"We live in an age defined by the post-truth possibilities of social media, the uncertain future of automation, rising inequality, increased rightwing populism, the spectre of climate change and, of course, the fact that we are living through a pandemic with the potential to be the most significant and traumatic period of our history since the second world war," says Stephen Kelly. "Picard certainly reflects many of these concerns. It is little wonder that some of the most popular science-fiction TV of the last 20 years – from the technophobia of Black Mirror to the post-9/11 anxieties of Battlestar Galactica – is not exactly enthused about the future. Yet the idea that the grittiness of shows such as Picard makes it mature and relevant, while the ethos of yesteryear Star Trek is now naive or too old-fashioned to survive, feels misjudged. The hope, optimism and sincerity of the original 60s series was in itself a radical act: a way of portraying the future as it should be (a multiracial cast in a time of civil rights struggle; peace and cooperation in a time of nuclear terror), rather than merely wallowing in things as they were. In the 90s, the darker spin-off show Deep Space Nine pre-empted Picard’s themes by 27 years, asking what happens when the principles of the Federation are compromised by war. The difference was that Deep Space Nine, much like the best of Star Trek, managed to balance its meatier themes of PTSD, faith and wartime atrocities with episodes where everyone got dressed up to visit a holographic version of 60s Las Vegas. It is this, more than anything else, that is fundamentally lacking from modern Star Trek: a sense of tonal texture, a spirit of curiosity about different worlds and cultures, and the crackling chemistry of a warm and interesting crew. Instead, as is the case with Picard, its new characters have felt like broadly drawn 'badasses' at best and, at worst, downright cold and unlikable." ALSO: Star Trek: Picard's first season went in a weird, sad direction by the finale.