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Dom
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tim, I'm pretty sure that's not the case. I can't remember offhand when that was made apparent. I think it might have been the Reckoning episode or the Season 6 finale, but I do remember the show drawing more of a link between Sisko's fate and the Prophets intervened.
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Dom
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tim, the consequence for the Prophets helping Sisko was that Sisko "died" at the end of the series. It's not an immediate consequence, but it's sure a steep price to pay.
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Dom
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Marvin, Honestly the answer could be more mundane and just that for whatever reason the ingredients that went into Picard didn't gel correctly. I get the sense that both for Picard and the Star Wars Sequels the studio decided it wanted a franchise story first and the writers didn't quite know what to do. The SW Sequels were infamously not planned out - Disney was in such a rush to make them that they didn't stop to figure out if the story was any good. Picard feels similar. It doesn't quite feel like it knows what it wants to be. By contrast, a successful show like BSG feels very confident. It's got a clear tone, aesthetic, sense of direction.
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Dom
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Trent, That's exactly why I come down so hard on Discovery and Picard. I don't really, truly believe that the first season of Picard is worse than the first season of TNG. But the older Trek shows were innovators. TOS was the first sci-fi show to do something more interesting than have a random monsters of the week. TNG showed TV science fiction could have serious character drama. DS9 - along with B5 - showed that audiences would stick around for (semi)serialized storytelling and longer character arcs. Yes, the acting and special effects and dialogue in TNG Season 1 weren't great. Yes, quite a few early DS9 episodes are outright awful. But the first seasons of these Trek shows were charting the path for science fiction on TV. The couldn't look to see how anyone else had done solved the problems of bringing space battles to life on a small budget.

Fast-forward to 2020. It's been nearly 35 years since TNG Season 1 first aired. TV channels (and streaming services) are much more willing to air bizarre sci-fi shows. They're more willing to invest large amounts in special effects. It's not unheard of for these shows to be able to recruit some of the best acting talent available. TV writers have had decades of experience with serialized storytelling. We've had several very successful sci-fi TV shows not named "Star Trek." We've got plenty of examples of these shows starting extremely strong. That's the context in which we're evaluating Picard.

People who follow my comments (but why would you?) might notice that I'm less likely to compare Picard to the best of TNG or DS9 and more likely to compare it to The Expanse or Battlestar Galactica. I think that's a fairer comparison than my nostalgic memories of my favorite show as a kid. But in many ways it's also a more damning one. These newer Trek shows have the money, the actors, the experience, and everything they should need to succeed in a way that their predecessors didn't. By contrast, BSG and Expanse - and Westworld and Altered Carbon etc - didn't have the benefit of a popular brand name like "Star Trek."

So is Picard Season 1 better than TNG Season 1? Who cares? That's like asking if the cheap Chinese knockoff cell phones are better than the landline telephones we used back in the 1980s. Of course they are, but they're nowhere near as good as the latest iPhone.
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Dom
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Booming, please don't judge Star Wars by The Rise of Skywalker. There's a broad consensus that it wasn't a very good film. There are 10 other Star Wars films and TV shows and more, all of which are much better.

I agree with you about the similarities between Picard and TROS. The way they both play fast and loose with plot contrivances and unearned character beats. It's not a surprise because Abrams directed TROS and Picard is overseen by his protege Kurtzman.
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tim, I don't disagree with you there. There are lots of jerks out there. I do think some of the attacks have a deeper rooted frustration, which is the frustration with how our society is structured such that some people can succeed wildly while others fail, not due to talent or smarts but due to dumb luck or connections. There's a lot of (largely justifiable) anger in the world right now about how the meritocracy we were all promised is no longer there (if it ever was). So when people see D&D being lazy writers and getting hundred million dollar deals, I get why it angers people. Now, that NEVER justifies personal attacks or harassment. There's a line people just shouldn't cross.
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tim, I don't disagree. My reaction to the Game of Thrones finale is that what happened was fine, but how it happened felt very contrived and disappointing. Which I think supports my point about the risks of serialized shows.

Speaking of fan reactions, I'm actually quite relieved that so far I haven't seen any personal attacks against Chabon or any of the people involved in Picard in these forums. Sure, some of us are disappointed, but that's never acceptable.
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

It's no secret I haven't been a fan of Star Trek Picard, but in fairness this episode does the best job I've come across of making a positive case for the show and explaining some of the themes. Darren Mooney is one of the smartest Trek reviewers out there.

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/17-star-trek-picard-1x10-et-in-arcadia-ego-2/id1473851833?i=1000469808956
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@msw188, @Nick, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is structured as a series of 3-4 episode arcs and it generally works well. Some arcs are amazing, some are lousy, but the net effect is positive. I love the show for its willingness to experiment, but a few episodes aimed at a younger audience don't ruin the experience for me because they're usually self-contained.
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@msw188, I really appreciate your perspective. You're fair, probably fairer than I'm being. Episodes 6-8 were genuinely pretty decent to good (as reflected in Jammer's reviews). I've said it before and I'll say it again, this show is a great argument for episodic or less serialized TV. Serialized TV raises the stakes such that there's a tendency to either say it's all good or all bad. Look at the reactions to Game of Thrones - people who followed that series for years have disavowed it because they're disappointed in the final episode. Episodic TV is more forgiving. It lets the show have some lows so long as it has some highs.
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Mal, To your list about great science fiction and Artificial Intelligence, I'd add Mass Effect, which added the idea of breaking out of a cyclical conflict between humans and AIs. (sound familiar?)
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

I think better writers would have set up the Seven-Raffi relationship earlier in the show. I don't remember them as being particularly close in episode 5, the only other time they would have interacted. Raffi seemed obsessed with her grief and barely came out of her room after she visited her son.
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Dom
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 8:30am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Just an endorsement of @Mal's post about science fiction and artificial intelligence/robots. It's well written and I recommend everyone read it.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Cody B, I'm not blaming you. I get it. I'm just pointing out a broader dilemma we all face.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Nick, I think what you're saying about Soji could make sense, but these are issues that probably should play out in the show. I'd be fine if there was some ambiguity about the evil intent of those AIs. But that doesn't quite absolve Soji, who was going to call to them in order to kill all life. Even then, a story about forgiveness could work, but I think we'd have to see some atonement. Maybe even a few more scenes after the climax of her expressing remorse for her actions, showing that she had grown, etc. I had a similar problem with The Rise of Skywalker. We see Kylo Ren murder people in cold blood, but then a few scenes later he wakes up, becomes a good guy, and kisses Rey. To be fair, the problems with Ben Solo are greater than for Soji because at least she didn't go through with her threat and didn't actually kill anyone in cold blood.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Nick, I get what you're saying. I probably would have been in the same boat 15 years ago. During the 90s, Trek was the only high quality sci-fi on TV (aside from Babylon 5, which had much lower production quality). Now though there are just too many other good shows on TV, video games to play, movies to watch, and books to read. If a new Trek show's not great, then why bother? It's not like we don't have other options.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@James White, is Lost in Space any good? I watched the first episode but it didn't grab me.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tim, Agree with your point about the social commentary. far from complaining about "politics in my Star Trek," I was looking forward to Trek dealing with contemporary issues. The scene with the Romulan refugees and Picard's interview in the first episode seemed very on point, but as you said it just didn't go anywhere. I think the worst part of it is that it really mangles any commentary. If you take the show at face value, it seems to be saying that refugees present a massive security threat and that we're right to be suspicious of foreigners. The Romulans ended up being the mustache-twirling villains who infiltrated Starfleet and were behind the attack on Mars. Raffi's prejudice against the Romulans is vindicated. Picard only stops the Zhat Vash cabal by calling in a large fleet. Surely that's not the message Patrick Stewart and the writers intended. Right?
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@msw188, that's an interesting take. I will say I think Data's quest for humanity does become a source of both dramatic tension and intellectual stimulation (although you're right perhaps more the latter). For me, the drama came not from the actor or character visibly emoting, but from the audience knowing that he was coming so close to emoting but never quite making it. Episodes like "The Most Toys" actually do use Data's quest for humanity for dramatic tension. I don't know if 10 straight episodes of that would have worked, which speaks to a point about the benefits of episodic TV, which allows you to tell a tight, focused story like "Measure of a Man." I could see a better written version of Soji's story written as a two parter.

Speaking of Soji, I think another reason I didn't find her arc compelling is that we've seen this same thing so many times in Blade Runner, etc. AI/alien finds out her true nature, is shocked, considers lashing out against humanity, decides against it in the end. It's time for new takes on AIs. I predicted most of Soji's arc from the very first episode. That's not to say I "hated" the character or the arc, I just felt like it wasn't anything that grabbed me.

And yes we should all be careful about judging a character like Soji against one like Data with decades of history. But as you said unfortunately the show does juxtapose them.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Nick, as @James White said, fan service does not make for a good story. Yes, there are callbacks to TNG. Yes, the staff clearly likes easter eggs. Yes, they know how to use Memory Alpha to look up obscure Trek details. That's all well and good, and I'm glad the writers care about Trek lore, but at the end of the day I care about the story and the characters. That's where I think Picard doesn't work. It's not all bad, but it's mostly not great imo.

When I expressed concern about the studio cashing in on the Trek IP, I meant that it seems like these new Trek shows are failing to capture what I and many others liked about older Trek. I liked Trek because of its exploration of big philosophical questions, its optimistic vision of the future, its celebration of geeks and intelligence, its sense of wonder and exploration. Of course, there were some - many - bad episodes, but the shows generally stayed true to this spirit and sensibility. Modern Trek meanwhile feels extremely cynical and dark. Aside from Picard's speeches in this show, which generally I think worked well, the Picard show came across as generic sci-fi with no interest in bigger ideas and no sense of wonder. Take out the name Picard and this could have been any other sci-fi show on the SyFy channel.

I think an appropriate analogy is the Star Wars Sequel films. The Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker both had a bunch of easter eggs, call backs to previous films, cameos, etc. However, that fan service often got distracting, if anything. It felt like the films were trying to get audiences invested using tricks. Now, there's a lot I really do like about the Sequel Trilogy and the newer characters generally work better than the new characters in Picard, but it's still this mashup of old and new that never quite finds its footing.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Nick, you seem to misunderstand the nature of the criticism. People here are criticizing STP BECAUSE they are fans of TNG. I'm not as critical of this show as OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, but I think he captures the concern, which is that the corporate powers that be are using the Trek IP to sell a show rather than earning that success. As I've noted here, I and many other Trek fans probably would have stopped watching after a few episodes but gave the show the benefit of the doubt BECAUSE it's Star Trek. Without the Star Trek name, this show probably would have gone the way as those generic SyFy channel shows like "Black Matter" or "Killjoys."
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Chrome, the difference is that Trek aliens usually took certain human stereotypes or characteristics to an extreme that was ultimately alien to 20th and 21st century humans. Ferengi look and sound and act alien, even though greed is something humans experience. With Soji, there's nothing to my mind that made her distinctly "other," except for her super-strength and reading speed. If anything, she resembles a human superhero more than an android.

I suspect the writers were taking a BSG approach to the synths in Picard. In that show, the differences between Cyclons and humans were deliberately downplayed and the conclusion of the series was that obviously any such differences were ultimately trivial. I don't think that's a bad way to go. But Picard also seemed to want to emphasize Soji's self-awakening and sense of discovery, which I don't think works as well if she is for all intents and purposes human. Or maybe Soji's journey was just too quick.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 11:05am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Chrome, to Eamon's point though none of what you mentioned seems particular to androids. In fact, what you're describing sounds more like a human child or teenager than an artificially created being. Lots of teens don't understand the difference between love and infatuation. Lots of teens don't have come family. The sense I got from Soji is that she's the equivalent of a book smart but emotionally immature teenager, which isn't exactly breaking new dramatic ground. She'll presumably grow out of this after a year or two, just like most teens do.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Eamon, agreed, I've said for a while that I'm not even sure why they made Soji a synth. She looks, sounds, acts, and thinks like a human. I think the writers were going for something more like Blade Runner, but there the replicants had a certain pathos and were fighting to stave off death. Soji has to struggle briefly with the revelation that she's a synth, which had potential, which had potential. But her arc seems to be more about maturity and accepting responsibility, which I don't quite buy because when we first see her she seems quite mature and self-assured. I don't buy that she's some child who needs guidance.
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Dom
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 10:01am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Cody B, with all due respect, aren't you - and many of us - part of the problem? If you don't think the show is good enough to watch on its own merits but are mostly sticking with it because of the franchise name, then you're basically giving Star Trek a license to be mediocre because of nostalgia. I'm not trying to single you out - I'm guilty of this as well. I've told people I probably would have stopped watching after episode 5 if not for Picard himself. But collectively I just worry Star Trek fandom is encouraging mediocrity.
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