Friday, April 14, 2023

I sometimes wonder if I’m more of a Star Trek or Star Wars fan. I’m a 48 year old self-admitted nerd who was raised mostly on Star Wars but in the mid eighties was re-introduced to the world of Star Trek through the Next Generation which first aired on CBS on September 28th, 1987. Kirk, Spock and Bones were replaced by Picard, Riker and Data. It was a shaky start to the rebirth of Star Trek on television. The first season, while ushering in new groundbreaking visual effects for prime time television, lacked in script quality and didn’t quite match the overall wonder the original series had. It took about three years for the Next Gen to get its footing and boy did it get its footing.

For me, Star Wars was always about mythical fantasy. The Force. The Jedi. The Sith. It was almost symmetrically akin to religion whereas Trek was deeply rooted in the future of our reality and the world we live in and what we could aspire to if we had the desire to do so. Starfleet was the Navy. The Federation was the embodiment of what some would believe to be a perfect government, if that is even possible. Both franchises were similar in some respects but immeasurably different in others and I loved them both for those reasons.

I’ve been watching on Paramount Plus the 3rd and final season of Picard, the vehicle that was created to be centered around Patrick Stewart’s character of Jean-Luc Picard from the Next Generation. The first two seasons of the show practically ignored the rest of the Next Generation crew minus Data, who came back but was once again, sent off to the big scrapheap in the sky. So many changes were made including when Picard himself “died” and was remade by a relative of Dr. Noonian Soong ( the creator of Data) into a “new” human/android variant yet just as old as hell as the original Picard. The first two seasons lacked the heart of what made Star Trek so loved; it lacked family, Picard’s family.

For Picard, his “family” was his crew and to have them all together on screen doing what they do best together for one monumental final send off, a proper send off might I add, has been an incredibly emotional ride. I always wondered what was lacking in the first two seasons of Picard and I understand what it was now.

Hollywood loves to milk franchises, going for the endless cash grab, until we grow to absolutely despise what they’ve morphed into. There are so many examples out there from the Walking Dead to the Fast and the Furious to yes even Star Trek and Star Wars to a degree. Sometimes, oftentimes, Hollywood simply can’t just say no and let what was once great, be. It’s the reason why I hope Marvel (Disney) doesn’t try to lure Robert Downey Jr. back to the role of Iron Man to resurrect their brand. To do so would essentially destroy what was one of the most emotionally satisfying ends to a character in cinema history.

For Picard to be successful, not just his character but the series, has always been that he needs his “family” around him. To ignore them was a mistake that luckily the showrunner for season three, Terry Matalas, decided to remedy with a little, dare I say it, fan service. I can’t tell you how much it annoys me when I hear a Hollywood exec talk about fan-service and how it’s so beneath them. The air of self-absorption permeates the air when they opine on how they refuse to “give the people what they want’. Why? Because they’re the “artistes” and know better. You’re just a living embodiment of a wallet to them. Their arrogance sickens me.

One would think having the luxury and privilege to make these whimsical, cinematic ballads of the imagination are made specifically for us, the fan. If this was for the ego of the filmmaker then go run off with your iPhone and grab a few of your like minded buddies and make a film. No one is stopping you. Leave the work of entertaining the living wallets to those who give a shit about them.

But that is Hollywood. The land of maniacal egos, bullshit personalities and occasionally wondrous works that make you feel emotions with subtle aplomb. If you were a fan of Star Trek The Next Generation, Picard season 3 will make you feel young once again and will properly close the chapter on the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise 1701-D. 

Live long and prosper indeed.