A FAN FOURSOME of friends discuss and debate STAR TREK:PICARD’s pros and cons… (video)

Remember the days when friends would get together and talk about Star Trek for hours WITHOUT hating on it…or each other? It’s not like we gushed over everything. We could discuss good episodes and bad ones, awesome movies and clunkers. And we were always nice to each other because…well…that’s the way the world used to be!

These days, it’s all about the echo-chambers, and the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” approach to critical thinking. Even with sci-fi (maybe especially with sci-fi), you either love a show or hate it…with almost no middle ground allowed. You see the vitriol all over social media, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc. and you know what? I miss those friendly disagreements, dammit!

About halfway through the run of the final season of STAR TREK: PICARD, I was texting with my longtime friend, DAVID KEKST, about the show. I think “The Bounty” has just aired, and I was so stroked about that total fan service episode with the Starfleet museum, all those starships, Geordi, Moriarty, and the discovery of Data. I assumed that David, a lifelong Trekkie like myself, would be just as stoked at all the nostalgia and was probably loving the series as much as I was.

Apparently not.

David had a lot of critical things to say about the final season, complaining about most of the things I was praising. But this wasn’t the first time he and I disagreed on something. He’s a conservative, and I’m a liberal. He’s very religious while I don’t actively practice any traditional theology. We’re best friends, but we oh-so-often don’t agree with each other…often passionately! The e-mail exchanges and late-into-the-night debates and even frenetic back-and-forth texts frequently seem to stretch on and on—often with little ground gained by either side despite massive amounts of research and what each of us feels are valid and logical arguments.

But it’s never once hurt our friendship.

In a world where families are being torn apart over political disagreements, David and I have continued to be friends despite sitting on opposite side of the aisle. We’re always respectful of each other and usually “agree to disagree.” And hey, sometimes we actually DO agree…but not terribly often. But it’s kinda fun to debate in a safe environment like that.

And so, as David and I traded dueling analyses of the pros and cons of Picard, I had a thought: wouldn’t it be fun and interesting to have two fans passionately disagreeing about Star Trek WITHOUT being nasty to each other? It would be just like the old days!

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A look back at the final season of PICARD…and proof that it was WELL-WRITTEN! (editorial review)


It leaves me scratching my head that people are still complaining about STAR TREK:PICARD…even after an extremely satisfying conclusion. Did the season have some shortcomings? A few here and there. But on the whole, this was a solid piece of television entertainment aimed squarely at longtime fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

My friend ADAM “MOJO” LEBOWITZ (who worked on DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise…along with Babylon 5 and the Battlestar Galactica reboot)), summed up his feelings about Picard’s final season in this way…

My point is the overall story and plot were just not that great. After ep 9, pretty much everything that happened prior was meaningless. If the show didn’t feature the TNG cast and had every easter egg you can think of, no one would be raving about the show. In fact, the ONLY thing anyone talks about is seeing the old cast, the old ship, and all the easter eggs.

That doesn’t make a it a good show.

I told Mojo that I thought he was totally missing the point. The whole reason for doing this final season was to celebrate the seven seasons and four feature films of Star Trek‘s longest-running television series (in terms of number of episodes produced)…and to honor the actors and actresses who portrayed the seven main characters (as well as a few unexpected guest appearances) with one final, heroic adventure together.

Mojo and I went back-and-forth, as people on Facebook do (I wish I could provide a link to the discussion, but it’s not accessible publicly), but it got me thinking enough that I decided to dedicate my final review to this question:


I mean, what were people’s expectations for this final season? I think those who found things to complain about were coming in already primed for disappointment. In Mojo’s case, he went on to say this…

From my point of view, the writing just wasn’t that good. If the words had been spoken by a different cast, no one would care. NO ONE is talking about the story or amazing new characters – just the nostalgia factor. That’s not a sign of a great show.

Personally, I’ve seen people talking about the story and new characters. Heck, I was lobbying for STAR TREK: SHAW until they killed TODD STASHWICK’s incredible character. I loved AMANDA PLUMMER’s portrayal of Vadic. And I certainly had a lot of things to say about the story (more than 30,000 words as of this blog!).

But putting all of that aside, in my opinion, this finale season was written specifically to be about the nostalgia factor! Picard never needed to be Hamlet (SIR PATRICK has done that to death anyway, as has Star Trek) nor even “the best Star Trek ever.” It needed to tell a decent story that allowed our seven characters to be the heroes and have an uplifting send-off, saving the Federation/Galaxy/Universe one last time. It needed to be Star Trek…pure and simple. And gosh darn it, it was!

Continue reading “A look back at the final season of PICARD…and proof that it was WELL-WRITTEN! (editorial review)”

Assuming no one RUINED THE SURPRISE, you probably loved the penultimate episode of STAR TREK: PICARD! (editorial review)


I had already been told by a close friend that he’d seen some photos from the set of STAR TREK: PICARD‘s second-to-last episode, “Võx,” but if I saw them, it would give away a huge surprise. “NO!” I texted back. “No spoilers!” I had my day all planned. NO FACEBOOK until after I had watched the episode! No e-mails, no phone calls, I wasn’t even going to check texts!

But something in me knew, the night before, that a big surprise would be ruined for me…despite my bests efforts to be careful. Yes, I could have stayed up late to watch after midnight, but I was going to be visiting a friend in the hospital the next morning, and I wanted to be rested.

My alarm went off twice, and the second time, I dragged my sleepy butt out of bed, groggily grabbed the iPhone, and headed for the bathroom. I wasn’t really thinking yet. Taking a seat, I glanced at the phone to use facial recognition to turn it on. The phone immediately showed me a Facebook IM received just after midnight…

Oh, FFS!

I had no idea (yet) exactly what the IM meant, but I obviously couldn’t unsee it. And from the time stamp, the person who sent it (I’m not sharing his last name) hadn’t even possessed the consideration to give me the benefit of watching it as soon as it was available. Had I been awake, I would have had 11 minutes to watch a 47-minute episode!

Several hours later, after watching the episode and knowing, as the shuttle entered that Starfleet Museum Spacedock, what I would next see inside before I saw it, I told my friend that he’d effectively ruined the surprise for me. Dave apologized, saying it was “an accident” and “I got caught up in the moment.” I responded, “Well, at least one of us did.”

The more I thought about it, the more angry I became at what was such a selfish thing to do to a friend or, really, to any fan. Whatever the excuse, the same surprise reveal that had gotten my friend so giddy and ecstatic had now forever been taken away from me. I would never experience the shocked joy and jubilation that he had felt…ever…because he decided to ruin it for me.

I’m not going to end the friendship over it. Mistakes happen and people do stupid, inconsiderate things sometimes. But I’ve seen so many people on Facebook doing this same thing, STEALING that magic moment from others—even in the first 24 hours after the episode dropped—that I wanted to share my own story and the stinging sense of loss that I feel because of the thoughtless and selfish actions of another. With luck, this will NOT happen again next week to anyone (but sadly, I doubt it).

And now I will move on…

Continue reading “Assuming no one RUINED THE SURPRISE, you probably loved the penultimate episode of STAR TREK: PICARD! (editorial review)”

STAR TREK: PICARD’s eighth episode, “SURRENDER,” recovers strongly after last week’s minor stumble… (editorial review)


Before I begin this week’s blog, I have to mention my dismay (although not shock) at how many people skewered me for even suggesting that the previous episode of STAR TREK: PICARD, “Dominion,” had a slight stumble. Slight! But sacrilege that I even SUGGEST the series isn’t perfection. Here’s a few of my favorite zingers:

  • I love other people’s opinions. Just kidding! Zip it!
  • Bullshit!!!…was a great episode!
  • Wrrrrong
  • Why would anyone search for the negative while millions of us are thoroughly enjoying this?!!!
  • I don’t feel the need to dissect every aspect of every scene and character. Relax and enjoy.

Almost no one who took issue with my post actually bothered to read what I wrote (and they’re probably not reading this either), and certainly no one seemed to care that I’d posted six weeks of POSITIVE reviews before finally critiquing one episode.

But what I find the most amusing is that, for those first six positive reviews, almost no one blasted me for LIKING Picard‘s third season! It was only when I dared even lightly suggest criticism that the arrows started flying.

Now compare that to all of my critical reviews of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and several of the episodes from Picard‘s first two seasons. Finding fault when those aired seemed fine with most people. In fact, people would often complain when I LIKED an episode!

But now? Heaven forbid someone speak ill of this season! Sure, there are still some fans who haven’t been enjoying these last eight episodes as much as most of the rest of us have, but it seems that fandom is speaking up loudly and proudly in favor of Picard‘s final season and jumping quickly to defend its honor against any who dare complain!

Quite a difference, huh?

Anyway, onto the eighth episode, “Surrender,” perhaps one of their most watchable. That doesn’t mean it was the best episode (so far, for me, that was episode #6, “The Bounty”), and this one had a few issues, which I’ll discuss below. But generally, it was a good, old-fashioned good-guys-versus-bad-guys struggle where we know exactly whom to root for and whom to jeer. There were no gray areas, and when the good guys finally win, we feel like cheering. There were also some really strong dramatic moments for just about every major character (except Beverly, Sidney, and Alana) and a few tour de force moments. It was fast-paced, suspenseful, perhaps a wee bit predictable, but oh-so-satisfying to watch.

Get the popcorn, and let’s discuss…

Continue reading “STAR TREK: PICARD’s eighth episode, “SURRENDER,” recovers strongly after last week’s minor stumble… (editorial review)”

STAR TREK: PICARD stumbles slightly with their seventh episode “DOMINION”… (editorial review)


Each week, I read around a half dozen (sometimes more, if I’m late) online reviews of the latest episode of STAR TREK: PICARD. I do this mostly to make sure I’m not just saying the same thing everyone else is, but I also like to get an idea whether I’m in the majority or minority when it comes to my reactions to what’s just aired.

This week’s “consensus” seemed to be that the seventh episode of season three, “Dominion,” was decent but nothing as awesome as last’s week’s episode “The Bounty.” One reviewer called it “a solid base hit rather than another home run.” A second reviewer, who has given nearly every episode this season a rating of 4 to 5 out of 5 stars, gave “Dominion” a 3.5 score.

And I pretty much agree.

It wasn’t that this was a “bad” episode. In fact, “Dominion” was significantly better (in my opinion) than any episode of DISCOVERY to date and the entire first two seasons of Picard…plus a few STRANGE NEW WORLDS episodes. But in my opinion, season three has set the bar sooooo high that, even with all of those favorable comparisons, “Dominion” just seemed weak and problematic.

That said, there were certainly some very well-executed and memorable scenes, including Seven’s verbal sparring match with “Tuvok” before discovering that he was a Changeling infiltrator, and the scenes between Geordi and Lore/Data were awesome.

On the other hand—and especially upon a second viewing—there were intrinsic aspects of the episode that just felt, well, SLOPPY and RUSHED. And by “rushed, ” I don’t mean that not enough time or care was put into creating a quality production. Each episode has shone brightly (except for the dark lighting…which seems to have gotten somewhat corrected on the broadcast/streaming side) in that department. Instead, I mean rushed as in the episode was edited so as to be fast-moving and exciting at the expense of some plot logistics that the viewer was left to figure out for themselves. For example, who here understands how the Titan was able to find a nearly-destroyed Vulcan vessel and fake a communication from it in the short time they had while the minutes were ticking away to Frontier Day?

But for me, the issues with sloppiness of writing and storytelling were the most frustrating. And so I am about to do something I haven’t yet indulged in this season and write a blog filled with complaints!


Continue reading “STAR TREK: PICARD stumbles slightly with their seventh episode “DOMINION”… (editorial review)”

For longtime fans, PICARD’s latest episode, “THE BOUNTY,” was a real quicker picker-upper! (editorial review)


In the late spring of 1977, I did something that I’d never done before. I exited the movie theater on East 87th Street in New York City and and immediately walked back to the entrance on 3rd Avenue. Then I went up to the box office, bought another ticket, and headed back into the theater to watch the same movie again. Most of the audience did the same thing.

It wasn’t just that Star Wars was really good. No, it NEEDED to be watched again…to take in everything it was showing us, to catch things we probably missed, and just to try to process this life-altering, even world-altering cinematic experience.

While I’m not saying that the sixth episode of STAR TREK: PICARD‘s third season, “The Bounty,” is another Star Wars, the fact remains that for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long, I finished watching a Star Trek episode and immediately began watching it again. There was just so much to see, to experience, and yes, to LOVE about these 52 minutes, and even after two viewings, I’m still trying to process it all!

So rather than trying to find some unifying theme for this blog, I’m just going to watch the episode for a third time and write down my thoughts as I have them…


One of the “bibles” for Hollywood screenwriters is a book by BLAKE SNYDER titled Save the Cat! It literally argues that all movie scripts have the same basic story structure, and one of the common elements is when the main character “saves the cat” (like Ripley did the movie Alien) that shows the viewer that the main character, for all their flaws, is inherently a good person and worthy of being the protagonist of the film. Watch for it, and you will almost always see a “save the cat” moment.

After reading his book, I realized that there is also a technique used by writers that I like to call “kill the cat.” The villain does something nasty and vile, often to someone who doesn’t deserve such harsh treatment. The bad guy beats up or kills an innocent victim…or maybe they even shoot one of their own henchmen. “Yeah, this is one bad dude!” You’ll see this a lot, too, if you watch for it.

And in fact, Vadic “kills the cat” when she shoots one of her own Changeling henchmen (or rather, has one of her other henchmen do it) simply because he’s disagreeing with her. So, yes, we’ve now established what a truly evil baddy she is! (By the way, please excuse my pronouns. If you think about it, any Changeling really should be a “they.”)

But here’s the problem with that scene…

Continue reading “For longtime fans, PICARD’s latest episode, “THE BOUNTY,” was a real quicker picker-upper! (editorial review)”

I almost had ONE complaint about this week’s episode of STAR TREK: PICARD…ALMOST! (editorial review)

No, it wasn’t that I saw a red door and wanted to paint it black…although I kinda did…didn’t you? And it wasn’t the dark lighting—which seemed to be a little better this week, did you notice?

If you want to know what almost bothered me about the fifth episode of season three of STAR TREK: PICARD, “Imposters” (and how I mentally overcame that complaint), you’re gonna have to read till the end. Or of course, you could just scroll down and skip the rest of the blog…that’ll work, too!

First, however, I want to tell you all what I didn’t complain about and, in fact, really LOVED about this latest episode.


It’s funny, but after four episodes of intensity, I wasn’t sure what to expect from episode five. However, I quickly forgot about those first four episodes because they seem like only a light appetizer! The main course is now being served, and…holy crap!

In many ways, the first four episodes served as the first “act” of this amazing play. They were, for the most part, a self-contained mini-story of the Titan engaging Vadic and the Shrike, Picard learning about his son Jack and connecting with him (or at least starting to), Riker getting his groove back, Seven (re)gaining some self-respect, and Captain Liam Shaw convincing fans that it’s not only okay to use swear words in the future but that we actually kinda like this “dipshit from Chicago.” And of course, there were mysteries to set up and begin to explain, like the antagonists being rogue Changelings and that a major weapon has been stolen from Daystrom Station. Oh, and we got to watch the events leading to Raffi teaming up with Worf.

But all of that pretty much wrapped up by the end of episode four. The Titan escaped, the crew was safe (for now), the Changeling on board was killed, and the only real “cliffhanger” was a strange reddish vision (red matter, red angel, red shirts…always red!) that Jack Crusher had at the very end. And considering that there’s only ten episodes total, I suspect that five-thorough eight will work together as a “second act,” setting up a big two-part finale of both Star Trek: Picard and the saga of the Next Generation characters.

And I am totally fine with that story structure. In fact, this second act brought in a whole bunch of new stuff that I honestly did NOT see coming, and it all kept me on the edge of my seat. Let’s take a look at what blew me away…

Continue reading “I almost had ONE complaint about this week’s episode of STAR TREK: PICARD…ALMOST! (editorial review)”

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – why “NO WIN SCENARIO” was such a WINNING episode of ST: PICARD! (editorial review)

I’m often intrigued by the complaints I read about this season of STAR TREK: PICARD…not because I agree with them but because I find it interesting (and sometimes surprising) to discover what people aren’t liking.

This time, two of the biggest complaints I’ve seen online (other than the ubiquitous “It’s too dark!”—which, apparently, is a problem with the streaming service that is being worked on at the source) was that this episode didn’t show any of the Worf and Raffi storyline and also that it was too slow at the beginning.

Not cutting away to the Worf/Raffi B-story was more of a feature than a bug. This episode was a “sinking sub” tale, purposefully designed to be self-contained in order for the characters to face their imminent deaths and inner demons knowing that help would no be coming. “The episode “No Win Scenario” was a crucible of concentrated claustrophobia purposefully plotted to increase tension and suspense. Cutting away to another storyline would have given viewers “relief” from that intense isolation and, in fact, worked against the impact of the focused drama.

As for “slowness,” I should point out that three of the most beloved episodes of The Next Generation—“The Inner Light,” The Measure of a Man,” and “Tapestry“—had little-to-no action. Instead, they gave us compelling character development stories that allowed fans a chance to get to know our heroes a little better. And indeed, the fourth episode of Picard‘s third season, “No Win Scenario” (needs a hyphen!) gave us that same kind of character development.

As I mentioned in my editorial review blog from three weeks ago, Star Trek isn’t just about boldly going but also about WHO is boldly going. If we don’t care about the characters we’re watching, it doesn’t much matter how good the story might be. That’s one of the reasons I don’t particularly love STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. But I am loving ever character on this latest season of Picard.

Of course, there’s no official instruction manual telling writers how to successfully to create compelling characters—and CBS Studios has admittedly been hit-and-miss with their various Star Trek series. But one primary ingredient in character development is, y’know, DEVELOPMENT…taking someone from one place to another place (hopefully a better place) and letting viewers watch and participate in the journey along with these characters. And to do this most effectively, a writer must put characters together to play off of, influence, and learn from each other.

And in that, “No Win Scenario” triumphed mightily! Let’s take a closer look at the character pairings that paid off most satisfyingly this episode…

Continue reading “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – why “NO WIN SCENARIO” was such a WINNING episode of ST: PICARD! (editorial review)”

Seventeen moments of AWESOMENESS in “SEVENTEEN SECONDS” of STAR: TREK PICARD (editorial review)


Before I begin the blog, here’s a joke: Why are the scenes in season three of STAR TREK: PICARD so dark?

Because there are four lights!


Okay, if you’re one of those fans who’s saying that season three of Picard is some of the best Star Trek presentations in decades—if not ever!—and that you can’t believe that anyone is still refusing to watch the show at this point, then to you, I can only say one thing…

You’re 100% right!!

The third episode of this staggeringly superb season was all but flawless. I have nothing to complain about (other than the dark lighting, which, I will admit, is beginning to bother me just a bit). But aside from that, this show is firing on all thrusters.

So I’ve decided to write about the AWESOME. The episode was titled “Seventeen Seconds,” a reference to the time it took Riker to ride the turbolift from the bridge down to sickbay when Deanna was giving birth to their son Thaddeus and there were nearly fatal complications. For this blog, I am going to call out seventeen “moments” from this episode that I thought were either awesome or at least significant and compelling. Note that these are moments, not full scenes…

Continue reading “Seventeen moments of AWESOMENESS in “SEVENTEEN SECONDS” of STAR: TREK PICARD (editorial review)”

Let’s take a closer look at the CHARACTERS – old and new – from STAR TREK: PICARD’s new season… (editorial review)


One of the biggest challenges in setting up the final season of STAR TREK: PICARD is what to do about all the characters! You’ve obviously got seven very well-known and loved officers from TNG who each need a chance to shine. Plus you’ve got a few characters remaining from the first two seasons of Picard who need decent screen time or else you lose any and all connection to what was established over the past twenty episodes. (And yeah, I know that some of you are saying, “Maybe losing all connection to the previous two seasons isn’t such a bad thing!” And to you I say: “Quiet, I’m trying to write a blog here!”)

And of course, you also need to introduce compelling NEW characters, including a decent villain, in order to keep things fresh and, er, engaging. Oh, and you only have ten episodes to do it!

Now, keep in mind, those main seven characters need for this to be their big “send-off,” something they weren’t really given in the final TNG feature film Star Trek: Nemesis. So that’s going to eat up a lot of screen time.

Also, the season needs to make the new characters and returning Picard characters interesting. Otherwise, we’re simply waiting for the “big seven” to have their scenes and everything else is mostly boring and wasted time and money. So, yes, those new characters must intrigue us and leave us wanting more of their stories…especially if this season spawns a sequel series (something, at this point, that I would wholeheartedly endorse!).

And of course, the villain is oh-so-important. But making a villain interesting, compelling, and intimidating is no easy task! Compare a Khan or a Chang to a Ru’afo or a Shinzon. No contest. So this is where writing, casting, directing, and acting can all come together to either be magic or tragic, perfection or rejection. And as far as this season of Picard is concerned, I believe the creators and their cast members have captured lightning in a bottle—or maybe anti-matter in a magnetic containment chamber.

Let’s take a look at all of these characters, new and old, who have graced our TV or computer screens for these past two weeks…

Continue reading “Let’s take a closer look at the CHARACTERS – old and new – from STAR TREK: PICARD’s new season… (editorial review)”