- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 7, 2020

Here’s a look at a pair of episodic series now available in the high definition format covering one old and one new hero.

Star Trek: Picard - Season One (Paramount/CBS Home Entertainment, Not rated, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 1,096 minutes, $44.98) — Actor Patrick Stewart returned to the role that made him a pop culture icon for a 10-episode series on the CBS All Access streaming service covering an unsanctioned mission by his beloved Jean Luc Picard, retired captain of the USS Enterprise and admiral of Starfleet.

His mission was to stop Romulans from hunting down a pair of female androids created with the essence of beloved Commander Data (Brent Spiner), who had sacrificed himself for Picard.

The former admiral feels it’s his duty to protect Data’s “daughters” Dahj and Soji Asha (Isa Briones) as well as stop another potential android genocide on a mysterious planet.

To help, he assembles a motley crew including former Starfleet officer and current pilot of the freighter La Sirena Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera), his former Starfleet first officer Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd), Romulan refugee turned Qowat Milat warrior Elnor (Evan Evagora) and preeminent synthetic life researcher Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill).

The season, binge-ready on three Blu-ray discs, offers enormous fun for fans as Picard encounters some familiar friends such as William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and his wife Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and he even has a run-in with the legendary Borg, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan).

Themes about what defines a human versus a manufactured sentient life form and visiting more iconic locations such as the innards of a Borg cube help distinguish the well-crafted series as well as a finale that cleverly allows Picard’s adventures to continue.

Expect a welcomed second season to go into production next year.  

Best extras: As with the current Blu-ray releases of the previous two seasons of the “Star Trek: Discovery” series, “Picard” gets an equally impressive collection of bonus content.

It starts with a socially distanced, optional video commentary track for the first episode “Remembrance.” Creators Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon and Kirsten Beyer and director Hanelle M. Culpepper hang out in boxes on the side of the screen like a Zoom teleconference call, and when they talk, their box gets bigger.

Not only a great idea, but the commentary offers welcomes insight in the development of the characters and creation of entire series.

Next, a bundle of four featurettes offers roughly 60 minutes on the show production covering the aliens (focused on Borg), props, sets and new characters.

Each episode also gets a short “story log,” averaging five minutes long that also covers production minutiae.

And finally, a 10-minute short explores the disaster that occurred on Mars through the lives of two children with optional commentary from Mr. Kurtzman, Miss Beyer and writer Jenny Lumet.

Stargirl: The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated: TV-PG, 2.20:1 aspect ratio, 567 minutes, $29.98) — Defunct streaming service DC Universe offered viewers a live-action adaption of comic book maestro Geoff Johns’ female superhero and her ties to the legendary Golden Age superhero team the Justice Society of America.

The 13-episode season, complied on three Blu-ray discs, begins with a rousing past battle between the JSA and arch enemies the Injustice League that left the heroes defeated with only Starman’s sidekick Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) able to escape the slaughter.

Viewers are then taken to the present day and the seemingly boring small town of Blue Valley, Nebraska.

Mr. Dugan has moved his family, wife Barbara (Amy Smart), son Mike (Trae Romano) and stepdaughter Courtney (Brec Bassinger) from Los Angeles as they look for a simpler life, but secrets quickly emerge hinting the Injustice League has set up shop in his new home.

Courtney struggles in her new school, i.e. new girl transition, until she finds Starman’s Cosmic Staff and the identity of her birth father. She decides to form a new incarnation of the JSA with her high school misfit friends and expose the town’s evil as well as the mysterious Project New America.

Besides a narrative that offers a welcomed focus on family, and introducing legendary characters such as Wildcat, Doctor Mid-Night, Hourman, Icicle, Brainwave and Solomon Grundy, the series special effects also shine.

Especially notable is watching the Cosmic Staff and Stargirl’s acrobatic attacks and Mr. Dugan climbing in a large robotic suit (looking a bit the Iron Giant) nicknamed S.T.R.I.P.E.

Although the series does not have the heroic punch of a Batman or Superman universe, it offers an exceptional teen drama and will satisfy fans of such shows as “The Flash” while captivating tweens and exposing them to some great comic book character history.

Best extras: Are you kidding me, viewers get nothing. Especially egregious, coronavirus pandemic or no coronavirus pandemic, is not assembling a featurette with Mr. Johns talking about Stargirl or offering some level of a documentary on the JSA, a group with origins going back to the 1940s.

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