Monday With Mildred: “Star Trek: Picard”

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Star Trek: Picard

I’ve been watching Star Trek since the 1960s when it was a comics-like goofball show, up against other heavyweights like The Monkeys, Batman and Laugh In. It fit right in with that silly look but over several iterations, starting with Star Trek: Next Generation, grew into the more adult material it had always portrayed in its comic book format. I first saw Captain Picard the first night Next Generation was on tv. It’s difficult to describe how exciting it was to go back to a show that had been so big, then grown so huge and more adult in just a few years. My brother and I, both already excited simply from seeing Trek again, were immediately FLOORED by seeing a Klingon on a federation bridge. That ability to shock in a good way, to always surprise, is quintessential Star Trek.

It was never the acting that made the show so incredible in the beginning, and the acting has often been the weakest part of the franchise. One of the exceptions has been Patrick Stewart as Picard, who was a well-respected actor before finding himself in the strange, for him, world of science fiction, playing the captain in charge of a disparate group that included the aforementioned Klingon, a mind reading Betazed and an android. He was great then, but now that he and the actors who surrounded him have grown old they all carry an added gravitas that Hollywood almost never allows a single character to show, much less a good portion of the cast. We can only hope this is something that will be replicated (heh heh) going into the future.  

Using the original actors, aged by the real passage of time, also gives the intricate backstory added weight. Trek is such a huge franchise that the clever producers continued the stories of the Next Generation Enterprise’s crew without a huge exposition dump to keep the newbies up to speed. The very first thing I noticed was the mystical and beautiful qualities of the show. The art direction gives every space a fully functional feel, and every place has nearly the look of a painting. The spaceships, even the well-used ones, still don’t have a lived in feel, but that just makes it look like Trek. And we finally get what I think has never been done well in the Trek universe – a blending of the different shows, that were always Trek but that all had a different feel and types of stories they told. It’s a feedback loop between seeing the massive kinds of settings, from ship to vineyard to bawdy nightclub, to finally give the viewer a truly deep feel of the vasty hugeness of the Trek universe.

May I just brag for a moment about recognizing the rocky protuberance from the original Trek episode featuring Kirk battling a Gorn (an episode itself based on a short story from a previous decade). Of course, we were supposed to notice it right away because the makers of the show are deep, deep fans themselves, but I did earn a respectful, “you really are a huge geek” from my viewing partner.

I hope you have a similar show or novel series that makes you feel so nostalgic and excited after over a half century. This show is fun, nervy, nostalgic, better acted than a lot of other Treks, and just a darned good science fiction thriller that takes its own sweet time giving out the story. I’m glad to have finally gotten to see it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever enjoyed any part of the Trek universe.

CFR: In Addition: Star Trek: Picard is a YES YES YES YES YES YES YES! OMG YES! I’m glad Mildred liked it as this could have hurt our friendship. Also: She is wonderful insights!

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