Can we just address the elephant in the room for this fan of Star Trek and Impractical Jokers?
With the cameo by Brian “Q” Quinn from IJ, does this mean that IJ and Star Trek are set in the same universe and that Q is actually a member of the continuum?
OK, so there are probably deeper, more fundamental questions arising from these two episodes of Picard, but it’s still fun for this fan of both shows to ponder.
The first two episodes of the season seem to be about establishing the situation that Picard is addressing in season two – namely that Q has somehow interfered with time and created an alternate timeline. “Assimilation” and “The Watcher” start making steps toward finding a way to correct that adjustment, even if our characters don’t necessarily have a clue yet about where the timeline went wrong and just how to fix it. Continue reading
Watching the second season premiere of Picard, two thoughts kept running through my mind (almost to the point of distraction). One was – why did we spend all of season one getting this crew together only to break them all up again? The other was – when is Q going to show up?
I can understand in the times in which we live that the news of Q showing up wouldn’t have been spoiled by the Internet trolls who get up at 3 a.m. to watch new episodes of everything and then put out clickbait headlines to ruin it for those of us who like to do silly things like sleep, but it still felt like a lot of time in the premiere was treading water waiting for John de Lancie to pop in.
Of course, the question of when Q is going to arrive probably distracted me from the feeling that it took ten episodes of season one to get up to the same moment we got to in ninety-minutes with “Encounter at Farpoint” with the crew being assembled and ready for some adventures, only to see everyone scattered again. Now we have to spend an episode or two bringing everyone back together again so we can get this season’s story underway.
Both of these issues are probably more on me as a viewer than the production itself. But they still stuck out and distracted me from fully engaging with “The Star Gazer” until the final moments.
This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that this viewer is a bit weary of “in media res” openings that tease a huge conflict and then flashback to show us just how we arrived at the said moment. In this case, it’s Picard ordering the destruction of the ship to stop the Borg Queen because Starfleet has incorporated Borg technology in their new ship design. Yes, we get to see the action scene twice and it’s nicely done – but I feel like it wasn’t the best way to start off the season. Continue reading
Tie-in fiction was a staple of my reading life for much of my teens and early twenties. I eagerly picked up each new installment as it hit the shelves and would quickly consume them over the course of a few afternoons and evenings.
But then, in the late ’90’s, Star Trek fiction began to become a bit more insular. It started wit the annual (generally summer-released) cross-over events, then it continued with advancing the story and characters beyond the finales of DS9 and Voyager. Slowly, Trek fiction demanded (at least it seemed to this reader) that you have read a half-dozen or so novels leading up to the current one and be aware of the various new directions the characters were going. Alas, I started to get behind on my Trek reading because it felt too much I was missing details and was so far behind that I’d never catch up.
Which is why Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Shadows Have Offended is such a welcome, breath of fresh air to the Star Trek fiction universe – a standalone story set during the seventh season of TNG and focused on Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher. Like many of the most memorable Trek novels of my earlier days, this one felt like an episode of the series, only without the constraints of a television budget.
The Enterprise is “volunteered” by Luxwana Troi to ferry guests for an upcoming Betaziod ceremony across the quadrant, much to the chagrin of Captain Picard. While doing this, a research station in a nearby sector suffers a tragedy. Picard sends an away team of Riker, Data, Crusher, and several other original characters to investigate while the ship continues its duties on Betazed.
The biggest compliment I can give this novel is that Clarke really knows the ins and outs of these characters. It’s easy to hear the actors saying the lines she gives these iconic characters. But she also takes a page from J.M. Dillard and other Trek writers and introduces her own creations into the canon. The members of the away team with Riker and Crusher are all well-drawn and interesting enough to warrant returning in a future offering should Clarke decide to visit the Trek universe again.
Shadows Have Offended won’t be mistaken for a great piece of literature. But, it’s a quietly, comforting novel that reminded me of the days when I was immersed in Trek fiction. I hope Clarke has another novel or two set in the TNG universe in her. This one is a lot of fun and every bit as entertaining as I’d hoped it would be.
“When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend.”
— The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
This famous quote from the iconic John Ford Western could easily apply to Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry was a good storyteller, who rarely (at least according to this book) shied away from an opportunity to present himself as the hero of any particular story — whether it was behind-the-scenes battles to maintain the integrity of his vision of the future or being one to take credit for the successes of Star Trek while finding a scapegoat in others for its shortcomings.
In the thirty years since Roddenberry’s death, fandom has been given the opportunity to examine the Roddenberry legacy and to wonder just how much of the success of Star Trek could or should be laid at his feet. Lance Parkin’s The Impossible Has Happened attempts to distill multiple narratives into a single cohesive portrait of the man who created Star Trek and his legacy. Parkin’s assessment is an honest one — probably somewhere in middle between the official Roddenberry biography and the unauthorized one. Parkin throws in details from various other cast and crew members behind-the-scenes looks at the Trek phenomenon to give us his assessment and view of the man and his franchise. Continue reading
The final two years of the starship Enterprise‘s five-year mission have proved a fertile ground for storytelling and examination over the past several decades. Pocket Books has multiple tie-in novels from the era and then a hit-or-miss series about the “Lost Years” between the end of the five-year mission and the start of the motion picture series.
Now, IDW attempts to give fans the final year of Captain James T. Kirk and company’s tenure on the starship Enterprise with Star Trek: Year Five. This collection of the first six issues of the series contains three complete “episodes” that attempt to blend the stand-alone storytelling of the original Star Trek with the season-long arcs that are prevalent today. The hybrid works well enough, giving us some interesting character exploration as Kirk faces the prospect of becoming an admiral coupled with regrets about his past (his relationship with Carol and David Marcus serves as a launching point for the middle installment of the arc). There’s even an apparent rift developing between Kirk and Spock (which interestingly plays into Pocket Books’ “The Lost Years” saga) and the crew potentially becoming involved in some squabbling between the Tholians (last seen trapping our crew in their web).
The storytelling and artwork for these six collected issues is spot-on an feels like they came right out of a potential fifth season of the classic series. It’s interesting to see the crew go back to “A Piece of the Action” to examine the implications of McCoy leaving his communicator behind (this is also explored by Peter David in his comic arc “The Trial of James T. Kirk” for D.C. years ago). The characters are well represented and some of the crew that aren’t Kirk, Spock, or McCoy get a moment or two to shine as well.
In short, this is a diverting and entertaining collection of stories that Star Trek fans will enjoy.
If you’re a Star Trek fan, this is the episode you’ve been waiting for since the previews. Nothing against Seven of Nine, but seeing Jean-Luc Picard reconnect with William Riker and Deanna Troi is just far more satisfying because of the long history we’ve seen these characters share.
Nothing against Raffi, but having Riker tell Picard he’s being arrogant and he might need to reconsider his approach to Soji is far more effective and carries more weight. It’s also exactly what Picard needed and hopefully, it’s inspired him more than just the guilt he feels for the death of Data and what happened to the project to relocate the Romulans.
The scenes with Riker and Troi just worked on another level, making me not only appreciate the longer run time but finding myself wishing for more. The backstory of losing a son who could have been saved if work on artificial lifeforms had been allowed felt like it was put there to provide some connection to the overall season plot. But, the entire connection between Soji and Kestra was something that worked extremely well and I almost hope that Soji can work her way back to the Rikers and have the type of family experience she’s only had in implanted memories. Continue reading
When Star Trek: Discovery dropped the first f-bomb in broadcast Star Trek history, I wasn’t a fan. The f-bomb dropping felt more like the production team saying, “Oh look, what we can say now that we’re a streaming series” instead of actually having an f-bomb come out because it fit the character or drama of the moment. This week, Star Trek: Picard gives us not one but two (at least) f-bombs in the course of this hour — and I’ve got to admit that they work a lot better and felt a lot less gratuitous.
Admiral Clancy’s use of the f-bomb after Picard returns to Starfleet headquarters to ask for reinstatement and a ship to pursue Dr. Bruce Mattow perfectly underscored just how many bridges Picard has burned behind him. Picard once commanded the flagship of the Federation and now he’s become a persona-non-grata in Starfleet because he had the audacity to stand up for what he believes are the principles upon which the Starfleet and the Federation are founded.
It was an interesting juxtaposition to see Picard walk into the Starfleet HQ and see the two holograms of iconic versions of the Enterprise and then the reception he receives from the cadet who is checking him in for his appointment. I get the feeling that a lot of people at Starfleet feel that Picard has outlived his usefulness and that he’s become too much of a rogue agent and a bit of a PR nightmare. Certainly, his actions and their reactions in the past two episodes underscore this. Continue reading
Thirty-plus years ago when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, I tuned in with a mixture of excitement and reservation (probably like a lot of Star Trek fans out there). And if you’d asked me after “Encounter at Farpoint” if thirty or so years on, that I’d have the same mixture of excitement and reservation for a new series featuring Captain Jean Luc Picard, I probably would have told you no.
The fact that I was is a testament to how the writers and Patrick Stewart molded and shaped the character of Jean Luc Picard over the course of seven seasons and four feature films. And while Picard will never quite replace James T. Kirk as my favorite Trek captain, I do have a lot of admiration for what Picard is as a character and what he represents.
And it looks like Star Trek: Picard is going to be a continuation of that. Continue reading
Listening to the essays that make-up Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths, I feel like Ryan Britt and I would be good friends if we ever met in the real world.
Covering things from why reboots happen and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing to the sad truth that Luke Skywalker and company don’t place a high value on literacy to the admission that he grew up listening more to Star Trek soundtracks that he did the popular music of the day (boy, did that one resonate with this guy, who can tell you pretty much were most musical cues from the original series featured first but couldn’t tell you much about the popular music of my teenage years), Britt keeps things entertaining, humorous, and compelling throughout.
Pointing out how the Back to the Future is every genre of film in one trilogy and then proceeding to deconstruct the time travel paradoxes within the film, Britt had me nodding in agreement at multiple points and considering some of my favorite genres and some of their most popular entries in a new light. And his final essay finds me wanting to visit Issac Asimov’s I, Robot again to see how it differs from most of the other robots in pop culture since the mechanical creatures don’t want to rise up and exterminate us all.
And while I agree with what Britt says in most of the essays, I differ greatly with him in his analysis of modern Doctor Who (but then again, I differ from a lot of fandom in my assessment and enjoyment of the revived series, especially the esteem to which a certain Doctor is held (ahem..David Tennant…ahem)). But that’s why I say I feel like Britt and I could be friends – because you don’t want to agree with your friends on everything….