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Credit: CBS All Access

Picard: Critics praise Patrick Stewart, but note 'sluggish pace' slows down Star Trek action

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Jan 23, 2020, 10:31 AM EST

It's been almost two decades since Star Trek: The Next Generation wrapped up for good (or so we thought) in 2002's feature film, Nemesis. With 18 years of hindsight at its disposal, CBS All Access returns to the world of TNG with Star Trek: Picard, a follow-up series that centers on an aged and jaded Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart returns!).

With Episode 1 ("Remembrance" - read our recap here) now streaming, critics are finally able to post their reviews of the first three episodes, which have been under embargo until today.

So, what's the general consensus among the usual suspects of pop culture outlets? Well, the new show seems to be splitting folks right down the middle. No one can deny the acting prowess of Stewart, but some reviews do point to tonal disjointedness and the fact that non-Next Generation fans may not find the nostalgia and Easter egg-filled Picard all that satisfying.

After giving up leadership of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc, who is still haunted by Data's death, leads a quite existence on a vineyard in France. Naturally, that doesn't make for a ton of quality entertainment, so the main story finds Picard leaving retirement for more cosmic adventures.

Alison Pill, Santiago Cabrera, Michelle Hurd, Harry Treadaway, Evan Evagora, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis co-star.

Set your phasers to stun and find out what critics are saying below...

Picard’s great asset is its title character — as played by Sir Patrick Stewart, who, at 79, seems somehow yet more in command of his craft as an actor even as his character has ceded command of the Enterprise." -Daniel D'Addario, Variety

"Even by my tolerant standards found [the first three episodes] a little expositionally over-the-top. The events that get stretched over three, 40-minute episodes of Picard probably could have been dispatched in the opening 10 minutes of a feature and surely couple have been delivered in one or two TV installments without sacrificing room to breathe." -Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter

"The sluggish pace thus begins to drain interest, at least for those who didn't hang on Next Generation's every wrinkle. That leaves the prospect of upcoming Next Generation cameos ... as perhaps the best incentive to stay aboard, as opposed to where the story's ultimately heading." -Brian Lowry, CNN

"The arrival of a new Star Trek series (the seventh), especially one whose roots go back to the 1980s, is an obvious occasion for nostalgia and Easter egg-hunting, and Picard does not disappoint." -Mike Hale, The New York Times

"The series ... shares its lead character’s penchant for delving into history, but keeps its eyes trained forward, seeking out new ways to tell classic Trek stories—among them, exploring what it means to be human." -Danette Chavez, The A.V. Club

"It is a strange episode, paced to almost overwhelm with information that at this point doesn’t quite point in a consistent direction. Like all legacy sequels, it’s jam-packed with references to its predecessors ... In keeping with its sister show Discovery, it’s also rather cinematic, entirely shrugging off the visual identity of the comparatively stagey, beigey Next Generation." -Andrew Todd, Birth.Movies.Death.

"Does anyone want a bitter and brutal Star Trek, full of murder-sorrow flashbacks, swoopy-kinetic fights, and all-encompassing paranoia? So much of Trek since 2009 strains to resemble the dumbest version of cool ... Picard has flashes of eccentricity, and any science-fiction show with a Miguel de Unamuno shoutout demands a quantum of hope. But for now, this is another disappointing Star Trek. Should we give it a chance? My advice: Disengage." -Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly

"Stewart’s compelling enough to justify a relatively leisurely pace in the early going. There are a lot of new characters to introduce, and new circumstances for Picard, the Federation, and the Romulans. But it all feels cohesive and confident in a way that Discovery even in its good moments never quite has." -Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone 

"Surrounded by a new and intriguing supporting cast, Picard is more than just another rehash. It's the best continuation of the Trek universe since J.J. Abrams' 2009 film, with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. Like Next Generation and the original series, Picard explodes with heart, using its sci-fi trappings to tell a deeply human story about love lost and potentially found." -Kelly Lawler, USA Today


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