Do you need to see the first seasons of Star Trek: Picard to fully enjoy the incredible Season Three on Blu-ray? Probably not. This third and final season of Patrick Stewart’s titular captain and his Next Generation Crew feels like an actual return to form for the characters and the Trek franchise as a whole. A/V is solid and the set offers up an excellent array of entertaining and informative extra features in a beautiful SteelBook set, but with the possibility of a 4K HDR release, some fans may want to wait it out. Overall Highly Recommended
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 Final Season beams aboard a three-disc SteelBook release from Paramount. Pressed on three Region Free BD-50 discs, the discs each get their own trays within the SteelBook. If you’re aiming at the Complete Series set, they are identical, so no difference here beyond packaging. No digital code was included. Each disc loads to an animated main menu with standard navigation options.
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.
Season Three - Disc One:
Season Three - Disc Two:
Season Three - Disc Three:
Star Trek: Picard Season Three isn’t only a complete course correction for the series, but it delivers an incredibly emotional and thrilling return of our Next Generation crew. There are easter eggs and deep-cut character returns, but it all feels genuine and integral to the plot setting up a splendid sendoff while building ground for a new crew to boldly go where so many series have gone before. It’s simply wonderful and everything I wanted and more. On Blu-ray, this essential Trek season makes for a fine Blu-ray release with sharp details and great audio - but it’s not as beautiful looking as the Dolby Vision grade for Paramount+. If we only get one season on 4K, I hope Paramount comes back to this one. If we never get a 4K release, this Blu-ray is still excellent and well worth making shelf space for. Highly Recommended.