May 192020

Normally I try not to call out things just for being bad, because that’s a bad spiral to fall into. But I have a special place in my heart for TNG – I bought the full series for the express purpose of teaching morality to any offspring I may have (back when that was in the realm of consideration), because it’s one of the best guides on how to be a moral person in the modern day. It’s my three-letter answer to anyone who would ask “How will you teach kids morality without religion?”

Also, this is a symptom of the wider problem of lazy writing. I’ll write more on this shortly, but it comes down to show runners simply not caring if their writers don’t think about what they are writing at all.

First, Picard isn’t all bad. There’s some good parts. The acting is amazing! Patrick Stewart knocks it out of the park. Jeri Ryan is fantastic as Seven of Nine.

And the dialog is obviously something the writers/show runners actually did care about – it works well. If this show was just a series of dialog scenes showcasing great acting, it would be perfect.

But it’s not, because that’s not all there is to story telling, and the series is trying to tell a story. A good story also needs a coherent plot, and comprehensible motivation for the people within it. Picard lacks these. Here are specific examples of what I’m talking about.

Spoiler below

Picard saying “I learn that the man I’ve been mourning for 20 years had a daughter, then I saw her killed before me, and then I found out she has a twin, of course I’m going to go find her!” basically for the audience’s benefit. The show had absolutely failed to establish this motivation over the past 3 hours of run time, even though that was it’s only job. Yes, those facts were presented to us, but they had no salience. I am glad the writers were self-aware enough to add the line, having realized that their attempt at showing this motivation sucked, but it was bad and lazy. They should have reworked the script to show us this instead.
There were many scenes of a similar vein.

Stupid stuff happened just so the writers wouldn’t have to put in extra effort, like the fallout of the Mars attack. The writers want Synth’s banned, and the attack was a very believable way to do that. But after the Federation bans synths, they just dropped the whole thing. Any real group of humans would put SOME effort into finding out who the hell hacked the Synths and murdered all of Mars, and then make the hackers pay (or “bring them to justice”). The fact that the Synths were hacked is blindingly obvious, and yet no one did anything about it, cuz the goal of the writers wasn’t “Make a believable world” it was “make Synths be banned.”

There was this sort of stuff all throughout, and it came to the worst cresendo in the final episode. The fact that the tal’shiar romulans had a collective lobotomy at the end was inexcusable. Their entire reason for existence, what they’ve sacrificed loved ones and all their own ambitions for for thousands of years, is to prevent the extermination of all biological life. At last they are at the point where all they have to do is bomb one tiny village to accomplish this goal, and they have an entire fleet to do it. Picard mimics his ship (using an annoying Super McGuffin introduced just for this purpose) and they decide to divert all firepower into shooting those down instead of launching one damned torpedo at the village at the same time. Then the federation shows up, and they flex at them instead, rather than launching one damned torpedo as soon as possible. It’s abjectly unrealistic and stupid. And then at the very end they just…. forget that’s the reason for their existence, and fly away. And the Federation lifts the ban on Synthetics for no reason.

I don’t want to overstate how bad that final episode was. I mean, yes, it was awful. But it was the culmination of all the lazy, stupid things they’d done before, crashing home all at once. It wasn’t qualitatively worse, it was just where all the other things caught up so you could see the full quantity all the badness at once.

This post isn’t just to warn people away from wasting 10 hours of their life on a bad show, though. This is but one example of a deep rot. More on the greater problem soon.

EDIT: As I was writing this, I was alerted that Mr. Plinkett just released a video covering much the same ground. I haven’t watched it yet, but here it is if you want more examples of this type of failure.

  2 Responses to “Star Trek: Picard isn’t good”

  1. TBH I can’t take the standard TV sci-fi writing.It’s not there to create anything like verisimilitude for the fictional universe. The purpose of the whole setting and everything in it is just to get cool character moments (not even necessary with the proper setup which then robs them of any substantial payoff) or slick action scenes.

    The first scene of Picard was enough to tell me that this whole thing wasn’t for me. Most things about the initial attack are critiqued by Plinkett already so I won’t repeat it, but one thing that jumped out to me was:
    Why didn’t she try to save her boyfriend? How did she know that he couldn’t be saved? Did she read it in the script? Sure, he had a knife in his chest, but this only happened 2 minutes ago. I kind of assume that 24th century medical science could save him, especially since the emergency services could beam in immediately once they’re informed. Just no one spent a second thinking about this at all.

  2. TNG might be most of an answer for how to teach morality without religion, but you also need your blog title. A lot of Trek, but especially Picard, is fairly deathist.

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