Star Trek Prodigy poster

Star Trek: Prodigy

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What it’s about:

A group of kids (from multiple species) on a prison colony find a hidden spaceship called The Protostar and use it to escape. While they are being pursued by the mysterious alien called The Diviner who runs the prison colony, they learn about the Federation from the ship’s Emergency Training Hologram, Captain Kathryn Janeway.

Why The Diviner wants the Protostar—and why it was buried and hidden in the first place—will be part of Season 1’s big mystery. And oh, one of the kids is his daughter Gwyn, who did not “escape” voluntarily.

Names you might know:

The great Kate Mulgrew provides the voice for Janeway, reprising her Star Trek: Voyager character, but this time as a hologram. Also in the regular cast: Dee Bradley Baker (who’s been doing voices for decades, appearing in SpongeBob SquarePants, American Dad!, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Family Guy, Muppet Babies, Adventure Time, and so many more) as a mushy little alien-blob named Murf who talks a lot like R2D2, Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) as a villainous robotic spider-creature, and Jason Mantsoukas (The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation) as a mechanic and a member of an argumentative species called Tellarites.

Then there are the recurring characters… George Costanza, Tahani Al-Jamil, Thomas Jefferson, and Chakotay. Wait—what? Oh yeah, we’ll be hearing the voices of Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander (a longtime Trek fan who did a Voyager episode), The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, and Voyager’s Robert Beltran, once again playing Chakotay, now promoted to captain (of what, we don’t know yet). Bring. It. On.

The show creators, brothers Dan and Kevin Hageman, were writers and executive producers on Trollhunters, and were writers on films like The Lego Movie, Hotel Transylvania, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, for starters. Among the writers are two sisters, Julie and Shawna Benson, so the family vibe is strong.

Why it’s worth your time:

There are two separate answers here, based on who you are.

If you’ve never watched Star Trek, this is a delightful entry point into the franchise that requires absolutely nothing from you. You don’t have to know anything about Star Trek, or the Federation, or Starfleet, or any existing characters or species. Everything that’s familiar to Trekkies will be completely new to the characters on the show, so as they learn, you learn.

If you’re a big Star Trek fan, then you already know the big news: Janeway is back! Hologram schmologram, it’s still a thrill to hear that voice again. In the gajillion interviews going around about the show, Mulgrew says that despite being a hologram there to help teach the kids, she has agency, she has preferences, and she’s a full, rich, lively character. Fans are also getting another Voyager star, as first officer Chakotay will be turning up, and the show creators, Dan and Kevin Hageman, have promised lots of legacy characters along the journey. There are already a few familiar species, including Tellarites and Medusans, plus one (a Brikarian) from the non-canon novels.

Okay, now let’s get into the good stuff: This show is gorgeous. The Hagemans were both heavily influenced by Star Trek movies and chose a cinematic look for the show, so it’s big in scope and beautiful to look at. The characters are almost all kids, a first for a franchise that didn’t always do kids very well (with the delightful exception of Voyager’s Naomi Wildman). Remember when you were a kid and you’d watch TV and it was hard to find a character to identify with? That’s not going to happen on this one, because they’ve given us an incredible variety. Dal is the act-first-think-later kid of an unknown species whose drive to escape set the whole story in motion. Just when you get frustrated with his impulsive behavior, you find out that he had the right idea all long. Gwyn, daughter of our villain, is intriguing from the first moment we meet her, as she speaks countless languages and even in the pilot shows her compassion… a trait her father doesn’t share. Rok-Tahk is an eight-year-old girl with the body of a rocky beast, Zero is a noncorporeal Medusan who’s still learning how to behave around others (he keeps reading everyone’s mind), Jankom Pogg is a handy but polemical mechanic, and Murf is a squishy blob who quickly becomes a favorite of the animal-loving Rok-Tahk (and Twitter users across the country).

And for ship nerds, the Protostar provides plenty of intrigue. It’s an experimental ship, so it will have capabilities we haven’t seen before, plus there’s the whole mystery of why it was sent so far away from home in the first place.

The score is beautiful, the show is epic in scope, and somehow manages to be dark and light at the same time. There’s no pandering, but there’s lots of silliness mixed in with the high-stakes drama.

The takeaway:

The values of Star Trek, and then some: unity, diversity, individuality, optimism, idealism and hope. What more could you ask for, especially when the main characters include a squeaking blob, a gigantic rock creature who’s also a little girl, and a noncorporeal telepathic being who has to live inside a robot suit so he doesn’t drive everyone mad? And hello, Captain Janeway!

Watch it with:

Your family. While they keep calling it a kids’ show, and it is one, its true audience is a group of people who can watch together: longtime Star Trek fans, total Star Trek newbies, kids, and people who like kids.

Worth noting:

Star Trek fans will be thrilled as more legacy characters turn up on the show. Voyager’s Chakotay is a definite, rumors are out there that we’ll be seeing “the outrageous” Okona from TNG, and good money’s on a visit from Voyager’s Neelix (who’s still in the Delta Quadrant), along with who knows who else.

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