Star Trek Picard: A Belated Review

This is really late, and nothing I say here will be terribly original, but I have to be honest.

I hate this show.

Not just because it’s low-quality, but because it actively, purposefully takes a massive dump on Trek and its fans. STD was bad in just about every way besides sfx (and even those often looked bad, but that was art direction, not poor quality), but Picard was worse. The writing is bad, the effects were not great, the directing was often poor, and the story itself is garbage.

It’s too bad, too. The show didn’t exactly start strong, but it wasn’t terrible either. But taking a full 30% of the show on the basic set-up (without leaving Earth) was a bad move, even if that stuff was some of the best stuff in the show (a low bar, to be sure). And that wasn’t even the end of the set-up, either. No, four of ten episodes happened before the adventure proper starts.

And then things go downhill, fast. The entire fifth episode was a joke which feels more at home in a SyFy original than Star Trek (moreso than the rest of the show). That would have been bearable, if they didn’t literally destroy the legacy of Trek out at the end of the episode. And things got even worse after that. With only one sort-of quality episode after the third (unsurprisingly, the one where we get good guest-stars, and the one without the vast majority of the Picard-original characters), the show just goes from one mess to the next.

It doesn’t help that this show feels cheap. Despite being supposedly one of the most expensive shows in the history of television (there are rumors that a bunch of funding was diverted to STD S3, which I can believe), things seem so simple and basic. The space shots are sparse. The sets, especially the main ship set, are cheap. The props are even more out of place than the sets, especially as the show goes on (they literally use a standard, unmodified park table as the “meeting table”). The lack of ship designs in a Star Trek show is atrocious – in any large fleet scene, there are three separate ship designs, even the one time there are two opposing fleets!

Also note the standard, unmodified folding park chairs in the background.

As far as the overall story goes, it’s pretty trash. The initial mystery is fine, if starting with an incredibly dumb premise. Having the two stories, one of the Picard gang, and the other on the Borg ship, was fine in concept, but the execution didn’t work, because the characters in the Borg plot were not the sort that people want to watch: you have an alien ship, in alien territory, with lots of ethical implications as to what they’re doing, and yet that is all just background to soap opera drama.

Actually, that’s a good illustration of the entire show: all this possibly-cool stuff going on, and it’s all merely non-context to poorly-written melodrama. This didn’t need to be Trek: it could have been any modern sci-fi drama if you changed the names. Hell, change it to fantasy, just replacing the spaceships with waterships, and Borg with zombies (that would actually fit the state of the reclaimed Borg better…). Literally the only stuff that requires some knowledge of past Trek is the Borg stuff, and the characters of Locutus, Riker, Data, and Troi. (Maddox and Picard may as well be completely different people.) And as far as the character knowledge goes, the only Trek you’d need to watch was the movie Nemesis – it’s clear that’s the only Trek any of the main writers watched in full (they skimmed First Contact too, for the Borg stuff). All the rest of the Trek references could have been gleaned from wiki articles.

All of that is sad. I had some small hopes for the series at first, but they were all dashed to pieces. It’s dreck, and insulting to fans like me on top of that. STD could at least be slightly excused by being a prequel, but this is a direct sequel to Nemesis, and should have at least been somewhat respectful of that. It was marketed to TNG fans, and yet there’s nothing there for them.