- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2022

Arguably the greatest Starfleet captain in the history of the United Federation of Planets stars in another gripping adventure of galaxy-altering proportions in Star Trek: Picard — Season Two (CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment, rated TV-MA, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 474 minutes, $47.99).

Viewers not part of Paramount+ streaming service can now enjoy all 10 episodes of the latest season contained on a three-disc Blu-ray set in all of its high definition glory.

Full disclosure, I am not a Trekkie, Trekker or any iteration. I have simply enjoyed the Star Trek multimedia overload over the years and really love the characters.

So, I was immediately on board watching the latest series when we get the return of Admiral Jean Luc Picard (brilliantly performed by Patrick Stewart); his ragtag crew of season one including Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan); cyberneticist Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill); former operations officer Raffi Musiker (Michele Hurd); and starship pilot Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera), as well as a pair of the most iconic characters in “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” television series’ history.

As we dive into the season, viewers will remember that a dying Picard’s consciousness was transferred into a synthetic humanoid body and the good captain was now retired and running his vineyard.

Picard is disturbed from his blissful life to return to the middle of a Starfleet problem after a mysterious entity beckons for him.

He comes face-to-face with the Borg-like humanoid that nearly destroys the starship Stargazer before he and his key crew get pulled back into an alternate reality by the always mischievous and meddling master of all time and space, Q (John de Lancie).

Q is hell-bent on testing him once again by altering the timeline that sends Picard into a dark, totalitarian alternate universe (the Confederation) where humans dominate the galaxy to genocidal extremes. While there, he convenes with his unaltered crew and meets, wait for it, his Borg Queen (Annie Wersching).

Picard devises a plan to go to the past (with help from the queen), reset the timeline and save the universe. Specifically, a 2024 San Francisco where he finds a younger version of his favorite bartender Guinan (Ito Aghayere) who helps him search for a watcher to lead him to a close encounter with a relative that will save the future.

The series takes Picard on a journey that also reveals much of his past and even mixes in the debut of geneticist Adam Soong (Brent Spiner), the ancestor of the man who built the famed android Data.

Let’s just skip the subplot where ICE officers are the bad guys as they dare deport illegal immigrants and even the slightly corny ending that’s a bit too tidy, and just be grateful that Mr. Stewart is still willing to continue to expand the Star Trek canon.

Suffice it to report, I’m hooked on this character-rich, sci-fi drama and ready for the next season that brings back many of the members of the original Next Generation crew.

Best extras: Fans will appreciate the breadth of featurettes packed onto the first and third discs of the set.

Viewers start with an 18-minute look at the origin and design, both interior and exterior (down to the floor materials layout and the computer control screens) of the new Federation starship the USS Stargazer.

Much gets explained by Picard’s production designer Dave Blass comparing it to other ships in the Star Trek mythology and even being privy to moments of conference calls with all of the designers and keepers of the technical canon including the mighty Trek expert Michael Okuda. Fans will love the creative immersion.

Next, it’s a 15-minute breakdown on the design of Picard’s chateau and his massive vineyard. Covered again by Mr. Blass and the key designers, they focus on the antique interiors as well as the two-story library.

It’s loaded with specific props created and previously seen in Star Trek shows, and the designers even offer a walkthrough Confederation version of the library, more a trophy room with various skulls displayed showcasing evil Picard’s victims.

Follow that up with 12 minutes covering the history of motivations of Q, including thoughts from Mr. Stewart and Mr. de Lancie, and 12 minutes with property master Jeffrey Lombardi.

Mr. Lombardi shows off some cool goodies used by the characters including new communication badges, weapons, armor headgear and even a Romulan tricorder.

A 25-minute appreciation of the legendary Captain Picard, his friends and his crew features the actors diving into their characters’ themes, motivations and subplots.

Finally, and my favorite, is an engrossing 11-minute exploration of the recreation of the infamous Borg Queen as detailed by the effects artists and actress. The head tubing resembles a British queen’s crown, and the makeup is finessed to match skin to plastic prosthetics.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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