A little over a year ago, a well-known veteran British actor stood on a stage and set the internet on fire with just a few words. It was Sir Patrick Stewart, and he finally made the announcement that fans of ‘Star Trek’; have been waiting years to hear: his most famous character, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, was coming back. A whole generation of science-fiction fans who grew up watching ‘Star Trek: The Next
Generation’ was instantly transformed into children again, and all seemed right with the world.
Now, as of a few days ago, we know when the new ‘Picard’ series will hit our screens. It will be Friday, January 24th , 2020. That will start a run of 10 episodes to be released on each subsequent Friday, and if all goes well, there’s already talk of doing a second season. Based on the trailers that have been released so far there seems little chance that it won’t be welcomed with open arms – but trailers do not always tell the whole story. Can this new venture really stand tall on the shoulders of the legendary show that came before it? Can it be more than just a nostalgia show, and will it avoid some of the perceived mistakes that were made by ‘Star Trek: Discovery?’
Politics In Space
Before we get into this, we feel we should point out that ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ has plenty of fans. There are enough people watching the show for it to have been commissioned for a third season, and so long as those people stick around, there may even be a further season beyond that. It has not, however, gone down well with some of the people who used to watch ‘Star Trek’ shows when they were younger.
Depending on which portion of angry internet commentators you want to listen to, ‘Discover’ had several problems. Some people accused the show of being too politically correct, presumably on the grounds that the central character is a black female, and there are gay people in it. Others saw the opposite problem; it was too sexy and contained too many curse words, and therefore it was offensive. For the die-hard ‘Star Trek’ purists out there, it committed an unforgivable simply by remodeling the iconic appearance of the Klingons. If the intention of the show was to be all things to all people, it failed in that regard.
It is a show that clearly has a future, but it would be foolish not to fear that it may be about to lose some of its viewers to ‘Picard.’ It is very telling that while the recently released teaser trailer for ‘Picard’ made mainstream news around the world, barely anybody even seemed to notice that a new ‘Discovery’ trailer was released at the same time.
The same viewers who were put off by the (perceived) political bias of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ are presumably looking forward to ‘Picard.’ After all, we know that many beloved characters from the past are going to be involved. Brent Spiner is back as Data, for a start. He’s wearing less convincing prosthetics than ever before, and it seems likely that he’ll only appear in dream sequences, but he’s coming back. William Riker and Deanna Troi have at least a cameo role, too. How could it possibly go wrong? It’s like the old gang has re-assembled for a cozy get together. It is safe, and it is familiar.
“Cozy” is a good word to use when it comes to the world that ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation” created during the 1980s and 1990s. For all the space battles and theological concepts it explored, it was largely a show about one big family trying to get along in outer space. Even the final episode of the show ended with the senior members of the cast getting together round the table for a game of poker. It seems that in the far future, the trend for modern casino entertainment like mobile slots has disappeared, and the analog methods are back, playing the casino game on sites such as Amigo Slots. The theory behind mobile slots is probably the reason fans still have reason to be worried about the show’s longevity, though. In truth, CBS has been playing the whole ‘Star Trek’ franchise like it is a mobile slots game that the company owns – and they will only make it available so long as people keep putting money into it.
The CBS Way
If ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ didn’t turn out to be the show that some people wanted, that’s purely down to the vision of CBS. CBS has had complete control over the direction of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise for years, and what you see on screen is what they want from the franchise. They have their own people involved in writing the show, and those writers follow their orders. The crucial detail here is that some of the people who have been involved in writing ‘Discovery’ have also been involved in writing ‘Picard.’
If ‘Picard’ turns out to have the same philosophical perspective as ‘Discovery’ there’s a risk that the audience might be alienated. Pure nostalgia alone won’t be sufficient to sustain an audience if the audience isn’t happy with what’s being done to their favorite characters. They’ll simply stop paying in – and in the case of ‘Star Trek’ just as is the case with mobile slots as we mentioned earlier, when nobody’s paying in the game is over. CBS needs the shows to make money for their All Access service in order to be viable. If they don’t generate cash, they will be chopped in favor of something that does.