Star Trek: Picard (spoilers ahoy)
Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:06 PM
Posted 26 January 2020 - 08:18 PM
Anyway... this is reposted from my Facebook rant, which is the reason for the CAPSLOCK in some spots (no italics, bold, or underline there, no no. Why would you want to be able to conveigh subtlety, Facebook says).
Im not gonna re-do it just for the forums. Sorry not sorry.
My take on Star Trek: Picard. Spoilers ahoy. If you read further, that's on you.
First, i’m going to start off with saying, I REALLY LIKE PICARD. It was an enjoyable show. It is entertaining TV.
What it is not….
Is Star Trek.
The acting is A+. The female lead actress (Dahj/other) seems like she’s got a handle on it. The callbacks are fun (even if they fall flat because of DystopiaTrek).
It was enjoyable television. Perhaps the best way I can quantify how enjoyable I found it as TV is… when it hit the end, I blinked and went “oh, its over already, bummer”.
It’s great TV. But it isn’t Great Star Trek.
Its compelling dystopian action-sci-fi with a Star Trek veneer, much like everything else Kurtzman (the new series manager) has touched, from the 2009 movie series and onward. (Well apart from perhaps “compelling” - Discovery is popsnizzle, for instance). But its basically Kurtzman’s fanfic Trek universe where everything has to be exactly counter to what Gene intended.
Whats worse, Picard would work just fine WITHOUT the DystopiaTrek setting. Literally NONE of the story beats would have to be altered.
Anyway, lets get on with what I liked:
Characterization is dead-on. Brent Spiner (via a combination of great makeup and de-aging CGI) was spot on. Patrick Stewart is spot on. The new actors and actresses look great and no one seems to be suffering the “Awkward First Season” problems.
The cinematography is great. The special affects seem great.
The problem is NOT that “this is not what Picard would do”. Because.. IF the setting turned out this way (WHICH IT WOULD frakING NOT), then yes, this IS -EXACTLY- how Picard would react. This is exactly how Seven of Nine would react. Etc. I agree.
But that’s the core problem:
The ENTIRE set-up/back-drop for this series is wrong. It would, quite simply, NEVER have unfolded this way.
Kurtzman re-imagines a Federation apparently completely dominated by Humans and Earth’s problems. One that never went through the Dominion War, one that hadn’t been ALLIES with the Romulans for over 20 years. (They kept pushing home “The Romulans, The Federations Biggest Enemies!” Over and over and over. Despite this not having been true where we left off. At all. And the fact that if they HADNT become our allies, we’d have LOST THE DOMINION WAR entirely.) One that would give up on almost THREE HUNDRED years of optimism, charity, and a standing policy of rendering aid. That would compromise the morals and policies of its member states (most of whom are FAR older than Earth) because 90,000 people died.
Which is complete bullpopsnizzle.
The Humans, while important to the Federation, are NOT the only major force within it. The Federation is NOT run by Earth, and not hostage to Earth’s concerns. The Vulcans would not have “given up” on evacuating Romulus (we’ll get to the canon-shattering issues presented by this 10,000 ship rescue fleet later) just because some Humans got a little butt-hurt. Neither would the Andorians, or the Bolians, or the Bajorans (whose own religion would have compelled them to help). Or any number of other Federation races. If the Humans had just p ut the brakes on and refused to continue, it very well could have broken the Federation.
I mean.. 90,000 whole people died! NINETY THOUSAND! SHELLSHOCKED FEDERATION!
90,000 people died in SINGLE BATTLES in the Dominion War. Nearly a BILLION Betazoids were killed during the siege and occupation of Betazed.
The Dominion War killed several Billion people in toto on both sides of the conflict (and we’re not even counting the Jem’Hadar since we don’t know how many they pumped out, or the entire, massive, 10,000+ ship Dominion Fleet that the Prophets just “poofed” into nonexistence inside the Wormhole at the end of Operation Return)
There are seriously fraking -ACCIDENTS- in TNG and DS9 that killed more than 90,000 people on a planet and the Federation’s response was to send a SINGLE SHIP (the Enterprise, Defiant, or sometimes even just a fraking RUNABOUT) to fix it. (And they often DID!)
(Mind, this is NOT a critique about the “Romulus was blown up” plot line - that’s fine in and of itself, nor am I saying that the Federation should have -SUCCEEDED- in evacuating Romulus; the story very well could have called for, and been fine with “Federation tried, and failed”. Im not saying the Federation should have saved the day here. Failure is fine; the Federation fails all the time - the key thing is they DONT STOP TRYING.).
So.. this uprising by about ~6,000 synthetic beings (which should NOT have existed, as the court case for Data in Measure of a Man - which ruled that creating such beings and NOT granting them freedom would have been slavery, and therefore quite Illegal under Federation law), which killed 90,000 people and blew up this super-armada of 10,000 relief ships…
‘Caused the Federation to turn into a quitter can’t-do-it bunch of isolationist self-absorbed and self-interested assclowns who ignore the plight of foreign nations (this being the same Federation that basically saved the Kilngon Homeworld.. you know.. ENEMIES OF THE FEDERATION and all, right?, back in ST6).
Oh, and “Mars is on Fire to this day”.
LOLWUT? THEY LITERALLY FIXED THIS IN AN EPISODE OF NEXT GEN. There’s literally an Episode about that. They have the tech to just… shut the fires off. Seriously. Do any of the cheebamonkeys working on this show know about the actual continuity (they are not employing the Okuda’s, who were the Continuity guys on everything before Kurtzman took over)?
90,000 people dying in an industrial accident with haywire AI is barely a fraking blip to the Federation. Its happened in multiple episodes (or worse!).
But wait. It gets better, because the entire set-up for the whole Romulus needs to be evacuated thing doesn’t make sense either.
The Romulan Star Empire is a HUGE political body that can compete all on its own with the Klingon Empire and the UFP. It has HUNDREDS of settled planets. Tens of Billions or more citizens.
… you’re telling me THEY couldn’t evacuate Romulus? They have fleets of thousands of ships. Or even if “it was happening so fast that they couldn’t gather their entire fleet” - how the frak would Starfleet then have time to build over TEN THOUSAND SHIPS? But lets say - sure, the Romulans couldn’t manage it themselves. Starfleet helping (even if it was just “send whatever ships we have that can get there in time) in ADDITION to the Romulans should have been able to manage it.
And it can’t have been THAT urgent…. The Federation had time to build TEN THOUSAND frakING SHIPS. Yes, these ships are likely just big giant tubes with engines and basic systems, but that popsnizzle would take time no matter what. Months at least. Oh, and why coulnd't the Romulans, who have industry to match the Federation... build their own TEN THOUSAND SHIPS?
So.. instead of 10,000 ships… what if we just sent 1,000 Starships and had them make multiple runs over the SEVERAL MONTHS it would have taken to build those 10,000 ships? Might not have gotten every single Citizen off of Romulus, but half? More? Quite likely, especially coupled with the massive Romulan Fleet doing the exact same thing.
.. but, nope. Total failure. No one moved a significant number prior to the whole thing going tits up (even though we had to have tons of notice, if we made and executed a plan to build TEN THOUSAND SHIPS.).
Romulans are all refugees and nearly extinct?
They had an ENTIRE GIANT frakING STAR EMPIRE.
That is three times older than the Federation!
Would the loss of Romulus have been a big blow? Sure, yeah. Big setback. Sizeable portion of your population killed, centers of government lost (though there have to be sector governments, etc that can pick up the slack), yeah.. huge morale loss.
But “nearly extinct”? 80+% of their population DIDNT LIVE IN THE ROMULUS SYSTEM. Would it have sucked? Yeah. Would it have been a catastrophic event for the Romulan Empire? You bet. Would it have turned them into a nearly extinct refugee species?
frak no. Not even close. Other planets could have picked up the slack (its not like all of their production was in the Romulus system; we know that for certain because the Tal’Shiar had secret manufacturing bases all over the place and built an entire fleet to attack the Founders’ homeward WITHOUT THE REST OF THE EMPIRE EVEN KNOWING!)
And lets talk about those 10,000 ships…
Ten. Thousand. Ships.
Built fast enough that they had time to design, build, and produced the hard parts (warp engines, etc) BEFORE this Supernova was supposed to happen.
At Utopia Planetia.
(Which is apparently on the surface of Mars now, not in Orbit as it has clearly been shown in DS9 and Voyager)
Where at most 30-60 ships had been in production at once before.
But ONLY at Utopia Planetia. Not at any of the other SIX -MAJOR- Federation shipyards (including one in orbit above Earth’s North Pole) - and those are just the MAJOR ones! (Those are just from the dedication plaques on Starships).
Why even build them? Okay, lets say its for “we’re not just moving Romulans, but all of their infrastructure we can grab too”.. alrighty, purpose built ships. OK.
When that plan went sideways…
Why not continue the operations anyway?
As of TNG (both “Unification Parts 1 & 2”, and “Gambit Parts 1 & 2”), and DS9 (several mentions) we know for a FACT that Starfleet and the Federation at large (including civilians) basically never throw away ships. In Unification and Gambit, we see the Enterprise visit huge decommissioning depots that each have tens of thousands of ships. Most of them just need a new reactor and to have the switch flipped to work.
We know that those two depots are different depots, and that there are DOZENS MORE across the Federation.
They could surely have re-activated as many of these ships as possible and (and TOWED the ones that didn’t have engines, since we know you can tow at Warp) at least TRIED.
Nope. 6,000 slave robots that should never have existed by Federation law went crazy and killed 90,000 people.
GIVE UP. DO NOT HELP.
DO NOT TRY TO PERSEVERE.
TURN INTO THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THE FEDERATION.
LET INNOCENT PEOPLE DIE.
Ugh. frak DystopiaTrek.
frak Kurtzman for making that popsnizzle canon.
And the worst part of this all?
NONE OF IT is necessary to make Picard work. NOT ONE BIT.
The Federation could have tried. And failed. This would still have “broken” Picard. This would still have created an era of tension (the Romulan Empire, now ruled from New Romulus or whatever, views the failure of the Federation badly and now they are back to being enemies/Cold War).
Nothing of ANY of this prevents the “Data’s spiritual children” subplot from working. Or from their being mysterious assassins after them. Or a conspiracy about synthetic life forms (maybe MARGINALLY rejiggered to be “we don’t want them because they’ll be better than us” which would be like 2 lines of dialogue and leave you with EXACTLY the same story beats). Or whatever the story is with the remnants of the Borg.
ALL of Picard would still work… WITHOUT obliterating Gene’s work, or destroying the setting or turning The Federation into a bad amalgamated analogy for the US and Brittain. (Mind, I do NOT mind a Star Trek show potentially tackling tough current day issues with sci-fi storylines, but in this case, its just ham-handed, unsubtle, and doesn’t work) and reversing 300 years of Federation history and Tradition (not mention the traditions and history fo the Member Races/Planets of said Federation that would never have stood by and let billions of innocent civilians (even those of a former enemy) die without at least TRYING.
Which is a shame, because its preventing the show from being Great Star Trek.
It is, as I said, still a good piece of TV. It ended faster than I wanted it to and left me wanting to watch more. I don’t hate the show. Im critical because I love Trek, and it could be so much BETTER. It could be both great TV -AND- Great Star Trek.
Which is what we deserve.
And i lied and bolded 3 things because i really think they needed the emphasis.
And i still like it. Its just not as good as it could be.
Posted 26 January 2020 - 09:30 PM
I was at university when DS9 was broadcast, and so had, uh, other things on my mind and never got into it. But I absolutely love Voyager, which I fully accept is Trek poison for the committed fans. There's something about the muted colours and limited palette, likeable crew, and repetition of the show, that I find very comforting in troubled times. But anyway. Enterprise passed me by, and the less said about the steaming pile of horse manure that is Discovery the better.
The movies? Yeah, saw them on release, but again, have never rewatched them. I've mostly forgotten the plots, other than whales and the Enterprise exploding real good a whole bunch.
So what i'm trying to say in a roundabout way is that I'm essentially approaching Picard from a clean slate. Much of the backstory was lost/forgotten to me. I was reminded a lot of Caprica, which I thought was great, as a sort of modern non-episodic SF televisual experience, although Picard seems to be a far dumber show. I was entertained, and I want to see what happens next, so I can't really ask for more than that. I don't really want to see a bunch of cameos from the TNG crowd. Picard is a frail old man now; let's hope that this is largely due to Patrick Stewart's acting ability. Also, finally, the Federation's story is being developed prospectively, and thank the FSM for that.
Posted 28 January 2020 - 05:57 AM
Yeah, seeing Brent obviously suffering from some kind of Parkinson in the intro scene, got me emotional. Age seemd to have taken a greater toll on him than on Patrick.
But interesting start, worth watching. But wondering if it's all “The Offspring.” all over again. Anyway, the Romulan / Borg twist is promising.
But is it good Star Trek? I tend to agree with Tetsuya.
Posted 30 January 2020 - 10:02 PM
Posted 13 February 2020 - 08:30 PM
Posted 14 February 2020 - 06:35 PM