Star Trek: Prodigy premieres on Thursday, Oct. 28 with a one-hour episode, “Lost & Found,” exclusively on Paramount+.
If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’re existing in a full-out Trek-aissance with the variety of Trek universe series already here and coming soon to Paramount+. But the latest, Star Trek: Prodigy, is unique to the whole franchise for being the very first series created within the mythology for a younger audience. An original CG-animated half-hour series made as a joint enterprise with CBS Eye Animation Productions and Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Prodigy has the slick look of a high-end movie but is scripted with a tone that caters to a tween sensibility.
Created by Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters), Star Trek: Prodigy is set in 2383, which lands post the Voyager series in the Trek story timeline. The pilot, “Lost & Found,” is an engaging one-hour premiere that ably sets the stage for the core ensemble: a rag-tag group of mining colony refugees who accidentally discover, and escape in, the long-hidden Federation ship, the USS Protostar.
The main protagonist is Dal (Brett Gray), an orphan boy of unknown species stuck doing manual labor in a remote mining colony. But he’s got ambitions to escape and get off planet to see if he can discover more of his own kind, and a future that he can choose. As the colony rebel and smart aleck, Dal’s already got a reputation as a troublemaker, which puts him on the radar of the colony owner, The Diviner (John Noble) and his extremely competent older teen daughter, Gwyn (Ella Purnell). They are the yin and yang of the series, as Dal exists on charisma and impulse while Gwyn is the extremely well-educated conformist that is learning the truths of her father.
Through a series of misadventures on the job, Dal connects with other miners who will become his de facto posse: the erudite fugitive robot, Zero (Angus Imrie), essentially a child laborer; Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui); the contrarian mechanic Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas); and a sentient eating-machine blob known as Murf (Dee Bradley Baker).
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Teaser Trailer Images
Under Ben Hibon’s direction, Prodigy is a beautiful series. The CG animation has an interesting design aesthetic of almost live-action Trek realistic celestial bodies, star-scapes and ships, mixed with highly stylized character designs for the various core characters and their species. Brought to life with bright colors and cartoon-y looks, they hit the sweet spot for kid expectations in an elevated CG world. But it’s the cast’s vocal work that really solidifies the youthful energy of most of the characters in the show. They’re essentially archetypes that kids will relate to because of the young cast, with the only outlier being Mantzoukas. He’s an excellent voice actor, but he’s supposed to be voicing a 16-year-old, and that’s not flying in any universe.
Of course, the most recognizable and anticipated voice of them all is Kate Mulgrew’s, as she voices Hologram Kathryn Janeway. As expected, she steps back into the role perfectly. Mulgrew leans into the warm tonal quality of her voice, which she modulates wonderfully in the early episodes. For old-school Trek fans, the Janeway of old is a welcome friend. But in her Hologram capacity, she’s giving the character a lot of sly cheek, which frames her mentor role extremely well to counterbalance the chaos of these untested kids she’s teaching on the bridge.
The show also sets up some potentially great villains in John Noble’s The Diviner and his right-hand enforcer, Drednok (Jimmi Simpson). Both in design and voice, this scary pair of foes amp up the stakes, yet retain an air of mystery which is appreciated. Together, they live in a color palette of reds, blacks, and metals, with spiky tech that envelops them and creates a visually imposing duo that will be chasing our young heroes across the galaxy.
Story-wise, the Hagemans and their writers do a good job in “Lost & Found” of setting up the series’ premise, and then give us the template for how adventures will play out weekly in the following half-hour episode “Starstruck.” Sure, there’s some definite competency-stretching going on with this goofy ensemble being able to pilot a starship with exactly no experience — even with Janeway support — but the diverse skill sets of each character at least make it kind of plausible. And there are great moments of kid-relatable volatility, humility, and compassion woven into stories of each character that feel organic and not cheesy or forced, which is what great Trek does for any aged viewer. And Mulgrew serves as a grounding cheerleader/teacher that isn’t talking down to any of them, which will go far in keeping kids engaged and hopefully, learning a few things too as the series unfolds.