The big news out of the virtual Comic-Con@Home Star Trek: Prodigy was the unveiling of the teaser trailer. But the full panel with cast and creators had much more, and we have a full breakdown of what we learned.
Moderated by Jerry O’Connell of Lower Decks, the Prodigy panel featured a conversation with voice cast members Kate Mulgrew (“Hologram Janeway”), Brett Gray (“Dal”), Ella Purnell (“Gwyn”), Angus Imrie (“Zero”), Rylee Alazraqui (“Rok-Tahk”), Dee Bradley Baker (“Murf”) and Jason Mantzoukas (“Jankom Pog”) alongside executive producers Kevin and Dan Hageman and director/co-executive producer Ben Hibon.
When the panel began, Prodigy was described by Kevin Hageman as “the first Star Trek series that’s going to actually be through the eyes of characters who are outside of Starfleet”—with the exception of hologram Janeway, of course.
After O’Connell called the show’s overall look “daring,” Ben Hibon said the design reflects the ambition to tell their story from a kids’ point of view but also, importantly, as the entry point for a new generation—as well as for anyone who hasn’t watched any Star Trek. So the show isn’t designed just for kids, but for fans of animation and sci-fi. With the ambition being to have kids and parents watching together, they wanted to “make sure that it has that kind of visual impact, and also because Prodigy is canon… we want this series and this story to just fit within that incredibly rich universe…”
Dan Hageman added that since he knew Prodigy would be seen as the younger sibling in the CBS Star Trek universe, “…we wanted to be that little brother or little sister that smacks the bigger sibling and says, ‘Don’t underestimate us.'”
Brett Gray’s Dal plays “vocal tricks” with Hologram Janeway
Brett Gray described Dal as someone who learns about each character as the episodes go on, and then begins to understand himself, who he is, and what his place in the universe is as well. “And then being trained by Janeway!” he added emphatically.
When Kate Mulgrew brought up his talent for “vocal tricks,”—and Gray added that Dal has a lot of fun doing vocal tricks with hologram Janeway—the EPs talked about how he blew them away at the audition. He admitted that when he got there early, he was in awe of the Nickelodeon lobby and just settled in to read the pile of scripts that was out there for him, and then kicked off his shoes and forget where he was as he read. When they called his name, he just got up and walked in, forgetting his shoes were still out there.
Ella Purnell’s Gwynn is a character in conflict
Gwynn, a Vau N’ Akat, was described by Ella Purnell as someone who’s starts out quite closed off as a person, “very much under the thumb of her father.” She has her own ideals and beliefs, but is a very conflicted character, with “two sides that she’s fighting with constantly. And throughout the season, she gets to be a kid—her actual age” and learns how to let loose and enjoy herself a little. And that’s when “the real Gwynn starts to come out.”
Purnell added that Gwynn is a translator who can speak a lot of different languages, which led to this next revelation…
There will be Klingons!
Purnell and the Hagemans talked extensively about finding Klingon translations for Gwynn; they started out on YouTube, then found enough discrepancies that they felt they needed something more official: Star Trek’s official Klingon translator. (Our guess is that they’re referring to Robyn Stewart, the Klingon language consultant on the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, as they said “she.” Otherwise it would likely be Marc Okrand.)
“Thousands of five-year-olds will be speaking fluent Klingon,” Mulgrew quipped.
Rylee Alazraqui’s Rok-Tahk is a big softy
While the Hagemans said there was network pressure to hire an adult for the character, they were determined to hire a kid, and 10-year-old Alazraqui was perfect. (The character is eight years old.) “She’s an animal-loving, cute little rock monster and it’s really fun playing her because I just get to be myself.”
“There are a lot of rock monsters in sci-fi,” said Dan Hageman, “and I think we wanted to find, like, ‘What’s a rock monster that hasn’t been done?'”
The Hagemans felt that for Dal, “if there’s one person to befriend on this alien mining planet, just from looks alone, it would be the giant rock monster.”
“Our crew comes in, they don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know their parts,” said Kevin. “But right away they’re like, ‘Look at the Brikar. Look at the tank here. Clearly this is going to be our security officer, right?’ This is a child. She hates to fight. She loves science. And we just fell in love with that.”
Jason Mantzoukas’ Jankom Pog is “not always successful”
Mantzoukas talked about how Jankonm Pog is the engineer and mechanic who’s always trying to fix what’s wrong and make things work, but that he doesn’t always succeed, and added that, having a typical Tellarite disposition, he has contradictory opinions from the rest of the characters.
Angus Imrie’s Zero is a genderless Medusan with some learning to do
Imrie talked about playing a “genderless, non-corporeal entity” and called his character “a light source, essentially.” He described Medusans as being not very good at social conventions; because they can read minds, Zero can read other people’s minds and has a tendency to blurt out what other people are thinking, but will be learning how to understand others’ emotions “and grow with that.”
Dee Bradley Baker’s Murph is a “sentient blob”
Baker said his character Murph is a familiar of Rok-Tahk, a “lieutenant/sidekick type.” While Murph understands what’s going on around him, viewers aren’t likely to understand him, made clear when Baker spoke in Murph’s “voice,” which sounded desperately in need of a universal translator.
Kate Mulgrew says she’s “Janeway at her best”
Mulgrew immediately described hologram Janeway as “devastatingly beautiful,” then explained that she’s there to help the crew get their defunct ship up & running and to a better place in “a different galaxy,” and that she is driven to succeed. She’s determined to help the kids, and retains all of Janeway’s qualities: She’s funny, she cares, she can be strict, and she’s strong and powerful.
Prodigy is about a bright future
Baker and Mantzoukis both talked about watching TOS reruns as kids and how much it meant to them.
The idea of the show, said Baker, is that they’ve assembled a really appealing ensemble of disparate characters and creatures to work together, which has been part of Star Trek’s DNA since The Original Series in the 1960s.
Mulgrew talked about the “beauty of it, the depth of it, the hope, and the promise of it. And if there’s any age group that’s going to take this thing and embrace it with a wholeheartedness not seen before, it’s the young kids.”
She added: “What could be better than possibly handing this to the next generation?”
Watch the full panel
You can see the entire panel below, which includes the moment when host Jerry O’Connell was briefly interrupted by his wife Rebecca Romijn and her Strange New Worlds co-star Ethan Peck.
More coverage and analysis from Comic-Con@Home
There is more to come including our breakdown of the news from the Lower Decks panel and our analysis of the two trailers.
You can keep up with all the coverage via TrekMovie’s SDCC sub-category.
Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.