Picard Day’s Night

Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise-D

Tomorrow, Star Trek: Picard will start streaming around the world on Amazon Prime, a day after it premiered on the US-only streaming service, CBS All Access.

Anticipation for this series has been building, ever since the announcement in summer 2018 that Patrick Stewart was reprising his iconic role from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

You wouldn’t know it from the above reaction, but I was slightly sceptical. The series that relaunched Star Trek, Discovery, was entertaining enough, but didn’t quite feel right for some reason I could never put my finger on. But this was the big guy himself, Patrick Stewart. With him on board, how could this new Star Trek series fail?

Then, the first trailer arrived, and my reaction was calm and measured.

I think it’s safe to say that I am more excited about this show than I have been about anything in a long while. Excited, but also anxious.

You see, The Next Generation is my Star Trek. It’s the show that introduced me to the franchise. Before then, my only exposure to Trek had been the novelty song by The Firm.

I can thank Sky One, which broadcast the show every weekday at 5pm for many years in the 1990s. TNG was sandwiched between two programmes I wanted to watch, The DJ Kat Show and Games World, and I was too lazy to change the channel. So Rupert Murdoch was good for something after all.

I think one of the first episodes I saw was “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. It’s a great episode, but probably one of the worst for a new viewer to start with – I had no idea what was happening. Nevertheless, I quickly got hooked. I was part of the generation of British kids that did not grow up with Doctor Who, but TNG was a more-than-adequate replacement.

Captain Picard giggling

Star Trek: The Next Generation was a constant in my life, a comforting blanket to help me through the day. If I’d had a shit time at school (and I had a lot of shit times in school), I knew that when I got home, the Enterprise-D would be waiting for me, to whisk me off on a voyage to some far-off corner of the galaxy, in an optimistic vision of the future where humans live in harmony with each other and various alien races.

And at the centre of it all was Jean-Luc Picard, an unlikely hero for a US TV series – a Frenchman with an English accent, who drank tea, studied archaelogy and read Shakespeare. Rather like the aforementioned Doctor Who, he preferred to solve problems with intellect and diplomacy, rather than brute force. Check out the clip below from the third season episode “The Ensigns of Command”. Picard outwits a hostile alien force, intent on wiping out a human colony on a planet, by finding a loophole in a treaty.

Rewatching old episodes on Syfy, Netflix, or the gorgeous Blu-ray box set, is still a joy, and for the most part the show holds up remarkably well (we won’t talk about “Code of Honor”).

I have to keep telling myself the new show is not going to be TNG season 8 – although with Data, Troi, Riker and Hugh the Borg all confirmed to be making appearances, it is tempting to think of it that way. As long as the character of Picard remains true to that gentlemanly figure that ten-year-old me fell in love with back in 1993, I think I will be happy.

Needless to say, tomorrow evening I will be setting a course for Amazon Prime, maximum warp.