In his new show Captain Picard is nowhere near grumpy enough. A lot of people admire Picard for his sense of honour and integrity and the quiet authority he brings to his position as captain of Starfleet's flagship vessel, the Enterprise.
Not me. Nope. What I always liked about Picard was how grumpy he was. He did not suffer fools, nor did he entertain them. It didn't matter if you were friend of foe, if you f'd up you knew about it.
This is best summed up in the famous meme which shows him sitting in his captain's chair, face-palming in frustrated dismay at something some gormless fool had either said or done.
But age mellows us all. And Picard is old. Heck, he was old when he first appeared 26 years ago to lead Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1994 and he was older still when the ST:TNG's crew's continuing mission came to an end in 2002's big screen outing Star Trek: Nemesis . Maybe he just seemed old because I was young back then and thought that anyone over 30 was crusty and getting on a bit.
And now, 18 years later, Picard makes his unlikely return to the telly. I've been excited for it because ST: TNG holds a very special place in my heart because it reminds me of a very special time in my life when I was particularly miserable.
The show's unbridled optimism in humanity coupled with Picard's barely contained frustration with the idiots surrounding him was, at that time, very relatable content. The hopeful idealism gave me faith everything would work out, while Picard's no nonsense dealings showed me it was only natural to be supremely irritated by the people around you.
So with Star Trek: Picard (streaming on Amazon Prime Video) I wanted more of that. A fun, occasionally prickly but mostly optimistic, episodic romp around the galaxy with a crew of people I enjoyed spending time with.
Basically, what I wanted was new episodes of ST:TNG , even though that would have been a disaster. Their voyages on the big screen proved that.
Thankfully, Star Trek: Picard doesn't try to go back. In any sense. For the first time in yonks Star Trek pushes forward into the future instead of mucking about in the past with a yawning prequel.
Picking up 18 years after the events of Nemesis it opens with a hazy poker game between Picard and his old crew mate, the android Data.
What an opening for Trek fans! I can't deny the joy of seeing these two old friends together again, even though my overriding thought was WTF?, because Data went to the great Recycle Bin in the sky during Nemesis .
Anyway, Picard was chatting away until Data, who had gone all in on the bet, asked, "why are you stalling Captain?". A pause and then the heartbreaking answer, "Because I don't want the game to end."
I too didn't want it to end. The show delivering "a moment" mere minutes in thanks to our history with these characters and actor Patrick Stewart's perfectly pitched delivery.
Data then revealed his cards. Five red Queens - foreshadowing perhaps that Picard's omnipotent adversary Q may appear? - a look of disbelief and Picard waking up in a cold sweat.
Then the stabbing and shooting started.
There was not much of ST:TNG's bright hopeful optimism here. Instead we learn that Picard lost all faith in the Federation after being ordered to abandon a rescue attempt to save millions of Romulans from their soon to be destroyed planet. That tied in with an attack on a Federation base by a radical group of Synthetics, leading to a ban on all android based research,
The show's tone was dark and gritty and filled with high octane, violent action. Presumably because highly choreographed fight scenes are wrongly considered "more exciting" then two rival captains battling wits and words across space from the bridge of their respective spaceships...
But in between the phaser fights and the fisticuffs and the show's heavy lean into all the more worthy aspects of Picard's character, there was a brief moment that filled me with hope. A small flash of the ol' frustration bubbling away that first endeared me to the character. There was even a face palm. I may have whooped in joy.
There was a lot happening in this first episode; the return of the evil Romulans, the Trumpian twist to the Federation, the mystery behind the young woman Dahj who appeals for Picard's help and even a last minute glimpse at his hated enemy, the Borg.
Our hero may be getting on a bit, battling getting up a flight of stairs as much as he does Romulans, but as long as Picard remains pissed off I'll remain engaged. I only hope the writers make it so.