Star Trek fans were in for an out-of-this-world surprise when Sir Patrick Stewart announced that he would be stepping back into Jean-Luc Picard's black boots for a new series centered on the former captain of the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise-D.
Star Trek: Picard, which is set 20 years after Stewart's stint on Star Trek: Next Generation, will give new screen life to the iconic TV astronaut at CBS All Access and will be executive produced by Alex Kurtzman, who is overseeing the Trek universe for CBS Studios. The show began production in April 2019. Ahead of its recently announced 2020 premiere (though no date has been set), we'll be keeping tabs on everything you need to know about the new show.
Here's a look at all the details released about Star Trek: Picard.
What it's called: The series was officially dubbed Star Trek: Picard by CBS in May 2019.
When it will air: CBS All Access Executive Vice President of Original Content Julie McNamara told the press at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the series is expected to drop at the end of 2019. But at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019, it was revealed Picard will actually arrive in early 2020. Subscribe to CBS All Access here.
Where you can watch it if you don't have CBS All Access: If you don't live in the United States or Canada and thus don't have CBS All Access, you can still watch Star Trek: Picard! Amazon Prime will be distributing the series for international audiences.
Prepare for a new timeline: The new series takes place 20 years after Next Gen ended — in approximately 2399 — which puts it further into the future than any previous Trek iteration.
It will not be the same Picard you're used to: Fans shouldn't expect to see the same old Picard when the new series comes along. "Patrick was very clear to us in the beginning. He did not want to repeat what he had already done," Kurtzman teased at the TCA winter press tour. "And by the way, it's been 20-plus years, so he couldn't possibly be that same person anymore. And so the question becomes: What has happened to him in that period of time? Have there been occurrences that force 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? Those are the big questions that we're asking."
One of the biggest changes for Picard will be the fact that he is no longer part of Starfleet, for better and for worse. "Because he's no longer in Starfleet, he no longer carries the weight of that behind him," Kurtzman told Entertainment Weekly in July. "In some ways, it's easier to be [a great man] when you're a captain. But it's an entirely different thing when you don't have an army behind you. When you want to get something done and fight an injustice, how do you do that when you're really only one man?"
However, Kurtzman also promised that the character won't be rendered unrecognizable to fans. "It was terribly important to us that he remains fundamentally Picard," he said. At the same time, his sense of "morality and leadership" will be "put ... to the test" in the new series.
Watch the official trailer, released during Comic-Con, below.
He will go back into space: Kurtzman hinted to EW that despite the character changes ahead, fans should still expect to see Picard don his space suit again in the new series. "Events began to unfold that conspire to take Picard back to the stars," he explained. However, the producer also warned that Picard's next extraterrestrial adventure will "not [happen] in a way that anyone expects."
Acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon will serve as showrunner: Chabon is one of the key people helping to build the Picard series. In addition to executive producing and working closely with other producers on day-to-day production, the long-time Trekkie will now take the helm of the series.
"Star Trek has been an important part of my way of thinking about the world, the future, human nature, storytelling and myself since I was 10 years old," said Chabon. "I come to work every day in a state of joy and awe at having been entrusted with the character and the world of Jean-Luc Picard, with this vibrant strand of the rich, intricate and complex tapestry that is Trek."
Kurtzman previously said at TCA that he's been a fan of Chabon's work since he read The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay on his honeymoon almost 20 years ago. "I stalked him, and to my great delight found that he didn't require any stalking. I talk to him every day; I talk to him several times a day as we build this thing," Kurtzman said. "His voice has been really critical. He's so brilliant. He's so thoughtful. He truly understands the core of what Trek is and what Picard and Next Generation is specifically. He is one of the many wonderful voices in the room."
Expect the format to be different: Showrunner Michael Chabon confirmed to EW that Star Trek: Picard won't be an episodic space drama like Next Gen but will instead be a serialized series in the vein of CBS All Access's other Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery.
The destruction of Romulus will play into the series: Chabon also said that the failed mission will be one of the things that continues to "haunt" Picard in the new series.
Stewart is guiding the train about what's right for the character: Stewart reportedly told Kurtzman and the writers, "I want you 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." Kurtzman said the writers are prioritizing thinking about Picard's feelings and perspective, but ultimately Stewart has the say in what feels correct.
"We feel confident that we're making choices that he would be happy with and is happy with because ultimately he's a producer on the show, too, and he gets as much of a say," Kurtzman said at TCA.
The pilot has found its history-making director: Hanelle Culpepper has been selected to direct the first two episodes of the series, breaking ground as the first female director to launch a new Star Trek series in franchise history. Culpepper previously helmed two episodes of Discovery.
"Hanelle is a gifted and dynamic filmmaker whose directorial choices are always deeply rooted in character," Kurtzman said in a statement. "I've been a huge fan of her work since she started with us on Discovery and she's the perfect person to re-introduce the beloved character of Picard to longtime fans and new viewers alike. We're thrilled she's joining our Trek family on this next adventure."
The series has enlisted some other familiar faces: Big Little Lies hunk Santiago Cabrera and Blindspot's Michelle Hurd have been added as series regulars, but details about who they're playing remain tightly under wraps. The cast will also include American Horror Story: Cult's Alison Pill, Hamilton alum Isa Briones, and Penny Dreadful's Harry Treadaway. Meanwhile, Next Gen star Jonathan Frakes has been tapped to direct two episodes of the first season. He'll also appear on the show (as Commander William T. Riker), as will Brent Spiner (as Data), Jeri Ryan (as Seven of Nine), and Jonathan Del Arco (as Hugh). Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) will also make an appearance in the new series.
Picard is a hybrid of Discovery and Next Generation: CBS All Access boss Julie McNamara told journalists at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in August that Picard will feel like Star Trek: Discovery in some ways, but like Next Generation in others.
"In production, sort of size and scope, [Picard] is more like Discovery. In the nature of the characters and the storytelling, [Picard] is more like Next Generation," she said. "We're a number of years later so there's some shift in the storytelling. I think it's a nice hybrid of the two."
CBS All Access has unveiled the official key art. It's Picard and his dog, No. 1. Cute.
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)