Star Trek is one of the longest-running entertainment franchises in American history, as the first episode of the original series aired in 1966 and the franchise continues in various forms to this day. Over the decades, the franchise has enjoyed tremendous success among the general public and has spawned a tremendous number of die-hard fans, leading to several television series and more than a dozen feature films. One of the most celebrated iterations of the Star Trek formula is the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which ran from 1987 to 1994 and starred Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who commanded the USS Enterprise on its missions through space. The series enjoyed widespread critical acclaim for its tackling of serious philosophical and political questions, as well as its fantastical science-fiction setting. And now, the story of Star Trek: The Next Generation continues with Star Trek: Picard, the first episode of which premieres exclusively on CBS All Access on January 23rd.
Sir Patrick Stewart, now 79 years old, reprises his role as Picard in an environment set twenty years after the events of The Next Generation. In this follow-up series, Picard has retired from his life as a starship captain, and lives in a society that has deteriorated dramatically relative to the one depicted in the series’ predecessor. Judging by the trailer released to promote the new series, Star Trek: Picard looks to have much higher production values than its predecessor, and looks to be filled with action-packed scenes in a variety of settings. Sir Patrick Stewart originally did not wish to reprise his role as Picard, as he had felt that the franchise had explored the character enough and that he didn’t have anything to add to the character. However, the show-runners eventually convinced Stewart by showing him the proposed script for the series, which takes the character and indeed the franchise in new and surprising directions.
This is not the first time CBS has created a new Star Trek series. In 2014, CBS launched its own streaming video service to compete with the likes of Amazon and Netflix. The service saw little success until the release of Star Trek: Discovery, which led to a record number of sign-ups. Star Trek: Discovery received positive reviews from critics for its first and second seasons, though fans criticized the series from straying too far from narrative elements established previously in the franchise. Evidently, the success of Star Trek: Discovery inspired CBS to invest even further into the Star Trek franchise, inspiring Star Trek: Picard, which appears to take a unique spin on the Star Trek formula and is sure to delight fans of The Next Generation.
Star Trek: Picard will stream exclusively on CBS All Access, with new episodes being released on a weekly basis. Fans will need to purchase a CBS All Access subscription in order to watch the series, though CBS offers a one-week free trial. If Star Trek: Picard proves to be successful, as it appears that it will, CBS All Access may join the ranks of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus as top-tier streaming video services. Although the first season of the series has not yet premiered, CBS has already ordered a second season for the series, and Sir Patrick Stewart went on the TV show The View not only to promote the show but to invite fellow Star Trek alum Whoopi Goldberg to return for the show’s second season, which she happily and tearfully accepted.