The second part of the first season of Star Trek: Prodigy will be heading back into deep space on Nickelodeon and Paramount Plus on Friday, 28th October in the UK. Plus a Q+A with the voice cast and creators!
The second part of the first season of the animated series Star Trek: Prodigy is coming back to UK screens this October. The series will start on Nickelodeon and Paramount Plus UK on Friday, October 28th at 6 pm. Every Friday from this date will see more episodes become available. Featuring the voice of Kate Mulgrew, returning to her iconic role as Captain Janeway, the series is a must-watch for all Star Trek fans as well as little ones who can be introduced to the worlds every series in the franchise has to offer.
Star Trek: Prodigy follows the intergalactic adventures of six alien teenagers as they try to escape from their cruel enslaved past and look ahead to the stars for hope and salvation aboard an abandoned Federation starship.
Q&A WITH THE CREATORS; KEVIN HAGEMAN, DAN HAGEMAN AND BEN HIBON
How did the series come about?
Kevin: Alex Kurtzman and his company Secret Hideout came to us. About three years ago, they felt like there was a space for kids to become new Star Trek viewers. There are so many Star Trek shows now, so they wanted an on-ramp and entry point. And specifically for kids. But Dan and I, we don’t like to write just for kids. We like to write for ourselves.
Dan: It’s just going into the emotions going into who these characters are. Having close-ups on their face and seeing them breathe, instead of being like, ‘I’m in an animated show’. Treat everything for real.
Ben: We’re big kids. We want the movie experience, we want spectacle, we want the complexity of relationships, we won the stakes.
Dan: Right after we pitched Ryan Robbins, we warned him, you know, ‘This is a show that’s a little different than what has typically been on Nickelodeon’. But he embraced it. He said ‘Yes, let’s do it. Go ambitious’.
Kevin: I would love it for kids to watch it and love it when they’re six or eight, and then come back to it at 12 or 13 and watch it again. They’d get a whole new layer of it. They’d appreciate it even more.
When did Ben get involved?
Ben: When I came on board, we had most of season one planned out. We had a really good understanding of the scale and the scope of the show. And that was a really great position to be in because it gave us the ability to have foresight in terms of how we wanted this story to start. In terms of design, when you build a world it’s really important to have these elements in mind. And so when we talk about style, we really wanted to keep the cinematic feel of the live-action shows and stay canon to that reality.
Kevin: Can I just add that what we’re watching right now, I think we wrote about three years ago. And right now we’re finishing writing episode 40. So there is a really big vast track ahead of you.
Why is the show called Prodigy?
Dan: Usually most Star Trek shows are named after the ship. This one isn’t, because we thought this wasn’t about the ship. This is about the kids. And we always felt like ‘prodigy’ is a term used for extraordinary children with exceptional qualities. And that doesn’t mean you have to be super smart on your IQ tests, it just means that you progress at something. And all of these kids will progress at something and they’ll and they’ll find each other. It wasn’t our first choice, by the way. We actually had a horrible first choice. It was The Last Starship, which it obviously wasn’t.
Why did you choose this starting point for the series?
Kevin: When you look at most Star Trek shows, the characters are all adults. And the older shows were episodic, so the characters didn’t change much. You’re always resetting back to the next episode. Kids don’t relate to that. And so we felt like, well, what if you started outside of the Trek universe, with characters who know nothing about Starfleet, and slowly get them into it? We get to introduce each thing that makes Star Trek what it is.
Ben: It’s also a questioning trick a little bit. Dal as a character is rejecting any sense of authority or ideology. He could not care less about what Janeway has to say about the Federation. So it gives us a chance to justify why Trek is the way it is.
Kevin: Also, from the character concept stage we were like, ‘How do we make these into great action figures?’ The Zero figure lights up. Murph is all blubbery. Gwyn has the coolest weapon. The ship has moving pieces.
Was it scary to come aboard such an established property?
Dan: A hundred percent. You know the fandom is out there, waiting to pounce on you. And we knew that you know, there were a lot of people who are against New Trek or the JJ Abrams stuff. But you have to make the decision to either play it safe or make our own Trek of something that we would want to see. And that opportunity is just too rich to pass.
Kevin: There’s even more pressure from not just doing our own iteration of Trek, but making sure that it really embodies what Gene Roddenberry wanted.
Dan: We were scared to write a Star Trek show. But that’s the reason why we should be the ones to write a Star Trek show. And then that love of Star Trek started coming out of our writer’s room. We remember saying in the room, let’s come from a place of joy. And that was always our first intention when we were writing these episodes. Let’s bring the joy from Star Trek onto the screen.
Were you handed any rules?
Dan: The rules are mostly our own. We kind of understand that we’re not gonna throw Picard in there and mess up the canon of whatever Picard is doing. You just have to be careful about the other storylines and where you are, in terms of time.
Kevin: Yeah, we’re being respectful of that, not just for other shows, but for our own. But it’s been very open. Alex and Secret Hideout, the whole team has been so welcoming.
How hard was it to balance the ratio of fan service with the stories that you wanted to tell?
Dan: The importance of that balance is that nostalgia is easy to lean on, because of course people are gonna want to see Spock. But the show can’t just be about that. The show has to be about these kids and the new stories and their evolution. The fan service is mainly little easter eggs, but the goal is to get an audience to latch on, and for a new audience this is their Trek. This is the one that they’ll go back to.
Kevin and Dan, how is it to work together as brothers?
Dan: There’s conflict. It’s chaos. We’re clashing with each other. But I think beautiful things come out of the conflict.
Kevin: Brother sharpens brother. But I think we’ve just learned to handle the conflict better. Okay, we just disagreed. We’re just clearly on opposite sides of the fence on this one issue. Let’s just put a pin in it. Let’s talk. Let’s move on to something that we agree on. Right. Okay. And then you start agreeing on something else. And then the next day, we come back to that topic.
The Kobayashi episode seems like it was incredibly hard to put together?
Dan: We kind of knew, going into this, like, ‘How are we going to do this? Is it gonna work?’
Kevin: But if it works, oh my god, people are gonna love this episode.
Dan: But we also needed to forgive ourselves. The patchwork of audio, we knew there might be questions about that. But do we want to use a Leonard Nimoy soundalike, because there are great voice actors who could do that? No, it has to be Leonard Nimoy. He’s so important to Star Trek.
Any fun moments from recording?
Dan: One of my favorite parts in the recording booth was, there was a little bit where we needed Zero to be excited. And Angus goes like ‘Hoot hoot’. I said ‘We’re gonna keep that’, and so if you watch the show you’ll hear Zero, when excited, goes ‘Hoot hoot’.
Q&A WITH ANGUS IMRIE (ZERO)
Was it tricky to get into the mindset of an energy-based non-corporeal character?
It was difficult because, as an actor, you have to try and find what’s human first. And it did take a while. Even though I could look at Zero’s character design, so much of that is colored by their containment suit. And so you think ‘What’s beyond the containment suit?’ I was throwing a few darts early on, I think.
Zero can’t feel any sensations, but they do have feelings, and they do care for other people. There’s something of a soul buried in there. At the beginning of the series, they are being used as a weapon against the other characters. And you realize quite how horrendous that is for Zero. It’s like the worst thing that could ever be imagined. To be kind, but to know that if anyone sees you, they go mad. To be doing that to other people, without your own consent, is an unimaginable horror. So a lot of that journey of the first series is trying to get over that and actually seek retribution for what happened to them.
Did you have a relationship with Star Trek before you started watching?
No, I didn’t at all. Well, of course, I had a sense of what it meant culturally, but I didn’t think I quite grasped the extent of it. I mean, I had no idea that the first interracial kiss took place on Star Trek. My first sort of inkling of the scale of it was when I did a film called The Kid Who Would be King with Patrick Stewart, where we both played the same character. But once you go online, you see how much love there is for the show. And then when I had the audition, I knew a friend of mine had a recording studio in their basement. So I said, ‘Do you mind if I come and do this audition with you?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, what’s it for?’ And I said ’It’s for Star Trek’. And immediately, I could see his hands shaking with excitement. And so I thought, ‘Okay, this is the impact it’s having on people’. I’m lucky to be a part of that.
Do you enjoy voice work?
Yes. I do some radio, but animation is a really different world. I mean, I’m really grateful for my radio background, because you learn to tell all of the story through your voice. And then, during the pandemic, I’ve done a film for Netflix called Back to the Outback, playing a scorpion called Nigel. I feel like through those two projects, I’ve begun to develop a sense of what you need to offer to the animators. It’s no good if you just go into the booth and give the same read every time, you really want to try and give a wide variety. I think I’ve got better at it as things have gone on. I think it’s fantastic.
How much did you know about Zero when you auditioned?
Well, at first I didn’t even know what I was auditioning for. I was told I was playing a 14-year-old boy who’s very specific about certain things. I only later learned that it was for Star Trek. And that’s when I first saw the character design. I had a phone call with Dan and Kevin, once I’d got the job because I wanted to try and gauge a bit more about who the character was. But it’s difficult to completely get a grasp on things over the phone. So truthfully, it’s been a process. And even though I initially had the images, and I had an understanding of the character and had the first few scripts, I don’t think I’ve really got the handle on him until now. It deepens over time.
What’s the future for Zero?
I will tell you that they do experience sensations for the first time. They find a planet in which there are there are other hive minds who have managed to cultivate organic matter so that they can grow a body. It’s been quite difficult playing Zero because they don’t have any breathing apparatus. Sometimes that’s a challenge. How do you make efforts? How do you have emotional breath? And so recording that episode was like going to heaven. Suddenly you could express all of these things for the first time. And I hope that Zero maybe falls in love. I hope that they have the breadth of experience that we all might have as human beings.
Q&A WITH ELLA PURNELL (GWYN)
How did you get involved in Prodigy?
They gave the project an alias when I auditioned, but my voiceover agent knew that it was Star Trek. I didn’t watch Star Trek, but I was like, well, that’s cool. I did my auditions out of my closet, because of Covid. And then I met everybody and did a big Zoom audition with like 50 people, which was very scary.
You hadn’t watched any Star Trek?
No. Obviously, I knew what it was. You can’t not know certain things, you know, like Janeway and this finger thing I’ve been working very hard to get right. But I didn’t really know much about it. And then I decided early on that I didn’t want to watch it because I knew that the characters were also coming in to this new. And I also know that if I’d seen it, I would be subconsciously trying to imitate stuff. Maybe I’ll watch it all today. Maybe tonight. I could do 275 episodes in one night, right?
How was it to learn so many new languages?
Yeah, there’s a lot. And there’s a lot more coming. So obviously, I had to speak Klingon in like, episode one! An American accent is hard enough as it is, but then you’re doing Klingon in an American accent. And also this weird cat language. I can’t remember what the cat language was. But that’s in the first episode too.
At the start, we were looking on Google Translate to find out the correct Klingon pronunciations for everything. But then we realized that there are about 19 different options, and then none of them were really right. And obviously, correct Klingon pronunciation is something you really have to get right. They ended up bringing in a Klingon translator. She was really tough on the pronunciation, and I got very frustrated with myself because I’m a perfectionist.
But Gwyn speaks these languages. That’s what she’s been trained in her whole life. She can speak every language. And it’s actually really fascinating and beautiful because the language ties in with the race. Klingon is very a traditional male-dominated species, and you have to command respect with your voice and be strong with what you say. Whereas the cat language is very soft and melodic. You have to use different parts of your voice.
Do you enjoy voice work?
I love it. I really do. Part of me is like, is this my calling? I love acting, but I don’t feel very intellectually stimulated by it all the time. But voiceover is still shiny and new and fresh. And I’m definitely still learning. I feel incredibly challenged by it. It feels very rewarding when it comes together in the right way, in a way that acting doesn’t. It’s so freeing. You have to learn anything, you can just turn up with no makeup. And no one’s watching you, so you don’t have any of that human embarrassment you get as an actor. You’re just in the booth. You pretend no one can see you and you just jump around and do all this mental stuff.
Were you surprised by the end result?
When I first read the script, it was really hard for me to conceptualize the magnitude of the worlds, you know? The size of the ships, the size of the planets, everything. And when they say ‘Zero, a noncorporeal entity, brings out a phaser’, I do not know how to imagine that. I can’t begin to understand what that would look like. So it wasn’t the most natural thing for me to adapt to. But that’s one of the things I love about animation.
What can we expect from your character this season?
Season one is very much about like Gwyn’s personal arc. She’s got a really interesting, complex arc. She begins as the villain, and she realizes the error of her ways, and she learns how to be herself and how to find her identity outside of her father. You get to see her learn how to be a kid, learn how to have fun, and let her alien hair down. She starts cracking jokes, discovers that she likes ice cream, and also learns how to forgive herself for the mistakes that she’s made because she kept all of the other characters as slaves on this planet.
What can we expect from your character in the future?
So, I think, is very much about like, healing the relationship with her father. It’s about her finding her species.
Q&A WITH KATE MULGREW (CAPTAIN JANEWAY)
Tell me about the show
It’s a confluence of brilliant minds, beginning with our visionary Alex Kurtzman and then pulling in Kevin and Dan Hagaman, who had the foresight to understand how clever and wonderfully stimulating it would be to introduce Star Trek to young minds by using characters who have nothing to do with Star Trek at all. And I think the production values are extraordinary. I think what’s going to happen is there’s going to be a cross-pollination, and it’s going to be joyful. With the mother, the kid, and the grandmother, all on the couch, talking over each other as to what the phasers are, what that line meant, look what the characters are going through. It’s going to be explosive.
You play a holographic representation of Janeway on Prodigy. How did that affect your performance?
She’s a hologram so that in itself excludes certain elements of the corporeal self. When they say ‘action’ in live action, you may be saying a line and endowing it with levity, but underneath you could be frightened or frustrated. All these emotions play out if you’re a good actor. But with hologram Janeway, you what you see is what you get. It’s slightly more limited because she’s not sentient. As a hologram, you’re there to represent what it would be like to be a real captain. Children can grasp that idea, alongside the ideas of the six in the motley crew. And it’s just beautifully thought out. Really, really, really beautifully.
Did you need to be persuaded to join the show?
A bit. Because of the significance of Janeway, and what I gave to her. For seven years when I played her, I played her heart. It’s a big part of my life, and it shaped my professional life. I talked to everybody about this new series. I had good conversations with people that I care about, about it. And to a man, they all said, ‘You’re absolutely out of your mind if you don’t do it’. Because you’re depriving an entire generation of a great gift. And you can’t do that if you’re a good Captain Janeway.
Was Janeway very easy to slip back into?
She never left. She never did for a second. I’m constantly reminded of her, I’m constantly asked about it. And constant requests are made. There are lots of books and a lot of conventions. Because, as you know, this fanbase is the largest and the best in the world. And these are not foolish people. They think on a high level, they understand that all this is science-based. All they’ve done is hook it to the imagination. Janeway had so much influence on women in STEM, I’m knocked out. And I learn about it all the time when Stacey Abrams calls me and says, ‘I’m your biggest fan’. Wow. She’s just an absolute Star Trek nerd. She knows everything.
How have the fans reacted to the new Janeway?
Highly. People need this now. The world has been through an awfully difficult time. Dark dark days in the pandemic, and now dark days in Russia. But the starship is a metaphor for hope and peace and adventure. The best that is in us as human beings is exemplified in this series.
The show uses archive clips of Leonard Nimoy’s voice. Would you ever grant future generations permission to do the same with yours?
Yes. Be my guest. It has been a joy and a privilege to play her. And certainly, to mark the first female captain of a starship. Let my voice be heard forever if someone wants to hear it. What could be better? What could really be better?
Q&A WITH DEE BRADLEY BAKER (MURF)
How did this role come about?
The show creators needed a very odd alien creature that was also a cast member, really a member of a team. It doesn’t speak words, but there seems to be comprehension and even intent. It even has a name. So it’s not just sounds effects- you need an actor to bring it to life vocally. So, they asked me to take a crack at it, as a lot of what I do in voice acting isn’t human. I was able to bring a fitting kind of intent and connection to the character that the creators really liked and we went from there.
Did you previously have a relationship with Star Trek as a fan?
Oh boy, I loved Star Trek when I was young. I liked the ideas and even asked my dad if I could have my ears surgically modified to be like Spock’s. No kidding. I read “The making of Star Trek” book that came out in the 70s and purchased and studied the Enterprise schematics. I drew spaceships. I really liked the optimism and the idea of scientific exploration and reaching beyond earth. I even attended an early fan convention in Denver in the early 80s that featured James Doohan as a guest. I once purchased this awesome phaser replica signed by William Shatner at a charity auction. Recently I purchased a super cool book detailing the making of the first Star Trek feature film. So, uh, yes, you could say I was (and am) a Star Trek fan. Ha!
What do you love most about being in the Star Trek universe?
I love the optimistic and inclusive view Star Trek has of humans. It’s science-based and basically positive. It’s an extrapolation of who we are now, not merely fantasy. It feels possible because of this to me. We need more of this kind of thing- a shared horizon of hope where we work out our issues on this planet and then pool our resources to push beyond our planet together to explore and expand and discover. Star Trek highlights some of our best features: our collaborative and curious nature. Everyone- especially kids- needs a positive and hopeful horizon and Star Trek has always pointed towards this.
How have Star Trek fans reacted to your character?
Ha. Fans of all ages seem to love Murph! Who wouldn’t want to have that crawling around your home?
How did you come across the language that Murf speaks in?
I improvised going off of the wet and pliable squishiness of his design, plus I figured it would make sense for him to utter something that sounds like his name now and then.
Is it hard to play a character that can’t communicate in an identifiable language?
It’s easy to voice a non-human character when you think of it as just another acting role. As long as you’re clear on what is happening in the scene and how it affects the character, then you have specific intent, subtext, and behavior- just like with a dog, for instance. There’s a mind at work for the creature, along with relationships and reactions to what is playing out in the story. It’s all acting stuff. I channel that through my collection of vocalizations and sounds I’ve discovered I can make to bring that critter to life.
How do you see Murf developing in the future?
David Bowie sang it best: “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…”
Q&A WITH RYLEE ALAZRAQUI (ROK-TAHK)
How did this role come about?
I received an audition through my agent with dummy sides at first and initially didn’t hear back. A few months later I received another audition with sides from the episode “Time Amok”. It was so cool reading bits from the actual script! Then from that, I got a callback at Nickelodeon and met with some of the creators! I heard I booked it a little while after that!
Did you previously have a relationship with Star Trek as a fan?
No, this was actually my first time learning about the Star Trek world and it’s the best way because it’s aimed towards kids. I learn more about the world as I record each episode and watch the episodes back when they air!
How have Star Trek fans reacted to your character?
So far everyone has been so nice and they all seem to love Rok! She has such a warm heart and I think people like that. I have heard a lot of very kind things about Rok-Tahk and I feel lucky to voice such a sweet character.
What do you love most about being in the Star Trek universe?
I love how fun the adventures are and the mystery behind a lot of it. My sister also loves it!
Do you enjoy voice work? Why?
Yes, I love it. Especially working on Star Trek because our voice director Brook Chalmers and [co-EPs] Kevin and Dan make it so much fun. We laugh a lot!
Does your father enjoy you being in the family business?
Yes, definitely. He always says my auditions are better than his, which is kind of funny. He’ll say, “Better than I can do!” He loves hearing me in the shows I’ve been lucky enough to book.
In what ways are you like your character?
I think I’m nice and energetic like Rok. I’m also an animal lover. We have two dogs and a guinea pig. She’s also super friendly but also a bit shy and I’m definitely that way, too.
How do you see Rok-Tahk developing in the future?
I think with every adventure she becomes more confident as a Brikar and better at everything she takes on academically.
“Star Trek: Prodigy” season one, part two launches on Nickelodeon and Paramount Plus on Friday, October 28th at 6 pm.
Are you a fan of the show? Do you enjoy watching it? What are you hoping for going forward? Beam down to the comments section to leave us your thoughts!
Source: Paramount Plus UK
Feel the Force on Social Media.
Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!