Jean-Luc Picard isn’t the only Next Generation alum to make his return in Star Trek: Picard… but he almost was.
Patrick Stewart will be joined by his old TNG co-stars Brent Spiner (Data), Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Troi) on the CBS All Access series, debuting this Thursday, Jan. 23, but the producers were careful not to turn Picard into a pure nostalgia fest. In fact, “there were even times when we seriously discussed that we should not bring any of the Next Generation cast back,” Stewart tells TVLine, in order to make sure Picard stood on its own two feet, narratively speaking. (The series catches up with Jean-Luc nearly two decades after 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, as his peaceful life on a French vineyard is rocked by the arrival of a mysterious young woman played by Isa Briones.)
Of course Picard aims to satisfy Trek fans who can’t wait to see Jean-Luc and his pals together again, but “we want to be really, really gratifying to someone who’s seen every episode [of TNG], and to someone who has never seen a one,” executive producer Akiva Goldsman cautions. So “we made a point not to bring back any legacy characters that didn’t organically tell this story,” EP Heather Kadin adds. “Which is why, unfortunately, you don’t have Michael Dorn as Worf, and you don’t have [LeVar Burton as] Geordi. Otherwise, we keep joking it’d be The Next Next Generation.”
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But they did end up including several TNG alums in Season 1 because, as Stewart says, “I think we all realized that we were missing opportunities, particularly in the case of Data, who, although you don’t see him very much, plays a role in the entire season. A very important one, too.” And with Picard already renewed for a second season, Stewart looks forward to possibly reuniting the entire Enterprise-D crew at some point, including Dorn, Burton and Gates McFadden, who played Dr. Beverly Crusher: “I hope we will meet all of the principal characters from Next Generation eventually.”
Stay tuned to TVLine all week long for more sneak peeks at Star Trek: Picard, ahead of Thursday’s series premiere.