By Rick Lundeen
A lot of companies and studios have jumped on the streaming bandwagon. If you’re like me, you may already subscribe to a few of them yourself. It usually comes down to disposable income and just how far you’re willing to go to diversify your content sources. Decisions to make.
Disney has Marvel and Star Wars, but I’ve already got the Marvel movies on disk. Amazon Prime has content, perks and a big warehouse, but not enough to get me to subscribe. Netflix did hook me a while back with shows such as Daredevil and Stranger Things, but it also had the novelty of being first. That’s also huge.
I think every new streaming service that enters the competition has a hard time getting your business. Because you might already have five of them.
Calling in the heavy hitter
When constructing their streaming service, CBS All Access wisely chose to mix the new (Discovery) with the old and dependable (Picard.) I initially had my doubts about pressing Patrick Stewart back into service when the man’s nearing 80. I mean, did he even want to do it?
Evidently, he did. All the better for CBS All Access, and the fans. If I’m honest, while it’s nice to see Stewart back in his role, there is the inescapable observation that he is 80 and it very much shows. I suppose it wouldn’t be a factor except I watched him in a Starz series called Blunt Talk just a few short years ago. Sir Patrick still had that Picard fire even then.
It’s just a bit sad that the difference is marked and noticeable now. It takes nothing away from his acting but the contrast was a bit jarring for me at first. His older presentation now as an actor worked very well as his last run at Charles Xavier in Logan, but the professor was indeed feeble, and the most powerful mutant mind on the planet was dangerous with dementia. I suppose it’s just a bit harder to see Picard age, as wonderful as he is. Ah, mortality.
Anyway, Star Trek: Picard picks up about 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (the 2002 movie starring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.) Picard is now fully retired and residing at his family vineyard. He seems content enough.
But with the many life experiences Jean Luc has accumulated, it’s not a huge surprise when trouble arrives on his doorstep.
New challenges, old friends for Picard
Without going into spoiler territory, Picard is swept up into a mysterious conspiracy that will ultimately change who he is. Along the way, he encounters enemies old and new, and reconnects with several shipmates and allies.
Onto the good and the bad: The story is a bit slow out of the gate, and a couple of supporting characters are a bit cliché. But once things start falling into place, you feel like you’re back in familiar Trek, especially when some old friends show up.
Since the show mostly abandons the episodic stories and blends one big story together, I really can’t point to the best or worst episodes. However, there are moments that I could do without. There’s this edgy mandate that’s been added to the modern Trek family, that inserts F-bombs and other swearing into the dialogue. I’m okay with that when it feels natural. But here, it does not. It doesn’t come across as edgy; it comes across as a bit desperate. They should stop that. There’s a certain mindset in Trek. Maybe they should just embrace it?
As for the good moments, I think greeting some old friends, checking in with others and saying a final goodbye to yet another were the parts that I really appreciated.
Of course, 80% of the quality is Stewart. He’s still one of the finest actors of any generation. But yes, the guest appearances might just get you choked up a bit.
It was nice to catch up with some old friends from The Next Generation, even if, by now, it’s more appropriate to refer to them as the previous generation.
But is Star Trek: Picard worth the monthly subscription?
Well, you can test the water before you take the plunge. You can take a look at the shows already on the service – comprising some 15,000 episodes. You can also take advantage of a special offer; you can usually try the service for a week, for free, giving you time to check out Picard and other content. But the series is also available on DVD and Blu-ray, if you’d rather buy it all in one go.
And Picard is not the only Trek content on the platform. In addition to Star Trek: Discovery (now in its third season), and the all-new Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premiering next year, you’ve also got all the classic shows: Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine (my personal favourite), Voyager, and Enterprise.
On top of that, you’ve got the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Season Two of Picard is slated to hit our screens before the end of 2020. Sir Patrick has already indicated a third season is in the works, and possibly one after that. So there is a significant amount of content on CBS All Access, and the Star Trek contingent is certainly very sound.
So are you going to check out Star Trek: Picard? If you’ve seen it already, did you enjoy it? And what other CBS All Access content appeals to you? Let us know in the comments.
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