With Star Trek: Lower Decks beaming onto Amazon Prime Video UK, the third season of Star Trek Discovery recently coming to a close and Picard heading to home release in the UK – it’s never been a better time for Trek fans. It’s been almost 26 years since the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation came to an end on our small screens, so is the return of Patrick Stewart as the iconic Jean-Luc Picard worth adding to your Blu-Ray collection?
This is a fantastically cinematic and contemporary take on Star Trek that cleverly weaves a lot of classic Trek legacy at its core, with Stewart once again proving the heart of the show. The over-arching, slow burn mystery is gripping, exploring the state of the future which is definitely not as rosy as expected. Starfleet is unfortunately not the idealist organisation we once knew; there’s also Romulan assassins at large, a galaxy-wide ban on synthetics and the echoes of the Borg still linger.
Collectively, the episodes are very well written coupled with great pacing, covering a lot of exposition in a cleverly economically way using key flashbacks. There’s a number of intriguing twists and turns throughout, with plenty of entertaining side missions (featuring Picard with an eye patch!) and great character development. Equally impressive is the production value of the series; cleverly combining a classic Trek feel with the (slightly updated) costumes, technology and familiar species and characters, with effects and cinematography that rival Star Trek Discovery.
Picard features a very strong ensemble cast lead by Stewart who brings all of the hope, heart and soul you need for a Trek show. There’s plenty of nostalgia for fans dotted throughout the series, with a number of key Next Generation faces making exciting and heartwarming cameos. Thankfully their inclusion feels integral to the plot and definitely earned, the cameos are not shoehorned in simply for fan service.
What’s most exciting however is the rag tag bunch of new characters assembled by Picard, who you grow to love throughout the series. My personal favourite is Michelle Hurd’s brilliantly rebellious (and equally compelling) security analyst Raffi Musiker who’s overcoming substance abuse issues, along with Santiago Cabrera’s Han Solo-esque Cristóbal Rios.
The Blu-Ray features over two hours of special features including commentaries with the series’ producers and director, a special Short Trek episode, gag reel and deleted scenes, spread across the three discs.
Each episode also features a 3-5 minute behind the scenes ‘story log’ with the cast and crew, delving into the making of. These even feature some original cast audition tapes.
Executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman and Michael Chabon, supervising producer Kirsten Beyer, and director Hanelle M. Culpepper provide an insightful commentary for the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, titled “Remembrance.”
Star Trek: Short Treks: Children of Mars
This eight minute episode which aired as one week prior to the series in the US, is a hugely emotional short capturing the attack on Mars, which ties in nicely to the series. Excitingly, this is the first time us UK folks have been able to see the short.
Also included is a commentary from writers Kurtzman, Beyer and Jenny Lumet who discuss the short two-day shooting schedule for the episode, along with how they used the ‘Short Trek’ format to tell the connected story.
Make It So
Through a series of interviews and delightful behind-the-scenes stills, Picard co-creators and producers, along with lead Patrick Stewart, discuss the process of bringing the show together in this insightful ten minute feature.
This gives a great overview to how the series came about, particularly as Stewart was adamant to not reprise the role for so many years! Co-Creator and Supervising Producer Kristen Beyer discusses how her initial pitch led to the beginning of the project, focusing on exploring Picard’s unfinished and unresolved issues, along with the story of how the creative team were brought together.
Most amusingly, Executive Producer Akiva Goldsman lists all of Stewart’s initial mandates, such as no dreams, no Borg and no uniforms – which they cleverly managed to work around!
Aliens Alive: The XBs
This 12 minute feature delves into the amazing work by the make-up and prosthetics team to bring to life the XBs in the series.
Department head James Mackinnon takes us on a tour of the make-up trailer and the long creative process of bringing the Borg to life. There’s an impressive and detailed make-up session with Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine)
Creature Designer Neville Page also discusses how the team approached the design of the XBs taking in the various factors such as age and stage of transformation.
As a big VFX fan, this was a fascinating insight and definitely one of my favourites from the special features lineup
Production Designer Todd Cherniawsky discusses how they re-used and developed props, including weapons, from Next Generation, Discovery, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He also delves into how they created the Romulan card game and the futuristic soccer ball.
He discusses his highlights from the series including making the Chauteu Picard wine boxes and developing the weapons from previous shows. Long-time Star Trek contributor, Darren “Doc” Dochterman, also tells the story of how Soji’s super cute stuffed toy Squoodgy came to life.
Set Me Up
Production Designer Todd Cherniawsky taks us on a tour of the comprehensive Picard sets including the La Sirena and the Borg cube, discussing the lighting, layouts and elements involved.
This fourteen minute feature is so informative and definitely one for Trek fans who want to dive deeper into the varying elements of the show.
The Motley Crew
This almost twenty minute feature documents how each of the main cast came to be involved with the project, how their characters were developed and how the ‘Motley Crew’ came together.
Featuring cast and crew interviews and a rare screen test, season one showrunner Michael Chabon gives us a fascinating insight into the development of the rag tag band.
Ah now this was one I’d been waiting for! The eight minute outtakes features an enjoyable collection of cast bloopers and forgotten lines, with particular highlights between Patrick Stewart (“I’ve got four Olivia awards don’t you know!”) and director Jonathan Frakes.