Star Trek: Picard and the Problem with Modern TV
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
I was really looking forward to Star Trek: Picard. Jean-Luc was an iconic character, so much so I could go so far to say my favourite all time Star Trek character, and I enjoyed almost all The Next Generation, and the movies that followed. Yes, even Nemisis!
Unfortunately for me, sitting through ten episodes of Star Trek: Picard was as enjoyable as pulling teeth. It really highlights to me the problem (I personally have) with modern television. Studios like to serialize everything now.
Star Trek: The Next Generation was largely episodic. If you missed an episode, you could easily watch the next without issue. That is convenient, but the real benefit of this type of writing though, is the writing!
Writing stand alone episodes means that the writers need to script a compelling story, and for Star Trek that usually includes a valuable or meaningful message. The story needs to have an intro or beginning, journey or obstacle, and a conclusion. It needs to work within the confines of 45 mins (for Star Trek) or a well crafted double episode. This requires a lot of thought, creativity and imagination, to deliver a concise and effective story.
Some would argue serializing requires the same skills, but I find in reality much of each serialized episode drags on so much to fill in time and reach the 45 minute target. Every episode feels like it never gets to the point, and you have to wait till the end of the season for a conclusion, if you even get a conclusion. It is unfulfilling.
SPOILER WARNING: Unfortunately the conclusion I waited so long for in the final episode of Picard season 1 was an eye rolling event. Seeing Riker turn up captaining a ship declaring, "Be scared because I have a bigger gun than yours" was just not the lazy script writing I was hoping for after 9.5 episodes. Star Trek usually offers a commentary on current social issues, but this line only fuels the gun violence problem the U.S. has.
And whilre I understand a percentage of the audience is (possibly first time) younger viewers, I am tired of Hollywood cramming in teen characters as the saviour of the universe. I just don't ever buy it. My childhood heroes were adults kicking ass like Arnold in Predator and Terminator, Sigourney in Aliens, Stallone in Rocky, and they were all believable because they were adults, who's characters had the training required to give them the skills they have. Yes I know Soji was an android so of course she has more abilities than a human, but her "discovery" of her true nature and abilities was simply unbelievable. You mean to tell me she never noticed she could something a bit better than her human friends until now? Lazy script writing.
Star Trek: Picard was so forgettable that I already have trouble remembering what actually happened for most of the episodes. With TNG we often used to talk about really exciting episodes with certain scenarios and stories. There was so much to relish in, and it really hurts me to say this new show centred around my favourite character was so disappointing.
I've had Star Trek: Discovery ready and waiting to binge and catch up on, but I won't be taking on that show now thanks to the disappointment of Picard.