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No, that’s not a typo in the title. CBS All-Access’s new series Star Trek: Picard feels like this decade’s version of The Next Generation. But to better explain that, let’s take it back to 1988 and the dawn of Star Trek: TNG. And no, I won’t be spoiling anything.
For those who don’t know, The Next Generation was original creator Gene Roddenberry’s final Star Trek show. When it was announced, it certainly had a lot to live up to. Roddenberry’s original Star Trek was a staple for geek culture at the time, and remains highly praised to this day. Which is why it’s all the more shocking at just how popular TNG was.
Unlike the original show, The Next Generation really dialed back on the action. In its place, TNG explored the humanity behind space exploration and the philosophy behind Starfleet. Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard was a diplomat and a man of class, diametrically opposed with William Shatner’s James T. Kirk. The show was less about finding, seducing, and probably fighting space aliens and more about what we as humans can learn from others.
And it’s in that comparison that I say Picard is The Next Generation for the next generation. Unlike what we’ve seen of Star Trek recently in shows like Discovery, or movies like those made by J.J. Abrams, this show strikes me as a more introspective one. To an extent, that’s to be expected. Patrick Stewart is 79 years old and not exactly game for being an action hero.
I won’t get into the specifics of what happens in this first episode, but suffice it to say that Admiral Jean-Luc Picard is not the same as he was at the end of All Good Things, much less who he was at the end of Star Trek: Nemesis. Two decades have passed since the end of Nemesis and it remains to be seen what all has changed. The first episode does a good job reintroducing us to Picard and setting up the key plot thread of the show. It feels a little rushed in some parts, but nothing outside the normal for Star Trek.
Overall, if you’re looking for this show to follow in the wake of modern Star Trek, look elsewhere. This show elicits more of the vibe of shows like TNG or Voyager. I won’t say it feels like Deep Space Nine, because I didn’t fall asleep in the first episode. I’m excited to see where Picard goes from here, excited enough to have CBS All Access anyway.