Star Trek: Picard wasn’t planned
Star Trek: Picard will debut its second season next year, and though some fans don’t care for the darker series which stars Patrick Stewart, the overall reception has been positive enough that it was renewed for two seasons at one time (seasons two and three). We don’t know as of yet if we’ll get a season four, but considering the entire series wasn’t supposed to be, we can definitely count ourselves ahead of the game.
Co-showrunner Akira Goldsman told The Hollywood Reporter that Star Trek: Picard wasn’t originally going to be created as a series. Instead, it was going to be a one-off scene in a Short Trek. Patrick Stewart wasn’t going to be involved. Another actor would have portrayed a young Picard at the end of one of the shorts for that particular scene only. Then Alex Kurtzman got a different idea and asked the what if questions.
"“What if it was Patrick Stewart? … What if it wasn’t one scene?”"
Star Trek: Picard is a longer, complicated series
That was one of the complaints the production team has dealt with, that Picard was overly complicated, and Goldsman admits that they haven’t been doing it (the storytelling) well enough to uncomplicate matters.
They wanted to create a show that anyone could watch, regardless of whether or not a viewer had previously watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. But while that series doesn’t need to be watched to enjoy Picard, you can’t start watching Picard from season five and expect to know what’s going on.
"Early on we made the choice to be agnostic when it came to the audience’s knowledge of Trek. We want to welcome somebody who knows Trek and make it even better because of the things we have, but we don’t want to alienate those who don’t. If you know Next Gen, Picard is more fun, but you don’t have to have watched Next Gen to watch Picard — but by the time we get to episode six, you better have watched episodes one through five or your eyes are going to cross."
I would think those who haven’t watched The Next Generation would be more than a little confused watching Picard even if it was from the beginning. With all of the backstory and delving into the past it does, the series has relied somewhat on the seven seasons that built Jean-Luc Picard along with the accompanying movies. I think it would be much easier for a newcomer to Star Trek to start watching a show like Strange New Worlds from the beginning rather than Picard.
Though Goldsman doesn’t mention much about season two, other than to discuss Q, there’s been no indication that Picard is going to be episodic from this point forward. So odds are good your eyes are still going to cross next season if you don’t watch from the beginning.