A Family-Friendly Final Frontier
I was intensely skeptical when a kid-friendly Star Trek animated show for Nickelodeon was announced back in 2019. The show didn’t yet have a title then, and all we knew about the series was that it would be set on a Starfleet ship crewed by lawless teenagers who’d use it to find their own salvation. The premise felt, at least to me, like it was odd and intentionally vague, offering little to the imagination.
I imagined that the series could be an educational one in the guise of an adventure story. Perhaps, while journeying back to the Federation, the ship’s crew of teenagers would solve complex problems in math, science, engineering, and/or technology to get there. I felt like this was a good idea, as it could give the show’s audience of children an additional lesson they normally wouldn’t be taught in school.
Knowing that Alex Kurtzman was trying to appeal to all niches of the Star Trek fandom, I was happy to see that he was trying to get kids interested in Star Trek. After all, what could be a better introduction to this wonderful franchise than a show geared towards them? This upcoming series could inspire viewers to do extraordinary things, much like how many people have gone into the fields of math, science, engineering, etc. after watching the original Star Trek series.
When we finally got the name of the new show about a year later – Star Trek: Prodigy – and learned that one of the characters was to be played by none other than Kathryn Janeway herself – Kate Mulgrew – I was happy we would have the opportunity to see another legacy cast member reprise her role after multiple decades away. It had been eighteen years since Mulgrew had played her role on film, in a cameo appearance as Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Nemesis.
As more of Prodigy was revealed, I felt indifferent about it. The title sequence was previewed about six weeks prior to its premiere, and when we got a sense of what the animation style would be, I decided to give it a shot.
I’m happy to say that Prodigy has surprised me and exceeded my expectations. The ongoing storyline involving the Diviner‘s attempts to capture the USS Protostar was an element of the series I was immediately hooked on.
The show has some Star Wars vibes, but I chalk that up to a creative direction made by Kevin and Dan Hageman. The approach that was apparently taken was: Star Wars already has kids’ attention spans and imaginations, so why not do it with Star Trek? Along with the obvious Star Wars vibes and Kathryn Janeway, the Hageman brothers have decided to include legacy characters from other iterations of the Star Trek franchise too.
The episode “Kobayashi” is now one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek and easily my favorite episode of Prodigy so far. The episode was full of nostalgia, and it was fun to hear those actors who are no longer with us. Hearing Rene Auberjonois, Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan brought tears to my eyes. I had feelings of loss but also joy at hearing Nimoy again. I played a guessing game with the lines, to find out where each had come from. I definitely had a rough idea where the lines spoken by Nimoy had originated, especially when they came from such classic episodes as “Balance of Terror”, when Spock talks about the Neutral Zone, and “The Enemy Within”, when Spock consoles Dal and explains why he must never show weakness as a captain.
The characters have grown on me; Dal (Brett Gray) is becoming a natural-born captain, and Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) seems to have grown up. When I first saw that character, I believed Rok-Tahk would be the dumb and funny one – like Patrick Star in SpongeBob SquarePants – but thankfully, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how her character has grown.
The animation style is beautiful. Nami Melumad’s scores are otherworldly and made me love the show. Of course, the opening title sequence is just gorgeous, and beautifully composed by Kelvin Star Trek composer Michael Giacchino.
I love the show and highly recommend you see it yourself. This is Star Trek, through and through. This is a Star Trek series you can sit down and watch with your children, something you probably can’t do as easily with the other Star Trek series currently airing, such as Discovery, Picard, or Lower Decks. Even though I know Star Trek: Prodigy is geared towards kids in their pre-teens to adolescents, this is certainly a show I can get behind.
Wes Huntington has been a Star Trek fan since he was born, thanks to his parents (both of whom are still very much alive and are big Trek fans themselves). He lives in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, with his wife and cat. He is also a co-host of the Twin Cities Trekkies podcast, which launched in February 2021 and talks about all things Star Trek. You can find Twin Cities Trekkies via Facebook, Instagram, or anchor.fm/twincitiestrekkies.