While promoting tonight’s episode of Star Trek: Short Treks, writer and executive producer Michael Chabon also spoke about his work on the unnamed Jean-Luc Picard series, and the responsibilities he feels now that he is crafting Star Trek history.
Chabon seeking spaces in canon for Picard series
Speaking to CNET, in addition to talking about Short Treks, Micheal Chabon spoke about the show that has everyone talking, the unnamed Jean-Luc Picard series featuring the return of Sir Patrick Stewart. Little is known about the show, but Chabon did talk about his approach to the canon of Star Trek, saying:
Any Star Trek writer, any writing room on any Star Trek show after, let’s say, The Original Series had a responsibility to consider canon, to know your canon. Just speaking for me, that’s an incredible pleasure — to have a legitimate excuse, and get paid, to nerd out completely!
At the same time, and this is true when you’re dealing with any kind of canon, there’s always gaps. There are cracks. There are contradictions. There are mysteries that we never got to hear the explanation of, when people allude to things in canon and don’t give any further explanation. Maybe the greatest example in all canon ever is the giant rat of Sumatra from Sherlock Holmes. Fans and writers ever since have tried to come up with possible explanations for that. So I think it’s important not just to view canon as a barrier, as a perimeter beyond which you can’t go, a kind of a grid that you’re trapped on. You try to find the loopholes. You find the empty areas. You find the things the canon doesn’t seem to have anything to say, and you say it.
And if you’re really lucky and you get to be working on a Star Trek show then what you say becomes canon itself!
Focusing on the ideals of Trek
In addition to seeing how he has a responsibility to Star Trek canon, Chabon also spoke about his responsibility to hold up the ideals of Trek, saying:
Now that I’m working on the show and now that I’m part of Star Trek, I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure that the current model is true to the ideals of the original show, the ideas of tolerance and egalitarianism. Obviously, you look at the way women are represented on The Original Series, and that show fell far short of its stated ideals of egalitarianism, although at least they did have women in some positions of responsibility. But I think we have this responsibility to continue to articulate a hopeful, positive vision of the future. I think if anything that’s more important now than it was when The Original Series came out. It was really important then, and it had a profound impact, socially, with Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise, and this message that we can think our way out of our most primitive violent instincts.
To me, dystopia has lost its bite. A, we’re living in it, and B, it’s such a complete crushing series of cliches at this point. The tropes have all been worked and reworked so many times. There was a period where a positive, optimistic, techno-future where mankind learns to live in harmony and goes out into the stars just to discover and not to conquer, that was an overworked trope. But that is no longer the case. A positive vision of the future articulated through principles of tolerance and egalitarianism and optimism and the quest for scientific knowledge, to me that’s feels fresh nowadays.
Picard is a hero for today
The writer and executive producer also sees freshness in Star Trek: The Next Generation, agreeing that Jean-Luc Picard is the hero we need today:
Yes, Captain Picard is the hero we need right now. He exemplifies in some ways even more then James Kirk — and I’m not gonna get into the Kirk vs Picard argument because I love Captain Kirk, he was my first captain — but Picard is even more of an exemplar of everything that is best about Star Trek’s vision for the future.
… And he wasn’t such a hound dog as Captain Kirk.
Keep up with all the news on the Picard show and other upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at TrekMovie.com.