Warning: Spoilers! If you want to watch the show Picard (Season 1) unspoiled, leave now... or carefully after the first couple paragraphs. Also, warning: fanboy television judgements, which is a million miles away from my normal style. This is not particularly edifying or enlightening - just me ranting.
I don't really watch television these days. Not many movies either, but even less television. I'll always have a huge soft spot for Picard and Data, though. I remember coming home from school every day, heading to our orange rocking couch (really, it was a couch, but the whole thing was a rocker too - is that not a thing any more?), and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns. It was an afternoon ritual for some time... I can't even remember what year it was. The ethics and virtue of Jean-Luc Picard, the integrity and curiosity of Data, the ethos of the Federation and the Star Trek worldview... I soaked a bunch of that in. It was also my first big dose of sci-fi, and I shifted from Hardy Boys-style detective/action books to reading Star Trek novels. I think I kept a list, and had read 80+ at one point. Anyway... I loved Deep Space 9 and Sisko too, though it was more gritty, not quite as pure (or idealistic). I watched most of Voyager into college, though I was pretty "meh" on it a lot of the time, and I didn't even bother watching the next few series as an adult.
But Data... I think encountering the character of Data significantly changed my life. I wanted to be ultra smart, I wanted to figure out the mysteries of what it means to be human, and to figure out what truly has value and meaning. I was also fascinated by the prospect of computing and computational intelligence, whether we could theoretically build a Data, whether there was anything that made human intelligence special or not? As I gravitated towards a computing career in high school, I think "figure out how to build Data" was my main motivating direction. I studied hardware and software both in college, and shifted into computer science to focus on AI in grad school.
So I knew that I wanted to make room for this new "Picard" show. After it was all released (10 episodes), my wife and I have recently been watching it on sporadic evenings. I realized how much I still cared about these characters when my hands were sweaty and my heart beating fast in the first episode. I didn't even know that Data (and his legacy) was going to feature so prominently, but I couldn't have been more tickled. I went along for the ride, was trying to go along for the ride without nitpicking - and doing a good job of it, until the end.
Television is more complex, faster paced these days, and is overall better as a result, but: The end of the season was as if a pre-teen boy had plotted every "wouldn't it be so cool if?!" moment they could possibly think of and shoved it all in there without any thought to plausibility. The whole final showdown, the magical fix-it device turning into fake ships, the Federation ships showing up, Oh being there, Riker being there, my goodness - and then the whole fake death and new body thing - ugh, it was all so... cheap! Give me another good Jean-Luc soliloqy or six, some more existential debate and philosophical drama... but no, instead they threw in ridiculous evil alien worms dancing in a wormhole, and then afterwards nobody cared?
The totally-implausible action only partially covered up the woeful conceptual denouement about the meaning of life and death. Please euthanize me, says the reconstructed consciousness of Data, because death is what gives life meaning. What the what?! Data and TNG have contemplated mortality a few times before, to be sure, but what a letdown. The whole "psych, they have Data in a box and didn't tell them" thing made basically zero sense as a context, but that pales next to the conceit that they haven't solved aging in 400 years and furthermore have no desire to?! The first thing Picard is concerned with when he gets a fancy new synthetic body is that he's worried that he might not die?!? :fanboy-brain-aneurysm: What a stunning lack of ambition. And what a cheap set of dramatic tricks to play that pay off with so little emotional reward because the vail of plausible storytelling has been shredded.
I'll adjust my headcanon to block out most of the ending, enjoy the good parts I can still appreciate, and might think about watching the second season. :wry-grin: