Boldly going where so many franchises have gone before, Star Trek: Picard digs up and dusts off the fan-favorite Next Generation captain and crew for a final voyage. Through thirty episodes of The Complete Series, Patrick Stewart stands tall as his signature character, but the journey Isn't smooth sailing. But to enjoy a wonderful third season, you should check out a decent first and can thankfully skip a borderline terrible second season. A/V is overall very good and extra materials are well worth checking out. Recommended
It’s not unprecedented to want to see your favorite crew of the Enterprise return for one last grand adventure. After all, that’s exactly what happened with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. After NBC unceremoniously canceled the Original Series, Paramount reignited the franchise in film. And so, 20 odd-some years after the critically panned and financial flop that was Star Trek: Nemesis, we get to reconnect with Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of Enterprise D (and E). Well, sort of.
With Star Trek: Picard Season One we reconnect with a decades-retired Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart) living out his days on his chateau in France watching the grapes grow. Dejected with this simple life, Picard longs for adventure - and redemption after the cataclysmic circumstances of his retirement. When a sentient humanoid android comes seeking his help, Picard will once again answer the call of duty in the memory of his old friend Data (Brent Spiner). Now I thought this season was pretty good. Not amazing, but a decent means to reintroduce the world to the life of Jean-Luc after so many years away. It gets a little too heavy into the dour conspiracy theory-laden NuTrek plotlines of the Kurtzman/Orci films for my liking but it proved to have some fun adventures. At the very least groundwork to build on. 4/5
Then we come to Star Trek: Picard Season Two and I am almost at a loss for words of just how bad this season got. Everything started on a tantalizing note with Picard called to duty when a mysterious signal turns out to be a Borg ship suing for peace with the Federation. But when a Borg Queen takes control of the Federation fleet, our old friend Q (John de Lancie) shows up to give Picard one last mysterious test by resetting the timeline where the fascist Confederation is in control of the universe. Now in a race against time, Picard and his returning cohorts the space pirate Rios (Santiago Cabrera), Raffi (Michelle Hurd), Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill), Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), and the Romulan Ninja Elnor (Evan Evagora) will have to save the future by saving the past. To be fair, this season started strong and ended okay, but the eight episodes in between got precipitously worse one after the next. Of ten episodes, at least five are egregiously boring filler. Not to mix franchise metaphors here but Ents talk faster than this season moved as it featured some of the most disasterously bad Star Trek moments of the entirety of Trek. 2/5
By some miracle (and a change in leadership), Star Trek: Picard Season Three managed to recover the Season Two fumble but run it home for a touchdown. Again, apologies for the metaphors there, but it’s the best way I can articulate how magnificent a turnaround this season was. I’ve heard a lot of behind-the-scenes chatter about what went down for this season to become what it is, the internet is full of stories on this, but it can’t be understated how integral Terry Matalas was for this season’s success. Not only does this season actually feel like a genuine continuation of Star Trek: The Next Generation and that iconic crew, but it also feels like a true return to form for Star Trek. After the NuTrek experiments with Star Trek: Discovery and other offshoot shows, this season is a reminder that the themes of hope and betterment are to the success of any Star Trek venture. On top of that, this season knows how to pay fan service without the exploitive unearned memberberries that have plagued the recent Trek films and shows since 2009. The Next Generation crew returns with a purpose beyond just getting the old gang back together one last time. It’s thrilling, exciting, plot and character-driven, and I love that Amanda Plummer got to fill her father’s shoes as a scenery-chewing baddie. Then we have Ed Speelers as Jack Crusher and a very entertaining Todd Stashwick as Captain Shaw of the Titan to add some extra flavor to the mix. When Patrick Stewart announced his return to the franchise, this is what fans hoped for - and we finally got it here. 5/5
As far as a series goes, you don’t really need to watch the entirety of Star Trek: Picard to thoroughly enjoy the ripe fruit of Season Three. Considering the number of series regulars who don’t make it to the final voyage, watch Season One to get a sense of this new universe our elder Picard occupies, but then skip straight to Season Three. Season Two is so inconsequential five of the six new series regulars weren’t invited back. On top of that, an essential piece of the Season Two finale was basically retconned out of existence with a single line in the Season Three episode Surrender.
The only genuinely good thing I can say of Season Two is the final scene between Picard and Q, but it’s not really enough to slog through most of ten hours of numbing indifference just to enjoy a few minutes of quality material. Season Three brings back so many friendly and familiar faces and a few satisfying deep cuts for extra fun. All done for the story without the thick slab of nostalgia that’s plagued other fan-favorite franchise returns. When we see these old friends reunited, it’s emotionally satisfying but it’s also narratively thrilling and exciting punctuated with the classic Jerry Goldsmith fanfare and First Contact theme to open and close each episode. As some fun post-credit stingers, we have a tantalizing teaser for what is hopefully going to be a fruitful new series.
Now I’ll admit I’m not a fervent Star Trek fan. I’d classify myself as “above-casual” in that I’ve seen all the films, and most of the shows (but maybe not every episode), with a rudimentary understanding of each series’ events and key characters, without the ability to speak Klingon. I watch Trek for some thoughtful, hopefully entertaining, sci-fi shenanigans. I try not to take anything so seriously that I can’t enjoy a new point of view of the material. New talent can breed new perspectives. After all, the lack of new talent and perspective is what dragged the entire Trek franchise to a standstill twenty years ago. But with what we’ve seen of Trek since 2017, it takes the right person to navigate the starship. Now after this third season of Star Trek: Picard and the steady episode-by-episode improvement of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, I have hope for the longevity of Star Trek.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Star Trek: Picard The Complete Series beams down to Blu-ray with a 9-disc set. Each season is given three Region Free BD-50 discs. All discs are housed in a 9-disc case with slipcover. Each disc gets to rest on individual trays for each disc without being stacked. Each disc loads to an animated main menu with a standard navigation option.
We didn’t previously review the first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard on Blu-ray, partly because we were hoping for a 4K release but also the timing of their individual releases meant we weren’t going to be able to cover them adequately. But here we are, faced with the possibility of a 4K release for the entire series but looking at solid 1080p transfers on disc. While I’ll say these Blu-rays are perfectly good and hold well for their format, I can’t deny that the Dolby Vision streaming versions on Paramount+ are the superior options.
Season One and Two are strong debuts on Blu-ray offering clean details and bold colors. Black levels get plenty of workout time in as the show is precipitously dark, but overall it looks quite good. The main issue with these two seasons’ respective Blu-ray releases is some odd banding occurrences around complex patterns or light sources. At first, I thought they were the standard NuTrek lens flairs, but flipping from the discs to the streaming, those anomalies are exclusive to these 1080p outings. This isn’t a complete deal breaker, it’s not so distracting that it’ll dramatically interrupt your enjoyment of Season One or complete bewilderment of Season Two, but it’s a thing of note.
Watching through Season Three in fairly rapid succession, I’ll say again that the Dolby Vision streaming version on Paramount+ is still the best, but these Blu-rays are still quite good. Colors are bright and bold. Black levels are deep and inky, shadows are lovely adding to a sense of image depth. Details are generally very good. Even with some of the most CGI-heavy sequences or backgrounds facial features, costume details, and practical effects makeup all look quite good. Also, nice thing to note, didn’t spot that banding issue here. While I do hope Paramount reconsiders their current drive to keep this series on 1080p disc, I’m not at all disappointed with these Blu-rays. Maybe not picture-perfect pristine considering 10+ hours of content for each season is being squeezed onto three discs, but these hold up very well. Now - for the very observant Trek fans, it would appear an earlier alternate effects shot of the Enterprise D was used for this Blu-ray master in the opening seconds of the final episode The Last Generation. In this sequence, the Enterpirse D is doing a flyby that doesn’t look the same compared to the corresponding Paramount+ version missing some extra background details of a nebula and different starfield. Apparently, this was a late-in-the-game change after it already appeared on streaming, I don't know that precisely because I was very late to this season. On the scale of things, it’s not as bad as something like Kirk floating around an unfinished set with bright lights and the crew standing around or anything like that at all. One may be more dramatically interesting to look at than the other, but the one here on disc is just fine. It's not a missing effects shot, it's not a static image or anything like that. It's just a different flyby. Now if Paramount issues this series on 4K, then yes, I hope they use the current version since that's what we see on the Dolby Vision streaming, but this really isn't one to get too huffed up about in my opinion. We've seen worse Trek series and film master errors over the years than this one.
On the audio side of the game, each episode of Star Trek: Picard enjoys a robust and active DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix. Given this is a Star Trek series, there are plenty of quiet introspective conversational moments between all of the “pew-pew” laser blasts and explosions. So depending on where you’re at within any given season, the sound mix adjusts to the moment. Run through NeuralX, I found each episode’s auditory presence nicely expanded giving a little more depth to the overall soundscape. Regardless of what’s happening on screen, dialog is always clean and clear without issue. Atmospheric effects keep those surround channels working. Levels are on point without issue. Atmos would have been cool to hear, but I’m not at all disappointed with what Paramount delivered here.
One of the nice things Paramount has kept up with over the years with all things Trek is deploying a healthy set of interesting bonus features. While what we have here probably isn’t as robust as some of the other series sets or what they conjured up for their film releases, what we get for each season is pretty good. Between commentaries and behind-the-scenes materials, you have well over seven hours of extras to dig into. But to keep things in perspective, Season One has some pretty great extras. Season Two has the leanest. Justifiably because of how good it is, the best and bulkiest bonus features belong to Season Three
Season One - Disc One:
Season One - Disc Two:
Season One - Disc Three:
Season Two - Dis One:
Season Two - Disc Two:
Season Two - Disc Three:
Season Three - Disc One:
Season Three - Disc Two:
Season Three - Disc Three:
Star Trek: Picard gave fans the return of one of their favorite starship captains. Patrick Stewart was clearly more than game for the return, but the effort wasn’t always the easiest series to traverse. Season One was a fine enough reintroduction to start the series, maybe a little too NuTrek for its own good, but it was an exciting adventure with a fun new cast of characters and a few old friends. Then came Season Two… which again the less said the better. You truly can skip it and not miss a thing. Season Three is everything we could have wanted and more rolled into ten excellent episodes. There might be a couple of little plot stumbles or some character simplicities, but it’s such a great season made with clear care for the franchise and the iconic characters, it’s simply fantastic. It’s a fitting conclusion for the Next Generation crew while setting up some new adventures for a New Generation of heroes.
On Blu-ray, Star Trek: Picard The Complete Series delivers a worthwhile home video release repressing the previous two seasons' discs giving Season Three its place in the collection. A/V for each series is strong and exciting but it’s a shame we’re not seeing even an upscaled 4K Blu-ray with Dolby Vision HDR like what we can watch on Paramount+. Bonus features are informative and interesting - especially Season Three. If you need the whole series this is a great way to pick it up, but be warned there is some dead weight in the middle. Recommended