The budget for “Star Trek: Picard” is said to run in the $8 to $9 million range. That’s still massive for a television show, providing Trek with all the slick, professional CGI effects it might need to visualize starships and spatial phenomena. And while larger budgets are going to make production easier for the “Picard” showrunners, it’s the limitations that force creativity into the equation. Indeed, if the showrunners can shoot a few scenes inside Guinan’s Earthbound bar — frustratingly also called Ten Forward — then why not have a sojourn there? It seems that every episode of the third season of “Picard” has had a scene in Ten Forward, either to establish action, as the setting of a flashback, or on a holographic recreation.
Is it cheap? Yes. Does it work? Yes.
Even though “Picard” is set in the early 25th century, Ten Forward looks very much like any bar one might find on Earth today. Same neon signage, same lowlights, same collection of high-end spirits against the wall behind the bartender. There are even haphazard physical photos stuck to the walls, something that might seem moribund in 2410. Like sharks, bars seem to have reached their evolutionary peak many years ago.
Ten Forward is where Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Picard (Patrick Stewart) meet to toast benchmarks in life, to reconnoiter when the season’s plot kicks in, and to relax when they’re on board the U.S.S. Titan’s holodeck. It’s where Picard will regale cadets with his adventures in the past, and where he will bond with his son Jack (Ed Speleers) when all seems lost. The reliance on Ten Forward may have been due to budget concerns, but, lo, it also gives the show a home base.