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Dom
Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Glom, nice Zelda reference ;)
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Dom
Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Chrome, I take your point about spinoffs, but in a lot of ways I came to the opposite conclusion. "Measure of a Man" and "Offspring" are very popular TNG episodes. Also, this past season of Picard couldn't help dip into the Borg, and at least as much a spinoff of "Best of Both Worlds" and "I, Borg." I'd argue despite the fact that the Borg really serve very little function in the overall story. Soji could have been stationed on pretty much any research station.

I'm not complaining that the Borg were involved. Having a giant Borg artifact was kind of a neat bit of "unexplained lore" and makes for a more interesting setting than a generic starbase. But I can't help but see it as fixating on the more popular aspects of TNG for the sake of fan service. You mentioned Disney, but one thing I give Star Wars TV shows credit for is not indulging in too much fan service during their first seasons. Mandalorian didn't have a bunch of cameos from characters from the films, and I respect it for that.

I will say this: the attention to TNG lore in the show is amazing. Naming Troi's daughter after her hidden sister, etc. The writers took a lot of TNG lore, even from unpopular episodes, and made it all seem like part of the galaxy. The writers do deserve kudos for that.
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Dom
Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Booming, I was thinking something similar. I'm fine with euthanasia, but maybe spend more than 1 minute making that decision. Especially when, with golem tech, there was a way to bring Data back and give him a new body.

Also, @Lyons, yeah Nemesis is a bad movie, but I never felt like I - or Picard - needed closure on Data's death. It was sad, but his death wasn't pointless. Unlike, say Icheb and Hugh's deaths, but that's another story...
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Dom
Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 7:56am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tim C, the way you phrased that final question I think might help illuminate some of the differences of opinion here. You ask "was I entertained by the ride?" As critical as I have been of this show, I'd probably answer yes, for the most part I was. However, the question I tend to ask myself is: "was this show worth my time?" Given that there are many, many other TV shows I'd like to watch before I die (I'm middle-aged), do I want to invest another 10 hours in this one? I think the answer to that is most assuredly no. If I have a choice between watching 10 hours of Season 2 of Picard and catching up on The Expanse, rewatching Battlestar Galactica, or even starting a new show, I'd do the latter. I increasingly find myself not looking for entertainment but rather faced with deciding between too many entertainment options. I don't think there's any right or wrong answer to which question you ask or how you answer, but I perhaps this might help illuminate where others are coming from.
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Dom
Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 6:57am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

I find myself agreeing with most of what Jammer said, yet unable to give the Picard-Data scene the weight he does. As Peter G, Lynos, & Startrekwatcher already said, this show doesn't feel like it's "about" Picard and Data saying goodbye so much as scenes about Picard and Data bookending a whole bunch of other stuff. In addition to the issues they mentioned, here are three more things that limited the impact of the final scene for me:

First, we knew Picard wasn't going to die, so the scene kind of felt emotionally manipulative. CBS had already announced Picard Season 2, so we knew Patrick Stewart's Picard wasn't going to die. The last episode had also prominently mentioned the golem and so anyone familiar with Chekov's gun would have realized it would be used for something. Putting two and two together, it seemed pretty clear they were either going to resurrect Picard or Data. Until Picard died, I thought it would be the latter.

Second, there was no cost to Picard's resurrection. Soong essentially cured death and nobody seems to notice. In most of the great stories about mortality, the hero usually faces some cost for coming back from the dead, either the loss of a loved one or some physical deformity. The point being that resurrection shouldn't be cheap because humans have to learn to accept death. Instead, we get a lovely scene in which we hear Data and Picard talk about the importance of accepting death, and then Picard gets a "get out of jail" free card while he leaves Data to die. Golem!Picard is the exact same as the Picard who just died (Soji even makes a point that they programmed all of his elderly infirmities). Why not instead limit the technology in some way? Perhaps, like Data, the skin color isn't exactly right, so this new Picard looks somewhat less than human. It would have been fascinating if Picard had been resurrected, only for him to resemble his Borg self, Locutus. Is that a tradeoff he would be comfortable with?

Also, as long as we have golems and as long as we have Data's memories, why not create another golem and resurrect Data?

Finally, Data in this scene just looked... different somehow. The contact lenses look very fake and his pupils abnormally small. His face looks puffy (perhaps a result of the "de-aging tech" they surely used). It was distracting. He was clearly wearing a wig and it didn't look like the hairline was properly aligned. I realize Brent Spiner has aged and perhaps there was no alternative, but the overall effect was very distracting.
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Dom
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 10:14am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Mal, I forgot to mention Man in the High Castle and Caprica. The first season of MitHC was some of the best TV I've ever seen. Unfortunately, I think the show kind of lost itself in getting too convoluted and bombastic. Caprica is an underappreciated gem. Really clever take on the Cylons. The show dragged a bit in the middle, but I'm so disappointed it was canceled.

I haven't seen those other shows so I can't comment on them.
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Dom
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Glom, I agree. I think though there's a difference in how writers and show runners in interviews address these topics. We as a country are just more polarized and are quicker to interpret everything through the lens of politics. There's a lot of political psychology research showing that if you tell people a particular idea is affiliated with a particular political party, that will actually shape their attitudes towards the idea. Democrats were less likely to want a mission to Mars when Bush proposed it. Republicans hate Russia - until Trump cozies up to Putin.

I think we're just seeing the same phenomenon in pop culture. Stewart says Picard will deal with refugees, and so people start forming their opinions of the show based on that rather than the content. To my recollection, we didn't have Berman and Braga doing hundreds of interviews saying that Voyager was going to depict the sexism women in the workplace face, etc, etc. They just depcited it in the story.
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Dom
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 9:23am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Lynos, I love The Mandalorian but I'd put it more in the "space fantasy" category than science fiction. I otherwise agree. It's a pretty simple show, but it knows what it wants to be and does it well.
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Dom
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Glom, absolutely. I'm convinced the "politics" around Picard and Discovery are less about the contents of the show and more about the marketing. Classic and 90s Trek were pretty objectively progressive, yet the writers and actors didn't spend as much time advertising that fact. By contrast, Chabon, Stewart, and others have gone on record as saying Picard would partly be a response to right-wing populism. That means now many liberals feel compelled to defend the show no matter what, while many conservatives attack it no matter what. Regardless of the fact that the show itself does very little with those themes. The cynic in me thinks triggering political reactions is all part of CBS' marketing strategy. Ironically, the people I know best who were disappointed with the show are progressives who mourn the fact that the show muddled its themes.
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Dom
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 7:43am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

For what it's worth, my opinions on non-Trek sci-fi shows:

The Battlestar Galactica reboot is easily the best of all the shows mentioned. It got memorable characters, social commentary, and good production values. I wouldn't say it's perfect (some of the later Cylon reveals come out of nowhere), but it generally stays interesting throughout.

Babylon 5 he a good script, but really bad production values. I love a lot of what the show does, but the war with the Shadows ends a bit too abruptly and the show loses steam after that.

The Expanse is very good on world-building and has some great plot threads. The characters aren't bad, but aren't imo as memorable (except for a few like Avasarala and Bobbie). I agree with Booming the lead actor is weak, but he gets better over time. What I really appreciate about the show is how it can just spend a lot of time showing the crew trying to resolve relatively minor problems (like Star Trek used to do). Also its commitment to realistic physics makes it stick out .

Westworld is style over substance. Great acting, directive, etc. But it's the ultimate mystery box show. If that's your thing, great. I found myself not caring after a season.

Farscape is fun and goofy. The final season gets a bit too convoluted for its own good. Sometimes the humor is a bit too juvenile and the episodes a bit too wacky. But I respect its creativity.

Firefly is probably the best sci-fi show about a band of rogues. The dialogue is consistently funny and clever. The production has held up pretty well. It's not high-brow philosophy, but it is very enjoyable.

Altered Carbon has a great premise (what if technology allowed people to transfer to new bodies). It's sometimes a bit too violent and "grim" for my tastes, but - unlike nuTrek - that darkness serves a clear thematic point about the disposability of life.

I only saw the first season of Defiance. I liked it, but not enough to really hook me. I liked some of the characters, but the bad CGI and some of the other plot threads made me check out.

I've only seen a few episodes of The Orville. I know everyone says it's the true heir to TNG, but the wildly inconsistent tone and joke attitude are throwing me off. I might try to go back and watch more.

Overall, despite the failure of nuTrek shows to take off, there's plenty of good science fiction on TV.
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Dom
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Tommy D., sure, there's some truth to that. The Star Trek name comes with certain expectations. It's definitely harder to suspend disbelief when you as a viewer think you know what the show should be. But Trek also comes with a built-in fanbase. Many people here have been honest about the fact that they probably wouldn't have given a show of the quality of Picard as much of their time but for the Trek name. There's a whole discussion about whether or not Picard adheres to the values of the Trek franchise, etc, etc, but most of the negative comments here, and much of Jammer's reviews, have just focused on basic issues with the writing. You can argue about nostalgia and the optimistic values of Trek all you want, but this is a show that arguably can't even do a proper setup and payoff.
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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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