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Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@ msw188, I love it - a great outline. I’ve been spending the lockdown watching old TNG, and there are just so many great courtroom episodes.

I never thought of Ensigns of Command as a legal drama, but of course Picard pulls some contractual loophole out of the treaty to defeat the Sheliak.

I never thought of A Matter of Perspective as a legal drama, but of course what we watch are each person’s “depositions” fed into the holodeck computer.

I never thought of Sins of the Father as a legal drama, but of course Worf’s family is on trial, and he cuts a plea bargain deal at the end.

It’s not just classic legal drama episodes like Measure of a Man or Drumhead, but when you think about it, all of TNG, starting right from the trial of humanity in Encounter at Farpoint, all the way through Q’s admonition (!!!!) in All Good Things… that the trial never ends - the whole thing is in some ways a legal drama judging what humans are and what humanity might become.

So by all means, @msw188, your idea of a Dr. Jurati trial down on the planet could have been a perfect denouement to the the season.

@Dom, my apologies that I’m not familiar with video games to add them to the list. But from what I understand, Mass Effect (even if I have no idea what that is - and this is my own limitation, not having played video games since Super Mario Brothers and TMNT the Arcade version, back in the 80’s), that ME is a huge influence on Picard. For more on breaking the human/AI cycle of conflict, see also nBSG. All this has happened before, but maybe all this doesn’t have to happen again.

@Tim, I agree with you completely on GOT, though I actually liked that the ending was true to the spirit of the books, most of which I had read long before the TV show ever came out. The end is true to the spirit of what GRRM seems to be setting up. It is anyone’s guess if GRRM will actually get around to writing the end. But your point is 100% correct: people would have been far more understanding if the show runners had taken their time getting there. And what is true of Game of Thrones and their show runners, is equally true of nuTrek and its show runners.

These people are too much in a hurry to get to their “clever” story points, and don’t give the show and the characters - and the audience - time to come along and enjoy the ride.

Remember The Wire, that epitome of good serial story telling? Each season started off slow. Allowed time for the characters to get established. And then, when faced with the major situation of the season, those characters could react naturally to those situations. The plot progression flowed naturally from the characters, rather than the characters being dragged along from plot point to plot point. But that takes excellence. And the hacks that are running nuTrek aren’t up to the job.

Discovery’s cardinal sin was not retconning a sister for Spock. Star Trek V retconned in a brother, but the movie was bad for completely different reasons. Discovery was too much in a hurry to get Michael established as the show lead. It took Picard almost two seasons - almost 50 episodes - before he was accepted by a wide swath of fandom as our captain. It took John Snow almost two seasons - almost 20 episodes - before he became our hero.

But with Michael, Discovery rushed through her trial. They didn’t even have a single episode of her serving time in jail. Heck, O’Brien had more jail time in DS9 than Michael did in Discovery - even though she was evidently convicted of one of the greatest crimes in Federation history. Even poor Cassidy Yates went away for more episodes than Michael. But the writers on Discovery were in a hurry. They cut too many corners. And as a result, the show sucks.

And don’t say cutting corners is just due to the short seasons that nuTrek has versus old Star Trek seasons.

Voyager suffered the same cardinal sin even with full length seasons.

Instead of taking a season to show the conflict between Janeway’s Federation crew and Chakotay’s Maquis crew, TPTB wrapped it all up in a few hours, put everyone in Starfleet uniforms, and called it a day. Compare that to how it could have been - should have been - in nBSG, where Adama and Roslin spent seasons taking pot shots at each other before they finally came to some workable power-sharing arrangement. That’s what it means to take your time. That’s what good writers do in serialised shows.

Not the hacks that run nuTrek.

So @msw188, I 100% endorse your idea of a courtroom drama. What a trial of Jurati might have done in the right hands - like all great Trek legal dramas (think back to TOS's The Menagerie), is take time. Take stock. Allow the grand changes that are happening in the ‘verse time to sink in.

Adding synths back to the fabric of the Federation is a big step.

No need to short circuit the change in 30 seconds of dialogue about what happened off-screen - WTF! Let it simmer like the changing of generations in Game of Thrones. Ned Stark was arrested in Episode 8, but not executed till the end of Episode 10. It takes time for the baton to pass. Think of the two trials of Tyrion - one in at the Eryie, one at Winterfell, and how much they fleshed out the show - a show that like Picard, only had 10 episodes in a season.

Unless these hacks running nuTrek learn to write - learn to structure an episode like the Mandalorian, and learn to structure a season like The Wire (or Mad Men or House of Cards), we’re going to be stuck for a long time with this drek.
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Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

A serviceable hour of TV. Not great. Not terrible. None of what makes Trek amazing. Just your typically B-grade action hour.

Why are people drawn to fiction? Because sometimes you can tell a story that is more real if you aren’t held down by facts. Romeo & Juliet shows the intensity of young love ( ) more acutely than a teenage reality show ever could. Othello tells us more about jealously than the Real Housewives.

And with fiction, why in particular science fiction? Because great scifi explores ideas more radical and revolutionary than any other genre.

Gene was a particular genius in scifi. But he wasn’t the only one.

Asimov, a scientist in his own right, asked not how to make a robot, but rather, if we did make robots, what should we let it do? And more importantly, what should we prevent them from doing? Asimov's fiction set up a few rules - three rules ( ) of robotics. Then he explored through entertaining thought experiments, how those three rules would work when they hit up against the real world.

Asimov’s scifi *fictional* rules of robotics are a bedrock of how people think about AI ethics even today. His scifi mattered. His fiction was important work.

Asimov was a particular genius. But he wasn’t the only one.

James Cameron, with the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger, created an iconic cautionary tale of machines that were not bound by Asimov’s three rules of robotics. In The Terminator, robots not only destroy our future, they come back in time ( ) to destroy our past.

The Terminator’s *fictional* note of caution is a bedrock of how people thing about AI run wild even today. His scifi mattered. His fiction was important work.

James Cameron is a particular genius. But he wasn’t the only one.

Gene, dear Gene, with Data - and especially the episode Measure of a Man - explored the idea that a man-made being, a ROBOT, a word which literally means "serf labor," could be a free man. It is no accident that the writer of that episode, Melinda Snodgrass, was a lawyer, and that that iconic hour of TV defined sentient rights - organic or artificial - though a courtroom drama - in a way that still shapes our thinking today. The Offspring ( ) took it one step further still.

Gene was a particular genius. But he wasn’t the only one.

Nobel prize winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, in his incredible book Never Let Me Go, explores what it might be like for an artificially created life to be used, and then thrown away. Ishiguro explores the same questions another genius, Ridley Scott, did years earlier in Blade Runner ("I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”). To some extent that’s also the case with Westworld and the “Humans” ( ) series.

Even Voyager had an interesting arc ( ) with a hologram bill of rights.

We could talk about nBSG, and how the real question that artificial life raises is what it means to be human. Or The Matrix, and whether peaceful coexistence between human and sentient AI ( ) is even possible. Or the Daleks, and what kind of freakish results are possible when you merge artificial and organic life - the same question raised in a different way by the Borg.

But ST:Picard? And entire show structured around artificial life, contributes… nothing.

Well, at least they didn’t fuck it up.
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Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 2:38am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

why isn't android telepathy treated as if it's amazing in this episode? Why isn't Picard reacting to it the same way he did after his first holo-experience in The Big Goodbye, or after meeting Minuet? It's because the writers of this don't seem to care about the 'sense of wonder', they care about plot progression.”

Wow @Peter G., very well put.

We live in an age where this should be so clear, that I have to wonder how blind the writers are to life? How long does it take you to get used to your new phone - or say if you switch from apple to android?

We live in an age of unboxing videos.

How about the space rockets? Watching private space vehicles painstakingly dock with the International Space Station?

How about a Tesla? Ever driven on auto pilot? Blows your mind!!

How is it possible that the wonder Picard had for Minuet, as @Peter G. says, has evaporated? How has the man who won the case that Data is a person in Measure of a Man not more blown away by an android mind meld?

Maybe that’s why I like Kestra, Riker’s girl on Nephenthe, so much. She seems to be the only person in this universe who is acting like a normal person. The universe - especially the Star Trek universe - is incredible. Take a breathe. Take it all in.
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Sat, Mar 21, 2020, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

@ William Wehrs, that video is hilarious!

Constant. Electrical. Stooooormmmsss.

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Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Schizoid Man

It may seem hard to accept, but “The Schizoid Man” is the most important episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It marks the exact spot where TNG started its rapid rise from that mediocre-to-bad TOS spin-off, to one of the best shows ever made.

In the course of just 4 weeks - from Schizoid Man on January 23, 1989, to The Measure of the Man on February 13, 1989, TNG took a motley crew of interesting individuals and knitted them together into a family we love to this day, 30 years later!

How? Like the song says,

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til its gone

In Schizoid Man, we almost lose Data. He develops a personality. He develops a sense of humor. All of it is alien. All of it is imposed upon him by his “grandpa”. But all of it has the effect that at the end of the hour, when Data speaks again in his natural - but what we had always thought of as an annoying way - it comes as a giant relief! Thank god, Data is back!

Data becomes a member of the family. Think: only 3 episodes ago Geordi & Data almost destroyed the ship via a holographic Moriarty, and only 3 episodes before that, Data was a serious annoyance to Picard in “The Neutral Zone” in bringing three dead 20th century people onboard and bringing them back to life.

And now, and ever after The Schizoid Man, Data is family.

The next episode, Unnatural Selection, makes Polaski a crew member - again because we almost lose her to, well, old age.

The episode after that, A Matter of Honor, strangely makes Worf a family member in the most unique way possible - by sending Riker off to serve on a Klingon ship. This episode defines Klingons for the next 10 years - right through the end of DS9! That is an insane legacy for just 1 hour of TV.

And finally, the fourth in the string of four defining episodes is Measure of a Man, one of the greatest Star Trek hours ever made.

TNG would never be just a show after these 4 hours of TV in just 4 weeks.

I’m not sure how many of you remember the day in 1989 when The Schizoid Man aired? The President had just changed - the first such change in my lifetime. For everyone born in the prior 8 years, we had only ever known 1 President. And now there was a new one. It was truly a new era. Quickly the Berlin wall would fall. The Cold War would be over. We would go to war in the Gulf (the first time). These were rapid changes in America and the World, and TNG was along for the ride.

That ride became our ride with the four episodes starting with The Schizoid Man. Thank god.
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Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 6:53am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

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Wed, Mar 18, 2020, 3:49am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@ Trent, Picard taking the Conn felt like a callback to the Binar episode

and recall, even back then - 32 years ago! - Picard was completely out of practice piloting a ship.

Its no wonder that he was out of his element here.
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Wed, Mar 18, 2020, 12:27am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, who wonders, "Where is Q in all of this? ... he told Picard that the trial never ends and that he'll be watching."

There is an ancient saying among the Q: "once you go Janeway, you don't go back." ;)
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Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@ Jammer, I for one love this site exactly as is. Feel free to ignore all requests for an "upgrade".

I for one prefer you simply focus on the reviews.

Speaking of which, we wait with baited breath your review of "Broken Pieces". I need something to vehemently disagree with ;-)

But I will reiterate the tip jar idea from above (Patreon or some such). I've been on this site for more than a decade and *never* realised there were ads! I would like very much for some way to send across our fair share of web-hosting charges that you are paying out of your own pocket.

You, @Jammer, seem to be just about the only person left on the web who isn't asking for money. Or "likes". Or retweets. Or whatever. Almost as if you're just doing this for the love of Star Trek!?!??!
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Lack of Malice
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

Vote with your clicks... if you don't like this site, go someplace else. It's not like Internet lacks for places to discuss Star Trek.
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Sun, Mar 15, 2020, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Don’t let the big mega-corporations like CBS brainwash you into believing you are only your money. Star Trek fans are so much more!

We are people, and we’ve had so much influence over Star Trek over the decades - far beyond merely what we pay to mega-corporations like CBS. Take the letter writing campaign that saved The Original Series:

"Newspaper columnists encouraged readers to write letters to help save what one called "the best science-fiction show on the air".[53]

More than 200 Caltech students marched to NBC's Burbank, California studio to support Star Trek in January 1968, carrying signs such as "Draft Spock" and "Vulcan Power".[54]

Berkeley and MIT students organized similar protests in San Francisco and New York City.[53]

The letters supporting Star Trek, whose authors included New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller,[55] were different in both quantity and quality from most mail that television networks receive…”

And fan productions show what Star Trek should really be, not the drek that Discovery has become.

Just watch the Prelude to Axanar - starring DS9’s Martok actor, nBSG’s Ellen Tigh actor, ENT’s Ambassor Soval, BSG’s Richard Hatch - who played both Captain Apollo in the old series and Tom Zarak in the new BSG, and Tony Todd, who played an older Jake Sisko in the DS9 masterpiece “The Visitor” (plus had a role in a Babylon 5 TV movie).

Just watch it and tell me that Star Trek fans are only the money they fork over to CBS.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Maybe it is true for some other shows, that money from viewers is all that matters (I don’t know that there is very much fan contribution to The Wire, widely considered the best show ever made, beyond forking over money to HBO), but this is Star Trek, and the fans are the the secret sauce.

Those who made other Gene shows like Andromeda would read @ Jammer’s website. I’m guessing so did those who made nBSG, since they even named a character Jammer :-)

So, dear @ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, don’t let CBS brainwash you into believing we are only valuable to Star Trek for our money. It’s a lie.

Keep watching, keep contributing. Regardless of which mega-corp owns Star Trek today, copyright only lasts a finite number of years. After that, the show will always belong to all of us.

Live long and prosper.
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Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 2:25am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@ wolfstar said, "made Klingons into Orc-like monsters that eat people (because apparently the Klingons were too *subtle* in previous Star Trek)”

LOL! Love it! :-)

@ Jammer, I hope you get a chance to put up a 25th anniversary post where we can share our thanks. Maybe also a Patreon tip jar or some such? Because your reviews, this website, and all the great contributors over the years, have been such a wonderful part of enjoying Trek - and also Andromeda and nBSG.

I’ll just say, if forced to self-isolate, what better way to spend the time than going back and watching old Trek side by side with Jammer’s st-hypertext?!!

Going back and looking at my very first comment on this board more than a decade ago, I’m happy to say it was… complaining about Star Trek! Plus ca change.

And speaking of complaining,

@ Frank, I don’t think you’ve understood the message of Star Trek: Picard when you ask something like:
"people who complain that this isn’t Star Trek reminds me of when I was traveling around the world (literally) I would encounter Americans who complained that the food or the culture was not like home, and I wondered why they traveled at all. I learned very quickly adapt and enjoy. Think about it.”

@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi gets close to the answer.

The whole point of Star Trek: Picard is to show that it is not only enough just to recognise *when* Starfleet (or say the show Star Trek) has stopped being true to itself. And it is decidedly the *wrong* response to take all your marbles and go home, the way Picard resigned from Starfleet, or the way some people seem to think certain fans should just stop watching.

What Picard should have done with Starfleet rather than resign - and what fans who dislike nuTrek must do with Star Trek rather than switch off - is stick with it, and keep speaking up and keep speaking out, until they ensure that Star Trek can be what it is supposed to be. To boldly go where no man has gone before.

If TNG's Picard set a bold course and declared "Engage," then ST:Picard tells us - in one simple catch phrase, "Stay Engaged."

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Thu, Mar 12, 2020, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

"Data’s capacity for expressing and processing emotion was limited. I suppose we had that in common.”

- Picard, all growed up.

Mal’s review of Star Trek: Picard, episode 8, “Broken Pieces”

* * * 1/2 stars (out of 4)

Well, it took 8 hours for Picard to find its legs. But I’m happy to report that the show is finally firing on all cylinders.

“Broken Pieces” comes across as a nearly perfect hour of this show for - what it is. Not thanks to nostalgia (ala Nepenthe). Nor thanks to the sheer joy of seeing Sir Patrick on screen as Picard for the first time since Nemesis (ala Remembrance). But near perfect all on its very own.

Star Trek Picard is finally his own man, even if that means he isn’t The Man.

Are there pieces of the show I don’t like? Sure. But’s that’s, like, just my opinion, dude ;)

I don’t like the opening theme song (even if it is far better than ENT). I don’t like the cussing (how many flying fucks were there this hour? I lose count). But if you accept that this is the aesthetic which has been chosen for Star Trek Picard, then you can look past the surface, and start to enjoy time with this new motley crew.

And it is an enjoyable ride.

Rios clearly shines this hour. Every moment of his - from listening to Billy Holiday ("In my solitude") on an old phonograph, to singing an old lullaby his mom sang to him - every moment drips of authenticity. Heck, even that “previously on Picard” scene of his that they snuck in at the beginning - but which must have been cut from whatever episode it was supposed to be in - even that, shall we say, covert flashback was pretty good.

Raffi’s scene with the multiple holograms drags a bit. But her scenes before that with each individual hologram demonstrate this is a concept that could actually work going forward. “ENH. Call me eunuch.” LOL! Well done lassie.

Even Agnes - poor Agnes - had some character growth. Confession, as they say, is good for the soul.

And let’s not forget the Bene Gesserit. Of all people, evil incestuous spy sister comes across as halfway decent thanks to a competently executed flashback. And though I am no fan of these flashbacks at the top of each episode, once you come to accept that this is simply how Picard is going to be structured, well, this one wasn’t half bad.

I particularly liked how the flashback explained the mad ex-Borg tarot reader Aunty we had seen a few episodes ago. I am almost certain that was Commodore Oh leading the Admonition, so this flashback does an amazing job tying together three peripheral characters (Narissa, Aunty, Commodore Oh), and actually making them super central to the plot. Well done!

The hour is particularly good because Soji’s annoying boyfriend is nowhere to be seen (come to think of it, that helps Narissa too - he is awful).

And Jeri Ryan and Frodo have a super cute chemistry. “That sounds amazing. Do that!"

My major complaint is all the cutting back and forth. Especially when Rios was telling Raffi about his old captain. Mr. Director/Editor, stop - just stay with the scene.

Plus, they are finally getting better with the music. Not quite there, but almost.

And oh, if you are going to do flashbacks every episode, I’d love to see Alanso Vandamere shoot Beautiful Flower and Janna and then himself. That shit would be dope yo.

The series as a whole is still not structured well. That they had to sneak in a “previously on” just 8 episodes in says a lot. More 14 years ago flashbacks reinforces my ongoing complaint that season 1, or an intro miniseries, should have been 14 years ago, and then at the end of season 1, we could have jumped forward to “now". But now it’s too late for that.

For what this show wants to be, and what we want it to be, this hour was pleasing. And more importantly, it showed that there is hope for a several-season show that could be a pleasing ride.

So buckle up bitches, let’s boldly go! (Actually I don’t know how to work this…)
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Thu, Mar 12, 2020, 2:57am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

No, @ Booming, they were not vegetarians.

Here is Riker cooking eggs:

and here is Bashir and his date eating out some *very* non-vegetarian fare:
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Tue, Mar 10, 2020, 5:35am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

Badger: Had a problem with your attitude is why. Felt you was - what’s the word…?

Jayne: Pretentious?

Badger: Exactly! You think you’re better than other people.

Mal: Just the ones I’m better than.
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Mon, Mar 9, 2020, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
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Mon, Mar 9, 2020, 10:07am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

Wow, the New York Times really nails what a poor job Michael Chabon and Samantha Humphrey did with Riker and Troi on Nepenthe. To wit:

"Riker accuses his old boss of “classic Picard arrogance” for not being more revealing about his situation. … Unless something has changed in the last 20 years, this assessment is inaccurate. There are dozens of examples in “The Next Generation” of Picard relying on the counsel of others. Heck, he made timeline altering decisions based solely on the intuition of Guinan, the ship’s bartender. This notion that Picard is arrogant and close-minded goes against much of what we know about him.”

And though the New York Times properly credits Marina Sirtis personally, they nail the poor writing around Troi’s interactions with Picard:

"Troi nods at this and tells Picard that he “had it coming,” when Soji shoves him aside. Troi thinks that Picard is being dismissive of Soji’s concerns, but there isn’t much evidence for that either. Picard’s former ship’s counselor tells him that he needs to be “compassionate" and “patient” like the Old Picard — which thus far, from my eyes, he has been? It felt like Riker and Troi were diagnosing problems that don’t exist.”

Which of course goes directly to what @ The Chronek tries to argue.

Doesn’t matter how many awards someone like Michael Chabon might have, what matters is the work they are doing now. And the work they are doing now - Picard - is obviously substandard.

Indeed, the New York Times goes so far as to say:

"I’ve been willing to give the “Picard” writers a lot of leeway for crafting an ambitious story but there are several incongruous plot points in “Nepenthe.” This is the first episode in which these seeming holes distracted me from the story.”

Doesn’t get much more damning than that.
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Fri, Mar 6, 2020, 10:43am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

@ Ubik

I didn’t cover the scenes on the ship in my review up at the top of this thread, but FWIW, I saw them as pretty good. Raffi and Rios are no fools. Remember, Raffi was an intelligence officer - these guys know that something’s up with Dr. Jurati.

Trek often does A/B stories with parallel themes. And back on Nepenthe, Soji is complaining to Deanna that she can’t trust anyone, especially when "you surround me with warm friendly people and good food.” And what do Raffi and Rios do? They are friendly to Dr. Jurati, and they give her good food.

“And now you come along with Aunty Raffi. She’s gonna hook you up with what ever you need.”

“Is it cake?”

Evidently it is three slices of cake. And chocolate milk. And then Raffi asks Dr. Jurati what’s wrong. "Is it Chris [Rios]"? Meaning Raffi at least knows there is something going on there (maybe Rios told her they hooked up after Maddox died). In any case, then Raffi immediately jumps to asking about Maddox when she sees Agnes is right at the point of breaking down.

Then later, after Raffi has been super nice to Agnes, Rios pretends to Agnes that he suspects Raffi - because maybe, just maybe, Agnes will feel so guilty that she will tell him what is really going on.

So while I have very little respect for the writers of this show, let’s remember that these characters are the people Picard has chosen for this mission - Raffi, and Raffi chose Rios. Let’s assume that they are clever as fuck.

Of course the writers could go the other way. But I think that would say more about the writers than Raffi and Rios, both of whom have been solid pillars for this show.

Part of the problem is the ridiculous over-serialized format. In a better structured show, they would stick with the plot and bring it to some reasonable resolution, and we would see how Raffi and Rios' tag teaming paid off. Instead every fucking episode has to end in a cliff hanger. It is annoying.
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Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 6:59am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

"It tastes so real. Real is so much better.”

- Soji eats a tomato, which is oddly the emotional core message of this hour.

* * 1/2 stars (out of 4)

Here is an hour of ST:Picard that does everything - short of killing Picard - to make us feeeel. Most of the tricks didn’t really do it for me. The massacre of four ex-Borg by the Romulans was gratuitous and needless cruel. I thought we were over that kind of senseless violence with Icheb, but evidently not. The death of Hugh was a waste, much as the death of Maddox was waste a few weeks ago. And the heart-stringiest of all, the death of Deanna and Will’s elder son from some sort of silicon MS (that could only be cured if there were Androids!) was just too cliched to really register, seeing as we never did know the boy.

But I’m happy to say that young Kestra’s girl-crush on Soji was both endearing and organic, and frankly very charming. Was it enough to lift this hour past the substandard string of episodes we saw in #’s 2, 3, 4 & 5? No, but maybe it offers hope that the writers possess some skills, that there is some potential for this series going forward.

Now, you might say, how can an episode with Will and Deanna be anything less than four stars? Well, it’s not that there weren't stand out moments: Will & Picard sitting on a bench over the lake, with Will’s arm around Picard was wonderful - maybe worth having this entire series just for that one scene. But if you listen closely to the dialogue throughout the episode, the hour was basically a long expository “previously on Picard” recap. Think of Nepenthe as TNG’s Shades of Gray. A clip show without the clips.

My biggest problem with ST: Picard, is that the show doesn’t seem to respect the audience. Take the Big Reveal (TM) that Commodore Oh mind-melded with Dr. Jurati, showing her the hell that is a galaxy with synths. Ok. But imagine we had seen that scene way back in episode 2 when it happened, and then lived with that knowledge through all these hours of Picard, just like Dr. Jurati had to. That’s what nBSG did. Dr. Baltar knew that there were Skin-job Toasters, and he had to make decisions on the fly burdened with that knowledge. Flawed decisions. Self-serving decisions (we’re talking about Baltar after all). But the writers respected the audience enough not to try to hook them with a cheap trick. Imagine how the drek of Stardust City Rag might have been elevated if we got to participate in the self-torture that Dr. Jurati went through in deciding to kill her ex-boyfriend? But no, they went for cheap tricks instead.

And this episode doubles down on the Romulan secret society silliness.

Evidently when the Bene Gesserit fights the Fellowship of the Ring, it must be hand-to-hand. Whatever.

That said, Will was outstanding. Every beat of his was perfect. I am so tempted to give Nepenthe 3 stars just for him. Now I want pizza.

The sound track to this show is terrible. Please upgrade! Computer, play more jazz :-)
Set Bookmark
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.

'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

- Ulysses, and maybe also JL.

* * * (of 4 stars)

Star Trek: Picard’s best episode since the Pilot (maybe even better), this hour has everything to love, and none of the two things that have dragged down the previous few hours - no flashbacks (the “flashback" at the top is a false memory, and is absolutely critical to the plot so far and probably to what is coming), and no ridiculous violence (about 7 seconds worth of sword play - which is actually quite enjoyable, and again - and most critically - central to the plot).


Plus, finally, Sir Patrick seems to have found a mode for playing JL that works given his age and the inevitable decay that brings on. Though he is not now that force which in old times moved heaven and earth, that which he is, he is: still a big enough deal to warrant emergency diplomatic credentials :-)

I’m not a fan of the whole Dr. Aggie/Rios hook up, but I have to admit that it rings true. Who here hasn’t hooked up in a moment of grief or existential dread? As my favorite tragic character Londo Mollari on that other scifi show, Babylon 5, liked to say, "it is good to have friends, is it not, even if only for a little while.”

And thank you for no gratuitous cussing. This hour was so much kinder on the ears.

Not sure if you noticed, but at the moment Raffi gets Picard his diplomatic credentials, they play a few bars of the old TNG theme, and the lighting of the wall behind Picard shifts. I don’t want to read too much into that, but damn if it didn’t seem like the old Star Trek we know and love broke through for a moment! Stick around old friend, we missed you.

My favorite scene was Hugh hugging JL and then showing JL the rehabilitation of rescued ex-Borgs. Compare the compassion of giving a man a new face, literally healing his scars, to the cruelty that just last week was unleashed upon poor Icheb. More of this please. Less of that.

I wanted to give the episode 3 1/2 stars, but Soji’s boyfriend makes me sleepy.

If these 6 hours of Picard had been compressed into 3, me thinks ST:Picard would have had a glowing start. But if a few extra hours is what it took for this show to find its legs, and this type of show is what we have to look forward to, then I can be happy. But I don’t want to jinx it.

See you next week on Nepenthe Number One!
Set Bookmark
Tue, Feb 25, 2020, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Descent, Part I

The highlight of this hour was the Admiral chewing out Picard. The exchange goes as follows:

NECHAYEV: As I understand, it you found a single Borg at a crash site, brought it aboard the Enterprise, studied it, analysed it, and eventually found a way to send it back to the Borg with a programme that would have destroyed the entire collective once and for all. But instead, you nursed the Borg back to health, treated it like a guest, gave it a name, and then sent it home. Why?

PICARD: When Hugh was separated from the Borg collective he began to grow and to evolve into something other than an automaton. He became a person. When that happened, I felt I had no choice but to respect his rights as an individual.

NECHAYEV: Of course you had a choice. You could've taken the opportunity to rid the Federation of a mortal enemy, one that has killed tens of thousands of innocent people, and which may kill even more.

PICARD: No one is more aware of the danger than I am. But I am also bound by my oath and my conscience to uphold certain principles. And I will not sacrifice them in order to -


Fucking hubris.

Your priority is to safeguard the lives of Federation citizens, not to wrestle with your conscience. Now I want to make it clear that if you have a similar opportunity in the future, an opportunity to destroy the Borg, you are under orders to take advantage of it. Is that understood?

PICARD: Yes, sir.

Looks like the new Star Trek: Picard is modelled after Decent Part II. Odd that TPTB would chose this two-parter of all TNG episodes to base the new series on.
Set Bookmark
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

nu-Trek is low quality. Star Trek used to be high quality.

Star Trek used to attract the best talent to make the show. Now it is run by mediocre people making a mediocre product. But it is a product that hides behind Special Effects in the case of Discovery, and hides behind Sir Patrick in the case of Picard.

But it takes so much more than one world class actor to make a show. It takes writers.

The sad thing is, this drive away from the excellence of TNG towards mediocrity was on purpose.

When TNG was cancelled, it was a huge success. 30 million - yes 30 million! - people watched the final All Good Things… Here’s how the New York Times described the situation:

"The series finale drew a huge 17.4 rating, which translates into more than 31 million viewers. If it had been a network show, it would have ranked second for the week, right between "Home Improvement" and "Seinfeld.”

TNG was also the most expensive show ever made at the time. Again, the New York Times:

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" died for business reasons, not creative ones. It was canceled by its producer, Paramount Television, at the height of its powers. As its seventh season ended, with the two-hour series finale in May, "Next Generation" was one of the most popular weekly shows on television and easily one of the most profitable. Fans were aghast and puzzled. Why would Paramount pull the plug on a series that was making more than a million dollars an episode in profit?”

Why, then, might you ask, did they cancel TNG? Here’s what the New York Times reported at the time:

"The departure of "Next Generation" is part of a well-orchestrated campaign that says a great deal about how popular culture is sliced, diced, packaged and sold by giant entertainment companies these days. "Star Trek" is much more than a couple of hit television series. It is that rarest of show-biz flowers, a franchise, something Hollywood studios take great care to nurture and cultivate. By killing off "Next Generation" now, Paramount pruned a strong limb so the whole organism could grow bigger and more vibrant.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

TPTB killed a big-tent super successful TNG to make more profit - and they did this by making new shows that were not at the level of TNG. Here is how the New York Times reported it at the time:

"Paramount introduced a spinoff series, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," 18 months ago… . And because it is a younger show, says Ms. Roberts, "I'm sure 'Deep Space Nine' is a lot cheaper than 'Next Generation' to produce."

What's next in the master plan? Yet another spinoff, "Star Trek: Voyager," will have its premiere in January. That will keep two fresh "Star Trek" shows on the air… .”

If each successive Star Trek show has seemed a step down, with VOY a step down sold on the then-new network UPN, with Enterprise one more step down, with DISC a few steps below that for the new streaming site CBS All Access, and so on, THIS IS ON PURPOSE. This is planned.

So where does the talent go when Star Trek is no longer interested in putting out an excellent product?

nBSG - had the benefit of Ronald D. Moore, a Star Trek alum who had the freedom on nBSG he never did on VOY

The Expanse - has the benefit of Naren Shankar, a TNG alum who is making the very best scifi today - but not for Trek

Other scifi shows could get talent. Firefly had the incredibly successful Joss Whedon.

Man in the High Castle was made by a guy who got a Golden Globe for his work on the X-Files.

And on and on.

Meanwhile Star Trek continues its decent and decline from the peaks reached when TNG was the most expensive show and drew an audience second only to Seinfeld.

People in this thread have talked about Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Trek.

@ Jammer has rightly said “Methinks Gene's vision was to make a successful television show”.

Specifically, the successful show Gene wanted to make was Wagon Train to the stars. Well Wagon Train was the #1 show of it’s time. Star Trek TNG was very nearly #1 - right at the top.

If Picard seems like a real step down from TNG, that’s because it is. And that is on purpose.

Here is how the New York Times story on TNG ends:

"By cutting off "Next Generation" now, Paramount has left the audience hungry for more and reaped a windfall to boot… .

Paramount ... capitalized on the hoopla by selling "Star Trek" merchandise over toll-free telephone lines. In sales of "transporter pen sets" and tchotchkes, the studio racked up millions. With results like that, Paramount is likely to be catering to the needs of Trekkers into the millennium.”

Today TPTB "capitalize on the hoopla” by selling CBS All Access.

Picard and Discovery are just the cheapest ways TPTB have so far found to continue to the franchise. If they can find a cheaper way, believe me they will. And all the while, the writing will continue to get worse. Because talent costs $$.
Set Bookmark
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 3:20am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

What’s better than one flashback to start an episode? How about two flashbacks to start an episode!

First of all, let’s thank @ Tim C for providing us last week with fantastic summaries of some key parts of the Picard prequel novel “The Last Best Hope.” That, more than the episode itself, added real depth to one of the best scenes this week - with Raffi and her son and daughter in law. And thank @ Jammer for this site, without which frankly, Picard would basically be an exercise in frustration and boredom.

The hour was worthwhile if only cause Rios was entertaining in zoot suit, 7 was pretty killer (literally), and frankly the monster-thug guy was awesome, like something out of nu-Doctor Who. Plus, thank god no borg cube scenes!

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow account of what was essentially a shitty version of Star Trek: Blade Runner (@ Trent, spot on, the dialogue is god-awful, and Firefly did capers so much better).

Suffice it to say that our intrepid crew lands up at a planet called Bit-Coin, where all the Torrents are strong and all the VPNs are good looking. But did you say you hate Pirate Bay because of all the pop up ads? Well good, news, you’ll hate parts of this episode too for pretty much all the same reasons. And also because of Picard and his eye patch and ridiculous accent.

I’m going to add to @ Trent’s restructuring from last week, and say that they really should have had season 1 start 14 years ago, with a season finale with 7 of 9 (the second “13 years ago” flashback), and then season 2 could start 14 years later, and take us on this “adventure”. Even an intro mini-series like nBSG from 14 years ago would have worked. But this?!? Agh. I’m sick of these flashbacks.

Oh, and Aggie has killed at least two people now (first a Romulan agent at chateau Picard, and now her ex-boyfriend Bruce Maddox). Cause she’s not evil, at all.

Finally, a word of praise for baddie of the week Vagazzle.

Necar Zadegan was no burden to watch :-) Like some Troi/Kardashian hybrid, if you know what I mean ;)
Set Bookmark
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 6:47am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

“I hate that fucking hospitality hologram.”

- Rios putting the “Absolute” in Absolute Picard on the rocks

Ensign Ro, from Season 5 of TNG, should have been the benchmark for this episode.

Compare Picard’s relationship with Ro Laren by the end of that 1 hour of TNG, with Picard’s relationship with Elnor at the end of “Absolute Candor”. Both Ro and Elnor are refugees, and both swear loyalty to Picard by the end of the hour. But even though Picard never met Ro before that episode, by the end, his relationship with Ro is infinitely deeper than Picard’s relationship with Elnor by the end of “Absolute Candor”, even though Picard has evidently known Elnor since he was just a boy. No wonder the boy is pissed.

Part of the problem is that no one on Picard, other than Picard himself, matters to us yet.

In "Ensign Ro," Guinan vouched for Ro, and we knew and loved and trusted Guinan. Here, by contrast, some random nun vouches for Elnor, and it means nothing to the audience.

Second, Ro earned her place on the TNG crew by going up against some of the largest forces in the galaxy, including the Cardassians plus a rogue Admiral of the week (TM). Here by contrast, Elnor chops the head off some old retired Senator hanging out in a cafe.

Part of this would be solved if the show had followed @ Trent’s structure, with Picard starting off on Vashti 14 years ago.

In @ Trent's version, Picard and Raffi could be seen helping the refugees - including Elnor as a boy, not to mention Picard’s chateau roommates Zhaban & Laris - before Picard and Raffi are called away because of Mars. Then, maybe, 4 episodes and 14 years later when Picard (and Raffi!) return to Vashti, Raffi - like Guinan in Ensign Ro - could vouch for Elnor as the man he has become after Elnor saves Raffi's neck when she gets in a fight at a local “Romulans only” bar.

Raffi at a bar in a fight practically writes itself. Picard picking a fight… okay… ?

And why is it that TNG was able to create better characters in just 1 hour than ST:P has been able to in 4 hours?

Not just Ro after 1 hour, think Vash after just Q-Pid (fun fact - Vash was only in 2 TNG episodes!), yet she had far more character than Raffi, who seems will be a permanent fixture on the crew.

Or how about the Pilot/EMH Rios? Compare him to Leah Brahms, who also appeared in two episodes - both as a hologram and as a real person. Yet she left a bigger impression after 2 hours in the Trek verse than Rios seems capable of after his 2 hours.

Here are some other two-episode TNG characters that outstrip our team so far:

- The Traveler popped up twice (the second time with almost-refugees!).

- Ambassador K’ehleyr (Worf’s baby mama) came ;) twice.

- Commander Shelby from Best of Both Worlds who I really thought at the time the episode aired might become a permanent crew member, certainly more so than anyone thinks Dr. Agnes Jurati is on the crew.

And we could go on and on.

Either people have forgotten how to write characters, or they just don’t care. Neither option is particularly comforting.

Next week: 7 of 9.

While we are creating alternate structures for ST:P ala @ Trent, can I just offer this one additional thought: Picard should never have met Dahj.

Instead, 7 of 9 should have come to Picard at the chateau and told him that the Romulans have a borg cube. Her android lover Dahj was just killed by Romulan agents. She thinks that Hugh might be on board the borg cube working with the Romulans, and she needs Locutus/Picard - he is her best bet get on board and get even. When they all reach the cube, they find that 7 of 9’s lover’s twin sister is sleeping with a Romulan spy. Now that’s a plot I could see Picard leave retirement for!
Set Bookmark
Sat, Feb 8, 2020, 1:07am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

"It makes total sense that you’re angry. I disappointed you. I neglected you. And I wasn’t there when you needed me. I am truly sorry.”

- “JL” Picard apologising to… the audience?

Mal’s Review before Jammer’s
* * * (out of 4 stars)

The third and final hour of the Pilot is a fairly satisfying conclusion to the set up for this latest iteration of Star Trek. More than 55 years after The Cage was filmed but not aired, the Doctor - I mean, the Captain - is old. “JL" is so old, that he seems old and haggard even in the flashback to 14 years ago. And yet he still takes down not one but two highly trained super assassins at the peak of their prime. Ok then.

Ridiculous obligatory action sequence aside, much of the rest of the setup benefits from a wider canvas than we’ve seen on Trek for quite a while. Maybe not since DS9.

For example, I think Alison Pill ("Dr. Agnes”) has the only recognisably American accent in this episode. She lives in Japan, and it would have been great to get a Japanese accented actor for the show (Michelle Yeoh’s heavy Chinese accent for ST:D is one of the few highlights on that series), but given that the audience needs at least one person to relate to, I’m willing to give up Alison. On the other hand we get a glorious accent from the pilot Rios. Funnily enough the EMH, also played by the same actor, has a super annoying accent. But that’s the thing about range - you get the entire spectrum!

Raffi & Picard seem to have a good rapport. We’ll see if they can rise to a Picard/Lily pairing like ST: First Contact, or even better if we get up to Picard/Ro.
We can only dream of Picard/Whoopi level chemistry. At the moment I'm getting a little of the Miller/Octavia Muss vibe from them ala The Expanse. Which is good enough for now. It’s still early days.

I do wish they had a little more sense of humor about it all.

Like when Picard was interrogating the Romulan assassin, how much fun would it have been if he had started with, “Welcome to Chateau Picard. Would you like some tea?”

Or maybe when Raffi starts vaping her wacky tabbacy, what if Picard had said, “be careful with that stuff - it’s liable to ruin your life.”

Thanks guys, I’ll be here all night :-)

I do like crazy-ex-borg-romulan-witch’s big and bold haircut. Reminds me of Lt. Saavik. And the less we see of the Dahj&Soj sisters, the happier we’ll all be.

My major complaint is that they have taken really annoying choices with our brother/sister (step-sister ;) pairing. The actress herself seems to have the range to be playful, e.g.,

but instead they have forced poor Payton List into Babylon 5-levels of camp.

And finally, why is the ship so bland? This is 2020. If Bill Murry can get a Jeep Rubicon, can’t we get Picard something with a little more spunk?! Instead they have him shlepping around in a Dahj camper…

In the end though, after three hours of set up, perhaps Rios says it best: “Can we go already?”
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