Star Trek: Picard was changed because Paramount thought it was "too in-Star Trek"

The second season of Star Trek: Picard is easily the worst-rated among fans. Now we have an idea of why. Things were chaotic behind the scenes.
Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.
Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved. /

Paramount+ is going all in on the Star Trek franchise, producing several new shows in the series in the past seven years, including Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy, with more on the way. Clearly, Paramount+ wants people to get excited about Star Trek, but striking the right tone with all of these shows can be tricky business, especially when there are so many to juggle.

Just look at the example of Star Trek: Picard, which picks up with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) years after the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Speaking on his his Master Replicas Collectors Club Zoom, executive producer Terry Matalas talked about some the behind-the-scenes challenges, starting with pressures from Paramount+ to bring down costs. Matalas suggested a storyline where the cast time traveled back to our time, which would save money on building complicated sets. The idea was immediately accepted. “This was all day one,” Matalas said, according to

Even then, the season went through many permutations before they settled on the final shape. “There’s actually many, many different versions of season 2. I think you can kind of feel when you watch season 2 that there’s a lot of different ideas here," Matalas said. “We wrote nine episodes at one point and the network was like, ‘No, we don’t really understand this, it’s a bit too sci-fi, it’s a bit too in-Star Trek.’”

"There were Romulans—there was a whole thing. The idea was that Guinan’s bar was presented as a normal bar in Los Angeles, but if you knew the right thing to do, you could go into the back through the telephone phone booth and that was Rick’s Café [from Casablanca] and it was a stopping point for all these different species that were actually there on Earth with a ‘Do not interfere’ thing happening. So you had a lot more Star Trek happening in the backdrop of it. Ultimately, the powers that be at that time were like, ‘This is too much.’ But there were some really good ideas there that were pretty cool."

The idea that a season of a Star Trek show could be "too in-Star Trek" is kind of wild at face value, although we could give the executives the benefit of the doubt and say that what they meant was "too confusing." Still, they aren't due the benefit of the doubt, so if you'd rather take it as evidence that the exercutives at Paramount don't understand the series, no one's going to stop you. In any case, of the three seasons of Picard, the second has far the away the worst ratings among fans, so the back-and-forth didn't help matters.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy show "could end up not airing until 2026"

Making a Star Trek show that isn't "too" Star Trek might be something that the execs talk about a lot. Fans may not like it, but Paramount wants as many eyeballs on these shows as possible, and it might think that boiling out the complexity and quirkiness may help it appeal to a wider audience.

Watch out for this in future Trek shows like Starfleet Academy, which will feature a cast of mostly younger cadets learning how to brave the cosmos. "You have to make sure that you are also pleasing people who have been around and are die-hard 'TOS' fans, die-hard 'Next Gen' fans, whatever iteration of 'Trek' is yours," producer Alex Kurtzman told Collider. "You cannot alienate those people. You actually also have to invite them to the tent. So the challenge is how do you do that while also bringing 'Trek' to a new generation of fans that have no experience with those shows, has never watched those shows? So you need to make a show that you can drop into if you don’t know anything about 'Star Trek,' but also a show that you can get a tremendous amount out of if you have all of that canonical history."

For the record, we shouldn't expect to be watching Starfleet Academy anytime soon. "It could end up not airing until 2026. We don’t know," Kurtzman said. "But by starting [shooting in late summer], just building the sets alone is a massive endeavor, then six months of shooting, then six to eight months of post...So, it’ll come out, but it’ll come out when it’s done."

The next Trek shing on the horizon is the fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery, which will start airing new episodes of April 4.

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