In case you missed it last night, it's been confirmed after months of speculation that Patrick Stewart is reprising his role as Jean-Luc Picard in a brand-new series set after 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and the final movie of that series, 'Star Trek: Nemesis'.
In a statement released shortly after the news was announced on stage in Las Vegas by Stewart and executive producer Alex Kurtzman, the veteran actor explained that "when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course."
"It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over. During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership."
"I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more."
So, that's the official statement. What do we know about the story and when's it going to be available? From reports from people who were actually at Las Vegas when it was announced, Stewart said that the series will be set "twenty years" after the events of 'Star Trek: Nemesis', the final movie to feature Picard. That movie essentially left Picard on an open-ended setting. The USS Enterprise-E had been destroyed, Riker was promoted to Captain and given command of the the USS Titan, Data had sacrificed himself (and died) for the crew, and Picard was essentially left standing on the wreckage of the bridge, unsure of what happens next.
Stewart cautioned the audience in Las Vegas, saying that Picard may not be the same man they knew and that "he may not be a Captain anymore," which could mean he's either now an Admiral or that he's retired from Starfleet and living in France, sort of like the final episode of the series, 'All Good Things...', which followed a senile Picard as he jumped through time trying to stop a galaxy-destroying spatial anomaly that was originally created by Q as a means of wiping out sentient life as we know it.
In that episode, the elderly Picard was totally different from the man people had seen for seven seasons. He was angry and dismissive of people, unsure of himself, regularly jumping to conclusions - basically everything that he wasn't as a relatively younger man. While that episode was basically a cautionary tale and didn't constitute what would happen, it's still worth mentioning in speculation.
Another point is the creative team behind the series is Kirsten Beyer, who's a member of the writer's room for 'Star Trek: Discovery' and wrote several tie-in novels for 'Star Trek: Voyager', and had a correspondence with Jeri Ryan, who was one of the lead producers on 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and was the co-creator of 'Star Trek: Voyager'. Beyer's involvement definitely speaks to an adherence to the source material, but thematically and in terms of canonicity. This tracks with what Stewart said about the series, who praised the efforts of the writers in maintaining the legacy of 'The Next Generation', and said that "(it) will be exactly as it was before."
The final point about all of this is that it's still very, very early days yet and there's no telling when this will reach screens. Most likely for us on this side of the Atlantic, it'll most likely be added to Netflix ala 'Star Trek: Discovery', but that still remains to be seen. Michael Dorn has been pitching a television series based on his character, Worf, for a few years now so it wouldn't be surprising if he had an episode or two in this series, and given how everyone else in the series speaks so fondly of their time on 'The Next Generation', who's to say we won't see any of them return either?