Mega-producer Akiva Goldsman has a lot of say about the new era of Star Trek, which stands to reason as he’s one of the people making it. And he’s revealed that the show that eventually became Picard wasn’t supposed to be a show in the first place — hell, it wasn’t even supposed to include Patrick Stewart.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Goldsman expressed his excitement over Trek’s return to episodic storytelling in the upcoming Strange New Worlds series, his disappointment with The Dark Tower movie, the next adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter, and much more. But he has the most interesting things to say about Picard, including its genesis.
“You know, Picard wasn’t supposed to be a series,” Goldsman revealed. “It was just a one-off scene in a Short Trek. He wasn’t even going to be played by Patrick Stewart. They were going to have a young Picard at the end of a short we were making up. Then [executive producer] Alex [Kurtzman] was like, ‘What if it was Patrick Stewart? … What if it wasn’t one scene?’ Alex has a plan, and it’s pretty cool.”
That’s a hell of a jump from what seems to be the epilogue of a 10-minute short to the entirety of a 10-episode season of TV, with more on the way. But perhaps that’s why Picard ran into such storytelling problems, especially there at the end. Goldsman is incredibly candid about this in the interview; when asked what he learned from making Picard’s first season, he replied, “Figure out the end earlier. If you’re going to do a serialized show, you have the whole story before you start shooting. It’s more like a movie in that way — you better know the end of your third act before you start filming your first scene.” Which is something you’d think most mega-producers would already know, but then again Lucasfilm made the Star Wars sequel trilogy without ever having a plan on where the story was going to go, so apparently it’s a lesson few in Hollywood have learned.
As for the new body Picard received after dying in the season one finale, rest assured that the major plot contrivance is a major plot contrivance and nothing more. Goldsman confirms that it will have no bearing in season two and beyond. Basically, it was just a way to allow the show to emotionally manipulate the audience by killing off the character, then immediately and conveniently undoing it so they could make the next season. (Sorry to be bitter, but the Picard finale still annoys us.)
The whole interview is worth a read if you have the time. You have at least until next year, when Picard season two is planned to debut.