Brainiac on Banjo #006: To Boldly Return… Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah

Saturday, August 4, 2018. A momentous day for many, but an Earth-shattering day for Star Trek fans. You see, in Las Vegas this past Saturday Patrick Stewart announced he was returning to the role that made him famous and Paramount very wealthy, Jean-Luc Picard.

Okay. First, the news part. The new show, evidently untitled and certainly unwritten, is set 20 years in Captain Picard’s future. Therefore, he’s older in body and in attitude. He’s seen a lot of stuff he can never unsee. So… how does this relic (I’m referring to Picard and not to Stewart) adjust to his environment? Does he charge out into the universe, sword in hand, screaming for Cardassian blood? I know I would. Hell, I might even do so yet.  

Does he step out of a phonebooth wearing a long scarf and a head-to-toes wool coat? No, that’s not likely. Tom Baker is six years older than Stewart. The insurance people wouldn’t stand for that.

No, he’ll probably start with some “hey, kids, get off of my lawn” scenes (to which I can relate) and then slowly discover that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. Although, being faithful to the character, the teacher probably won’t be a puppy.

This new show (Star Trek: Old Man Picard?) will join Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All-Access, the surprisingly successful pay-for-stream service that, according to published reports, has hit the eight million subscribers level a full year ahead of projections and similarly has been a boon to torrent downloaders across the universe. Sure, the channel is not quite a one-trick pony but I’m certain whomever winds up running CBS by the time this show airs will want something to entertain all those Trekkers during some of the 37 weeks Discovery isn’t airing new shows.

Fans who are tired of speculating about the inevitable Avengers / X-Men / Fantastic Four crossovers have something new for their prognosticating pleasures. Who from the greater Star Trek universe will guest on the new Picard series? I’m sure William Shatner’s agent already had been on the phone to executive producer Alex Kurtzman (and, doubtlessly, Shat’s horse has been on the horn as well), and tradition suggests Jonathan Frakes probably will direct an episode or two – when he’s not busy with that other really great Star Trek show, The Orville. I can’t imagine the Old Man Picard show going long without a seriously articulate yet probably evil Cardassian around. But, really, I want to see something new that doesn’t involve continuity implants.

Fanboy that I am, a crossover with The Orville would be amusing. Picard would walk onto the bridge and just automatically sit in Captain Mercer’s chair, annoying the Orville captain to no end but probably pleasing his ex-wife, Commander Grayson. But I doubt Kurtzman and Seth MacFarlane would survive the intensely bullshit meetings between CBS and Disney to make it so.

Of course, I’d love to see Whoopi Goldberg return. Her character Guinan was just about the only one who could out-wisdom Picard. For that matter, I’d also like to see Dixon Hill pick up his gat. Maybe the aged Picard might believe he actually is Dixon Hill by now.

All this is welcome news. It’s not another prequel (and despite liking Discovery, I loathe the concept of prequels), it’s not an alternate universe where the media is not the enemy and we elect people of intelligence and responsibility, and – I hope – it’s not being done in order to “correct” the mistakes of the original Next Generation series. It’s about Picard, and his character was sufficiently conceived to allow for this type of revisit.

Oh, and before you start flaming me with corrections, yes I know in Britain it’s Sir Patrick Stewart. That’s swell. There’s a lot to be said for tradition. But as an anti-monarchist, it won’t be said by me. Patrick Stewart has spent a lifetime entertaining me before the appellation, and that’s all I need.