This post contains moderate spoilers for the first episode and slight spoilers for episode two of ‘Star Trek: Prodigy.’
How do you make a series that can draw in newcomers while still appealing to long-time fans? In the case of Star Trek: Prodigy, you set it in a place where the United Federation of Planets has little to no presence — the Delta Quadrant — and make your cast a bunch of misfit kids who have never heard of the Federation or Starfleet. That puts them on the same level as the children this show hopes to draw in, while offering up just enough tidbits to intrigue their Trekkie parents.
The pilot, ‘Lost and Found,’ is a feature-length episode that debuted today on Paramount+ (that means it’s technically two parts). It was originally planned to air on Nickelodeon first, but it was changed to a streaming-exclusive for 2021 with the cable channel airing it later at a still-unknown date. The animated show fills in the content gap between the end of Lower Decks earlier this month and the premiere of Discovery season four in November — which in turn, should carry fans through to the start of season two of Picard in February. The idea is to keep Star Trek fans from dropping their subscriptions to Paramount+ during the downtime, something that was fairly common during Discovery’s first three seasons.
That assumes, however, that Prodigy has something to offer those adult fans. And that’s where the deeper ties to Trek lore come in. Though Voyager spent seven years in the Delta Quadrant, the ship’s mission to get back to Federation space meant it couldn’t stick around in any one place too long, or return to previous locales. There’s a ton left to explore — as well as plenty of room for Prodigy’s creators, Dan and Kevin Hageman, to populate their own corner of the universe.
First, they have to introduce their main characters, and that’s what ‘Lost and Found’ is largely dedicated to doing. Our cast of misfits, led by Dal (voiced by Brett Gray), lives on a mining colony populated by prisoners and orphans. It’s the last place anyone would want to be, especially a Star Trek character, which is why the main drive is to just get off this bleak rock. But right away the series makes its point about being far from Federation space and technology, as the inhabitants can’t even talk to each other due to a lack …….