Star Trek: Prodigy Is for the Kids—and Kids at Heart

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Star Trek: Prodigy Is for the Kids—and Kids at Heart
The animated alien crew of Star Trek Prodigy—Zero, Murf, Rok-Tahk, Jankom, Gwyn, and Dal,—joined by a holographic Captain Janeway all stand on an alien planet with the sun on their backs and their ship in the sky.
The Next Generation is here.
Image: Paramount+

When Star Trek: Prodigy was first revealed as a “kid-friendly” show, certain fans decried that they did not need a “dumbed-down” entry to get into Star Trek when they were young. A blessing then, that this next generation doesn’t have that either: instead, they’re offered something smart, fun, and perfect for them, that never forgets what Star Trek is really about.

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Prodigy—the third Star Trek animated series, and its first foray into computer-generated animation—is the first show in the franchise that doesn’t follow Starfleet officers. Instead, opening on the mining colony of Tars Lamora, the series focuses on a cast of young ne’er-do-wells, a hodgepodge group of alien teens who don’t know each other, and fascinatingly, can’t communicate with each other either. Ruled with an iron fist by the Vau N’Kat known as the Diviner (John Noble, delivering a slight, but still delectably sinister performance), the miners of Tars Lamora have been stripped of a fundamental idea we’ve come to assume of all Star Trek: a basic, universal translator. The inability to communicate has broken these people—our future heroes Dal (Brett Gray), Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas), and Zero the Medusan (Angus Imrie) included—into submission. Without the simple unity of being able to talk to each other, no single miner can dare attempt to rise up against the Diviner’s control.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Prodigy Is for the Kids—and Kids at Heart
Image: Paramount+

It’s a simple, fascinating idea that sets the tone for the first few episodes of the show provided for review: a Star Trek as hell thought experiment that’s provoking enough for fans to latch on to, but simply executed and communicated so that a young audience can understand. They’ll likely understand too that Prodigy is an action-adventure series at heart. The initial conflict is solved quickly enough when Dal and Zero, dragging their two new friends along in the process—as well as the Diviner’s daughter Gwyn (Ella Purnell), cast here as more of an unwilling hostage than a protagonist—discover mid-escape that Tars Lamora is the resting place of a secret, experimental Starfleet ship, the U.S.S. Protostar.