperformed ($67 million on a $60 million budget, in a period before “maybe making a lot of money in “China” was such a thing) that it eliminated any possibility of a further sequel. The cast and these characters, the general consensus was, deserved a better ending.
Star Trek: Picard was the TNG You would get a sequel if you wanted one TNG Continued on a monkey’s paw. The first two seasons only used non-Picard characters intermittently, and the new characters were either annoying or boring or both. The show’s creative staff uses “twisted twists” as a substitute for clear and interesting storytelling. It’s a die-hard only show Trek completists, and it’s by far the worst of the five Trek Shows in active production at the time of this writing.
The show’s third and final season was deemed true TNG reunion, and last but not least, it’s nice to see the obvious affection these cast members still have for each other. But Picard is still Picardand many of the characters and plot points in the season so far (we’ve seen the first six episodes of a planned 10, although this piece will only reference specific events from the season premiere and trailers) are eerily reminiscent of those that did Nemesis so unsatisfactory.
The film version of TNG
My favorite writing on the star trek movies is Darrich Franich’s Entertainment Weekly series that attended every film in advance Star Trek Beyond‘s release in 2016 (the gap between Outside of‘s release and today is officially longer than the gap between Nemesis and JJ Abrams’ 2009 Trek reboot movie). Franich is not particularly friendly to anyone TNG Movies, for reasons I largely agree with. These crystallize out in his piece 1998 Star Trek Uprisingwhich is partly a dialogue with a then unpublished book called unhidewritten by Trek Writer and producer Michael Piller (who died in 2005):
But unhide is out there if that’s what you’re looking for. And it is, I think, the first substantial book about screenwriting in the new century, a snapshot of Hollywood at the dawn of the franchise era: a portrait of the artist amidst corporate necessity, narrative continuity, the perceived demands of fandom, the haze of how Actors in iconic roles being able to know everything and yet nothing about their own character, the urge to change, the simultaneous urge not to change too much. Piller writes how he wanted this ninth star trek Film to regain the spirit of Next Generationto show how the Pursue crew [w]than a family deep down. Piller writes:
In the television show’s seven years, Picard had emerged as a man of great principle and moral integrity. He solved problems with his intellect and communication skills and would never fire guns unless fired upon. That side of him hadn’t been explored in the other two feature films.
I kinda love this idea? I kind of agree? generations And First contact They both came up with the idea that Picard needed to develop into a man of action, fighting Malcolm McDowell over a rocky missile ledge, carrying large lasguns before dangling over acid fog with John McClanes Die Hard tank top. Surely there was a way to make a film with Picard the Thinker, Picard the Outwetter, Picard the Smart? But someone contradicts me, contradicts Piller. Actually one of the leading Picard experts: Patrick Stewart, who supposedly writes a long and thoughtful (and often quite funny) memo back to Piller explaining them TNG Movies had to be different TNGthat the emotions and the action should be bigger, that too much sentimentality leads to heroes around the campfire Sing “Row Row Row Your Boat”..”
I don’t disagree with Patrick Stewart about what made a successful franchise blockbuster in the late ’90s. But the main problem with Picard As a TNG Reunion vehicle (which is mostly but not entirely separate from its problems as a show) is that these are elevated, flattened Movie Versions of the characters are the ones that made it back to television. There’s a scene midway through the first episode of the new season that sums it up.
Picard and Riker, back from semi-retirement, board a Federation starship. The captain they choose to work with (Liam Shaw, played by Todd Stashwick) is neither impressed with them nor particularly inclined to give them anything they want. He also seems like too many star trek Characters to have experienced their own reality primarily through watching star trek.
Riker: Not a fan of jazz?
Look: Mmm No I’m not. I like structure. i like meters I like keeping pace and keeping time, so you’ll probably find this inspection boring for people like you two.
Picard: It would be boring to ensure the condition of our spaceships?
Look: Well, we’re not going to blow things up. take fire or engage in it. Crash landing, expected or unexpected. You know, the usual for you guys.
This image – of Picard and Riker as cowboys who break rules, destroy property and disregard authority – is a grossly inaccurate assessment of their characters The next generation. TNG was, somehow infamously, the slowest, most talkative and most diplomatic of them Trek Shows, always more interested in monologue than torpedo shooting. The show borrowed from it to get some distance from the wild west feel of the original series, as it did later Trek shows how Deep Space Nine And Traveller leaned more into the fast-paced action to stand out from it TNG. Picard was the consummate ruler, always ready to deliver a monologue of duty to anyone he felt he needed to hear.
But it Is an accurate description of the film version of Picard. And there are other signs, apart from numerous references to the events in the films; The season features a mysterious, mustache-twirling villain with a gargantuan warship, both rebuilt Nemesis And star trek (2009). The song that runs over the credits is the main theme of First contact.
So, yes, the final season of Picard finally gives us what the show arguably should have been from the start: a full-fledged Next Generation Reunion with the entire original cast (plus a few fun surprises). But for better or worse, this is the movie version of a TNG Reunion. And underneath it’s still a season of Picardwith all the near misses and bumps and frustrations that come with it.
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