Star Trek Prodigy (PRO) Season 1 Guest Reviews
Stardate not given: The USS Protostar, an experiment Federation starship, lay derelict and hidden beneath the surface of the Tars Lamora planetoid deep within the Delta Quadrant. In search of the vessel, an enigmatic figure known as the Diviner has organized a vast mining colony, consisting of child and slave laborers from a diverse array of species. The miners are denied translators and are supervised by robotic security forces. A diverse group of teenage miners discover the Protostar and succeed in using it to flee to freedom. Along the way, they capture the Diviner's daughter Gwyn. As they plan their next steps, they are able to activate the Protostar's holographic training program: a sophisticated computer simulation based on Admiral Kathryn Janeway.
Star Trek's third animated series goes to warp with a diverse ensemble of interesting characters and a fresh premise that has potential to serve as an entry point to the franchise for a new generation of viewers. Although limited by tiny budgets and the animation technology of the era, "Star Trek: The Animated Series" (TAS) was a reasonably faithful continuation of "Star Trek" (TOS). "Star Trek: Lower Decks" (LOW) has effectively been a satirical sequel to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (TNG). "Star Trek: Prodigy" (PRO) meanwhile feels like a youthful, direct sequel to "Star Trek: Voyager" (VOY).
Prodigy looks and feels nothing like Lower Decks, which I think is a very good thing. If Lower Decks was designed as an adult comedy --- TNG meets "Rick and Morty" --- Prodigy feels much more like VOY meets "Star Wars: Rebels." I think this is a positive development for the franchise's versatility. The Delta Quadrant is a great location for a grittier "Star Wars"-esque setting where familiar Star Trek aliens are mixed with aliens that are more alien, as well as more traditional robots than usually figure into the franchise.
The show kicks off with an energetic double-length pilot, which gives few hints that it has anything to do with Star Trek until midway through when two of the young miners discover an abandoned starship with a very familiar feel. In the meantime, we get to know the rag-tag collection of teenagers who are destined to become our show's protagonists.
The self-appointed leader of the group is Dal R'El, a fast-talking scamp from an unidentified species of purple people, cut from a similar cloth as Ezra Bridger from Star Wars: Rebels. Dal is joined by Zero, Rok-Tahk, Jankom Pog, and Murf. Zero is a telepathic Medusan whose species was last scene in TOS: "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" Despite her size as a large and physically imposing Brikar, Rok-Tahk is actually a juvenile female of her species. Jankom Pog is a Tellarite engineer --- argumentative as his species have ever been. Although the others do not know it until they have access to the universal translator, Murf (it seems) is a non-sentient eating-machine/blob. The last member of the crew, Gywn, the progeny of the Diviner, begins the voyage as a captive --- but who knows where her arc may lead?
In the final minutes of the pilot, Rok-Tahk accidentally activates the ship's training program, who identifies herself as "hologram Janeway." It is a welcome revival of Voyager's captain who is destined to serve as a teacher and mentor to our motely, young crew and to introduce them and Prodigy's audience to the values and vision of Star Trek. I was first exposed to Star Trek as a child in the 1970s with the original animated series (TAS) which paved the way for me to become a lifelong fan. With any luck, Prodigy will similarly help grow the fan base of the present and the future.
- Remarkable starship: The USS Protostar NX-76884 is an experimental ship that shares much in common with the Intrepid-class USS Voyager. Like Voyager, the Protostar can enter atmospheres and land on planets. The warp drives of both have two configurations (up and down), but it appears that in the Protostar's case an additional drive is activated. The Protostar's bridge and nacelles share design elements with starships in the Kelvin timeline.
- Remarkably familiar aliens: It's not clear yet why there would be a Medusan or a Tellarite in the Delta Quadrant or why they would not have heard about the Federation. Other Alpha Quadrant species in the mines include a Lurian and a Caitian. We also get to see one of the Delta Quadrant's indigenous baddies, the Kazon.
Rating: 8 (John Hamer)