Star Trek Picard - Photo Paramount+
Star Trek Picard – Photo Paramount+

Confession: I have been an ardent “Star Trek” fan ever since Gene Roddenberry’s epic sci-fi  classic began in 1966, continuing through “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager.”

Each original episode began with: 

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise

Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Now – after two middling but gradually improving seasons – “Star Trek Picard: Season Three” –  under showrunner Terry Matalas – is back with its third and farewell season, starring Sir Patrick Stewart as Admiral Jean-Luc Picard, who was trying to enjoy retirement on his French vineyard when he was called back into Starfleet action on the USS Titan-A. 

This third season finds Picard joined by his old cohorts William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), empathic Deanna Troi (Marina Sirkis), Geordi  La Forge  (LeVar Burton),  Worf (Michael Dorn), and Seven-of-Nine (Jeri Ryan). Plus there’s Picard’s old flame Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), the synthetic lifeform Lore, the android Data (Brent Spiner) and the always-annoying Raffi (Michelle Hurd).

Causing concern, there’s creepy, revenge-obsessed Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) on the Shrike (FYI: Amanda’s father, Christopher Plummer, was the villain in “Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country”).

There’s great camaraderie as Picard and his team face a splinter faction of the Changelings, who have already launched an attack on Starfleet ‘s recruitment center.  Previously, benevolent Odo (Rene Auberjonois) was the only one of these Gamma Quadrant aliens who surfaced. Now these shapeshifters abound and they’ve taken possession of Dr. Crusher’s grown son Jack (Ed Speelers).

What’s particularly remarkable is how this season utilizes James Horner & Jerry Goldsmith’s previous “Star Trek” musical cues to once again evoke awe and wonder. 

Since its inception, the “Star Trek” franchise has encompassed 11 television series, 13 feature films and numerous books, toys and games. It’s generally considered one of the most popular and influential television series of all time.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Star Trek Picard: Season Three” is a nostalgic, satisfying 8, streaming on Paramount+.

The Last Thing He Told Me - Photo Apple TV+
The Last Thing He Told Me – Photo Apple TV+

Adapted from Laura Dave’s 2001 best-seller, the limited series “The Last Thing He Told Me” finds  relatively newly married Hannah (Jennifer Garner) teaming up with her 16 year-old step-daughter Bailey (Angourie Rice) to track down her husband Owen Michaels (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who has gone missing.

Hannah’s a wood-working artist. She and widower Owen live with truculent Bailey in scenic Sausalito, California, in an expensive floating home that looks straight out of Architectural Digest.

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my daughter,” Owen tells Hannah, perhaps foreshadowing his mysterious disappearance when the tech firm he works for is suddenly under FBI investigation. 

Then Hannah finds a cryptic note instructing, “Protect her” – along with a duffle bag stuffed with cash. And lurking around their home is a suspicious man named Grady (Augusto Aguilera), who claims to be a U.S. Marshal, insisting that he just wants to protect Owen.

So where has Owen gone? And why did he suddenly vanish?

Slowly, very slowly, Hannah and Bailey begin to unravel the secrets of Owen’s – and Bailey’s past – a search that leads them to a football stadium, in Austin, Texas, where Bailey has some vaguely repressed memories from her childhood.

Adapted by author Laura Dave and Josh Singer (“Spotlight”), it’s an interesting premise but lacks the kind of edgy urgency that would make it into a compelling thriller.

FYI: Julia Roberts was originally intended to star in this series – produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine – but she had scheduling conflicts.

On the Granger Gauge, “The Last Thing He Told Me” is an escapist 6 – with all seven episodes streaming on Apple TV+.

Fast X - Photo Universal Pictures
Fast X – Photo Universal Pictures

Fasten your seat belts! “Fast X” – the 10th installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise – is just the first of a three-part finale revolving around the continuing saga of street-racing vigilantes, headed by mumbling Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel).

Joining Toretto, there’s his wife Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguz) and their young son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) – Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena), Tej Parker (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Han (Sung Kang).

Adding a bit of class, Queenie (Helen Mirren) is back, along with the cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who is no longer an adversary because, as she explains to Dom: “The enemy of my enemy is you.”

The bad guy is flamboyant Dante Reyes (scene-stealing “Aquaman” Jason Momoa), the sociopathic son of Hernan Reyes, the Brazilian drug kingpin killed by Dom and his cohorts back in 2011. He’s still furious about his father’s death and out for vengeance.

Also added to the rapidly growing cast are Brie Larson as rogue Agent Tess and Alan Richtson as Aimes, the new Agency head (If you like Alan Ritchson here, you may also like him as TV’s “Reacher,” based on Lee Child’s best-selling series). Scott Eastwood surfaces as the Agent ‘Little Nobody,’ and, of course, Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw.

Plus Daniela Melchior as Isabel, a Brazilian street racer with past ties to Dom – and cameos by comedian Pete Davdson, Meadow Walker (daughter of actor Paul Walker, who died in a 2013 car crash), as a flight attendant, and Rita Moreno, as Dom and Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) beloved abuelita.

No longer satisfied with L.A. drag racing, the action-packed locations include stunts and demolition in Rome, London, Rio de Janeiro, Antarctica and outer space (not really!) – on a $340 million budget.

There’s a new director, Louis Leterrier (“The Transporter,” “You See Me”), in the driver’s seat that was vacated by director Justin Lin, who wrote the senseless, recycled, cliché-clogged screenplay with Dan Mazeau & Gary Scott Thompson. The series concept was based on a 1998 Vibe magazine article.

Bottom Line: It’s wheely, wheely stupid – but it does tease the return of Dwayne Johnson in the next round.

On the Granger Gauge, “Fast X” skids in with a frenetic yet futile 4, playing in theaters.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.