The Star Trek universe has been as expansive as the vastness of space it seeks to explore. There have been countless series that all tell a different part of the same world, sometimes running simultaneously. With the resurgence of things like Picard and Star Trek: Discovery, there’s a renewed life among the stars. These series along with Star Trek: Prodigy have managed to tap into a new audience. They make Star Trek accessible to more than just die hard fans. It’s this new outlook on an old tale that allows Prodigy to shine.
It connects itself to Star Trek: Voyager for fans, but borrows heavily from other ensemble space adventures. Both of these things are done very well and perfectly balanced. It satisfies fans with Trek nods galore but also keeps the rag tag adventure story at its center. Think Guardians of the Galaxy meets Star Wars Rebels set in a Star Trek world. Beautifully animated, well balanced and decently paced, Star Trek: Prodigy is another strong outing for the expanding universe. It may be for kids; but it’s such a fun and enjoyable ride it makes a strong case to be for everyone.
Space Fun For Everyone
Star Trek: Prodigy is an animated series created by Dan and Kevin Hageman, who also wrote the story for The Lego Movie and Hotel Transylvania. These projects are important to remember because we’re going to come back to them later. The show is directed by Ben Hibon, with Star Trek author David Mack service as a story consultant for the writer’s room. It tells the story of a rag tag group of young aliens in the Delta Quadrant who discover an abandon starfleet ship, the USS Protostar. This motley crew must learn to work together as they make their way to the Alpha Quadrant in hopes of freedom from their mining planet overlords.
Laughs And Fun Abound
There is a surprising amount of fun to be had here, trek fan or not. Prodigy focuses on the new characters and new worlds first, the connect it to previous Star Trek outings second. This is a smart move, because if you didn’t know it from the title, you would have no idea the first episode was Star Trek. That’s not a knock on the show either. It feels like a conscious choice on the part of the creators to ease us into the larger story, and Prodigy is all the better for it. The quick wit banter and strange world antics drive the story along at a brisk pace, but nothing feels rushed.
The viewer is tossed into a strange new world and essentially told to keep up until our main characters discover the USS Protostar. The animation is gorgeous throughout, with the attention to detail at every turn noticeable in the best of ways. The colors are bright and vibrant and dazzle as we watch our heroes assemble one by one. Star Trek: Prodigy nails the humor and interesting story to match the beautiful visuals. A feat I did not expect heading into the first few episodes.
Strong Voices for Likable Characters
In addition, the humor and likable characters powered by terrific voice work help really make the show solid. The Hageman Brothers pack the episodes with both meta and childish jokes, and bring their skills from other works to this one. It’s got a little something for everyone humor wise, something we’ve seen from these creators before. You can absolutely feel their other works creep their way into Prodigy.
Luckily for us, it’s the best aspects of say, The Lego Movie that make their way into this show (see, I told you we’d come back to it). It’s this kind of balanced approach from creators who have shown success in other projects that fills Prodigy with a lot of promise moving forward. These guys understand heart and humor and a good story, and series is all the better for it.
More On The Voice Cast
The voice cast really does a great job here. They deliver compelling characters even if they’re science fiction cliches of typical space crews. There’s really not a bad performance here, but the standouts are absolutely Agnus Imerie as Zero and Brett Gray as Dal. Yes, it’s a nice fan service nod to see Kate Mulgrew reprising her role as Kathryn Janeway, but it’s Imerie and Gray who really shine. Imerie’s Zero channels L3-37 from Star Wars: A Solo Story so much I had to look it up to make sure they weren’t the same person.
Again, that’s not a knock on his performance or the character. There is a genuine charm in a sarcastic, overconfident droid, and the banter between Imerie and Gray are some of the funniest and most fun moments in the episodes. Gray also feels a lot like young Han Solo. He’s impulsive, brash, charming and overconfident and you honestly can’t help but love him. I know this is nerd blasphemy because you don’t cross the streams, but the show is much more Star Wars than it is Star Trek.
Yes, it is very clear that it takes place in the universe of The Federation. But the voice cast, characters, and just overall adventure feel more like a galaxy far far away than the final frontier. That’s not a bad thing, because all the elements that make up Star Trek: Prodigy are the strongest ones, delivering a collect of the best space exploration has to offer.
I was not expecting to enjoy the episodes as much as I did. Prodigy does a good job in letting the story at hand take center stage and not relying on prior knowledge to enjoy the show. Of course it helps to be a fan so when they discover the ship and you see Janeway for the first time, the impact is bigger.
But you don’t NEED to have that prior knowledge to recognize its significance. It’s just good, balanced storytelling that the show has in spades. It is a refreshing, simple and familiar adventure story that has far more strengths than weaknesses.
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