Imagination Connoisseur, Enti Ande, has a different theory as to why so much of the framework for the STAR TREK: PICARD story is familiar. It’s not being lazy, it’s all a continuation of a previous storyline.
I watched the first episode of STAR TREK: PICARD (ST:PICARD), and on first viewing I found it gripping, although on second viewing I had similar reactions to your about ST:PICARD re-treading old Star Trek beats instead of going on a mission to explore strange new possibilities, so to speak.
But then I had a thought: from a certain point of view (ahem!;-)), it makes perfect sense that issues like ‘synthetics’, the Borg, and the (withdrawn) Federation should be part of the story because this is part of the fabric of the universe set up in previous Star Trek. After all, if Star Trek has taught us anything, it’s that we live in a universe in which new life isn’t always recognised as such; or if it is it isn’t recognised as equal (i.e. the Federation doesn’t always live up to its ideals, does it?).
In fact, one could reasonably argue that it would have been odd if the world we were presented in ST:PICARD – just a couple of decades after STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (ST:TNG), where all these issues were presented to us – was one in which those themes were not present in some way or to some degree.
Perhaps the problem isn’t so much that these story beats are in ST:PICARD after all. Rather, the problem would be if they were the only story points in the series and the show doesn’t also branch to explore other issues.
Peace and long life,