November Nouveau: Star Trek Prodigy

Last week, while navigating a plethora of social media sites I came across Star Trek: Prodigy episodes. This is the newest Star Trek TV series created by Kevin and Dan Hageman for Paramount which has partnered with Nickelodeon to expand the Star Trek Universe alongside executive producer Alex Kurtzman.

To be completely honest, the show had flown totally beneath my radar. I understood it was a concept, but had not realized that it was farther along than the preparation stage. The premise of Prodigy is that it is about a group of youthful aliens who find an abandoned Federation vessel, the USS Protostar, and use it to escape a prison planet in the Delta Quadrant with the hope of returning the vessel to the Alpha Quadrant.

The six young aliens, as so succinctly laid out in the picture above, are the main characters. Brett Gray is Dal, a 17-year-old fast-talking maverick, who takes the role of Captain because he finds the USS Protostar. He does not know very much about himself.

Ella Purnell plays Gwynala, or Gwyn. She is also 17, but her father is the Diviner (the antagonist) who rules the mining planet of Tars Lamora and originally is taken as a hostage. Her race is Vau N’Akat. She has mixed feelings about going into space, because she has spent most of her time underground but longed to see the stars.

Jason Mantzoukas is Jankom Pog, a Tellarite that is 16. He likes to play devil’s advocate, one of those annoying people that likes to play contrarian. He is easy to manipulate by arguing the opposite of how you want him to go.

Angus Imrie voices Zero, a Medusan (Trekkers should be familiar with them) a genderless, noncorporeal, energy lifeform that abides in a containment suit because if seen without the suit the seer will go mad.

Dee Bradley Baker as Murf is a congealed blob, indestructible, with impeccable timing. Can you say comic relief?

Rylee Alazraqui as Rok-Tahk is a bashful 8-year-old Brikar who is paired up with Dal on the mining planet and is his first friend.

John Noble plays the Diviner and Gwyn’s father. He is a ruthless tyrant that is heard and not seen until the last minute of the pilot episode. He controls the mining planet of Tars Lamoria and hence the prisoners that work there without translators so that they cannot communicate to rise up against their oppressor.

Jimmi Simpson is Drednok, the Diviner’s robotic enforcer and Gwyn’s guardian. Drednok is a transforming droid that is menacingly evil.

Last, but certainly not least is Kate Mulgrew who is reprising (not exactly) her role as Captain Janeway, the Emergency Training Holographic Advisor.

The series is computer animated, distinct from the other Star Trek animated programs. Interesting that the show is made in high-tech, but it is designed for a younger audience. The characters are mostly young, and the storylines are designed to attract the Nickelodeon audience. The first ten-episode season premiered on October 28, 2021 on Paramount Plus. It actually only premiered five episodes, went on hiatus for the holidays and will begin anew with the latter five episodes in January with the Nickelodeon premiere of the first five episodes December 17, 2021.

The episodes are an attempt at expanding the Star Trek audience, which is largely an aging demographic. By having a younger animated crew, the creators want to bridge the divide that seems to be widening between those that nostalgically remember Star Trek the Original Series and those grandchildren that only have a vague recollection of their elders waxing poetic about “where no one has gone before.”

Captain Janeway is an attempt at appealing to the hardcore Trekkies and Trekkers expecting that the show can be something to be watched by entire families during together time. So far, from what I have watched, I can safely say to older fans that the stories are engaging although not overly expositional. There is a lot of action and the graphics are gorgeously cinematic. However, there will be things that are not realistically consistent. (Dal fights Drednok on the outside of the ship.) Just go with it. Do you want to be a Sheldon Cooper shouting into the abyss while your grandchildren make fun of you? Or do you want to have fun watching a mind-expanding adventure with your grandkids thinking you are the cool Pop-pop?

Listen, there’s a lot to like here. Not perfect, because not exactly scientifically profound, but I had fun because the stories are action-oriented, speculative, innovative, and most especially entertaining. If this sounds like something you or your children might be interested in, you should check it out on Paramount Plus. If you do not have it, wait to watch it on Nickelodeon or check it out online. Like I said, it is available everywhere.

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