TV Series Review: Picard, Season One

I’ll admit I had some huge reservations about this new chapter in the Star Trek universe. Picard has always been my captain. The Next Generation was the Star Trek I grew up with. I had so many expectations that it would take nothing short of a minor miracle to fulfill them all.

Good thing I believe in miracles.

The Story

Time has passed since Captain, now Admiral, Picard has commanded the U.S.S. Enterprise. He’s retired and doing the thing he always envisioned he’d do, managing the Chateau Picard vinyard in La Barre, France.

And he’s bored.

He left active duty with the Federation with a bad taste in his mouth. One of his last efforts as Admiral blew up in his face when the Federation didn’t give him the support he needed. The resulting deaths still haunt him.

So when a mystery falls into his lap, he’s not only intrigued, he feels obligated to act. Back during the events of Nemesis, his dear friend, Lieutenant Commander Data, sacrificed himself to save Picard. This new mystery is linked directly to some of the more mysterious parts of Data’s past, namely where he came from and who created him.

If he can solve the mystery, he will not only save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, but he might also find resolution over the death of his friend.

My Review

As with any long standing science fiction universe, you can expect the story to be complex and nuanced. There are several planets, species, cultures, and goals all colliding with each other. Add to this the emotional motivations of each playing character, of which there are many, and that’s a lot of information to track.

The writers handled this challenge well. They avoided the common pitfall of using massive info dumps, instead choosing to carefully present information one crucial parcel at a time. For me, it was not unlike putting together a jigsaw puzzle without being able to reference the picture. I enjoyed the challenge, but it was too complex for my teenager (and too mature for the younger kiddos).

From the acting, to the effects, to the writing and dialogue, Picard delivers everything a true TNG fan could ever hope for. We have so many of our favorite elements coming into play. There’s the Borg collective, the friction with the Romulan Empire, Picard’s past as Locutus, and diving deep into the concept of synthetic life and what it means to be alive.

There are also plenty of other elements that come into play to add extra spice, such as using a non federation ship and seeing what happens when Picard must step outside the rules. One of my all time favorite Voyager characters, Seven of Nine, falls into the story in a way that’s both true to her character and essential to the plot. Win.

I can’t wait to see what direction they take as the story continues to unfold. As for me, I’m thrilled with the story so far.

I got my minor miracle.

Recommendations

This is a more mature Star Trek and definitely not for younger viewers. I recommend viewers be at least high school age considering some of the themes and situations. While the use of coarse language is fairly minimal, it’s still there as well as casual intimacy, graphic violence, and intense scenes.

If you loved TNG, and are okay with an increase in the intensity, you’ll love it. Easy as that.

However, if you’ve never been into Star Trek and want to start, this isn’t a good place to do so. There’s a lot of history behind many key characters that will be lost on you. The show might still be enjoyable, but I think you’ll miss out on many of the emotional notes.

I give Picard a rare and shining 5/5 stars for the amazing work that went into the story telling and all the emotional punches.


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TV Series Review: Good Omens

I have a sneaking feeling that I might run across lots of mixed feelings on this one. While the two authors, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, both have huge followings, they also tend to push the boundaries of the expected into often dangerous territory. In Good Omens, what’s a more dangerous subject than the coming of the Antichrist?

Like I said, it’s loaded with ideas and history that plunges us straight into dangerous territory.

The Story

Like most good fiction, this one starts with a monumental “What if?” What if the child who was meant to grow up to be the Antichrist was accidentally switched at birth? What if the demon assigned to watch over him, has actually been watching over the wrong child?

The story centers on this demon, Crowley, and his angelic counterpart, Aziraphale. These two beings have been on Earth as representatives of Hell and Heaven respectively since the beginning of time, and have formed an unlikely friendship. Not only that, they’ve grown accustomed to the comforts of life on earth and aren’t thrilled at the prospect of the coming of Armageddon, which will end it all.

While the hosts of Heaven and Hell are eager and anxious for Armageddon to finally happen, both Crowley and Aziraphale are willing to do anything to delay it and possibly prevent it for as long as possible.

My Review

I’ll state right now that I’m a biased watcher. I’ve always enjoyed Prachett and Gaiman’s unique spin on stories and their deep dives into unique characters and what makes them tick. I’m also super biased because the two leading actors are none other than the exquisite David Tennant as Crowley, and the ever intriguing Michael Sheen as Aziraphale.

Honestly, the show itself gets forgiven a lot because of these two factors alone.

As a whole, I found the series fascinating to watch. The story is complicated and there are lots of twists and turns to keep track of, which for me is a perk. There are multiple driving forces to push and prod the story in different directions, and all of them are working against the goals of the other.

What I particularly liked is the sheer brilliance of the dialogue between Crowley and Aziraphale. The debates between them and the huge amount of history shows up in these little revealing snippets deepens their characters and the history of the world itself. They care for each other in a way that’s taken millenia to grow. It’s no surprise that most of the watchers who enjoyed the show want to see these two characters in a more serious relationship beyond friendship.

Overall, it’s a brilliant piece of work if you don’t mind diving into a story that centers around Armageddon and all its associated lore.

Recommendations

Obviously if you already enjoy Prachett and Gaiman, you are going to like this show. It has all the charm, depth, and humor you’d expect from a collaboration between the two. While it is complicated, so are most of their writings. Those who already like reading these two authors will be fine in keeping track of what’s going on.

I would warn those who have sensitive religious views to either watch the show with a grain of salt, or steer clear. It doesn’t shy away from this being an end-of-the-world type story and brings in enough theological material to support the differing world views surrounding the prophecy. This might make some watchers uncomfortable.

When it comes to objectionable material, there’s a wide but thin smattering of language, violence, and innuendo that some might find offensive but are neither remarkable or overblown. What’s there is appropriate to the situation.

I rate Good Omens a solid 4/5, a great show but you really have to pay attention.


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