It’s not often that a major new TV series features in its title role a lead actor approaching their eightieth year. But that’s exactly what the US network CBS has done with the latest excursion into the Star Trek franchise.
Veteran British actor Sir Patrick Stewart (who is 80 in 2020) will reprise the role of Jean-Luc Picard, who was captain of the USS Enterprise through seven TV seasons of ‘Star Trek - the Next Generation’ and several movies. It’s 17 years since he last pulled on his phaser, in ‘Star Trek - Nemesis’.
Details of the new CBS series, ‘Star Trek: Picard’ have been revealed at a convention in California. It is set around 20 years on from the events of ‘Nemesis’; Jean-Luc has retired from Star Fleet, and is running the family vineyard in France, along with his faithful dog (called Number One).
The series’ executive producer Alex Kurtzman told the Los Angeles Times, “The mandate was to make it a more psychological show, a character study about this man in his emeritus years.”
Kurtzman says there are so few shows that allow a significantly older protagonist to be the driver, and promises that the series will be slower, and more meditative.
He says Sir Patrick is ‘incredibly brilliant’, and that the veteran actor said he only wanted to take part in the series if it broke new ground. “I don’t want to just play the character I played, why come back to that? We did that already.”
In the series, Jean Luc has left Star Fleet after becoming disillusioned - and is called back into action to face his old enemies, the Romulans, and the Borg.
Star Trek is regarded as the most influential science fiction TV series in history, with a value estimated at US$4 billion in 2006, the most recently available figure.
The series will finish filming in October, but Sir Patrick has already said he would be ‘absolutely’ ready to do a second season.
‘Star Trek: Picard’ will be launched on the CBS All Access streaming website early next year, and will be available to Australian viewers on the Amazon Prime website.