It’s been an emotional week for me. And that could be a part of the problem: Star Trek: Picard season 3 caught me at the right time.
I don’t think I’ve ever properly explained the impact that TNG made on my childhood. Without it, everything might’ve been different. Perhaps I would have been able to able to live out my dream of being a Las Vegas lounge singer in Carson City. Who knows? But alas, I watched it and now nearly 30 years after the show ended, I’m about to initiate mutually assured destruction with my employer. C’est la vie.
Now after the shitshow that was Picard seasons 1 and 2, the question we should ask ourselves is: “what makes us think that season three would be any different?”. And I’m not entirely sure I have a satisfying response. We’re only two episodes in for fuck’s sake.
But I will say this: season three already feels a bit dialed back. This is a good thing. If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times: Star Trek works best on limited budget, reliant on big emotions and intriguing science fiction dilemmas.
NuTrek, however, has basically abandoned the “intriguing science fiction dilemmas” part in favor of intergalactic politics. Which is fine. That could be interesting, but in NuTrek, the United Federation of Planets usually comes across as just another dirty player on the chess board. This unfortunately contradicts everything that made Star Trek appealing to sci-fi fans initially.
Fortunately in the Trek-verse there’s a film called Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which is usually considered the franchise’s finest hour. While the plot does involve a science fiction macguffin, the story itself is about aging, friendship, family, loss, and revenge. In short, it’s a space opera.
So if you’re a NuTrek producer and you know that the quality of your product has been shit the past two seasons, what do you do? The answer is you steal from the best. While The Next Generation films are considered a disappointment, we’re finally given a real taste of what that universe would look like had Rick Berman and company handled the movies properly, albeit on Paramount+. And in my view, kudos to Alex Kurtzman and Terry Matalas for unapologetically ripping off Star Trek II.
In fact, they’re not only ripping off Star Trek II, but they’re ripping off the entirety of the TOS movies right down to lines of dialogue and sound effects. And I don’t have a problem with any of it.
This means that someone from the TNG crew…probably Picard…will get a glorious death scene and I am not prepared for it. In fact, I nearly cried when they started using the First Contact theme, which is one of my favorites, for the end credits.
Despite all of my bitching about NuTrek, if producers keep up the quality from the first two episodes, then guys…I’m telling you: I’m just not ready for it to end.