As part of CBS All Access’ plans to expand the franchise on TV, Sir Patrick Stewart’s making his long-awaited return to the Star Trek universe next year for a brand new series focused on his iconic Enterprise-D captain, Jean-Luc Picard. As details on the show are still being kept mostly under wraps, fans have a lot of questions about it. Something we can say for sure, though, is that it won’t just be a reheat of The Next Generation.
While speaking to the press at the Television Critics Association winter tour, showrunner Alex Kurtzman explained how the writers’ room for the Picard series approached creating new stories for a character who hasn’t been seen for 20 years. He also spoke about the challenge of living up to TNG but also making sure they were forging their own path with Picard.
“Everybody in that room loves Jean-Luc Picard very deeply, and obviously, the benefit that we have is that Jean-Luc Picard is in the room with us. And so, as we’re breaking story, we’re asking ourselves, ‘How do we live to the spirit, and to the character, and for the tone that Next Gen set, but also make it something very, very different in other ways?’ And Patrick was really clear with us from the beginning. He did not want to repeat what he had already done. And by the way, it’s been 20 plus years, so he couldn’t possibly be that same person anymore.”
Having decided that they wanted Picard to be a changed man in this new series, Kurtzman went on to say that he and his team asked important questions about what had happened to him in that time that could have altered his life in such dramatic ways.
“And so, the question becomes, ‘What has happened to him in that period of time? Have there been occurrences that forced him to reckon with choices that he’s made in his life? How do you hold on to being the person everybody loved when the circumstances around you may have changed so radically?’ And those are the big questions that we’re asking.”
As Kurtzman mentioned above, Stewart himself was also very involved with the development of the show and spent several weeks in the writers’ room helping map out Picard’s arc and storyline over the first season. The showrunner revealed that Patrick gave the writers a free pass to do what they liked with the character, with the proviso that he would know if something felt out of sorts for Picard.
“It’s interesting, Patrick didn’t want to put handcuffs on us in any way by saying, ‘I don’t want to do this, and I don’t want to do that,’ He said, ‘I want you to have the freedom to explore this character from a new perspective, and I will always know in my gut if it feels like something he would or wouldn’t do.’ And that’s the conversation that we have as we’re building it scene to scene.”
It sounds a lot like this series might be doing for Picard what Star Wars: The Last Jedi did for Luke Skywalker. That movie’s become infamous though for splitting fans right down the middle due to its shocking reinterpretation of the Jedi’s character, so we’ll have to see if this “new perspective” on Picard will produce similar results from Star Trek fans.