The animated kids series Star Trek: Prodigy debuts sometime later this year on Paramount+, featuring Kate Mulgrew as a hologram version of Captain Janeway. Details on the show are scarce, but thanks to Mulgrew, we now have a slightly clearer picture.
How the Prodigy crew meets Holo-Janeway
Since the show was first announced two years ago, we have known that Prodigy will follow a “motley crew of young aliens” who find and commandeer a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to go off on adventures “navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future.” Last month it was revealed the kids will be helped along by an “Emergency Training Hologram” in the form of Captain Janeway, voiced by Kate Mulgrew.
Now in a new video interview promoting her series Mr. Mercedes, Kate Mulgrew has revealed more about Prodigy, starting with how she landed the job and why it is important for the franchise:
This came through a phone call—when I was doing Mr. Mercedes—from Alex Kurtzman, whom you may or may not know is now in charge of the entire franchise. All things Star Trek-related belong to Alex Kurtzman. [He’s] an incredibly smart guy, really astute. He understands the culture and understands where kids are. He understands the mentality in a way I just don’t. And the only demographic that Star Trek is missing are the young ones, the kids. It really has appealed to the 20- to 35-year-old males.
Mulgrew’s comment meshes with earlier reporting that Kurtzman and ViacomCBS see Prodigy as “critical” to the franchise. And to emphasize how the show will appeal to kids, Mulgrew revealed the setup and her character’s introduction:
But in Prodigy—this new animated series—five kids are incarcerated on an obscure planet in an uncharted part of the galaxy. And they escaped from their imprisonment and race across the planet to find a defunct starship buried in the sand of the of the planet’s surface. They go in and of course the prison guards are coming after them. And they can’t get it up and the shields won’t run or the thing won’t do… And suddenly somebody hits a button and [hologram startup sound] “Hello, kids. I see you’re a little bit stuck here. Can I help you out?” And it’s Captain Janeway in a holographic form.
So I think it’s really, really, going to capture the imagination of little kids. And if they can sit with their mothers who watched me in live-action, and their fathers who loved the other guys, then we’ve got a family affair and that that will bring it full circle.
While official descriptions from the show have previously described the Prodigy alien crew as “outcasts,” this is the first time we learn they start off as prisoners. This is also the first we have learned about how they find the Starfleet ship and meet hologram Janeway. It may not be significant, but Mulgrew mentions five kids start incarcerated but the official crew images show six characters (see below) so it’s possible they pick up one along the way, possibly the one that looks like a robot.
Last month on First Contact Day, it was revealed that Prodigy will be set in the Delta Quadrant—the same setting as Star Trek: Voyager—however, Mulgrew’s comment about this being an “uncharted” part of the galaxy indicates the show will not be set around Voyager’s path through the quadrant, or at least not at the beginning. The new series is set in the year 2383, five years after the USS Voyager returned to Earth and four years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (which included a cameo from Mulgrew as Admiral Janeway).
Lessons learned from 7 years in the Delta Quadrant
During the same interview, Mulgrew also talked about her history with the Star Trek franchise, including how not originally understanding the scale of Star Trek was helpful in landing the job as Captain Janeway:
Everybody is besotted with Star Trek. I hadn’t the first clue when I got [on Voyager]. I hadn’t the first clue. And I never would have gotten the part had I known the size or the dimension of it. But I didn’t. I said, “What is it? What is that?” I understood science fiction as if from afar. It’s not my thing. And then I was told, “Well, you’re an idiot, because this thing is vast and very, very important in the culture.” But I didn’t know that when I went in for the for the audition. And I think it was that ignorance that stood me in good stead. I laughed with Janeway whom I created as a female captain. I laughed and I winked in the room. She was saucy. She was sassy. She was warm. She was worried she was vulnerable. I think even a little funny. So it won the day.
She admitted that she soon learned what a big deal it was:
But as for Captain Janeway and sitting in the captain’s seat as the first female to helm a starship, it changed my life. It utterly changed my life. And Rick Berman, who was then the carrier of the franchise, told me that it would. I laughed and thought, ‘Oh, yeah, they all say it’s going to change your life.’ This changed the fabric of my life. The very substance of it, in fact. It’s huge, huge.
She also discussed other lessons she learned during her seven years on Voyager:
It was quite a chapter. You called it a tenure earlier, and that’s exactly what it was. It was seven years in a very unique foxhole. And I made lifelong friendships in that foxhole. I learned a lot of things about myself, some of them not so admirable, but most of them actually quite good. I learned how to stand up for eighteen hours a day and to remind myself that excellence was of the moment and it had to be exercised at every turn. I think I learned a kind of extraordinary discipline during those years. I was raising two little children by myself, and those days and weeks were very long. And I just said to myself, “The only thing you could possibly do to make this right with your children is knock it out of the park as best you possibly can.” And I think for young women in science I may have done that a little bit. And that alone was gratifying.
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