Pickard: A Review of the Television Series by Warren Bull
Image from the verge dot com
I heard good things about the series before I saw it. I was intrigued by a 79-year-old actor (the redoubtable Patrick Stewart) playing a 94-year-old hero in a classic science fiction universe where action is an expected part of the plot. I knew Stuart had said he felt he had done as much with the character he could do, but he was persuaded to reconsider by the writing.
What I had not known and did not immediately figure out was that the “showrunner,” executive producer, and principal writer was Michael Chabon. Combining a writer of his stature with an actor as talented as Stewart resulted in a truly memorable series.
The show starts 18 years after Admiral Pickard retired in disgust following the Federation’s failure to evacuate Romulans from their home planet, which was destroyed by a supernova. The Admiral is also mourning the death of his subordinate and great friend Data (an android) who gave his life to save Pickard. For reasons still unknown, while Romulus was destroyed synthetic lifeforms attacked human settlements on Mars, killing everyone. Creating artificial life has been outlawed.
The show is slower and more contemplative than other Star Trek creations. Pickard goes on a redemptive journey while investigating a murder. He has to face the consequences of several actions he took years earlier. The cast includes mostly new characters who have their own heroic journeys to complete as well as a sprinkling of characters from the various versions of the Star Trek franchise.
I enjoyed it immensely. Data, a unique non-person who yearns to become fully human, has always been a fascinating character to me. He is the ultimate outsider, even more than Spock on the original Star Trek, a half Vulcan who had a human mother.
As a writer, I often wish I had the option of clearly labeling the time and place of back story events that partially unravel and explain why characters in the present behave in unexpected ways. In the series, words appear on the screen before the action starts. I don’t know how to do that as effectively on the written page.
You’re pretty much stuck where you are anyway. Do yourself a big favor and watch the series. If you don’t like science fiction, you can watch a great storyteller at work.