Star Trek: The Next Generation writer Melinda Snodgrass detailed that CBS has not paid her for the use of Bruce Maddox in Star Trek: Picard.
In an interview with YouTube channel Midnight’s Edge, not only does Snodgrass detail that she has not been paid, but she explains she was not even contacted by CBS despite them using her TNG episode “The Measure of Man” as the basis of the Star Trek: Picard series.
She also details her criticisms of Picard as well as what she found she liked about the show.
Take a look.
Before discussing Picard, Snodgrass does give her opinion on Star Trek: Discovery, but admits she hasn’t watched much of it.
“I really haven’t watched Discovery, I took a look at the pilot and it didn’t capture me. And so I kind of haven’t watched and there’s so much else to watch.”
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She then gets to Picard and details that she learned that the series would be based on her “The Measure of Man” episode from The Next Generation after the first episode of Picard had aired. That episode introduced Bruce Maddox of the Daystrom Institute as you can see below.
Snodgrass states she learned about the series, “After the first episode had aired.” When asked if CBS All Access reached out to her or wanted to consult with her about Picard, she replies, “No.”
She goes on to confirm that she created Maddox and details that CBS owes her a character creation payment, “Yes, yes. In fact I am owed a character creation payment by CBS according to the Writer’s Guild rules for the use of my character since he has now appeared on screen.”
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She then reiterates that no one contacted her, “No, no one reached out. No one contacted me. No one informed. So it was a complete surprise. I mean, you know, flattering certainly, humbling that they would think so highly of that episode that they would set it as a foundation for building this new series. Obviously, I would have loved to have been involved, but such was not the case.”
She then details she discovered they were using The Measure of Man as the base of Picard when fans reached out to her, “It was fans who started contacting me saying, ‘Hey! Did you know this?’ and I was like, ‘No.’ And then when people started asking for interviews I thought well I guess I better start watching this thing.”
Snodgrass then provides her criticism of Star Trek: Picard:
“I think the show looks fantastic, very well directed, great cast. I think there are some structural issues with the scripts. I like the dialogue. I like the fact again that it’s not taking itself quite so seriously. Clearly there are serious issues, but Agnes appealed to me because of sort of her smart mouth and pushiness, even though we all knew what was going to inevitably happen with Agnes that was pretty clear.”
“And Rios with his crazy, alternative people that he has wandering around his ship. I still don’t understand how they do things since they are holograms, but I’m not going to get into it. I’m assuming it’s like magic and it works. I’m liking that.”
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“I just sometimes kind of want to go, why didn’t you use that Romulan pirate in more interesting way in Episode 4. Why did you have to pay the bribe to him to get to go down to the planet. And then he gets annoyed and that’s why he tries to blow you guys up. Things seem to happen without me truly grasping why or having felt like it’s been set up sufficiently.”
She then lauds Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes.
“Overall, I think it’s also being anchored by a very fine actor and Jonathan, who is a very fine director, has been doing a very good job on the episodes he’s directing. I’d just like to see a little more cohesion in these episodes in terms of the structure.”
When asked about the human themes that were present in “The Measure of Man” and that many fans feel these themes are missing in Picard, Snodgrass answered:
“I think they are there. I just don’t think they are quite as evident yet. And perhaps they will be once everybody gets in the same place. Soji and our Scooby gang who are going after her. I do think there are themes. I thought the theme for Episode 5 was about what the aspects of love and that love can drive you to some very dark places and some very hurt places. But they are a little bit, a number of levels below the surface. So you kind of have to dig for them more than I would like.”
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She does indicate she likes that the world of Picard is less perfect than other versions of Star Trek while continuing to touch on the themes of humanity that are below the surface.
“I mean what I do like is the fact that we are seeing a version of the universe that isn’t quite so pristine. I actually prefer that. I just think perfection is ultimately boring. Drama is all about conflict. And at the moment they aren’t dealing with huge themes of what makes us human and how do we love. I mean perhaps it will get there because in some ways this child, if you will of Data, is a surrogate child for Picard, the man who never had children. That is where I’m wonder where they are going. The Mother Superior at the Romulan nunnery or whatever they are sort of made the point he didn’t like children. So, maybe that’s a theme they are pursuing. I think the jury’s out. I think we are going to have to see where it goes.”
She also says she likes the idea of the characters being less perfect as well, but understands why it feels jarring.
“I think some people are uncomfortable with the fact that these people are less perfect than perhaps earlier incarnations of Trek characters have been. I actually enjoy that because it gives you more to work with. But I do see where it can feel a little bit jarring. I just think we have to see where they take it. I hope they take it to some place deeply moving. Because ultimately the people on the Borg Cube they are trying to return people to humanity at the hands of a girl who isn’t actually human. That’s interesting. But where it is going?”
However, there are quite a few things she doesn’t quite understand.
“And I still don’t understand the Romulans. The Romulans seem to be generally pissed off about a lot of stuff and I never know why. Whether it’s not going home to say ‘Everybody move’ Or this, I’m still sort of baffled by it all.”
She adds, “They do have an Empire, I mean were all of those planets in the blast radius of the supernova?”
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Snodgrass would then explain how she felt about Maddox being killed off in Picard.
“I understand why he needed to die because he knows too much. Otherwise he just tells Picard everything that he needs to know, and then where is the show. Clearly, clearly that character had to be removed.”
She then details one of the scenes she loved involving Maddox:
“But, and I loved the scene where Agnes is looking at home movies of her and Bruce baking cookies. And the reason I loved it is I always hated the replicator as much as I hated the holodeck. And I loved the idea that he’s a man who’s like this is community, this is love, this is affection, this is you and I together baking cookies, and they were going to sit down and eat them and drink some milk, and then maybe neck for awhile because clearly they were a couple. I liked that scene a great deal.”
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Snodgrass did have some issues with how Maddox was characterized and that we didn’t really get to see his genius on screen.
“I don’t think we got to see much of him other than the fact that he was drinking too much. I kept yelling at the screen, ‘Don’t drink that they are going to poison you or drug you or something.'” He didn’t seem as bright as I had pictured the man to be. I had assumed that he was a very smart guy. And clearly he was because he built Dahj and Soji, but we didn’t see that in him. He was first scared, and then he was but up, and then he was dead. “
She concludes, “I just wish that we had a little more sense of who that man was 35 years ago.”
What do you make of Melinda Snodgrass’ criticism of Star Trek: Picard? What about the fact that CBS has refused to pay her for the use of Bruce Maddox?