One of the more common elements of Star Trek is the use of stardates to mark particular missions. Star Trek: Picard, set in 2399, has dropped this convention for its serialized storytelling though, alongside other familiar Trek conventions such as the use of Starfleet. Indeed, the show has frequently departed from previous series in its tone and use of language and violence, and showrunner Michael Chabon has now provided an explanation as to why stardates weren’t considered important for Picard.
Responding on Instagram to a fan’s questions about this, Chabon had the following to say:
“Stardates, in my view, and I know this is going to make some people mad, are a uniquely perverse form of uninformative information. Using a stardate tells you precisely nothing. Even people who know how to interpret and convert them have to go off and interpret and convert them to have them mean something. Giving an audience the stardate is like if I wanted to know if I needed to put on a sweater or not, and you told me the temperature outside in Kelvin. ‘It’s 207 out.'”
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To be fair to Chabon, stardates have always been a bit tricky to pin down, and made more sense when Star Trek was following a Federation starship and a captain using the markers as part of their logs. In the original 1960s series, stardates often didn’t have much of an impact, given that the show only had a loose continuity at best over its three seasons. Although stardates were given some more consistent rules on Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s since become common for shows to also adapt the Gregorian calendar to define a series within a particular era.
As previously mentioned, stardates are less important in a show where Picard has left Starfleet and the storylines are highly serialized. It’s also worth noting that the loss of stardates is just one of the ways that Picard has pushed the franchise into more unusual areas, from the makeup of the galaxy itself, to departing from Gene Roddenberry’s original ideals for the series by exploring the rougher dramatic side of characters. All of which continues to make Star Trek: Picard a divisive experience for fans, albeit one that’s found fresh things to say about the show’s universe.