By Ani Bundel

Star Trek: Picard panel
Star Trek: Picard panel at NYCC 2019

The Star Trek: Picard panel blew the audience away ay New York Comic Con this weekend with a second brand new trailer for the series, which included a release date: Jan. 23, 2020, on CBS All Access. Introduced by Sir Patrick Stewart himself, the new look at the show included the first glimpses of both Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis).

And then they played it a second time. (Hey, it went over super well at San Diego Comic-Con, because everyone got the cheering out of their system, and watched more closely the second time through. If it ain’t broke, do it again.)

Alex Kurtzman talked frankly about the process that led to the creation of this show. Picard represents a different choice for CBS All-Access, pulling from The Next Generation canon instead of the Original Series, and bringing back a starring character played by the original actor. Not that Stewart was interested when first pitched.

It all started with the Short Treks, a series of small, stand-alone stories that semi-connect to the larger whole. (They also help keep interest up in Star Trek during the long gaps between seasons.) The initial thought in the writer’s room as they tossed around ideas was to do a Picard-centric short. Would Stewart come back for such a thing? And… why not go whole hog and ask for him to come back for a full new series?

Kurtzman knew Stewart had been saying “No” to the idea for years, but they made an appointment through his agent. Stewart came to the lunch, ready to politely and firmly say no. They told him their ideas, and he, politely but firmly, said no. Kurtzman thought that was the end of it, but his co-workers were not so ready to throw in the towel. Finally, Stewart sent a letter saying, “there were a few ideas” he liked, and could they send a short, four-page treatment?

They sent him 35 pages.

Even after bringing Stewart in with their ideas and enthusiasm, the show’s writers have been super careful with everything they’ve done with the new series. Fans may be super excited to see Data (Brent Spiner) and others from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But bringing back these legacy characters has been a process. Stewart didn’t want the show to turn into “TNG Reunion” for reunion’s sake. Each character had a specific reason for their appearance in the show. But since Picard does have deep emotional ties to some of these people, they are here for those emotional beats.

That being said, even with the appearance of characters from TNG and Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager, this is not a show that’s “for fans only.” You don’t have to have seen a single minute of The Next Generation, or really any Star Trek, to be able to get into the story they’re telling.

Star Trek: Picard will run for 10 episodes starting in January on CBS All Access.