The essence of continuation is always an interesting progression. The ideal with certain ideas is how do you make it different than what has come before. In the structure of the first episode of the new CBS All Access series “Picard” entitled “Remembrance”, it takes a well known persona within the Star Trek pantheon and gives him a different perception. In an age that is much different from The Next Generation where the vision of Trek is darker, finding the right balance while not offending the die hards is tricky considering the recent blowback in the Star Wars universe. This pilot harks back through a little bit of IDW’s recent Picard comics which paints what happened to Picard during a Romulan refugee crisis. The interesting structure is that this story takes place in the Prime timeline which is the one the Chris Pine-led Star Trek takes place in which gives it leeway but also an interesting netherworld of detail…what happened and what it ultimately affected. The story of Nemesis and Data’s death still stand but time has given an interesting impact. This is of course what likely drew Stewart back having see the interesting progression, as he has said, of Logan where he played the aging Professor X.
Without giving too much away, the pilot sets up a McGuffin without relying too much if at all of previous Next Generation lore. But that said, the possibilities are endless. It relies though on the theory for years that Picard has been hiding in a way from himself or what he believes to be right. That creates a question, which is shown in a way in the comics, of what could have so fundamentally changed what he believes in. As the first episode ends, there is a connective tissue but it speaks back to an incident that undeniably changed Picard halfway through the Next Generation run. Where it progresses depends on the story dexterity and how much Stewart fundamentally wants to push the character since he has a say this time in the direction of the story. Time shall show.
By Tim Wassberg
IR TV Review: STAR TREK – SHORT TREKS ("The Girl Who Made The Stars" & "Ephraim & Dot") [CBS All Access]
The aspect of animation has started to become an interesting progression in terms of mythology creation. While a certain other space franchise has been expanding its structure for years in this regard, “Star Trek” has not ventured into that realm since 1973 in the still infinitely watchable and relatable “Original Animated Series”. While a new fully animated series “Below Decks” is happening, there is the texture of where balance in tone will be. “Star Trek” has always been about relating life lessons. The two upcoming animated shorts “The Girl Who Made The Stars” & “Ephraim & Dot” couldn’t be more different.
“The Girl Who Made The Stars” is a metaphorical story that follows Michael Burnham before she came to be with her Vulcan family. She is still full of emotion and on the edge of star, afraid of the dark. Her father offers her calm while relaying what is more of a parable that is a mix say of “The Lion King” and “First Contact” where a young curious girl in Africa doesn’t take superstitions at face value but still wants to understand the world. She is pursued by a large snake which is more a perspective of fear in her mind than reality. When an alien craft crash lands on the planet (which might or might not be Earth), it changes her fear to strength. The animation gives a good corrolation to the scenario but we don’t sense the darkness of space versus the light that family brings. While it has a good core, it doesn’t bring the intensity or heart it could have.
“Ephraim & Dot” is a slightly different animal, specifically a tardigrade. This short has the frenetic energy of a Road Runner cartoon but using different gifts. It takes place over the life span of the first Enterprise 1701. Using only audio from the original series and a robot that never existed, it finds the said “heart” but in a blur of mania. While extremely musical in context which seems apt
since the short was directed by composer extraordinaire Michael Giacchino, the sense of it even with the tradigrade moving through the micro network that fuels the original spore drive is weak at best. That doesn’t really abate any of the great nostagic elements including a different perspective from original series episodes “Space Seed,” Naked Time,” and “Doomsday Machine” as well as “Star Trek II & III”. Granted it doesn’t get into real detail, but just enough to give a sense, and the fluidity of the progression is never in doubt. Ultimately though, there is a sense of “Wall E” in that the universe rights itself just enough to show that everything is fine.
By Tim Wassberg
The texture of “Short Treks” in the Star Trek Universe allows for those short vignettes that allow us to see perceptions into more of the lives of perhaps those that have continued on in the night. The first of this new season: “Q&A” examined Spock’s first day as an ensign on Captain Pike’s Enterprise. With the second entry: “The Trouble With Edward” we are treated to the genesis of what caused the Tribbles to become what they did. In its treatment of this lore, it is half human error and half problem solving gone wrong. Pike’s head science officer (played in a nice homage by Alita’s Rosa Salazar) is given the captain’s spot on her own science ship which has to deal with a famine/starvation situation on a planet on the edge of Klingon space.
Everything seems to go wrong mostly because of the crewman who creates the Tribble trouble in the first place because of his stubbornness, ego and slight lack of talent. Archer voice H. Jon Benjamin is a perfect foil in this way since he doesn’t mind playing the depreciation because it works as a form of satire. Salazar is good but she can be much more fluid an actress in a different situation than this small journey allows but it is great to see her being given the opportunity overall. Ultimately, “The Trouble With Edward” is a nice little tome within the pantheon and definitely brings to bear the reproducing situation of these animals, especially when it is a funneled as a food source. As usual, the human condition creates the problem against its best wishes. Plus it is good to see flaws since not every crewman is perfect. The added bonus after the credits also shows the humor that sometimes is not allowed to shine through in such a specific way on an episodic show per se.
By Tim Wassberg