Michael Chabon Feels Responsibility To The Canon And Ideals Of Star Trek For Jean-Luc Picard Series

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!

Michael Chabon - Star Trek: Discovery

Michael Chabon on set for his Star Trek: Short Treks episode “Calypso” (Photo: Instagram/Michael Chabon)

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.

Patrick Stewart and the Picard show writers room in September (Photo: Twitter/Patrick Stewart)

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.

Captain Picard

Chabon sees Picard as a hero for today

 


Keep up with all the news on the Picard show and other upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at TrekMovie.com.

80
Leave a Reply

18 Comment threads
62 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
34 Comment authors
newest oldest
Kevin A Melbourne Australia

Can’t wait for this new series – Make it so!

Gary

With Chabon at the helm of a new Trek show starring Picard, I think a Trekker would have to be devoid of a pulse to not be experiencing some level of excitement.

Star Trek Fan

The Orville Season 2 is far more interesting

ML31

This Trekker is looking forward to S2 of The Orville more so than the Picard series. I’ll look at it. But I’m not jonesing for it. At all.

DuaneBoda

I’m sure he meant horn dog 🙄 I’d like to see Captain Picard once again

on the Stargazer as a ambassador of peace – plain common sense. Perhaps

bring back some of the TNG crew (no counselor Troi) as she’s equivalent to

Captain Kirks – Captain Dunzel. But also incorporate many of the feasible and

proven theories of today aboard as useful element. Government secrets brought

out – like a stage of facts and true betterment of mankind and where we stand or why it started.

mwz

I’m pretty sure he meant hound dog (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hound%20dog). This is Michael Chabon we’re talking about, he’s fairly good with words and such. :-)

The phrase “horn dog” was coined by someone who didn’t understand that there was already a phrase for what they were trying to say.

That phrase was “hound dog.”

Curious Cadet

@DuaneBoda — sure, just like Elvis Presley’s famous song … “You ain’t nothin’ but a horn dog…”!

Danpaine

Nice…

Jack

Sure, tell Michael Chabon what he means to say.

GarySeven

Chabon has bought into the popular myth that Kirk was this constant womanizer. People think that’s true only because that’s the popular misconception. Many analyses by people who study the show, and don’t just go along with the stereotype (like JJ Abrams did), realize the Kirk as horndog thing is overblown. I like Picard and what he had to say. But I think if he was around these days, he wouldn’t capture most people’s attention. Kirk would fare much better in these times.

El Chup

Yes, but don’t you see how sad your second from last sentence is? You’re basically saying we live in an era of culture of personality rather than intellectual discourse….and while you’d be right, it’s worth fighting against.

Corylea

You’re right! Kirk is SO different from his stereotype. Kirk does appreciate women, but most of Kirk’s seductions are intended to accomplish a mission-related goal, such as to distract the woman, to secure her help, to gain more information about the situation, to stall for time, and so on. For example, he kisses Andrea in “What Are Little Girls Made Of” to try to confuse her and to gain her loyalty. He flirts with Miri in the episode of the same name in order to soothe her fears and to get her on their side. He kisses Sylvia in “Catspaw” to try to get information out of her. He kisses Marlena in “Mirror, Mirror” partly to maintain his cover and partly to gain her as an ally. Kelinda in “By Any Other Name,” Shahana in “Gamesters of Triskelion” … the list of women Kirk seduces in order to further non-sexual ends goes on and on. Kirk often falls back on using his charisma as a tool when all of his other tools have been taken from him, and he and his crew are lucky that his charisma IS such a powerful tool. Much of the time, Kirk doesn’t even have a choice. Sylvia didn’t give him much choice. Deela in “Wink of an Eye” gave him NO choice, and Helen Noel was forced on him by Dr. Adams in “Dagger of the Mind.” Nona used a drug to seduce Kirk against his will in “A Private Little War,” and Elaan used her magic tears to seduce him against his will in “Elaan of Troyius.” Sargon and Thalassa use the bodies of Kirk and Ann Mulhall to make out in “Return to Tomorrow,” but Kirk isn’t kissing anybody. The number of women Kirk kisses both willingly and for non-mission-related goals is… Read more »

Danpaine

Funny, Corylea – I just made the same point below and happened to watch “What Are Little Girls Made Of” last night – small world.

Corylea

Glad I’m not the only one trying to correct this common misapprehension!

Marja

For the record, Corylea, I don’t think Kirk just kissed Marlena Moreau.

Michael Hall

TOS Kirk was what was commonly referred to in that era as “a ladies man.” Nu Kirk is a horn dog. There’s definitely a difference.

Danpaine

NuKirk was also younger when we saw him, when (at least in my experience), such encounters were more plentiful.

Michael Hall

Yes, but what little we know of the original version’s youth suggests that he was actually somewhat bookish and maybe even introverted, which is certainly more interesting and counterintuitive than the way he was portrayed in the 2009 movie.

Danpaine

Good point. I guess the way he acted in the 09′ film can be chalked up to ‘alt-universe’ Kirk (losing father, structure), as opposed to the more-centered, focused young Prime Kirk we’ve heard about, but you’re right, not much.

Land O'Calrissian

The analysis is faulty. Kirk WAS a horndog. That’s not debatable.

Michael Hall

Pro-tip: declaring something isn’t debatable does not mean, in fact, that it is not debatable.

Danpaine

…as it’s clearly being debated.

Corylea

He’s telling us that it’s not worth debating with HIM because his mind is closed. So he’s right, there. :-)

Star Trek Fan

You’ve never seen TOS, have you Land O?

El Chup

Chabon is saying the right words. It’s absolutely true that the dystopian trope is worn out and now is a time for uplifting, positive, meaningful Trek. That’s what Trek is at its best and what kept it going for decades.

Vulcan Soul

I guess he must really have a bone to pick with that dystopian show, Discovery. Oh wait…

El Chup

Ha ha. Yeah, I sort of expected someone would say that… ;)

100% agreed. If they stick to what he’s saying, that’s very exciting.

Danpaine

Absolutely.

Michael Hall

He was also correct, sad to say, that we’re living in one.

Danpaine

I have a post stuck in moderation where I said just that, he did nail it with that comment. We certainly are.

El Chup

Sadly. Idiocracy is rife.

ML31

If we are living in one now then we have been for centuries.

nasty man

Kirk was more a traditional hunk and therefore had more opportunities with beautiful women. Picard obviously an attractive man as well but not in that all American macho hunk way

Bamasi

OKAY! So this guy totally gets it! I’m even more excited for the unnamed Picard series and I wouldn’t have thought that was possible!!!

Andrea Stoeckel

Won’t matter to me. This whole new Star Trek realm is too pricey for a fixed income (aka: I refuse to pay for CBS ALL ACCESS). I just think it’s fascinating that the company who “abandoned” STTOS, is banking on it to now make money🤷🏼‍♀️

Danpaine

It is a very crowded playing field CBSAA has/is trying to enter into, and wait until late next year when Disney Plus comes out packing all Star Wars and Marvel and Disney content….that is going to be one popular streaming service, vying for the same consumer entertainment dollars CBS is.

ML31

Funny thing… And this shows how much of a Trek fan I am. The DC streaming service has more content I am interested in by far than CBSAA has. So does HBO. Yet I’m not rushing out to subscribe to either service. And I only had CBS for one month.

Gary

Honestly, I would totally donate $5.99 so that a Trekker (who wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay) would have access to the service for a month and be able to binge the season after it ends. Just knowing that I am able to help a fellow honest Trekker experience the joy of a new (hopefully quality) series is worth it to me.

Curious Cadet

@Andrea Stoeckel — huh? The company who “abandoned STTOS” is banking on it now? Paramount produced TOS, and it aired on NBC. NBC abandoned TOS. CBS on the other hand has never once abandoned TOS. They’ve been banking on it since they assumed control of the IP after the split with Paramount and Viacom.

Jack

Desilu produced TOS.

Disinvited

Curious Cadet,

Your point is well taken but “Paramount” never willingly took on STAR TREK and argued against it to the point that one could make a reasonable argument that they abandoned it before they ever got started with it to the point of actively participating in orchestrating the end of a series regarded as a financial albatross around it’s neck.

Star Trek Fan

Watch The Orville on TV instead of CBS’ cashgrab

Bassmaster22

Good. The last thing we need is to see Picard start off as a broken and sad man and watch a long and drawn out season of recovery. That too is a very boring and spent way of bringing back a character. When Stewart said that Picard might be a very different man, I assumed that meant dystopian Picard. We shall see. I’m not sure what else that would mean.

Michael Hall

Chabon was saying that Trek’s premise and it’s appeal lie in its optimistic take on the future, not that the individual characters couldn’t experience challenging times in their lives, as we all do. That’s just the essence of drama. I have no idea what they’re up to, but rejoining the character at a low moment in his life is a perfectly valid approach so long as it’s handled well.

Jack

Individuals aren’t dystopian. And a utopian future isn’t free of conflict, loss, suffering and tragedy.

ML31

I never felt it would be dystopian Picard. But I was hoping he would be “broken” in some way. TNG was best when Picard showed his flaws. Which, I’m sad to say, was very very rare.

Corylea

He’s saying all the right things! (Well, except for the “hound dog” comment about Kirk, but it’s such a common mistake that I’m willing to overlook that.)

The Recursion King

Here, here. Now there’s someone who gets it! :-)

Wehmut

What we need is someone telling us how humanity overcome poverty, currency and how they merged to one voice after world war 3 and the first contact. Thats the loopwhole I would like to see filled because it could be a role model for us today.

ML31

That will never get addressed because, let’s be honest, even considering transporters and faster than light speeds THAT is the most unreal aspect of Trek. Especially the currency part. Although it seems that currency was done away with somewhere between TOS and TNG.

Mark Calcagno

I feel like Kirk kissing 19 women in 79 episodes is a pretty hefty percentage. That comes out to almost 1 in 4 episodes where he gets the girl in one way or another. It’s not Chris Pine Kirk numbers, but it lends itself well to the hound dog stereotype.

Danpaine

Point taken, but just by coincidence, I watched “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” last night, and Kirk specifically kissed the female android as a means to make her malfunction, not just to get over on her. Out of those 19 times, a number of those encounters happened so he could gain an advantage over an opponent. Just saying.

Michael Hall

That said, I doubt Bill Shatner had to be forced at gunpoint to shoot that scene. He totally lost it for Sherry Jackson, as no doubt every male on the Paramount lot did that day.

Danpaine

Indeed. Check out the trivia about the episode on IMDB, it’s interesting.

Corylea

But Bill Shatner is a VERY different man from Jim Kirk! Just because an actor is a certain way, it doesn’t mean that the character he plays is.

Michael Hall

Oh, I get that. And I doubt that Kirk was much into getting it on with machines, however hot.

Disinvited

Michael Hall,

I think you are forgetting his love for Rayna, which was so powerful Spock had to mind-rape him into forgetting all about her and her discombobulation.

Corylea

Exactly!

Disinvited

Corylea,

Tell that to Methuselah and his do-it-yourself mail-order bride substitute.

Corylea

Nearly all of those kisses are for mission-related goals — to get the woman on his side, to stall for time, to get information out of her, and so on. Kirk uses his charisma as a tool when his phaser and communicator have been taken away from him, but that’s part of his skill set, not a sign that he’s a hound dog.

Jack

He’s still being a hound dog (and seducer), regardless of the reason.

Muldfeld

“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.”

He’s totally wrong about this. DS9 wasn’t dystopian; it was trying to be as realistic as possible and made for the best, most politically-challenging and relevant drama. (The causes of terrorism with Bajorans and issues around identity politics with Odo, to take two examples.) Every other series in the franchise has largely gone the way he’s proposing and they’re lesser for it!

MattR

He didn’t even say that DS9 was dystopian. You made that connection on your own. He’s talking about the current state of things anyway, where lots of sci-fi tends to be dystopian.

Tiger2

And even then DS9 was 20 years ago now. He’s clearly talking about today and all the brooding sci fi we have now, from Expanse to Dark Mirror.

DS9 was darker at times and more political, but it wasn’t dystopian.

Muldfeld

I seriously doubt he’s even WATCHED DS9, but I think the kinds of fiction termed dystopian are aimed at examining political issues or, at least, darker aspects of the story’s heroes — such as “Breaking Bad” or, as Jack said, “The Hunger Games”, which has lots of anti-colonialism themes. DS9 would be called dystopian in this light, just as Shatner once called it “dark and depressing.” I think that’s a good thing.

Marja

Muldfeld, I don’t think Chabon was talking specifically about any Trek show. I think he was referring to all the post-apocalyptic and zombie stuff that’s on now, whose attraction of mass audiences equally perplexes me.

Gary 8.5

Bingo.

Jack

Nobody, including Chabon, has called DS9 dystopian — Chabon isn’t talking about Trek being dystopian. Heard of the Hunger Games? (And myriad other YA fiction).

Dr Zaius

Another filler article that has a lot of talk but doesn’t say much.

Star Trek Fan

Fits with how STD is made

slider

Well done! Ha, ha!

Tiger2

This is EXACTLY the kinds of stuff Trek fans like me want to hear! That’s why TNG (and obviously Trek in general) was so popular, it was about a more hopeful future. TNG had plenty of conflict and nasty people in it but it was uplifting overall and characters like Picard embodies Trek in every positive way. He’s not perfect but he truly believes in the Federation ideals and that’s what a lot of people want a return of.

I knew nothing about this Chabon guy until he was announced to be involved with the Short Treks, but after seeing his episode and how he talks about the new show I do have a feeling we are getting back to basics, a show that’s TNG in spirit bringing back one of the franchise’s most iconic character heading into the 25th century! I can just imagine the possibilities now.

Star Trek Fan

You’re forgetting Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman are involved as well

Misty

Yes and they are soul crushing optimism killers. Lets hope that optimism wins out for once. I don’t want another Star Trek Discovery. I want real Trek.

Alec Grimes

Can we get a Captain Riker mini series after Picard ? He and his wife went off to their own ship at the conclusion of Nemesis.
They should have grown kids by now. The last generation film was released in 2002. So…if they followed real time…they may have a kid or kids that are 15 or 16. Of course in sci fi…you can age them up.
The good thing about the new Picard series….we will not get any appearances from Troi’s mother. Damn…she was irritating as all hell and a lousy actress to boot…never mind she was the wife of Gene.
She just sucked as an actress period. But do bring Troi in. Love me some Maria Sirtis.

Tiger2

My guess is you will at least see Riker and Troi on the show at some point. When I thought this was a mini-series I could sort of see not having any TNG characters on it if it was going to be 6-8 episode mini-series. Now that we know this is going to be a full on show like Discovery I expect a revolving door of every character they can get in the 24th century lol. Especially with this brain trust. They may not show up right away but yeah they will most likely show up at some point. If not the first season then maybe the second.

And who knows at the rate they are developing shows it’s not out of the realm of possibility there will be another TNG spin off in the future. CBS clearly wants all Trek all the time on AA now.

asd

I really like the attitude of all involved, especially about canon which has been humped recently

slider

Everyone who has been working on new Star Trek properties have said the exact same type of things and look how those turned out. Stop talking and show me you mean it!