It’s been a long road since the USS Protostar last graced our screens with “A Moral Star, Part 2” seven months ago. Or as we in the UK are measuring it at least four chancellors ago. Which should give you some idea of the chaos that has happened since that time. So, we’ll need to recap Star Trek: Prodigy The Story So Far.
Initially, I was hesitant going into this series. If it were a Star Trek plot, I would have been torn into three separate entities. So let’s run with that and introduce them so you’re aware and informed of my biases before we get to my pros and cons of Star Trek: Prodigy. Recently Prodigy’s story expanded with the release of Star Trek: Prodigy Supernova. The game is set to align with the show’s upcoming storyline.
The Voyager Fan
Kate Mulgrew is back as Admiral Janeway. Originally playing the Hologram Captain Janeway, she’ll now also play the real version of her character. However, Robert Beltran had let slip he had some involvement as well at a convention, which was later confirmed shortly before the series aired. Was this going to be the series that finally delivered on the many broken promises to the J/C shippers through Voyagers’ run?
The Childless Man
It sounds like a Doctor Who title, but it rhymes. Much of the press surrounding Star Trek: Prodigy pitched it as a kid’s show. Therefore best watched with your family and as an ideal introduction to the new Star Trek. This side of me was the most hesitant going into Prodigy. Fearing that it’d be too kid friendly and wouldn’t have much for the adults (and Voyager fans). How wrong I was, but we’ll get into that.
The Clone Wars aficionado
The moment the first trailer for Prodigy came out, the comparisons to Star Wars began. With an open invite given the very similar art style and involvement of Dee Bradley Baker in the cast. Like many fans of that show, I don’t hold the earlier seasons in high regard, especially compared to the later content. The show took a while to find its feet and groove.
Given that Trek also has a track record for early-season struggles, there was a definite voice in my head fearing that Prodigy wouldn’t learn from shows that came before. Therefore be an initial slog to watch. One that is very hard to defend to my ever-patient partner that continually indulges my Star Trek obsession by watching with me. So with those three sides established, let’s look at Star Trek: Prodigy The Story So Far.
Keeping It Family Friendly
Star Trek has it’s fair share of nightmare or shudder inducing moments. From Spider-Barclay (worst superhero), to needles in the eye in Star Trek: First Contact, to the Ceti Alpha V mind control creatures that burrow into your ear. It’s also had it’s share of shall we say… Over the top sexualisation that could make watching with children present awkward to say the least (looking at you decon chamber).
I am pleased to write that Prodigy manages to keep Trek family friendly while not falling into the trap of refusing to give characters consequences or poignant moments. While there are some scary moments, these are all in service of the plot and remain on the kid friendly side.
Given the darker tone of most of Trek’s newer instalments or their more adult humour, watching Prodigy feels like slipping into a fresh out the tumble dryer dressing gown of lighter Trek tone.
I remember when I first saw the Protostar and smiled at how it seemed like an unholy kitbash of the Constitution and Intrepid classes.
I also remember seeing an initial reaction to the first trailer in one of my Trek focused group chats with somebody already predicting that we’d get a lot of complaints about the ‘jet canopy’ style bridge.
Well, I’m happy to say that those complaints didn’t really come to pass. The Protostar if anything has helped patch a few continuity holes in Trek’s canon by showing us things like shuttle replicators. These go some way to explaining why Prodigy’s parent show, Voyager ran through them like skittles but never seemed to be worried about their loss.
We’ve covered The Protostar on the Trek Central Youtube Channel
You didn’t think a Voyager fan like me would be able to write an article about Prodigy without touching on Mulgrews wonderful performance did you?
Over the years since Voyager’s triumphant return home we’ve seen many actors make the transition from live action to voice work, some with more success than others.
Mulgrew herself hasn’t been a stranger to this line of work having lent her voice to a number of animated productions, as well as voicing Janeway herself in the much acclaimed game ‘Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force’ as well as the less acclaimed ‘Star Trek: Legacy’ amongst other titles.
But hearing her embody Janeway once again instantly feels like cosying up to a fire on a cold winters evening with a warm hot chocolate. Prodigy certainly puts her skills to the test having her portray not one, not two but three versions of her iconic role (so far)!
Character Design and Variety
Freed from the restrictions of the physical world, Prodigy really plays with the Star Trek universe species sandbox. Dahl, Murf, Rok-Tahk, Zero, Gwyn and Jankom Pog all belong to different races (some more familiar than others). Its a glorious feast for your visual senses (and is making for a great merch line up). Plus some already extremely creative cosplays!
One big missed opportunity since the U.S.S. Discovery graced our screens back in 2017 is the lack of tie-in media, especially games.
Thankfully Prodigy seems to have noticed that hole in the market. The game not only ties directly into the seasons plot, but has some fun shout outs to other series.
If you want to read more, check out our Star Trek: Prodigy Supernova Review.
Ah Prodigy, you know how to make this Trekkie’s heart sing. This episode gets a special shoutout for so seamlessly managing to tie in a plethora of fan service to the plot without it being overbearing. While Picard season 3 is shaping up to be a treat for The Next Generation fans. I can’t help but feel that this episode in particular will go down as a classic much like Trials and Tribble-ations, or In a Mirror Darkly for managing to tread that tricky fan service line for multiple generations while delivering a coherent and natural story. As a bonus we got to hear Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols and René Auberjonois’ voices serve a new Star Trek plot for what might be the last time. That was a true treat and tribute.
I really struggled with this section because there is nothing I would describe as actually bad about Prodigy. There are just things that I think they could have done better or that will become better once we’ve had a bit of time with the characters. After scratching my head for a week and rewatching some of the episodes again, this is what I’ve come up with:
Reliance On Existing Species
If Star Trek were to be a family, Prodigy would be the offspring of Star Trek: Voyager the way Picard is of The Next Generation, somewhat unfortunately Prodigy seems to be falling into the same trap as the later seasons of Voyager: Relying on familiar faces instead of truly exploding the depths and variety of the Delta Quadrant.
In our small crew we have Janeway (Hologram/Human), Jankom Pog (Tellarite) and Zero (Medusan) with the word on the street being that Murf is a previously unseen stage of development of another species that we’ve seen. This makes our crew mostly known races.
Even one of our new species (Dahl) has ties to the familiar through his partial upbringing by a Ferengi (Nandi).
Be brave Star Trek: Prodigy’s creative team, be bold. Let’s see more Dahl’s, Gwyns and Rokh’s.
Our Protagonists as Punching Bags
In almost every encounter so far our crew has succeeded due to sheer dumb luck if they have succeeded at all.
While from a writing perspective I recognise that this makes our characters more interesting in the future, but it’s still frustrating in the present.
This is even more frustrating when some characters (Dahl) seem to have to be forced to learn variations of the same lesson over and over. Those with kids might argue that’s somewhat realistic (my parents have definitely voiced their share of frustrations about me not learning while I was growing up) – but it’d be good to see our crew come together to be truly competent a little bit sooner.
If the team behind Prodigy want to continue on a heroes journey narrative they can always do this through a bit of time trickery. They’ve shown they’re not afraid to play with those concepts after all!
General Grievious Dreadnok
When Prodigy was announced comparisons were already being drawn to Star Wars: The Clone Wars due to the art style.
Deciding to make the villain a dark lord with a mysterious plan who has a robotic minion. One that has a scuttle mode and can survive in the vacuum of space perhaps wasn’t the best choice with that in mind…
It’s somewhat worked so far and we’ve seen some interesting uses for Dreadnok’s artificial intelligence but out of the whole cast of Prodigy he (it?) is a character that still feels distinctly out of place in the Trek universe.
The Mid-season Gap
An obvious one to wrap up on here, what’s with the massive gap between the first and second halves of the season?
While it’s nice to have at least one Trek show putting out a twenty-odd episode season as they did back in the 90s, it’d be great if we could have defined shorter seasons or shorter gaps halfway through. If this is the gap between the two halves of the first season, I dread to think how long it’ll be before we get to season two.
Star Trek: Prodigy is a tour de force of breathtaking artwork and imagery, strong characters and powerful narratives. The first part of the season felt a little clunky in parts. I mean, why do they keep leaving that poor Caitian, and how did the Kazon of all races end up near the Diviner?
But it manages to carve itself an identity as a show targeted for kids, but with a bit of something for everyone. Roll on Thursday! Star Trek: Prodigy returns on October 27th via Paramount+. You can watch the first ten episodes to get up to date with Star Trek: Prodigy The Story So Far.
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