Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Two days ago the newest Star Trek show, Prodigy, premiered on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon, which means we now have FOUR Trek shows running concurrently (the other three are Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks). The series follows a group of alien prisoners who discover a Federation ship with a Captain Kathryn Janeway hologram and uses it to escape their prison planet. But if you’ve been following up on all the pre-release news you should already know all that. You are here to find out if I thought it was any good. And I can tell you from the jump it is, though I can foresee some Trek purists not being fans. With a mild SPOILER ALERT let’s warp right into it.
Initially, I was concerned the computer generated animation looked too much like a video game but seeing in action for a full 45-minute episode I was impressed. It looks very bright and polished and the character designs all pop. And the USS Protostar is a gorgeous looking ship, evoking Voyager somewhat but sleeker and more futuristic.
The motley crew is decent enough. You have the wisecracking, purple-skinned alien of unknown origin Dal, stern sword-wielding Vau N’Akat Gwyn, Tellarite with a knack for engineering Jankom Pog, genderless, energy-based Medusan Zero, towering, rock-like Brikar Rok-Tahk, and affable blob Murf (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker from Star Wars animated projects and a host of other stuff). There is definitely a lot of visual interest here and my favourites are Zero (remember the Medusans from The Original Series? What a deep cut) with its dry sense of humour and Gwyn with the emotional conflict of trying to please her villain father and her desire to see the stars.
And voicing that villain father, the tyrannical and mysterious Diviner, is none other than John Noble. If you don’t recognise the name he’s the guy who played grief-mad steward Denethor in the Lord of the Rings, quirky Dr Walther Bishop in Sci Fi series Fringe, Henry Parrish in action/horror series Sleepy Hollow and brutal bad guy Otto in criminally short-lived Sci Fi show Debris. This man is a fantastic actor with a lot of genre cred, and while we don’t get much of him this episode I am definitely excited to see and hear more of Noble’s Diviner. His robotic enforcer Drednok (voiced by Westworld’s Jimmi Simpson) definitely has that menacing presence but his look and abilities so far are nothing I have not seen before. The scorpion-like robot Watchers were cool though.
The first episode “Lost and Found” has its share of big, cinematic set pieces, with the action starting from very early on. It reminded me of the Kelvinverse somewhat, though definitely geared towards a younger audience. And I suspect that will be the determining factor for fans. This is not your grandfather’s Trek, your father’s Trek, or even your Trek; this is your teen’s Trek. Sure, older fans will be happy to see a familiar ship, technology, species and of course the venerable Janeway (even in holographic form) but this is not a Starfleet crew. This is a bunch of aliens bumbling their way through space with evil aliens hot on their trail.
I have an eclectic taste in media so I can enjoy a show meant for teens once it is well done. And I am liking what I am seeing in this premiere. I mean, while unique for the franchise it’s nothing all that groundbreaking, but it’s solid enough. And if as a Trek fan you find it is too kid-friendly for your tastes then that’s perfectly fine. Some people don’t like the adult humour/semi-homage tone of Lower Decks. And that’s fine too. With four Trek shows on the air and Strange New Worlds on the way there should be something for everyone. Or if not, there’s always the older series. But I will be tuning into the remaining nine episodes of Prodigy to see where it goes. And if the show acts as a gateway to get younger fans into the franchise then I count that as a win-win.
Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10
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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.