The long wait for CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Picard” is nearly over. The latest addition to the legendary sci-fi franchise will premiere on CBS All Access on January 23, and its cast and executive producers closed out the network’s Television Critics Association 2020 Winter Press Tour on Sunday with a panel to discuss the upcoming series.
It included series stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Evan Evagora, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera, and executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman, Heather Kadin, and Kirsten Beyer. While the 10 episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” are full of familiar aliens and technology, Stewart noted that the show will explore a different side of the “Star Trek” universe, starting with ditching Picard’s signature uniform.
“I only appear briefly in my uniform, which was one of the rather presumptuous conditions that I laid down,” Stewart said during the show’s TCA panel. “I felt it very important that we put a lot of distance between ‘The Next Generation’ and what we are seeking to do here.”
That condition wasn’t due to a dislike of the character’s original design, but rather part of the series’ broader goal of pushing the “Star Trek” franchise into a new direction. “Star Trek: Picard” has billed itself as a slower, more character-driven series than the explosive action that has defined some prior “Star Trek” projects, and the CBS All Access series will have strong emphasis on Picard’s mental state and the aftereffects of the death of Data (Brent Spiner) in “Star Trek: Nemesis” and the destruction of Romulus in the 2009 “Star Trek” reboot film. Stewart described Picard as a “troubled, disturbed, lonely” man with “feelings of strange, unnatural guilt.”
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The show is set 20 years after “Star Trek: Nemesis” and follows the retired admiral as he takes on a dangerous mission without the help of Starfleet. While “Star Trek: Picard” is shaping up to be a different kind of “Star Trek” experience, Stewart isn’t the only franchise veteran that will appear in the series. Spiner, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis will reprise their roles from prior franchise projects, and Stewart said he “hopes” that all the principal actors from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” make an appearance in Season 1 of the CBS All Access show.
“Star Trek: Picard” might have a title character, but Picard will be joined by a variety of franchise newcomers, including Hurd’s Raffi Musiker, a former Starfleet officer. Hurd recalled watching “Star Trek” as a child during the TCA panel and noted that the franchise had an outsized influence on her life.
“When I got the job I had this flashback to my childhood and watching ‘Star Trek’ with my family,” Hurd said. “My father is a black actor and it was one of those things where it was important for him to see the three of us represented on television …I don’t think I realized how impactful ‘Star Trek’ was to me as a child. The very first interracial kiss on television was on the show.”
While “Star Trek: Picard” will explore new sides of the franchise’s universe, Kadin noted that the upcoming show would still tackle real-world issues, per Star Trek tradition. “The best sci-fi always tries to mirror what is happening in the world,” Kadin said. “The show has refugee issues, alien issues, and [questions] government, authority, and decisions, and [is about] taking things into your own hands.”
Marc DeBevoise, CBS Interactive’s CEO and president, and Julie McNamara, executive vice president of original content for CBS All Access, announced that “Star Trek: Picard” had been renewed for a second season during their executive session earlier Sunday. Though the news bodes well for Trekkies, the “Star Trek: Picard” executive producers declined to speculate on whether the ongoing “Star Trek” renaissance could lead to a sprawling, interconnected franchise a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe.