For a franchise with so many memorable captains – and the actors who portrayed them – it’s probably true to say that James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) hold the most venerable positions in fandom and general pop culture. The original Star Trek ran for only three seasons between 1966 and 1969 but has endured as landmark television. Star Trek: The Next Generation came along in 1987 and was far more successful than anyone could have hoped. Running until 1994 it eventually spun off into its own set of movies, essentially replacing the original cast’s big-screen outings (but not before Shatner and Stewart teamed up for the feature: Star Trek: Generations). The final movie featuring the ‘TNG‘ cast was 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis.
Yorkshire-born Stewart has gone on to star as Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies (most recently reprising the Xavier role one final time for last year’s Logan) and also made sure that he kept his hand in with his first love, stage work. Though he was proud of his Trek work, it appeared that his days as Jean-Luc Picard were behind him, limited to the actor’s convention appearances and questions from fans and journalists. However it has just been announced that there is to be a new Trek series, a sister-show of sorts for subscription service CBS All Access, a platform that has already enjoyed attention for the Star Trek: Discovery series which is set a few decades before Kirk’s adventures.
Discovery‘s show-runner Alex Kurtzman will oversee the project as part of his recent deal with CBS to expand their Trek properties (with Stewart also serving as an executive producer) and was delighted to confirm the show – though there were few specifics other than the fact this (as yet-untitled) show is NOT a reboot of The Next Generation and will, in fact, show Picard later in his career and assessing his place post-command of the Enterprise.
“With overwhelming joy, it’s a privilege to welcome Sir Patrick Stewart back to the Star Trek fold,” Kurtzman noted. “For over 20 years, fans have hoped for the return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and that day is finally here. We can’t wait to forge new ground, surprise people, and honor generations both new and old.”
Though there had been rumours about something significant in the works, it still came as a surprise when Patrick Stewart himself made the announcement at this weekend’s official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas.
“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart explained in a statement. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over. During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership. I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more.”
There are no details of when this new series will debut, though Star Trek: Discovery is on course to return to screens very early (in 2019) and a trailer was recently released giving a clue as what to expect there.