It’s like the 1990s again with several series in production
Jean-Luc Picard doesn’t get a day off.
Last year the retired Starfleet admiral, whose French chateau looks suspiciously like the Sunstone Winery villa in Santa Ynez, saved a colony of androids from a Romulan attack.
Now he has to fix the timeline.
That’s the premise of the second season of “Star Trek: Picard,” which is sending Picard (Patrick Stewart) back to the 21st century with the rest of his motley crew. And playing a part in all this is Q (John de Lancie, in his first live-action portrayal of the all-powerful creature since “Star Trek: Voyager”).
The show will also include the return of the Enterprise’s wise bartender: Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg). She will advise Picard again!
The second season is scheduled to premiere March 3 on Paramount+, and it’s part of a golden age of “Star Trek” similar to the 1990s when “Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” were on the air. (“Enterprise” had a less successful run in the early 2000s.)
Now it’s “Picard,” “Discovery,” the animated and compelling “Prodigy,” and the animated and goofy “Lower Decks.” They all stream on Paramount+.
“Prodigy” is the biggest surprise, in terms of quality. It was branded as a Paramount/Nickelodeon animated series, suitable for kids to watch. Well, that’s true, but the story is as rich and deep as any “Star Trek” series, and the kids on the USS Protostar are growing in much the same way the adults have on “Discovery.” They’re growing in confidence, the ability to solve problems and to work together, all themes that were emphasized on “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Maybe it’s not such a coincidence that Capt. Kathryn Janeway from “Voyager” is part of “Prodigy.” Actually, it’s a holographic version of Capt. Janeway, meant to train cadets, but she has her same traits, including her love for coffee. And Kate Mulgrew, who played Capt. Janeway on “Voyager,” is the voice of the character.
“Discovery” has become more episodic this season with stories that wrap up neatly in each hour, but there’s still the overriding arch of a gravitational anomaly that threatens to wipe out planets. That’s a great plot, but the most interesting character is the one without a traditional body and face. The Discovery computer has become self-aware and has a name: Zora. That goes right to the heart of the “Star Trek” mission, which associate producer John D.F. Black wrote for the original “Trek: series in the 1960s: “To seek out new life and new civilizations …”
“Discovery” has become a wild journey into imagination as the crew explores the 32nd century, which puts the series farther in the timeline than any previous “Star Trek” series.
And it shows there’s no lack of imagination in “Star Trek.” That’s seen clearly at a time during which programmable matter allows you to easily convert matter into what you need. A little strip of metal can instantly become a phaser! (There’s a technical term for that: “cool.”)
Still aboard the ship are Anthony Rapp as Cmdr. Paul Stamets, Wilson Cruz as the Dr. Hugh Culber and David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker and Capt. Saru (Doug Jones). Sonequa Martin-Green is standing out as Capt. Michael Burnham, and she has made the character one of the most inspiring in the history of “Star Trek.” She’s right up there with Picard and Capt. Kirk (as played by William Shatner) for delivering speeches that inspire people to be better (which is the whole point of “Star Trek”).
Capt. Burnham also is learning to work with the Federation’s civilian leadership despite some differences.
There’s a plot spoiler ahead for anyone who hasn’t watched this season’s episodes.
Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) has left the ship, meanwhile, to teach at the newly reinstituted Starfleet Academy. This writer is crossing his fingers she returns to the ship! The character is a great one because fans can relate to her, and her hard-fought victories feel like fans’ victories.
Fans, meanwhile, are still awaiting “Strange New Worlds,” the “Trek” series that will follow Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and the Enterprise crew, including Number One (Rebecca Romijn), Spock (Ethan Peck, movie star Gregory Peck’s grandson), in their adventures during the era before Capt. Kirk took over the ship. Mr. Mount, Ms. Romijn and Mr. Peck have had big shoes, or rather big Starfleet boots, to fill as they play the characters made popular by Jeffrey Hunter (in the original series pilot “The Cage”), Majel Barrett and Leonard Nimoy. But they’ve brought their own voice and style to the characters while staying true to how fans envisioned them.
“Strange New Worlds” promises to be episodic in the way that the original series was, with stories that conclude within each hour.
And actors, including Jason Matthew Smith (the big, muscular security officer “Cupcake” in the J.J. Abrams-produced “Star Trek” movies) and Deep Roy (who played Scotty’s alien buddy in the same movies) told fans at the recent Los Angeles Comic-Con that they were told a fourth “Star Trek” movie, produced by Mr. Abrams, is being developed.
Presumably, it will star Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk and the rest of Mr. Abrams’ cast, but no details have officially been announced. (As Dr. McCoy, Karl Urban is uncanny in channeling the mannerisms and vocal inflections of DeForest Kelley, the actor who originally played him. And Zachary Quinto, who promoted Goleta nonprofit Direct Relief, made the part of Spock his own while respecting the foundation created by Mr. Nimoy.)
While known mostly for its animated comedy, “Lower Decks” is offering fans some Easter eggs, including references to the “Next Generation” and the original series. And last season there was a Santa Barbara County reference with the short-lived appearance of the USS Solvang.
Speaking of this county, you can still see Santa Ynez in the first season of “Picard” episodes streaming at Paramount+. The exterior and interior of the Sunstone Winery villa, near the Chumash Casino Resort, served as Picard’s chateau in La Barre, France.
Europe is closer than you think. You don’t even need a transporter.email: email@example.com