The recent announcement by Patrick Stewart, Britain’s veteran stage and movie actor, that he is returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard, the iconic lead character from the late 1980s’ television show Star Trek: The Next Generation, has ignited a lot of online comment among science-fiction fans and publications. The general consensus seems to be that a Star Trek spin-off featuring Stewart could act as a much needed lifeline for the rather troubled TV and film franchise, which has suffered considerable harm through the rancorous debates over its latest small screen incarnation, CBS’ costly if largely mediocre Star Trek Discovery.
However, there is far more to Stewart’s statement than meets the eye and far more at stake than the reputation of Gene Roddenberry’s long-lasting television creation. Concerns about complex franchise licences and finances, coupled with personal rivalries and corporate politics, seem to be the primary motivators behind the new proposals for a one-man ST:TNG reboot. The YouTube channel, Midnight’s Edge, has done an admirable job of explaining what is really going on behind the PR front that has been erected by the American broadcasting network CBS and its struggling online affiliate, CBS All Access.