Since the announcement that Captain (apparently now an Admiral) Picard would be returning to the small screen, I have found myself getting increasingly excited about the return of the Captain that, in many ways, I grew up with. However, if you asked a much younger Mr. DAPs who his favorite captain was growing up, Captain Picard wouldn’t have been the answer… However, today I find myself more excited than ever about Star Trek and where it is going! Let’s take a look where my journey as a Star Trek fan began, where it went, and why I’m so excited today shall we?
The Origins of a Star Trek Fan
Growing up as a child and youth of the 80s and 90s, Captain Kirk was who it was all about. Of course, this wasn’t the Captain Kirk as seen in Star Trek: The Original Series, it was the Captain Kirk seen in the movies. I had only seen a couple of Original Series episode at the time. Because Captain Kirk was on the big screen in the early 90s, there was a bigger production value, with bigger adventures, bigger stories, and in general it just seemed like he was a bigger deal. Oh, and then there was the Enterprise! NCC-1701 A was the ship he captained throughout the movies. It was a beautiful ship. I still think to today that it is the most beautiful ship that has been designed throughout the history of Star Trek.
Really, it was a love of the movies with the Original Series cast that led to my love of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I saw the movies over and over again but found myself wanting more. As I looked around, I discovered there was a new Captain with a new crew on a new Enterprise! This new version was familiar yet different. It was weird at times but always intriguing. Captain Picard was definitely the Captain but completely unlike the Captain Kirk I had grown up with. He wasn’t rash and prone to breaking rules on a whim. Instead he was more measured and approached conflict with wisdom instead of instinct. It was different and honestly I didn’t entirely know what to think of him.
The Heyday of Star Trek
The mid nineties led to the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation ending up on the big screen. In many respects, the 90s and very early 2000s were the heyday of Star Trek. There was a LOT to love! It now seemed like there were two main captains in the Star Trek universe. Conversations inevitably developed and grew to disagreements over who was the best captain. For many fans, there were more than two main captains even as Captains Janeway, Sisko, and Archer arrived on the small screen. Obviously, with discussions about who is the best captain, no clear cut resolution ever happened. It really wasn’t about the resolution though, it was about the discussion and the disagreement. Through this, we learned what it really means to be geeks in a fandom. It isn’t about being right, it’s about the discussion and exploring thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes these changed thoughts and beliefs, other times it solidified them.
As time went by, my love of Star Trek continued to grow. I resonate with its optimistic lens of what the future will be like. I like that success is achieved through people coming together for a common greater good. I like how all of it is about making the universe a better place for everyone who lives there and that means we have to make ourselves better as well. It is a very positive worldview that it promotes in the midst of some very tough situations that are presented.
In 2002 with Star Trek: Nemesis we said goodbye to Captain Picard and the crew of the now Enterprise-E. It soon became apparent that this would be the last time we saw this crew. While there were other Star Trek TV shows and crews that had been presented by then, it wasn’t quite the same. Their stories all wrapped up by the end of their series in a way that really didn’t necessitate the transition to the big screen. It also just seemed like there wasn’t much of an appetite for more Star Trek just about anywhere. A reboot came a few years later with a new version of the Original Series crew and while it was good, it didn’t connect with me in the same way as the Star Trek releases that had come before.
Star Trek: Discovery
Fast forward several more years and a show called Star Trek: Discovery was announced for CBS All Access. As like many other Star Trek fans, I was cautiously optimistic. I watched the first season of the show and thought it was ok but it didn’t connect with me at the heart like other shows had before. That is, until the end of the first season. Something began to happen at the end of the first season that had me suddenly feeling something inside. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was feeling but I just got this inkling that we were on the cusp of something that felt like the Star Trek I had originally fallen in love with as a kid. I recognize that this is completely subjective as I write this but, my instincts weren’t wrong. Spoiler alert at this point, if you haven’t seen all of Star Trek: Discovery or haven’t been online in the last year or two following Star Trek developments, you might want to skip down past the picture of Jean-Luc Picard I’m posting below.
As the first season of Star Trek: Discovery ended my instincts proved to be well founded. The season ended by bringing in an old fan favorite the Enterprise to the story. With it, they connected with many fans from the past. As season two came, we discovered this wasn’t just to give lip service to this beloved ship. Instead, it was to utilize her current captain in the story of the second season. The second season tied into so many different things both new and old in the Star Trek timeline. It also turned me from a regular watcher of Star Trek: Discovery into an outright fan. For the first time in nearly two decades, it felt like Star Trek was going somewhere and that journey is one I wanted to be following! The season solidified this for me as it connected with elements of Star Trek I was familiar with and loved while also moving the story forward. It also led to me really hoping for another series focused around Captain Pike and his crew of the Enterprise, which takes place before Captain Kirk’s five year mission. The most important thing that happened though was it reassured me that Star Trek was now in good hands.
Picard and the Future of Star Trek
Star Trek is being guided by the hands of Alex Kurtzman. He arrived in the Star Trek universe via the reboot movies in 2009 in the Kelvin timeline. It is on the small screen though where I really think he will be recognized for leaving his mark on the Star Trek story in the long run. He is leading the CBS All Access efforts to bring Star Trek to many different fans in many different ways. This means new live-action shows, new animated shows, and even the new Short Treks! Everything I have seen so far has been enjoyable, even though there are many different styles of storytelling utilized. And at a much bigger picture, Kurtzman is leading Star Trek in a way that mirrors the way Marvel has been led. That is to say, it’s all connected. This is a very good thing.
Kurtzman is also the man who has brought Jean-Luc Picard back to the small screen. To say this is a risk would be massively understating things. This show is bringing a much older Picard back into the forefront of the Star Trek universe. In fact, Picard is 92 years old during the events of the first season! As more has been revealed about the show, it seems like there is a very careful path being taken. It is a storyline that will take a much older Picard who has been affected by time and the events that has happened into a new adventure unlike any that has gone before. It will be a lot different, and one would expect that. However, there are also a lot of connections to the past. Jean-Luc Picard won’t be the only familiar face that returns. There will be others as well. There will also be a lot of new faces and a new environment that Picard will be working in. There will also be new foes it appears, or perhaps a new incarnation of some former foes.
All this leads to where I find myself today. It is the week of the arrival of Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access. I’m finding myself in constant conversations with friends about this new show. We are speculating about what will happen to Picard and other former members of the crew of his Enterprise. We are analyzing every frame of every trailer trying to glean something about what could be going on that pulls Picard out of retirement and the dangers he will be facing.
There is a lot of uncertainty about what will be happing in Jean-Luc Picard’s future and that is where the excitement comes from! The track record that Alex Kurtzman and his team have been building with Star Trek: Discovery and the Short Treks have built a trust that can let fans speculate, debate, and opine about the future of Star Trek in a happy way. This is because we know that Star Trek is in good hands. In many ways, right now feels very much like it felt in the 90s when I was a kid and always had something new to look forward to in the world of Star Trek. It is very exciting and I’m very thankful for it!
Since the first time Star Trek: The Original Series appeared on screen fans have been hearing about the mission “to boldly go where no man” has gone before. This eventually became “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” After over five decades, Star Trek continues to boldly go forward with new stories in new places and further this mission. With these new adventures and missions will come many new discussions, viewpoints, and opinions. I can’t wait to discuss them with my friends and continue to build on that geekdom.
One final thought about my excitement and optimism about Star Trek: Picard and the future of Star Trek. Star Trek has always been about a diverse group of people coming from different backgrounds and beliefs coming together for the betterment of everyone. As fans, we should reflect these principles. We all do come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs and viewpoints. These should be embraced and celebrated. This doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. There will be things that we like and other things we dislike. However, rather than hating others for their differences, let’s take a lesson from Star Trek and instead embrace peoples’ differences. For they are what lead to new ideas, new stories, and quite often new friendships! Fandom should always build others up, not tear down.
The future of Star Trek is bright. I can’t wait for Thursday to watch Star Trek: Picard. I also can’t wait for what else is in store for us as Star Trek fans! What do you think about the future of Star Trek? Are you excited for the return of Jean-Luc Picard? Share your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.