It’s been a long road since the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005 and the reemergence of watching serialized Star Trek in 2017 with Star Trek: Discovery. Since Alex Kurtzman set out to revive Star Trek on television screens around the world, we have been treated to Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the adult animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks, but perhaps the best Star Trek story from this era is the one designed to usher in a new generation of Trekkies—Star Trek: Prodigy.
Star Trek: Prodigy is Kid-Friendly Star Trek for the Whole Family
Before Star Trek: Picard premiered last year, Star Trek: Enterprise was the last time I dropped everything to watch Star Trek on television. While I loved the first installment in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek trilogy, the second and third films didn’t resonate with me in the way that I wanted Star Trek to. Perhaps it was because they relied too much on the nostalgia and the concepts that were introduced in Star Trek: The Original Series, but it left me wary about tapping into Star Trek: Discovery—despite the rave reviews. I had re-runs of Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Next Generation, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to sustain me.
Star Trek: Prodigy is not Trek’s first foray into serialized animation aimed at kids—that honor belongs to the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series which premiered in 1973—but it is perhaps the most concentrated effort to present young audiences with all of the tools they need to boldly go and explore the world that Gene Roddenberry created.
In an oversaturated television market, where every network has a streaming service and every streaming service is trying to appeal to their younger audience, Star Trek: Prodigy stands out as not only one of the best animated series, but one of the purest forms of Star Trek.
Star Trek: Prodigy’s first installment, “Lost & Found” is a super-sized double episode clocking in at just under an hour. It quickly draws audiences in, right in the middle of some high-energy action as Dal (voiced by Brett Gray) is trying to escape from the mining planet he is forced to work on. In a short period of time, we get a feeling for who Dal is as a character and the world that he’s been raised in. As the episode unravels, we meet the rest of the rag-tag team that Dal assembles.
Rok-Tahk (voiced by Rylee Alazraqui) is an incredibly endearing and bright-eyed Brikar, the Tellarite Jankom Pog (voiced by Jason Mantazoukas) is the hilarious devil’s advocate of the group, then there’s the indestructible blob-like creature named Murf (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), and the noncorporeal Medusan named Zero (voiced by Angus Imrie) that the Diviner is trying to capture. Which then brings us to the Diviner’s daughter Gwyn (voiced by Ella Purnell) who has always dreamed of exploring the stars, but she is forced to do her father’s bidding, overseeing the operations of the mining planet and the young prisoners enslaved there.
I will fully admit that I am now rooting for Dal and Gwyn to pull off an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers type scenario. I have a sneaking suspicion that Star Wars fans—particularly Reylos— who are looking for a new sci-fi property to latch onto, will love the dynamic that these two characters exude. From the hand extended “join me” moment, to Gwyn’s complicated relationship with her father and the subtle hints of remorse while doing terrible things to Dal, there’s a lot in this dynamic that I can’t wait to see play out.
When the Captain Janeway hologram appeared on the Starfleet ship I suddenly felt like I was two years old, watching Star Trek: Voyager for the very first time. Captain Janeway’s inclusion doesn’t feel like gratuitous nostalgia, simply because her presence doesn’t detract from the story being told about the core cast of characters. It’s a clever way to tie Star Trek: Prodigy to the larger Trek universe, while also paying homage to one of Starfleet’s most beloved captains.
Star Trek: Prodigy does something really remarkable with its storytelling structure. While similar series often get bogged down in trying to overexplain concepts to their younger audiences, Prodigy doesn’t waste any time explaining anything—it trusts the audience to work things out on their own and learn on the go, as the cast of characters learns alongside them. This makes it the perfect series for longtime Star Trek fans, Star Trek fans introducing the franchise to their children, and children stumbling upon it on Nickelodeon for the first time.
There is no doubt in my mind that Star Trek: Prodigy will chart a course where Star Trek has never gone before. With an entirely non-human cast of main characters, exploring the stars for the very first time and learning who they are outside of their oppressive upbringings, there is so much potential for smart and engaging storytelling. The soaring score carries you through the highs and lows, while the colorful and realistic animation fully immerses you in the midst of the action. Whether you are a lifelong Trekkie or just getting into the franchise, stop what you are doing and watch Star Trek: Prodigy.