So This Is The 24th Century?

Okay, one more – to kinda add to yesterday’s “awful” list. The difference is I am staying with this in the hopes it gets better and I am wrong… but I am not, uh, optimistic. If you are not a Star Trek fan, you may want to give this post a miss. LOL!

We watched the second Picard (new third series) episode last night. Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) himself I remember reading in an interview before the first Picard series began a few years ago, said that he had made this new series to try to recreate “hope” for the future. Star Trek in 1966 and his The Next Generation in 1987 had been about showing us an optimistic future that was vastly better than our (then) present that stank.

Uh, huh. Well, he must have been overruled because it was only his first series of this which I recall sort of went that “optimistic” way and not for long either. Star Trek overall has been gradually “evolving” since 1966 (and 1987) series creator Gene Roddenberry’s death in 1991 and often not in a good way. Every series and film since has become more standard sci-fi than the previous one: heavier and heavier reliance on special effects and alien costuming, and less and less on good writing on the human element of especially the optimistic future. The only version of it now that has any similarity to Roddenberry’s original idea is the Strange New Worlds series… but one would have to assume that will begin to similarly “evolve,” too.

This is not about seeking nostalgia; it is about lamenting a fictional concept that has evidently been forgotten/changed. I remember being excited about the premiere of The Next Generation and initially I loved the show: Star Trek was back with all new characters and it was a lot like Kirk’s version… just different and with a way bigger budget. It was also something of a joke too at the time I remember that Captain Picard’s sparseness on top proved that despite all of the great scientific advances we had to look forward to, that they would still be unable to cure male pattern baldness even in the 24th century. LOL!

Gradually, though, I recall losing interest in The Next Generation not only because I by then had less time to watch television. The show began itself to “evolve” after Roddenberry’s health declined in the late 1980s and other hands began to take “the helm.” I remember in particular thinking the Borg stuff coming to pre-dominate was awful and too conventional sci-fi/horror like we could see elsewhere.

After Generation ended, each subsequent series (that I mostly only watched bits of) continued what seemed a “dystopic” trend in the series. (The eventual 2009 Star Trek “re-boot” film with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk started promising in a way in being “optimistic,” but that did not really last either as the story turned into some weird new timeline stuff and the subsequent films were lots like other sci-fi films.) Yet Star Trek was not supposed to be reflecting our present day troubles in the future; it was supposed to be challenging our present with a glimpse at a future that would be much better. “He’s white on the right side,” or something like that, a half-Black, half-White alien who was white on the left side had pointed out to a bemused Captain Kirk in an episode in the original 1966 series, who replied with something like, “You’re the same.”

That clever writing is now mostly gone (aside from Strange New Worlds for now at least). Moreover, when did Star Trek turn firmly into film noir? Every Picard scene thus far in two episodes, including on the bridge, is maddeningly shadowy and dark. (Surely they can’t be trying to mask low budget sets with dim lighting? The budget must be huge? While on a long trek, in the original series Captain Kirk famously walked by the same boulder on some planet about three times – the special effects budget was so little. And we loved it anyway.) Kirk’s original bridge on Star Trek, as well as The Next Generation’s, were as bright as a Caribbean sun-drenched beach at noon, but apparently starship bridges by now resemble nightclubs. (Think Battlestar Galactica, 2004. There were times that show was so dark, you could have been forgiven for thinking your television screen had broken.)

That’s just the most immediately “visible” issue, but it well-reflects its “dark” tone. Picard’s third series reminds me time and again of a “dystopic” Mad Max and Star Wars’s The Mandalorian and other similar sci-fi/dystopia efforts. It is as if the Star Trek transformation into standard “dystopic” sci-fi is complete.

One Picard character was/is a drug addict (I guess there will still be drug abuse in the 24th century) and almost gets murdered (in the dark, of course) by a drug gang kingpin (a deranged, heavily costumed alien type, of course) in the “bad part of town” somewhere (so we will also still have drug gangs and bad parts of town, too). There was also apparently a 9/11-like attack in which a Star Fleet building is blown up and over a hundred were killed (so we have that still to look forward to as well). The depressing list could go on…

[Sunrise earlier today, Dartmouth, Devon. Photo by me.]

There is no “escapism” into a far better future in this Picard series – certainly thus far at least. When we can see what is happening, that is. If this is the Star Trek promised “bright” 24th century, frankly I’m not looking forward to it at all.

I’m going to go step outside now into the English present day sunshine. LOL!


  1. I’m old enough to remember the original Star Trek so it’s hard to replace James T. Kirk, all fists, bare chests, and clever strategies, with a girl in every spaceport and episode too. I did quite enjoy Next Generation except for Riker who seemed to move like a cardboard John Wayne. Yes, the Borg lost me too. An invincible enemy who isn’t invincible. But, heck, they gave us Seven of Nine in Voyager. Can you ever forget the first time you saw her in that skin-tight outfit?
    I watched a few episodes of Picard but it didn’t hold my attention. It was like William Shatner trying to be Kirk again. Best left as a happy memory.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I desperately want to like the new Star Treks, but this Picard series in particular is really thus far trying my patience. If you took out the familiar faces, would you think it were “Star Trek”? It is really “Start Trek” in name only… while trying to be something else. There are so many “something elses” out there now, it would be nice if “Star Trek” could have stayed “Star Trek” – one series where the distant future doesn’t look like a dystopic nightmare. Just one. We can’t have that, I guess.

      Liked by 2 people

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