Only a few days ago, "Star Trek" fans throughout the galaxy were treated to the news that Patrick Stewart will return to "Star Trek" to play the much-loved Jean-Luc Picard.
What do we know about this so far? Stewart is the only confirmed cast member at this point, and we know that Stewart is also on board as an executive producer. While we don't know the exact timeline, we do know the new show will take place after the events of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (TNG) and some 20 years after "Star Trek: Nemesis" (that would be 2399), so Picard will be portrayed at the correct age.
That date makes this the furthest into the future that a "Star Trek" TV show has gone, glimpses into the 31st century aside (as happened in the "Star Trek: Enterprise" episode "Future Tense" and "Star Trek: Voyager" episode "Living Witness"). It also means it's set about 20 years after one of the most cataclysmic events that we know of in the "Star Trek" timeline: the Dominion War. Picard's involvement was really only covered in the novels (TNG novel "Behind Enemy Lines," in particular), but it was nonetheless a significant event in Federation history. [What 'Star Trek' Capt. Picard Taught Me About Life ... and Love]
Many of the people Jean-Luc Picard has met and interacted with during the history of TNG now have their own back stories and adventures, so it's hard to develop alternative stories that remain totally consistent. A cursory glance on the fan encyclopedia website Memory Beta reveals how complex these are.
The "Star Trek" canon is a murky world. Memory Alpha details events and history based on what we've seen of "Star Trek" on TV and in the cinema, but Memory Beta focuses more on events and history from the novels, comics and the expanded universe.
For example, Picard's former classmate Marta Batanides (TNG episode "Tapestry") eventually becomes head of Starfleet intelligence ("Star Trek: The Fall" novel "A Ceremony of Losses"), potentially opening up all sorts of story arcs. In fact, his other close friend from the academy, Cortin Zweller — who was with Picard and Batanides when Picard was stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan (TNG episode "Tapestry") — ends up in the mysterious organization Section 31 (TNG novel "Rogue"), so all sorts of possibilities abound. [6 'Star Trek' Captains, Ranked from Worst to Best]
Also in the expanded universe, Picard marries Doctor Crusher, and they eventually have a son in December 2380 (TNG novels "Death in Winter" and "Greater Than the Sum"); however, this goes against events in the TNG episode "All Good Things," where we see they've divorced.
So, it can be a little bit complicated, and there's definitely no shortage of story arcs to take inspiration from. And indeed, many of the TV writers do. In fact, several of the writers for "Star Trek: Discovery" started by writing "Star Trek" novels, including Kirsten Beyer, who will also be involved in the new series.
However, that extended canon has been known to change for the sake of what larger audiences are shown in the cinema or on TV. Just look at "Star Wars," and the Marvel and DC superhero movies.
So we came up with 10 suggestions for Picard's return to the small screen that still adhere to "Trek" history:
- Older and wiser, Picard returns to Earth and becomes the dean, or a professor, at Starfleet Academy in the new series that is potentially going to be set there (as reported in Variety). Imagine Mr. Keating from "Dead Poets Society" meets Mr. Rasczak from "Starship Troopers." The series could even be called "Oh Captain, My Captain."
- Returning to Earth and retiring from Starfleet, Picard has finally accepted that job offer that his old boyhood friend Louis made to him to take over the Atlantis Project (TNG episode "Family"). CBS pounces on the opportunity for a franchise crossover and simultaneously reboots the underwater sci-fi series "Seaquest DSV" in association with Universal.
- Picard is a senior politician/ambassador and returns after a long period away from Earth to discover the Federation has been sliding away from its utopian ideals. This would take the form of a politically driven drama, reflecting in science fiction many of the issues facing the world today, as "Star Trek" has done successfully time and time again.
- Picard, now the landlord of a small apartment complex in a fashionable beach community near New Malibu on Veridian IV, has to deal with the wacky antics of a Betazoid, a Borg and a Horta when they decide to be roommates, with hilarious consequences.
- Picard has become the president of the United Federation of Planets, and in a tense "West Wing"-style drama, we follow him through political turmoil on a truly cosmic scale as he negotiates peace treaties with the Kazon, arranges trade deals with the Tamarians and saves Sector 001 from all out war with Species 8472.
- His Irumodic Syndrome worsening (TNG episode "All Good Things"), Picard now uses a wheelchair but develops strange, powerful telepathic powers as an unexpected side effect.
- Picard has every intention to retire, settle down and rebuild the Chateau Picard vineyard after it burned down ("Star Trek: Generations"). However, he's approached by the clandestine arm of Starfleet, Section 31, and coerced into re-enlisting. A darker incarnation of "Star Trek" sees Picard wrestling with his evolved sensibility and the reality that unethical decisions must be made to maintain peace throughout the galaxy.
- Picard was an amateur archaeologist from an early age. He often pondered what his life as an archaeologist would have been like, and his knowledge of ancient artifacts and cultures often proved valuable during his command (TNG episodes "Rascals," "The Chase," "Gambit," TNG novel "The Devil's Heart"). After retiring from Starfleet, he becomes unwittingly embroiled in a series of intergalactic Indiana Jones-style adventures.
- After the events of "Star Trek: Nemesis," Picard once again hears the call of the Borg, learning that they are constructing a huge new cube with which they intend to wipe out humanity. Against the orders of Adm. Janeway, he is surgically altered to become Locutus once again (TNG novel "Resistance"). A long, desperate and drawn-out battle with the Borg begins.
- Picard marries Lwaxana Troi, and they open a modest hotel in the popular seaside town of Torqee, on Rigel VII. Together, with their inept Ferengi waiter, Mahvel, they struggle to not only run the business but maintain their sanity as chaos frequently ensues. Just don't mention the war when the Klingons come to stay.
And, set phasers to "stunned:" It turns out that CBS is also discussing some "Star Trek: Discovery" spin-offs — specifically, shows for Michelle Yeoh's Philippa Georgiou, the former ruler of the Terran Empire in the mirror universe who ended up in the prime timeline and joining Section 31, and Rainn Wilson's Harry Mudd, the criminal and con artist with cosmic charisma. [What Makes a 'Star Trek' Fan? Trekkies Tell All]
Can you imagine a 24-hour "Star Trek" channel?! Only in our dreams has this existed.
Julie McNamara, the organization's executive vice president of original content, told Deadline, "We've really talked about virtually all of the characters who popped up in 'Discovery' as potential spin-off shows. It's obviously very much driven by our conversations with Alex Kurtzman's [production company] Secret Hideout and the other creators involved. I wouldn’t say at this point that we are actively pursuing a Michelle Yeoh series, but it has been discussed.
"He definitely falls in that category of, it could be interesting to build around this character," McNamara said. "But, I will say, it hasn't progressed any further than that."
Stapf told Deadline, "I think what you are asking is, are we incubating things potentially, and the answer is yes and no. There's not a grand design of 'Let's plant a Rainn idea and see how that does.' It's more Secret Hideout, and the rest of the Trek brain trust coming to us and saying, 'We think this would be really cool, story-wise, character-wise.'"