In these unique times, we find ourselves spending a lot more time indoors. So I thought it might be helpful to point out some great movies and TV shows available on streaming that could help break the boredom. In part 1 I'm looking at Star Trek: Picard on Amazon Prime.
It has been twenty years since the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has retired from Starfleet and is living out his days on the family vineyard. But when a young woman comes to him for help, Picard must journey into the dark void of space once again. Only this time he's doing it without Starfleet, forcing him to find a ship, and more importantly a crew willing to help him in his mission.
Returning to one of the signature roles of your career can be risky, especially when the character is as beloved as Jean-Luc Picard. Luckily, Patrick Stewart makes it look easy, you wouldn't think it had been almost two decades since he last sat in the captain's chair. Picard - for the most part - is very much the same man, but the world around him has changed, and that includes Starfleet. The former captain has become disillusioned with his once beloved agency, a feeling said agency shares. It seems they had a falling out over what would turn out to be Picard's final mission - an abandoned evacuation of the Romulan home world, prior to its destruction at the hands of the same supernova that sent Spock hurtling into the past in Star Trek (2009).
After seeing how Spock's attempts to save the Romulan's affected the past - creating an alternate timeline - it's interesting to see the effects that same event had on the "prime" universe. Being Star Trek, it was never going to be a small thing. Star Trek: Picard however, is very different to what has gone before. The world isn't quite as clean cut as we're used to, that perfect society may have started to rot beneath the surface. If anything, the show has a kind of Star Wars/Guardians of the Galaxy feel to it. This is a trip to some of the seedier sides of the galaxy, as well as some previously unseen worlds. And with Starfleet taking a back seat, there isn't that usual structure. A fact re-iterated by the shorter series and one continuous narrative, everything is a lot less episodic.
That said, this is undeniably Star Trek. The galaxy may have changed, the enemies may have evolved, but our heroes' goals and the threats they face are very much the same. Once again we follow a legendary Starfleet captain on a gripping adventure, one rooted in a central pillar of Star Trek... the desire to do the right thing.
Despite its name, the show was never going to just be about the man himself. The creators have populated the show with a diverse group of characters, including some familiar faces. We're travelling with an entirely new crew, a wonderfully rag-tag bunch from differing walks of life, and the villains are equally as interesting and unpredictable. Picard's return has provided audiences the chance to explore some of the former captain's deepest traumas, including his time with the Borg and the loss of Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner). It's also fun to see how some of the other members of the Enterprise crew are doing, and what they've been up to in the last twenty years. Hopefully the second season will allow us to catch up with a few other old friends.
As fun an experience as this show is, I'm glad I waited for all of the episodes to become available before watching, and not just because of the current climate. Although it did make for a fun day at home. Social-distancing made easy you could say (not exactly the endorsement Amazon or those involved in the making of the show were hoping for, I'm sure). No, the real reason I'm glad I waited is because as gripping as this show is, it does take a little while to get going. We as a people have definitely been ruined - not to mention spoiled - by streaming, and the ability to binge entire seasons of TV shows. But the first couple of episodes of Star Trek: Picard are spent re-establishing this world and introducing the characters, while only feeding us rare snippets of information. So much so that it's easily episode 4 before things really start to happen. That said, it's very much worth it once the gang finally head off on their first mission together, you've just got to get almost half way through the season before that happens.
It may be slow to get started, but Star Trek: Picard is a fun and engrossing return to the "prime" universe. Seeing Jean-Luc Picard back on the bridge of a starship is a dream come true, and he has picked a hell of a crew with which to right the galaxy's wrongs. Thankfully, all ten episodes are now available to watch, so at least you won't have to wait weeks to see them do it.
Click here to see the other instalments in our streaming survival guide.
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