I’m honestly surprised that, aside from the 1970’s animated series, Star Trek hasn’t tried its hand at animation before now. Lower Decks has become the best Star Trek series on the air right now (you heard me) and now, seemingly from out of nowhere, an animated Trek series aimed at children from Nickelodeon has kicked open the door and given us a new series unlike anything that Star Trek has produced before.
Star Trek: Prodigy tells the story of a collection of young aliens who escape a prison planet on board an abandoned Federation starship. The show contains no human characters, no regular Starfleet officers… just a literal ragtag group of kids who are tasting freedom for the first time and are assisted by a hologram of Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager.
Prodigy, right out of the gate, has so much going for it. The animation, for example, is stunning. Absolutely stunning. The musical score is inspired and beautiful. The characters are realized in visually appealing ways from old guard species like the Tellarites to one of my favorite beta cannon species, the Brikar finally breaking into mainstream, to new species. All are striking, you instantly know who is who, and to be honest… I like all of them. They are given enough characterization and introduction in the 45 minute premeire to allow myself to invest in them. Rok-tahk, for example, is absolutely adorable. Dal is confident without being annoying. I unquestionably love Zero. Gwenn is most definitely not what I expected and that is a good thing. Even the character that I thought I would hate, Jankom Pog, turned out to be quite entertaining even though referring to himself as “Jankom Pog” is awkward and annoying.
Dreadnok, or as I’m going to call him from now on, Star Trek General Grievous was just all kinds of overblown stupid cool. I just loved it.
In addition, I just love the USS Protostar. The design, the canopy bridge… all of it honors the old while being decidedly new. It’s outstanding.
The series appears to be mysteries wrapped in enigmas but, fortunately, they are mystery boxes that I can’t wait to see unwrapped. Where in the galaxy is this happening? What are all of these species doing together on this prison planet? Why are the Kazon, Lurians, Catians, Tellarites, and Brikars in the same corner of the galaxy? Where did the Protostar come from? What happened to her crew? Who is the Deviner? So many mysteries!
Prodigy is something exciting and new. While there is an undeniable immaturity to the show, the pure joy and exhilaration of the series is palpable and infectious. It takes everything about Star Trek and every Star Trek series and movie and mashes it together into a wonderful, colorful playdough ball of fun.
Some trekkies may look down their noses at Prodigy for being too action centered and too immature, but they have to realize just as I did with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe... This wasn’t made for us and, really… that’s a big deal. This is the first Star Trek series that wasn’t made for someone like me and that’s going to make a lot of people territorial… something they love is being whittled and altered for someone they don’t know… but it’s not being destroyed and it doesn’t negate anything that came before. Relax, my nerd brethren. Relax.
This is a series designed to appeal to the next generation of Trekkie and, honestly, it’s something that Star Trek needs desperately and I welcome it and, even though it wasn’t made for me, I still very much enjoyed it even if it was aimed at a demographic thirty-five years under me.
This series is theirs: The young ones. On this occasion, the the words of one of the greats holds an extra air of truth: To them and their posterity do we commit our futures. They will continue the voyages that we have begun, boldly going where no man… where no one has gone before.
I just hope they don’t mind if I tag along for the ride.