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Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

AR-559 says: "But a small amount of research says:"

I was referring to Jadzia's sex drive. She was constantly humping aliens, flirting with non-humans and banging holo babes.
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Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Tim said: "Why Americans are such prudes about sex while openly embracing violence is beyond me. Sex is natural, fun, and healthy."

Nobody cares about characters being gay or having sex. Heck, I always viewed Riker as a pan-sexual. And nobody batted an eyelid at Jadzia's sexual appetites.

But bad writing is bad writing. Jurati's character, already buckling under the weight of mountains of half-sketched plot, needs a hastily shoed-in relationship with Rios as much as Rios needs a hastily thrown in relationship with his magically relevant former captain. All this stuff should be massively streamlined or omitted.

And Seven's potential lesbianism is clearly a tip-of-the-hat to her 90s female fans, who have been shipping her with women since she popped onto screens. Does it matter that she's gay or bi? No.

But it's obviously a bit of click-bait thrown in to keep people chattering, and something which a show, too impatient for its refugee, Borg and Synth storylines, and busy plucking a Data-resurrection one out of thin air, doesn't need. After-all, Raffi and Seven have shared no meaningful moments throughout the show.
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Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Wainscoting said: "I didn't love everything Chabon said in that Variety interview and I'm by no means convinced he is built for TV writing, but one of his answers made me wish he had full creative control from the outset of this show.

"You know, personally speaking, my own tastes and inclination, I always said when we were in the earliest versions of the room for this show, if we could have just done a whole show about Picard and the dog on the vineyard in France, with no starships, no phasers, the only Romulans would be those two Romulans who work for him on the vineyard, and no politics — just, like, there’s a funfair down in the village and they all go, and maybe Picard solves a very low stakes mystery in the village, like, someone has stolen the antique bell out of the bell tower, or something like that? I would have loved to write that show.""

Reading all but one of Chabon's novels prior to "Picard", I knew exactly where a Trek story written by Chabon would go. It was obvious. He'd written a final Picard tale already with "The Final Solution", his short fiction had delineated his favorite aspects of early pulp science and detective fiction, and his novels (overly wordy and often veering into pretentiousness) favored simply watching people speak as they grappled with historical identity and their ages.

Left to his own devices, we know what Chabon-Trek would be. Chabon would not lobby for a climax involving a cheesy fist fight on a ledge, demon tentacles, Picard becoming a robot, or even yet another corny Data resurrection/killing. He would not even have Seven appear. I doubt he'd have any interest in literally depicting the Borg. I doubt he'd have Picard leave earth. Left up to his own devices, Chabon would certainly not write this two-parter's quartet of deus ex machinas, and would steer well clear of virtually every generic plot point in this show. A good writer, and a good artist, would not write a series this way. A stable of disconnected writers, however, presided over by two hacks with idiotic tastes, and forced to fit their scripts in with those of other writers, will always produce something like this.

Which goes to show how much influence Kurtzman wields, and how much Patrick Stewart pushed for this.

What you have with "Picard" is Kurtzman/AkivaTrek, with Chabon inserting little subversive scribbles where he can. But this "subversive" stuff, comes from Chabon's worst trait: his fondness for 1930s, Robert E. Howard-esque pulp fiction, 1940s comic books, and their wacky heroes. His fiction usually consigned this stuff to a meta-level, a fictional writer called August Van Zorn, but here it leaks into Picard in the form of real characters like Elnor and some of the (admittedly good) "detective flourishes" in the pilot.

The show has too many writers pulling in their own personal directions. It's biggest problem may be Kirsten Beyer, who likes all this dumb Borg/Seven stuff, a direction Kurtzman and Akiva obviously thought would cut a good trailer.
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Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

The people complaining about "Picard" never actually complain that "Picard is not Star Trek", and yet those complaining about the people who complain about "Picard", keep imagining that they do.

It's like a sneaky trick to distract from the fact that this episode has a GIANT ROMULAN FLEET FOOLED BY A MAGICAL WALKIE TALKIE, and ends with PICARD AS A ROBOT.
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Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 6:49am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Matheson said: "I'm starting to think, if I want to watch Star Trek, I should watch The Orville."

It's worth remembering that Seth approached CBS to make a Trek series. They turned him down and went with Fuller and Kurtzman instead. "The Orville" is obviously Seth's backdoor attempt to make a Trek show under a different title.

It would be interesting to see if "Orville" can financially survive. It's working from the George Lucas/Spielberg/Roddenberry/Rod Serling template of SF.

Kurtzman-Trek is pulling from trashier, Michael Bay-esque influences, but that stuff sells. The masses love this stuff and this aesthetic. Those crappy Kurtzman/Bay Transformers movies made zillions of dollars.
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

js82 said: "What happened to the compelling human drama of Star Trek?"

There's something perversely funny about this show. It started off as a serious character study and deep dive into Romulan politics and refugee crises, and ended up with Picard as a robot.

You remember Captain Picard? He's a robot now.

The whole show becomes sillier the more you think about it.
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Mark said: " A fleet this size could be thought of in real-life terms as, say, amassing a 100,000+ army to a conflict zone, then deciding "never mind, it's cool" and only leaving a retired service member to sort out any details."

And why hand such a huge and important fleet to a reserve officer like Riker? Were there no admirals around? What about the active captains of other ships, or anyone else that outranks him?
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Peter said: "what I think they have in common is specifically the issue of the writers flying off the seat of their pants ad hoc, saying that it's all leading somewhere pre-planned but where the audience increasingly doesn't buy it. "

Fittingly, the crew of "Picard" have admitted to be still writing this episode hours before shooting it:

"The actor tells The Hollywood Reporter he was kept in the dark about some of the twists until late in the game: 'I remember the writers worked on that up to the evening before we shot it.'"
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Chrome said: "It's pretty typical for the Romulans to disengage once they have a real fight or get exposed."

I buy that, but at the same time, this is a doomsday cult. And one that brazenly attacked Picard and Daj on Federation soil, and killed millions of fellow Romulans. You'd expect them to be hell bent on firing torpedoes at that Synth Homestead. And you'd expect them to become more entrenched and violent the more their prophecies and worldviews are challenged.

wolfster said: "Why is Soji shown to have Borg knowledge she can't explain in "The End Is The Beginning" and "The Impossible Box"?"

I was just going to ask this. Soji knew about the space trajector and how to access the Borg transwarp network. How do synths have this knowledge?

And how and why do the Federation reverse the synth ban so fast? Do we actually see Picard give the Federation any information that would lead to them considering a reversal of the law?

And why are the Federation and Romulans not now at war? The Romulans launched a strike at a major Federation planet.

And doesn't the Federation now have IMMORTALITY TECHNOLOGY? Every dying person will, like Picard, be begging for access to a golem to upload their consciousness. This is a major major, universe shattering piece of technology.

Kurtzman-Trek just can't seem to stop opening cans of worms that it never addresses.
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

One thing that confuses me: why does the beacon matter? The super synths now know where everyone is. They can just come anyway. The fact that the beacon is shut down, should even make the super synths come even faster, as it implies synths are in trouble.

And why would the Zhat Vash leave? They are a fundamentalist sect that hates synths and killed 900 million Romulans and countless Federation people so they could find this planet...and yet at the final hurdle they chicken out?
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 7:37am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Chris said: "This felt like the worst cardboard "colonies"/"cultures" from TOS."

I always feel like the "cardboard colonies" (nice phrase) of Trek is one of its best features. But it's got to be written well, and treated as a stage play. A piece of theater. This stuff gels poorly with "Picard" and "Discovery's" tone, which leans heavy on action and melodrama.

Jammer said: "Picard continues to speak the values of Classic Starfleet, but is undercut by the argument that Starfleet banned synths and therefore that value system doesn't exist. "

The Federation seems to be using synths as slave labour. They view the synths as tools. You ban certain dangerous tools all the time, and this is not a violation of the tool's rights.

And yet the language the Federation uses when talking about synths, and the actions the Federation takes, ascribes sentience to them ("synth attack" etc). If the Federation really believed synths were just tools suffering a software glitch, they'd go after the thing that hacked them, or made them malfunction. They wouldn't just ascribe intentionality to synths and leave it at that. So there's a kind of schizophrenia to the Federation's behavior IMO.
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Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 7:21am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

This episode starts silly: Narek runs up to a Borg cube and conveniently enters through a crack in the wall. Then he meets his Incest Sister, who spouts more bad Evil Villain dialogue. Then out the crack he walks, Elnor casually following close behind.

A good moment then follows, in which Picard tells Soji that "saying one has no choice is a failure of imagination". This echoes countless TNG episodes, where Picard refuses to be boxed in by the little false binaries thrown at him. The Picard Way is to find a Another Way; a higher path that best untangles a situation for all parties involved.

The next scene works as a kind of smug meta-comment on technobattle. Here Rios and Raffi use a piece of technology which "inexplicably fixes stuff" by "ditching common sense" and "using your imagination".

Narek and Elnor then show up, Elnor magically now knowing that Narek is Narissa's Incest Brother. They then talk - as lightning storms brew, settling questions raised last episode (where's the lightning?) - about Prophecies and Armageddon, which might sound ominous as written, but comes across as obvious/cheesy as filmed/acted.

Agnes then has a scene, rife with bad dialogue. She uses "cool" references to 1990s hacker culture (Maddox's "kung fu" etc), talks to herself ("You don't have to do this! You don't have to do this!") and drops some smack talk ("I'm not their mother, a**hole!"). Later she talks about "uber synths". It's so cringey.

Meanwhile, Rios and the gang leave La Sirena and infiltrate the Synth Homestead while Picard and Agnes break out of the Synth Homestead and break into La Sirena. The way Kurtzman-Trek handles distance and geography has always been terrible, but usually this stuff happens in space. Here characters are quickly covering miles of distance on land, and magically appearing at Plot Points in the blink of an eye.

Picard and Ages then have a conversation about the "Uber Synths", and Picard drops a RIGHTEOUS MONOLOGUE which falls completely flat. Picard knows absolutely nothing about this race of synths, knows nothing about their history or culture or if they even exist, and yet this scene is rife with assumptions and certainty. It's totally phony and presumptuous, and only exists because the writers (not Picard), know where this is heading.

Picard then flies away on La Sirena (he reclaims the pilot's chair and so ends his emasculation!) as Agnes tells him to "make it so!" Meanwhile Raffi blows a whistle, Rios jumps over a wall, Narek drops from the roof and Elnor punches out a guard. Firmly in B-movie territory, Rios throws a football-bomb at Soji, Soji throws it into the sky and Seven gets the jump on Narissa, who's using the Borg cube to shoot at Picard, but Seven stops her, because Seven has a gun, but oh no, Narissa kicks the gun away! Then the Romulan Fleet Arrives, over 200+ hacky, lazily designed CGI models, all in ridiculous formation. We're in 1930s Flash Gordon territory now, only executed with even less skill and imagination.

The episode's second good scene involves giant CGI flowers battling the Romulan fleet, spoiled somewhat by Agnes' commentary, a bit of Joss Whedonesque snark that kills all tension. You're surrounded by death and destruction, drop the wisecracks Agnes!

As Seven and Narissa fight ("This is for Hugh!"), Picard and Agnes use a Deus Ex Magical I-phone to "simulate" a fleet of 200 La Sirenas. This fails, and so a Deus Ex Starfleet armada turns up. The scene's cool for a second, until the ridiculous size of the Fed fleet - all these ships in tightly compact formation, and led by Riker, previously chilling at his logwood cabin - becomes apparent. Kurtzman-Trek has no respect for size, scale, time or geography. It's mostly just cocaine and spam.

Why the Romulan fleet would cease their targeting of the Synth Beacon and target Starfleet instead, is never addressed (Blow it up, stupid!). The idea of a giant Federation armada warping between a planet and an orbiting Romulan fleet, while facing the Romulan fleet, is similarly silly.

Luckily we get the episode's first great scene. Picard talks to Soji on an open channel, and sells her a speech filled with warm, gooey, Picardian/Federation values. Haters of Kurtzman-Trek breath a collective sign of relief. Riker's megawatt smile and one liners ("Really it's no trouble at all") warms their heart. Haters and fanboys join hands in triumph. Soji shuts down the Synth Beacon.

Incidentally, the Synth Beacon opens a sort of wormhole, through which slashing tentacle arms flail and briefly appear. This echoes similar footage in "Discovery" of far-future Control, and throughout this series, the Admonition vision reuses imagery from Spock's nightmare vision of the future.

Anyway, the Federation fleet inexplicably vanishes once the Romulans leave (why not hang around a bit? Offer some medical help to Picard, or the Borg Cube survivors? Investigate the Beacon Wormhole Region?), a really stupid bit of writing.

A decent scene follows, Picard dying amidst his friends. The scene relies on nostalgia and the legwork done by TNG, but is affecting all the same. But it's also a bad piece of writing, Picard's neurological disease kicking in at the precise moment he saves the day. Everyone cries. Seven, looking like Sarah Connor in a tank top, makes amends for her vengeful ways. Raffi hugs Elnor. Elnor rains tears. Seven and Raffi may be lesbians.

And then the show pulls a 180 and Picard is resurrected, plopped into a new pseudo-synethetic body. It's all very silly and pointless. The way this show whip-lashes all over the place, is annoying. One senses Chabon loving the irony of a once-Borg guy living the last years of his life in a semi-synth body, becoming Data as Data becomes human, but the cynic in me sees the producers leaving a door open for using machine-learning algorithms and deep fakes to run a "Picard" series even if Patrick Stewart dies in real life.

Still, Picard's wacky resurrection does lead to two good scenes, one in which Data and Picard do their own version of "The Good Place's" finale, and one in which Data is given a funeral, Blue Skies on the soundtrack. The show's last moment, mercifully free of the click-bait logic of past episodes, and Kurtzman-Trek as a whole, does not have Control showing up, or Q, or any segues into "Season 2" or "Discovery". It's a straightforward, and sweet moment, our heroes gathering on La Sirena.

And so "Picard" ends, as it began. A wildly inconsistent, frustrating show, schizophrenic, easily distracted, and capable of bouncing from the interesting to the moronic in the space of a second.
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Wed, Mar 25, 2020, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

As I said last week, I thought the Admonition Sequence was the best thing in this episode.

Turns out it's because the Kurtzman team didn't direct it. They bought the footage cheap from Shutterstock...

...and paid to get rid of the Shutterstock watermarks.
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Tue, Mar 24, 2020, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Brian said: "I'm gonna pretend that Patrick Stewart is playing an alternate universe version of Picard where Picard just pops into existence as an old man and doesn't know anything about Star Trek."

This is what Patrick Stewart said before the show's release:

“If I were to consider doing this again, there would have to be certain conditions attached to it. So, they told me a lot more about their ideas for the story, and then I told them… Well, I used Logan as an example....because it was a different world than the previous movies. It was not just a case of the same old story. In Logan, there was crazy Charles living in what seemed to be an upside-down oil tank, or something, and he was very ill. A dangerous person. And there was Logan driving a sh**ty old limo, to try and get money in order to pay for Charles’ medications [laughs]. I said, So, if you can come up with a concept…if you can find a world that is upside down, compared to the world that everybody’s got so used to as being a Star Trek world, then I might be interested. So, they took the Logan point very seriously. And that’s how we started to come up with what what became what you’re seeing on our show."
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Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 7:08am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Gerontius said: "There's no sense that they are a reaction to the failing of the Federation to maintain its ethical status."

To me, Peter's reading seems right.

You have a Romulan fundamentalist sect which believes in ancient prophecies, hates the Other because of an ancient text, and uses terrorism to screw over this Other, even if it screws over fellow Romulans.

You have the Federation unwittingly becoming as bigoted as this Romulan fundamentalist sect in order to appease other member worlds who turn to fear, and presumably a kind of entrenched nationalism, in time of uncertainty.

And so the Other is demonized even in the Federation.

Meanwhile, the Romulan fundamentalist sect seeks out the Other's homeworld.

Forcing the Other into a dilemma: kill or be killed.

Forcing the Romulans to double down on their dilemma: kill or be killed.

Which drags the Federation into the same dilemma: side with the Romulans (and Section 31?), or the Other and potentially be killed.

Picard's the lone voice of enlightened compassion, tolerance and bridge-building. All your fears and paranoia is causing precisely what you want to avoid, he screams! But no one listens.

If Picard manages to solve this dilemma, it will be the single most mind-blowing and amazing piece of diplomacy and statesmanship in the history of all ten zillion gazillion quantum universes and their mirror equivalents.

This show has its problems, but if Picard solves this super intractable Gordian knot of hate and bigotry, he'd have written himself into the history books all over again. Even Jammer's brain will explode at the sheer level of Picardian Picardness. Jammer's Antispam password is already Picard, but if "Picard's" Picard pulls this negotiation off, the level of Picardness on this website will be totally off the Picard-charts. We'll all start start tripping Picards and seeing Picards everywhere. Nonstop Picards, all the way up and down. Picard. Picard. Picard. Picard. And it will be glorious.

Or we get Control and a "Discovery" segue.
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Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 6:27am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Mal said: "Maybe that’s why I like Kestra, Riker’s girl on Nephenthe, so much. "

Kestra has that GEE WHIZ! tone that you need to make Trek work. Woop de Doo! We're going out there to explore the stars! And there's coffee in that nebula! And that space whale is pregnant! And these flowers are making the crew stoned! And Captain, Abe Lincoln off the port bow!

Even DS9 had Julian - "Gosh, this is like being in a old frontier town!" - Bashir absolutely giddy to be hanging out with real life spies! Weeeeeeeeee!

You've got to acknowledge the show's 1950s pulp scifi roots. Take things too seriously, and it starts to be silly. TNG at its most serious depicted Klingon Society as Shakespeare and Picard debating morality with oil slicks. Shatner had his tongue always in cheek. Spock and Data were deadpan comedians.

Getting that tone right is an almost impossibly difficult juggling act ("Orville" had to embrace comedy to get it to work, and JJ-Trek to a lesser extent), but it's rewarding, because it lets you do and get away with a lot more weirdness.
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Sat, Mar 21, 2020, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Gerontius said: "The daft thing was anybody leaping to the conclusion that just because it was stormy on the night involved in Soji's memory/vision that had to mean the planet had "constant electric storms"."

And seeing two moons in the sky doesn't necessarily mean a planet only has 2 moons.

Gooz said: "Sexy Evil, gold-skinned Soji is not good. Not original. Just stupid TV trope of a sexy evil woman."

Kurtzman seems to like this (eg L'rell, Evil Georgiou, Incest Romulan etc). And so just because the golden synth is a baddie, she must also be a seductive, vampy temptress!
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Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Lee B said: "Jesus Christ, it's as if you losers seriously just can't accept anything that isn't 90s Trek and nothing but nostalgia fodder, "

Ignoring the fact that Chabon's novels are obsessed with nostalgia (of comic books, superheroes, lost lives etc), a show which shoehorns Data, Riker, the Borg, tea, ninjas, Old Data, Borg Cubes, Nemesis Romulans and Seven of Nine, sounds precisely like 90s nostalgia fodder.

This show doesn't need over half those things. The Romulan Refugee problem was an idea interesting enough to sustain a full season. Instead the show took the low route.
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Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Ian said: "I was expecting a synth homeworld, an actual civilization but instead we see this small, new age, kind of commune yoga outpost that's small enough to board on the ship Picard arrived."

Compare to how the "Orville" introduced it's synth homeworld (Kaylon 1, populated by robots made by aliens):

A wordless two minute sequence told with images and music.

Another episode features a landing on a planet called Regor 2, again an elongated sequence done with much care and fanfare.

Science Fiction, especially a franchise like Trek that purports to be about explorers and scientists, lends itself to visual storytelling. Once you have a budget like Kurtzman-Trek does, there are countless opportunities to marvel at phenomenon, linger visually upon alien architecture, weird anomalies and strange, beautiful exotic stuff....but with Kurtzman-Trek we don't really get that. Earth was beautifully portrayed in "Picard's" pilot, but otherwise visual storytelling and any sense of beauty or landscape, have taken a backseat to constant dialogue and plot, like a radio show.

So yes, the synth homeworld is badly portrayed. It's not alien. And it's not interesting. But also, we only mind because the show doesn't work as TOS/TNG/DS9 worked when they were visiting their similarly hastily slapped together planets; the scripts don't have that extra edge. TNG's "Who Watches the Watchers", "First Contact", "Pen Pals" etc have some simple-as-hell planets, but the plots work like good theater plays.
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Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

So, it seems like the series is not going to explain why Picard had such helpful dreams in the pilot. His visions of Data, Data's paintings and cards, and the way these were crosscut with the dreams of Soji's sister, seemed like some kind of personal and prophetic message imparted by God Know's What. But this thread seems to have evaporated.

William D Wehrs said: "This is something Dr. McCoy would say, not Picard. And I'm sorry but appropriate dialogue for characters matter."

Picard said "ass deep in Romulans" a few episodes back. In this one he says "piss me off". Earlier episodes have characters saying "pro tip" and spraying "dude" about. Out of the blue, these characters keep sounding like contemporary mid-20 year old stoners.

TNG had its tone locked down right away. The Federation was the 18th and 19th century British Navy in space. Everyone was prim and proper as they visited their colonies and spread the word of the Empire. Hi ho.

TOS was the 1950s-60s US navy. These were gunboat diplomats, competent but always down for booze and a barroom brawl. If the TNG era Federation shared the hegemonic superiority of the British Empire, the TOS Federation was an America feeling besieged but desperate to stake its claim where it could.

DS9 was Cassablanca meets the Wild West. A frontier town. An oasis of civilization in the middle of the lawless wilderness. But like Casablanca, the Indian Horde is made complicated: the good guys are surrounded by Nazis, Italian Fascists, French Resistance Fighters, Arabs, Americans, Good Germans and a bevy of crooks and scroungers.

In all these shows, there is a clear tone and a clear set of archetypes to act as a foundation. Meanwhile, WTF is Kurtzman Trek? They're not Navy Shows. Chabon likened "Picard" to spy-thrillers, but this is not John le Carre. The only template I can see is some kind of mushy Marvel/superhero/CW-network/Trek mashup.

Eric Jensen said: "So you know Discovery, that red squid/octopus thing... I saw it in the trailer for next week. Those metallic tentacles and the red hole. Control will be involved."

These forums literally called a "Control-Picard-Discovery" crossover before the "Discovery" final aired. The last few episodes have cast some doubts as to whether this will really happen, but everyone who knows Kurtzman, and saw where "Discovery" was heading, and heard about plans to make "Picard", immediately saw that this was the kind of dumb corporate synergy he loves.

Burke said: "Mind-melding androids. This writers are just trolling now. "

Does the episode attempt to explain this? Can someone learn mind melding techniques from Vulcans? This episode makes it seem like acupuncture.

Thinking about this episode some more, one wonders if the Borg aren't secretly the saviors of all organics. If the Borg keep assimilating races, there are no purely synthetic organisms, only cyborgs, and so no reason for Armageddon Aliens to turn up.

Why Armageddon Aliens would exist in a galaxy with other godlike aliens (Organians, Q, Cytherians, Metrons, Douwds etc), also doesn't make much sense. Surely the other God Aliens would kick their asses whenever they turned up.
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Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 10:44am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Another good episode, but again it's one which is competent in uninteresting ways.

Nevertheless I thought there were two really great scenes here. In the first, we get a "mind meld" in which we learn of a mysterious and advanced race of synthetics who apparently seek out new synthetic life and offer them protection; a kind of Federation of synths. Whether this new race is benevolent to organics, is unclear. The way this scene triggers the imagination - the aliens seem awesome, mysterious and terrifying; they approach the sublime - is something Trek only occasionally got right.

The second great scene involves a group of robed synths expressing their desire to call the advanced aliens, and so turn their backs on the Federation and Picard's offers of help. Picard, the great ambassador and negotiator, tries to convince them to do otherwise. Soji, he believes, will become The Great Destroyer if the aliens are contacted. Like his attempts to save the Romulans, Picard here is portrayed as an emasculated, ineffectual figure.

Also interesting are large orchid-styled ships, which hark back to TOS' various LSD trips. TOS knew how to blow minds.

The rest of the episode is fairly generic. The characters aren't very original or interesting, their little arcs are familiar and melodramatic, and their Big Emotional Moments mostly unearned. TNG mercilessly avoided such stuff, which lent it an idiosyncratic and futuristic feel. Here, everyone talks like a 21st century actor in a Joss Whedon movie wrestling with Joss Whedon plots and Joss Whedon relational problems.

Getting the Trek-tone right seems to be a problem for modern directors and writers. Indeed, maintaining a consistent tone itself seems beyond their capabilities. Witness in this episode how the snarky tone of Picard and the gang clashes with the stilted, TNG/TOS tone of the robed-synths. This in turn clashes with the Marvel-esque action/drama of the show's universe, which in turn clashes with the show's out-of-the-blue attempts at kitchen-sink realism (drug addicts, alcoholism, estranged sons etc).

It's schizophrenic. Pick an aesthetic movement/tone and stick with it.

Modern Trek makers would do well to pare everything down. You need to ditch the steady-cam for conversation scenes and go back to tripods and classical mis-en-scene. You need to ditch the attempts at "naturalism", ditch the pyrotechnics, ditch the fantasy/superhero tropes, ditch all snarky postmodern acting, and go for expressionism and theatricality; let verisimilitude be conveyed by a nuts-and-bolt attention to procedure. There's a reason the best moments in this show are dialogue driven bits of theater where people simply sit or stand and debate. That's all you need: debate driven tension, like a Mamet play which occasionally gives way to mind-bending LSD trips. You want action? Take your cues from Nick Meyer (he understood that Trek action works best when lifting from slowly staged, nautical/submarine adventure) or someone of pedigree, not Marvel and Michael Bay. Less is more.

And the writers of "Discovery" and "Picard" know this. You see them reaching for these moments. But it's all buried under confetti.
Set Bookmark
Tue, Mar 17, 2020, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

Picard does famously pilot the Enterprise from the helm... "Booby Trap". But I don't see how that automatically grants him the ability to fly Rio's ship. Interfaces and technology obviously changed over the 15 or so years.
Set Bookmark
Tue, Mar 17, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Conscience of the King

Soji said: "So even without the sexism aspect..."

This great episode - the TOS equivalent of DS9's "Duet" - in no way suggests that Kirk is sexist.

One must remember that it's Lenore, the female character, AND DAUGHTER TO A EUGENICIST, who is being chauvinistic. She repeatedly likens the "throbbing machines and tools of the Enterprise" to Kirk's power and masculinity. After assigning the domain of tools to men, she then worries that too many machines makes a man less a man. Then she worries that Federation women, because of their access to similar "masculine technology", stop being women.

Kirk has no interest in any of this gender essentialism. The dude just wants info on her father, a man who murdered people based on mere physical traits. To shut her up, he agrees with her and feeds her the line to appease her: "Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman always remains a woman."

The line as Kirk says it is fine. Women, he means, are always beautiful and never mere dehumanized machines. What's insulting is Lenore's implication that Federation women aren't women, and that it's a woman's only job to be beautiful.

But remember, Lenore's a daddy's girl who knows her role and is submissive to her father. Daddy himself, in the episode, likens acting and actors to "mere tools, like this ship of yours" and likens Kirk repeatedly to a machine ("You are mechanised, electronicised, and not very human."), a viewpoint which obviously rubbed off on his daughter. Later Lenore will say: "I was a tool, wasn't I? A tool to use against my father!" and "You are like your ship, powerful, and not human. There is no mercy in you."

So you've got a father and daughter seeing everyone, including their co-stars as tools, using and discarding people as tools, and projecting this onto the cold, sterile Federation. They're running around the galaxy committing all the murders, they have a history of eugenics, but somehow it is Kirk who is constantly getting blamed for being cold and inhuman.

This little sub-theme closes with the final scene...

MCCOY: You really cared for her, didn't you?
SPOCK: Ready to leave Benecia orbit, Captain.
KIRK: Stand by, Mister Leslie. All channels cleared, Uhura?
UHURA: All channels clear, sir.
KIRK: Whenever you're ready, Mister Leslie.
LESLIE: Leaving orbit, sir.
MCCOY: You're not going to answer my question, are you Jim?
KIRK: Ahead warp factor one, Mister Leslie.
MCCOY: That's an answer.

...where you're asked to ponder whether Kirk's really as cold and dismissive and dehumanizing as some claim, or a heartfelt person, and mourning romantic.
Set Bookmark
Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

Paul M said: "Because one is sentient and the other is not? "

Moriarty became sentient, and the Doctor from Voyager as well. You'd assume, by the time you get to "Picard's" era, holograms can run their iterations virtually on little supercomputers until they quickly achieve sentience as well.

You had sentient robots and computers in the TOS era too, but TNG skipped over that stuff because it had to make Data look like a big deal.

What I want to know is how Seven got on the Borg cube. That cube was surrounded by dozens and dozens of Romulan war ships. Surely her ship would have been intercepted enroute to the cube, unless cloaking and beaming technology has radically changed in this era.
Set Bookmark
Fri, Mar 13, 2020, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

Picard's comment about this new crew being "more damaged" than his old crew, doesn't make much sense. Worf was an exile with an identity crisis, Crusher lost her husband, Wesley his dad, Tasha came from a rape planet, Data doesn't know his own history, Riker's dad hates him, Troi's got a domineering mommy etc etc.

The DS9 crew are even more messed up.

The difference is, Kurtzman-Trek handles thus stuff in a more soap-opera way. Past Trek would use these hang-ups as an avenue into some ancillary scifi topic, or bury it under a layer of crew professionalism.
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