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So. "Picard"

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So. "Picard"

Post by DerGolgo » Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:08 pm

I keep seeing claims that Picard somehow "failed".
That it is an egregious example of "New Trek", and that all of "New Trek" must be condemned.
Often enough, along comes the suggestion that the only "real" Star Trek show right now is The Orville.

So I watch "New Trek".
And, quite frankly, I like "New Trek". Discovery had the problem that in season one, a massive, sweeping arc was dragged out over a season by show-runners who, unfortunately, aren't very good at handling season-spanning character arcs.
Just one example. We were introduced to Lt. Cmdr. Airiam. In the very episode she tragically died. Yes, we had seen her earlier, and the whole cyborg/computer-virus thing had been hinted at in an earlier episode. But we are only introduced to the character at the beginning of that episode. We are treated to a pretty interesting idea, actually - a human, her body and, apparently, parts of her brain destroyed in a terrible accident. So that now, she has to decide which memories she keeps, and which she doesn't, her cyborg brain having limited long-term memory.

I fucking LOVE her entire premise! What happens to someone so badly injured, even 23rd century medicine can't heal them? And if they become a cyborg, what is that like? BRILLIANT ideas!
It's just that they would have been a lot brillianter if we had learned about Lt. Cmdr. Airiam a few seconds earlier. If her very cyborg specific behavior had been planted earlier in the season.
FFS, one of the memories she decides to keep is about spending time with other crewmembers whom she appears to consider her personal friends. And who include Michael Burnham. Like, the central character of the entire show. They are personal friends.
And we learn that from the info dump in the first act while, in the third, she sacrifices her own life to save everybody else.
Which I think shouldn't make all that much sense.
She is a cyborg. She appears to be only a part of her human brain, with an otherwise entirely mechanical body.
And she works in space. Military or not, she is a mostly mechanical contrivance, working in the hard vacuum of space.

Why the floating fuck does a cyborg get dead from being spaced?
Yes, with a human brain, or part thereof, she'd still need some oxygen, etc.
But she works in space. She wasn't on a weekend trip around the moons of Neptune. She is a commissioned officer in starfleet. Squishy humans must surely practice emergency drills, so they know what to do when the stool hits the rapidly rotating air-motivations contrivance. Like we saw in the first episode, or maybe the second. When Burnham must jump through the vacuum when she got cut off from the rest of the ship in the middle of battle. She must exhale, so that the vacuum doesn't rip apart her air-filled lungs.
Unlike the squishy humans, a cyborg, even a 23rd century cyborg, will be made from metals, plastics, all kinds of things. Soft tissues with blood vessels? Not so much.
So even if she still needed oxygen. How the flying fudge should a cyborg, who is a commissioned Starfleet officer, not have a little emergency supply of oxygen? If part of her brain is all the human bits she has left, she wouldn't even need a lot. When a human gets spaced, and assuming she exhaled right before getting shoved into the vacuum, they will take a pretty long time to die. I recall reading of some physicians estimating it might take more than a minute.
Oxygen deprivation, aka Hypoxia, will do irreparable brain damage when it extends to more than 30 seconds. Considering that her cyborg body only exists to specifically keep what's left of her brain alive, and to let it interact with the rest of the universe. It's quite frankly ridiculous that getting spaced should have killed her.
One complaint I've heard about Picard was "Aaaah! LENS FLARES! THAT IS NOT STAR TREK!"
No, not kidding. Friend, orders of magnitude more trekkie than I, wrote off Picard just from the first teaser trailer, when that had come out. The lens-flare effect was enough to prove that the show could not have any merit. Just like Discovery.

"Old" Star Trek, the Rick Berman era, beginning with TNG, would have a pretty formulaic structure for scenes with dialog on ship.
Wide shot, to establish the setting, some closer shots to introduce all characters, then cutting between headshots, as dictated by dialog.
There weren't a lot of dolly shots, or any, most of the time. Sci-fi shows like TNG were popular, because they would only very rarely shoot on location, and most of it was shot on the same sets. Perhaps with very minor modifications.
Overall, a lot cheaper than, for instance, a cop show that needs at least one car chase per episode, and is shot mostly outside.
Heck. When a sci-fi show has scenes in the outdoors. Often enough, the flippin' great outdoors would also be shot on a set. "Doesn't look right? What the fuck do you know, it's an alien fucking planet, how the fuck would you know what looks right about it?!"

Now, the Berman era ended 15 years ago. While the sfx were good enough, the rest of Enterprise hadn't really looked all that fresh. For one, Starfleet ships had still been equipped with a generous supply of alarming rocks. That, during battle with another vessel, would fall down and alarm everyone that there's a battle going on.

Over the past 33 years, since laying down the visual formula for Star Trek in TNG, a lot of stuff has changed. A LOT.
Much of the technology that would have been inconceivable (and, yes, I do think that word means what I think it means) back then is not just mundane now, but almost, if not wholly, boring.
"Dolly shot? Oh, man, you know how many guys it takes to just set that crap up? And we'll spend half the day trying to get the framing right, and in the end, there will be a shot, there's always a shot, where we have to digitally remove some rails. Can't we just use a drone? We're already set to process seven hells out of the audio, so..."
So the idea that a modern show should look like a show from 33 years ago. Should be shot in the same manner, should ignore visual elements that today are today common (like lens flare), and help just make stuff look more like stuff. What the fuck?

I gather that, when TNG came out, a mere twenty years after the end of TOS (not counting the animated series here), a lot of fans were wailing and crying about their sacred thing being soiled. That it didn't look like, or sound like, what they had decided was the undeniable essence of Star Trek.
Bit difference: outside of conventions, fan-zines, and a small number of commercially produced magazines, the only way a Trekkie of 1987 or so could find out about TNG was by, well, watching TNG. There were no fansites on facebook, there were no youtube channels with semi-professional production values to tell us what we are allowed to like and what we aren't.
That is to say, the funnel through which the bad stuff can reach any one fan was comparatively small. The discourse could only get so far. A passionate fan would attend how many conventions in a year? And how many where there, and how big where they?
Apart from that, the discourse consisted of journalists, pros or fans, telling everybody what they were allowed to like, and maybe responding to letters to the editor. Nobody could retweet a screenshot of the horriwful lens-flare a thousand time.

Of course, it wasn't like showrunners could just do as they pleased.
But they didn't have to deal with 37 hours of youtube videos dissecting the latest 37 minute episode (not counting advertising breaks) getting published before the second advertising break. They didn't have to deal with cult leaders ordering their followers to hate the apostate show, and would actually get the attention of thousands and thousands of people the world over.

What I'm saying: the discourse on the subject now may seem more significant, will drag out longer, and may do more damage, simply because of the media it happens through, and which hadn't existed when Star Trek's "real, true fans" had condemned TNG.
So even while the problems people have with either "New Trek" show may be of lesser significance, the platforms they are addressed on may give them a whole different lifetime.

I like Discovery.
It is flawed as heck. But I've watched worse Trek.
I love Picard.
He's the captain. He is >still< the captain.

And anyone complaining about the Federation and/or Starfleet coming across like the bad guys.
Yah. How many episodes of TNG and DS9 dealt with a nefarious cabal trying to take over Starfleet, to institute military rule?
And anyone complaining about enslavement and subsequent prohibition of synths. Starfleet wouldn't do that.
Bruce Maddox, fairly important character in Picard. Remember how he came in?
The Measure of a Man is considered by many to be the best single episode of any Star Trek.
In it, commissioned Starfleet officer Commander Bruce Maddox tries to sue for the right to deactivate and dissect Data.
He dwasn't able to get through with it. But it's not like he had been unwilling and opposed to the idea in the first place. The idea that he would have been the only person in the Federation, and/or in Starfleet, with no sympathies for the personal rights of synth lifeforms. Someone who outright denied the reality of their sentience. The idea that nobody else would have thought like him.

If there were absolutely anything to be afraid of, don't you think I would have worn pants?

I said I have a big stick.

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Re: So. "Picard"

Post by Mk3 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm

took me a while to get here. In my house we've taken to calling ST-Disco "Star Trek Galactica" because to us it has the same over the top gravitas. We love Galactica, and previous Treks, but Disco- It isn't much fun. TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager (Scott Draculawhatsit and his shitshow can fuck off) all were fun or at least had intermittent fun episodes. I understand that is tougher without serialized television, but I believe it's still worth doing. I'll keep watching Disco, and paying those fucks at CBS for the privilege to do so, but as the flagship Trek I was hoping for something to watch with my kid, and this aint it. I've ranted on this elsewhere.

- Picard is IMO freaking great. I feel like the story it tells about the past meshes into the present. I feel like they are in true ST form dealing with modern issues in a future tense. There are parts here and there that aren't my favorite, but it's certainly nowhere near as jacked up as Captain/Ensign salamander sex from Voyager, or as obnoxious as every single baseball scene in DS9.

- Picard is a side hustle, like DS-9 was, and thus can do whatever the hell it wants. I think that's how DS9 got to be more daring, and Picard should too. Disco is the flagship, and thus it makes me grumble so that it isn't having any fun. I think (unsurprisingly) Pat Stew is nailing it as old Picard, still mercilessly beholden to his beliefs about right and wrong, and eager to stake everything on it. Though we may not have any "violates the prime directive" moments with him out of uniform. I liked how they integrated Data's story, and thank fucking Jibbers that they chose to just use make-up on Brent Spiner and not make him a CGI monstrosity.

I did like the robot monstrosity at the end, and wonder if that was supposed to be the big bad from Discovery. That would be a nice tie in. Robo Picard is okay, but runs into problems of artificially prolonged life, though maybe that's the plan. I could have done with less 'shipping, but cest la vie
- I'm glad to see ST return to showing "the future" vs Disco where it's retconning "the past" (still our future). Obviously TOS was set in our future but is now quaint in a lot of ways, but that was part of what made it great, as too with the other STs (except the Baccula dumpster baby). TOS literally inspired the flip phone, and surely influenced innumerable other real world advances. My hope is that they find a means to jumpstart Disco into the Picard timeline. It'd be freaking epic, and fit well enough with plenty of established canon. Then the spore drive could be a new era thing, and give better reason for it disappearing form other cannon series. Update the ship (ish) and uniforms and walla, now you have a monster of the week STD (why guys, seriously, why) Disco (FFS when "Disco" is better than what you did, just fucking kill your title guy) and a deep dive moral grind fest with Picard.

- last note: Will Wheaton's after party, where he asks every character how it was to work with Patrick, and weedles in at least one comparison to TNG. Dude is glory-daysing hard, and it's comical. We're now taking bets for how long it will take for him to specifically ask a comparative and admiring Pat Stew question. It is mildly entertaining, but have your "shut up Wesley" flag ready. I do find it ironoc that Wesley didn't show up in Picard, since at his age he'd fit nicely into a leadership role somewhere, but I suppose it's okay to save some things for later.

- Okay really last note: How is it possible that Jeri Ryan hasn't aged since 2001? Brent Spiner looks like his encounter with the alien in Independence Day was real, but 7 (now human) still looks impossibly the same. Healthy diet? Sacrifice to Cthulhu? Actually a Cylon? I must knoooooow.
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Re: So. "Picard"

Post by DerGolgo » Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:25 am

Mk3 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm
it has the same over the top gravitas... but Disco- It isn't much fun
From what I see and hear (despite my best efforts) Strange New Worlds, the Captain Pike show, with a good enough Spock, and a magnificent Number One, is gonna be more fun. For one, after more than 50 years, we are finally gonna see all the technical detail about the Enterprise that TOS "didn't have the resolution to make visible".
About SFX...
I do hope. Vehemently. That they do starship exteriors with practical effects, or at least based on practical effects and, while they are in there with a new model of the Enterprise. Maybe reshoot the godawful SFX that got made for the remastered release of TOS. Bad enough that those look out of place, they look shit, so I hope they grab that opportunity by the lapels and fix that shit.
Mk3 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm
Picard is a side hustle, like DS-9 was
I never saw DS9 as a side hustle, but much of that may be because airing shit in the right order, or at least with the same interval after the US airing, wasn't a priority for the channel that had the Star Trek license here. Iirc, Voyager didn't even premiere on TV. Instead, they first released it on DVD and only after a year started it on friday-night prime-time, one episode per week (while DS9 was on every afternoon).
However, DS9 having been a "side hustle" was what let it be good. I've seen and read a number of interviews with people, writers, actors, etc., who had worked on TNG, DS9, and Voyager.

TNG had happened with many notes from Berman. Voyager, he decided to personally approve or reject basically each and every script, I believe someone mentioned at least two notes per script. From the executive producer. There's a reason Voyager went through no less than four showrunners.
The man who would make Jeri Ryan "prettier"...
Berman apparently asserted his power, and often only to assert his power, by intervening into pretty much everything, from plot to dialog to even the fucking costumes.
Jeri Ryan fainted on set regularly because, heck, letting a gorgeous woman run around in spandex just wasn't good enough. Berman didn't just want eye candy. He demanded she must be caricaturishly well shaped. He decided that Miss Illinois 1989, and 3rd place runner-up to Miss America 1990, a woman I'd describe as "face that launcher a thousand ships", Berman thought she just wasn't pretty enough. And that he could fix that.
She had to wear a fucking corset. As well as armor plating on each boob that the outer fabric of her costume would stick to, so as to avoid fabric stretching and not highlighting each glorious breast. The spandex had to look as close to nekkid as network TV would allow. All on indoor sets lit for shooting on 35mm film, aka hot as fuck. She couldn't breathe, couldn't bend over, and it took 20 minutes to peel her out so she could take a piss. Ever wondered how she moved with such dignity and grace? That's how, she was physically prevented from moving naturally, and she probably had to pee.

Berman made sure that many character arcs the writers tried to build were cut off, so as to not confuse new viewers or some bullshit. Garret Wang, who played Starfleet's longest serving ensign, has some particularly choice words for Berman. Words not fit for polite company, and possibly criminal in some jurisdictions. Something about characters getting to develop, or not, based on whether Berman liked the actor. Wang was the only Star Trek actor who got refused when he requested directing an episode. And that wasn't like in season one, either. Even just a no-effort change, promoting Harry Kim to Lieutenant, perhaps JG, or whatever. Nope. Berman wouldn't allow it, because he alone got to make those decisions (and there were promotions on Voyager, one that comes to mind immediately was Captain J's buddy-buddy Tuvok making Commander, after they had been stranded in the ∆-Quadrant).
In the end I, for one, watched Voyager exclusively for two characters. The Doctor, and Seven of Nine. The only two characters who, at the end of the show, had done substantial development compared to how they had started.
Surprising Seven
When Seven was introduced, even I, pubescent teenager, had groaned that oh ffs please don't cast for cup size. I had expected she would just be eye-candy, standing around in the background to appeal to a certain subset of viewers, and if she got any acting to do, wasn't likely to be good at it. I was (pleasantly) surprised that she turned out a) to be a competent actor, delivering a usually (to me) credible portrayal, and b) got to play a character that kept developing. True, I wasn't able to judge her acting chops until the early 2000s, before which I only ever could watch the potato dub. But even when dubbed (Voyager was dubbed by the same crew as J.A.G., and those would often air back-to-back, which was kinda hilarious), and even when, as in every potato dub, her voice was one register higher than in the original, she made it work.

But all the stuff about the premise that Berman ended up flushing down the toilet. Like the conflict between Maquis and Starfleet crew. Or Chakotay's "ethnic" background, which was explicitly reduced to "native American" if memory serves, because it's not like there was more than one ethnic group or culture living in America before the white man came. Such a waste. And even when they did great stuff with the Doctor or with Seven, they dropped the ball a few times.
It may not surprise ya, but Voyager is, by far, my least favorite Trek show. Including the animated series from the 70s.

DS9, meanwhile.
He had to focus on TNG's final seasons, and ruled Voyager with an iron fist.
Berman just didn't have the time to fuck that one up
Ruining a TV show as thoroughly as he ruined Voyager takes some fucking time and effort.
Articles and interviews I've read, DS9 was the instance of Berman-Trek that he paid least attention to. Didn't get in the way of the showrunners, and let the artists and storytellers tell a fucking artful story. Particularly after Ira Steven Behr had gotten the showrunner gig for the last four seasons. Didn't so much take the ball and ran with it. But took that ball and made if bloody well fly knocked it out of the park. Yeah, way too much baseball.

And not nearly enough Q.
His episodes are among my favorite TNG episodes. Though I guess him avoiding Sisko was a demonstration of not continuing a physically abusive relationship. Sisko is the only Starfleet captain (or, at the time, commander, I believe) who fucking punched a Q in the face. Which came a bit after he had fleeced the local Ferengi. But way before he started intimidating Klingons, or manipulate the entire Romulan Star Empire into all out war, and continuously conspired against the Cardassians. All stuff unique to Sisko, and what made him legendary, imo.
And he did it all while being a single father. The way they wrote him, and the rest, it just never felt forced.
I wouldn't say I prefer Sisko to JLP or the recent Pike (though most definitely to Janeway), but the way he was written, besides his legendary actions, was brilliant. Didn't always like Avery Brooks's portrayal, he could give me the creeps on occasion. That was maybe the idea, though.
Yes, DS9 is my favorite instance of Berman-Trek. The active involvement of Rick Berman is inversely related to the quality of Star Trek.
And like DS9 with Berman-Trek, Picard is my favorite New-Trek right now.
I have yet to see the new animated series. But I doubt it'll beat robot JLP with the cross-dressing Samurai sidekick, Data's hot daughter, and the non-aging ex-borg who will lay waste to a room full of gangsters and the local lawmen, and necks an entire glass of bourbon, all before starting what looks like a romantic relationship with the alcoholic, starfleet dropout and vaping dope fiend. Joined by the (mildly) nerdy cyberneticist who will straight up murder her own ex if she thinks it's the right thing to do, and the cigar-smoking mercenary starship captain who has filled his ship with holographic variations of himself, and likes the football ("soccer"). What is not to love?!
I hope they come up with a good premise why the whole bunch remains aboard La Sirena in the next season. Seven did tell JLP that he owes her a ship, so maybe they take over duties as rangers among the charred remains of the Romulan Star Empire. I'm mildly worried by the sheer number of romantic entanglements the final shot of season one suggested, but there's always something. So long as it doesn't devolve into Star Trek: 90210, and they don't overuse the magic-machine from the final episode that does whatever the user imagines, so long as they avoid those pitfalls, I will probably be able to "deal" **chuckles maniacally**.
Mk3 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm
My hope is that they find a means to jumpstart Disco into the Picard timeline.
MACO Spoilers
Mostly Assumed/Conjectured Opinionating

New season starts airing in October and, based on what I've seen (despite my best efforts to avoid even the hint of spoilers), Disco will be set in an era after the federation. Based on the very limited information I suffered (one paragraph out of an interview, a promo picture, and a still from a location) I believe the premise is reminiscent of that Kevin Sorbo thing, Andromeda.
Which would be FUCKING AWESOME, since Andromeda had been based on a concept developed by none other than Gene Roddenberry himself, but that he could not realize in his lifetime. And, also, because Andromeda wasn't very good and wasted the premise.
who did it first
It saddens me that, if they were to resort to the holographic avatar of the ship's AI, someone will accuse them of copying the single worst sci-fi show made in decades, Another Life. Who totally stole that from Andromeda and/or Voyager.
Trying to rebuilt the federation. That might let them mesh the gritty realism they seem to be eager for with some more positive, forward looking stuff.
Rebuilding the federation, centuries after its end, won't be so different from building the federation in the first place. And not with that fucking holodeck cop-out in the final episode of quantum trek.
Giving Disco a blank slate, instead of tying it down in the chains of prequel, and separating it from Picard, would let either show do something different, independent. The interval of centuries would let them make do without retconning to fix canon issues. Either show will get to do wild stuff, and neither showrunners will have to worry about fucking up the other show, or shared canon.
Mk3 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm
I did like the robot monstrosity at the end, and wonder if that was supposed to be the big bad from Discovery. That would be a nice tie in.
I believe that's the idea, yeah. I hope they don't tangle up the continuities with that.
It is my nightmare that they will try and bring it up in Strange New Worlds, even though everyone had pinky sworn not to talk about it.
I want three Star Trek shows that, while honoring and actually using the premise and existing canon, will each do their own thing(s).
mo Picard spoilers
Mk3 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm
Robo Picard is okay, but runs into problems of artificially prolonged life, though maybe that's the plan.
They did address that, after telling Picard he was now a robot. He was worried about having an unlimited lifetime, and they explained that they had arranged that his robot lifetime would be limited to about what he could have expected in his human form.
Mk3 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:43 pm
...Will Wheaton... but I suppose it's okay to save some things for later
Hm, interesting.
See, I had been under the impression that Wesley was gone.
Like ascended to a new state of existence gone. He had left Starfleet to bum about with The Traveler, hadn't he.
As I just found out, at the Riker wedding in that awful POS "movie" Star Trek: Nemesis, he had shown up wearing a Lt. jg. dress uniform.
So did he come crawling back to mama Starfleet and, finally, got a commission to go with his uniform? Or was he using incredible Traveler Powers™ to pretend that he did, breaking any number of laws and assuming honors he hadn't earned?
If there were absolutely anything to be afraid of, don't you think I would have worn pants?

I said I have a big stick.

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