Hmm. I just finished this series, err Season 1, and am glad I did before reviewing it. I almost wrote about Star Trek: Picard before watching the final episode, which would have been premature.
First, let me talk about the most obvious bright spot, perhaps the single most thing that makes this show worthwhile.
The proper question is Who’s that?
You got it.
Isa Briones as the android Soji.
With eyes like a Botticelli painting and lips shaped like those of an angel’s, she is pretty hard to miss. Not only beautiful but a convincing actor, this British born American has a blend of Filipino, Swedish, and Irish ancestry that contributes to her character’s unique freshness.
Essentially, she saves this otherwise mediocre show from lapsing into total rehashed trash.
But maybe that’s not quite fair. Other bright moments include scenes with Will Riker and Counselor Troi as seasoned adults. I always thought Riker was a bit of a turkey in Star Trek: TNG but he has aged well. I liked the older Riker a lot more than the younger Riker of the 1980s and ’90s. He and his wife Deanna Troi give us a nice nostalgic moment. Along with their cute and freakishly smart young daughter, we get a picture of what sweet, middle-aged life could be like.
Vintage wine. Barbecues. Home-made pizza. All very nice American cliches. I did enjoy those segments, for sure… and I’m not even American.
Harry Treadaway (the Romulan Narek) also plays a good creepy, conflicted spy. A sneak who eventually turns good. That turn of events reminded me of how Churchill had to align himself with Joe Stalin to overcome Hitler. Despite what the show says, history does tend to repeat.
Alison Pill plays a compromised doctor who seems to get away with murder, scot-free. She incorrectly believed she was morally bound to kill an important roboticist, so it was all okay then? Fuggedaboutit and move on?
A little bit too casual for my liking. And from there onward the show’s characters fall in likeability for me, with the exception, perhaps of Evan Evagora who plays a convincing type of Samurai guy as Elnor.
We know that Jeri Ryan can act. I was fascinated by the searching and cerebral Seven of Nine in Voyager. And Ryan has had considerable success in other TV shows. But I felt her ‘hardened older chick who’s still sexy’ character was miscast here. Better to leave that to actors like Caity Lotz of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow fame. Lotz is a martial artist in real life and it shows. Ryan, well… when she kicks it looks more like a ballerina stunt than a fighting scene.
As for the titular character, I hate to say it because I do admire Patrick Stewart for rising to the demands of making a TV show as someone who recently became an octogenarian, but truth be told I never liked Picard as much as James T. Kirk. And my feelings continue in the series. The final minutes of the final episode lapse into a cheesy, MOR Star Trek sentimentality that just doesn’t work anymore.
What a schmaltzy bore.
Add to that the secularism of life being nothing more than a bunch of downloaded brainwaves, and you have the makings of a real downer second season.
You see, the flesh and blood Picard dies but his neurological image is transferred to a synthetic body. And this, I presume, will be the Picard we have to deal with in Season 2.
I don’t think I can do that.
It rubs me the wrong way to think that the show’s creators seem ignorant of the importance of the soul, the afterlife, and genuine spirituality. True, there are hints of a difference between “sythns” (androids) and organics when Deanna Troi cannot read Soji’s thoughts and feelings. But that’s about as nuanced as it gets.
After his organic death, I was expecting Picard to enter into the Q Continuum, which is at least a weak approximation of the glory of heaven. But no, he doesn’t even go there. He’s just rebooted as an android.
Yuck. How limited and limiting is that?
But as I say, Isa Briones’ compelling performance as Data’s synthetic daughter saves the show and makes it worth watching. As for those characters I haven’t mentioned, I suppose they are adequate but IMO not terribly memorable.