WASHINGTON — We all need a post-election break this week. So let’s take a look at a pair of popular episodic TV series. Namely “Star Trek: Picard’ S1 and “Stargirl: The Complete First Season.” Involving one old hero and one new hero, both Blu-ray disks are now available in HD format.
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 available only on the CBS All Access streaming service. Until now. The new series covers an unsanctioned mission by Jean Luc Picard, retired captain of the USS Enterprise and admiral of Starfleet.
Picard’s mission is to stop the Romulans from hunting down a pair of female androids. Both were created with the essence of the popular and revered Commander Data (Brent Spiner), who had earlier sacrificed himself for Picard.
Picard personally 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.
A motley crew and a set of imponderables
To assist him in his mission, Picard assembles a motley starship crew including Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera), former Starfleet officer and current pilot of the freighter La Sirena; his former Starfleet first officer Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd); Romulan refugee turned-Qowat Milat warrior, named Elnor (Evan Evagora); and preeminent synthetic life researcher Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill).
The first season in this new series, binge-ready on three Blu-ray discs, offers enormous fun for Star Trek fans. Nostalgia reigns as Picard encounters some familiar friends such as William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and his wife Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Picard even has a run-in with that legendary, fan-favorite Borg, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan).
Complex and very Trekkie themes surface prominently in this series. Metaphysical dilemmas involving what defines a human versus a manufactured sentient life form and an examination of iconic locations like the innards of a Borg cube help distinguish the well-crafted series. Ditto its well-crafted finale that cleverly allows Picard’s adventures to continue.
Expect a welcome, Covid-19 delayed second season to go into production next year.
Best “Star Trek: Picard” extras:
As with the current Blu-ray releases of the previous two seasons of CBS’ “Star Trek: Discovery” series, “Picard” gets an equally impressive collection of bonus content.
The package begins with a socially distanced, optional video commentary track for the first episode, entitled “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. When they talk, their respective boxes get bigger.
This content not only proves a great idea. The accompanying commentary offers welcomes insights into the characters’ development and the creation of entire series.
Next, a bundle of four featurettes offers roughly 60 minutes detailing the show’s production. These items highlight the aliens (focused on the Borg) in addition to the props, sets and new characters.
Each individual episode also gets a short “story log” averaging five minutes in length. Each also covers production minutiae.
Finally, a 10-minute short explores the disaster that occurred on Mars, related through the lives of two children. It includes 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, Stargirl. The adaptation also focuses on her ties to the legendary Golden Age superhero team known as the Justice Society of America.
This 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 fateful battle left our JSA heroes defeated. Only Starman’s sidekick, Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson), managed to escape the slaughter.
Viewers next find themselves transported to the present day, as set in the seemingly boring small town of Blue Valley, Nebraska.
Trouble in Blue Valley?
Mr. Dugan has moved his family, wife Barbara (Amy Smart), son Mike (Trae Romano) and stepdaughter Courtney (Brec Bassinger) there from Los Angeles. They seek a simpler life. But secrets quickly emerge hinting the Injustice League has already set up shop in Dugan’s new town.
Courtney struggles in her new school — the usual “new girl” transition — until she finds Starman’s Cosmic Staff and the identity of her birth father. She decides to launch a new incarnation of the JSA with her high school misfit friends. She wants to expose the town’s evil as well as the mysterious Project New America.
Stargirl’s narrative offers a welcome focus on family. Better yet, it introduces legendary characters like Wildcat, Doctor Mid-Night, Hourman, Icicle, Brainwave and Solomon Grundy. In addition, the special effects in this series also shine.
Especially notable is watching the Cosmic Staff and Stargirl’s acrobatic attacks. Likewise, the adventures of Mr. Dugan who looks every bit like the Iron Giant as he climbs about in a large robotic suit nicknamed S.T.R.I.P.E.
Although the series does not have the heroic punch of a Batman or Superman universe, it offers exceptional teen drama. That will satisfy fans of such shows as “The Flash” while captivating tweens and exposing them to some great, historical comic book character in past DC history.
Best extras? What extras?
Are you kidding me? “Stargirl” series fans get nothing extra in this package. Especially egregious, coronavirus pandemic or no coronavirus pandemic: The package fails to offer even a featurette with Mr. Johns talking about Stargirl. Nor does it offer even a rudimentary documentary on the Golden Age JSA, a group whose origins stretch back to the 1940s.
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.