I finished Picard. WOW!
This is not a hardcore Starfleet/Federation Trek show. This is about Jean-Luc Picard. This is about the character that so many fell in love with during the series and in the movies. I would argue that the relevant history of this show goes back as far as Picard’s assimilation as Locutus. Anything before those episodes is really not relevant. Everything from Best of Both Worlds on through the last movie (especially the last movie) is useful. There are a couple of older points of reference (Bruce Maddox features heavily in this series, and was a side character in a Season 2 episode this a still a fan favorite; the Stargazer and Picard Manuever are referenced). You do not have to be a die-hard fan to enjoy the series, but knowing some of this material will make the series more meaningful.
Speaking of meaningful – old friends return. One, in particular, takes on a huge role in a supporting plot device. Hugh is back. Another old friend, who never met Picard in any previous incarnation, returns to the Trek universe – Seven. And she is as lovely and freaking awesome as ever. Riker and Troi have sort of moved on. Data, well, that is an important part of this entire season. You need to watch this series if you ever identified with Data in any way.
The quality of the work is superb. The writing and cinematography are all top quality. The CGI and sets are beautiful. The characters are deep and engaging. Especially Jean-Luc, who has changed so much from his active days in the Big Chair. He has softened, but only in important ways. He is more compassionate and gracious and kind. I think he sees the hard edges he used to have, that made him an icon of Starfleet, have cost him so much of his intimacy he seems to be longing for at this point in his life.
Can a non-TNG or a non-Trek fan get into this? Yes, I think so. What makes this series so powerful and impactful (for me, a TNG original fan) is the way this new series is woven into the fabric of the old series. Little pieces of story and plots are bound into the building of new characters and worlds. There are some new elements that are introduced from the “dark ages” of Trek (the time without an ongoing story of these characters). But the way they are linked to the past and present narratives makes it seem like we were there. It is the weaving that makes for delightful viewing for fans. I believe non-fans will find enough to hold their attention if they understand the bare minimum of characters and stories.
It may not be worth you picking up the CBS All Access Streaming service. Right now (until April 23, 2020) there is a free pass. It is worth binging. Especially if you are stuck at home with nothing new to dig into.