As Star Trek’s Picard series looms, I find myself wondering what to expect from such a series. Does it have something new to say, or is it a means to push our own sense of nostalgia back onto us? Perhaps other television shows can give us some indication.
A while ago, I decided to give Fuller House on Netflix a shot. As a child who grew up in the 90’s, I can’t help be at least familiar with the original Full House. While I certainly wasn’t a fan as such, I watched my fair share of television in the late afternoons after school, before dinner, and before Star Trek: The Next Generation aired on my local FOX station at 7pm.
Upon starting Fuller House, and its intro attempting to nostalgia me to death, I immediately began to feel all the emotions that I had felt decades before, locked away in memory in an untapped place. And within minutes, up to the on the nose joke regarding the Olsen twins/Michelle being absent, I was done. The show ran me through everything I could have derived from it within just a couple of minutes.
I was not its targeted audience, I guess. Sure, I watched some of it. Sure, I knew the unofficial sign language to “Cut it out,” thanks to Uncle Joey. And sure, I can marvel at the agelessness that is John Stamos. But, I was not someone who felt that Full House was a component missing from my life.
Twin Peaks and its Return
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I first watched Twin Peaks at about the same time I saw TNG, though to my young mind its imagery and the distinctive David Lynch style were wholly indigestible. So, those memories lay in my mind like hardened lumps of matter that wouldn’t pass until I watched the series as an adult.
The contrast of an idealized small town in the Pacific Northwest, home to mid-1900’s Americana to the campiest extremes, wholesome families, cherry pie, and black coffee beset by contemporary issues like infidelities and drugs, and strange red curtained rooms from beyond reality, and evil that stalked people in their dreams as well as in real life took America by storm.
At least for the first season. The second season went, unfortunately, off the rails, and its cliffhanger ending is where everything stopped due to its cancellation. So imagine my excitement to watch Twin Peaks: The Return. Would all those cliffhangers be resolved?
Let me put it this way, without spoiling anything specific. The Return, was an enrapturing experience. It gave me unexpected turns and twists. I got to revisit the town of Twin Peaks, but not as I would have expected. I loved some the newer characters more than some of the old ones. It showed David Lynch doing some of his best work ever, even eclipsing a lot of what the original series did.
But here is the main point of Twin Peaks: The Return — You can never really go back to the way thing were. Things always change, and even if you get a chance to return, there is always a price, and things won’t be the way you expect.
Twin Peaks: The Return may have tricked me into thinking I’d be getting more Twin Peaks, but it had to trick me. I would ultimately have been disappointed with pure nostalgia and more of the same, like Fuller House, but more of the same is all that I was expecting, in all actuality. By tricking me, it revealed what television overall has been training me to expect, and then subverted my expectations in the best of ways.
In the end, despite continuing a few storylines and showcasing many returning characters, The Return establishes itself as both a part of the series that spawned it, and also as something that stands on its own and tells its own story. It’s more than just a reunion event.
What about the Picard Series?
So what does this have to do with the new Picard series? As things begin to move forward, I am just as anxious as anyone to discover what is in store for us. Captain Picard is my favorite captain after all. I certainly wouldn’t complain about more of something like that.
I would complain however, if what we get is just more of the same. Films aside, The Next Generation was fortunate enough to end on its own terms, giving Picard and the rest a full arc and a solid conclusion that didn’t leave too many loose ends. Picard hasn’t exactly been missing from my life in the way he would if The Next Generation had been cancelled.
The demise of the Romulan Empire in the literal wake of the Hobus Supernova gives us some fertile ground to explore some new stories and world-building, and expanding the setting of Star Trek is a great idea instead of retreading old ground for once, not that old ground can’t be reinvigorated
I just hope that we don’t get the Fuller House version of Picard. Don’t give us everything we want because you’re desperate for us to like you. Make it tough. Give us just a little at a time. And try to keep in mind what Twin Peaks: The Return showed:
Returns come at a price.
There is more to revisiting an old franchise than just selling us on nostalgia.
It has to stand on its own.