Kate Mulgrew And NYCC Panel Reveal How ‘Prodigy’ Will Guide New Fans Into Star Trek

At New York Comic Con, the Star Trek: Prodigy panel included a new clip and breaking news about new cast members, including Robert Beltran, and there was still a lot more to talk about. Paramount+ brought voice cast members Kate Mulgrew (Hologram Janeway), Brett Gray (Dal), Rylee Alazraqui (Rok-Tahk) and Dee Bradley Baker (Murf) to New York for the event. They were joined by producers Kevin Hageman, Dan Hageman, and Ben Hibon, along with Ramsey Naito, President, Animation & Development, Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation.  Here are some highlights from the panel:

Prodigy will guide new fans to Star Trek

The Prodigy panel was held right after an advance screening of the pilot episode. The one-hour premiere, “Lost & Found,” tells the story of a group of lawless teens exiled on a mining colony outside Federation space who discover a derelict Starfleet ship. Co-creator Kevin Hageman talked about how the series will welcome new viewers to the Star Trek universe:

Kevin Hageman: As you saw in the pilot, they start way out in the Delta Quadrant. That was our way in. We wanted a bunch of new characters who knew nothing about Star Trek, just like our young audience. And slowly, as you saw at the very end of the pilot, there’d be hologram Janeway. And then with every other episode, we get closer and closer into the Trek-verse. We get to have so much fun taking our time, and introducing everything we love about Star Trek… For me growing up Trek was just so aspirational. And I feel like, not only for kids today, that they need that. I need that.

Kevin’s brother and co-creator Dan also weighed in on how this isn’t just a show for kids:

Dan Hageman: I want to open it up. It’s not just for young people. I think there’s a lot of people out there who are curious about Star Trek, but they may be intimidated. There’s a lot of Star Trek out there. Where do we start? How do we know the difference between Romulan and Vulcan? And this is a show that is going to help anyone, not only a new generation, but people who are curious about Star Trek and want to jump in. This will guide them right into the into the franchise.

Ben Hibon, Kevin Hageman, and Dan Hageman introduce the Star Trek: Prodigy pilot at New York Comic Con 2021 (Twitter/Kate Mulgrew)

Mulgrew sees Roddenberry’s vision in Prodigy

The producers revealed that the NYCC screening was the first time anyone outside of their core team had seen the pilot episode, including the cast. Series star Kate Mulgrew gave her assessment after seeing it for the first time:

Kate Mulgrew:  I got very emotional standing backstage watching this animated incarnation of Star Trek. And there’s a very good reason for that. The philosophy behind this will reverberate in infinity. It is a wonderful idea that [Gene] Roddenberry had about the human spirit, about transcendence of all kinds of obstacles. And especially after this bloody pandemic to have something wonderful to look forward to. And that’s Star Trek.

Later, the Voyager star spoke about how she can relate to many in the cast who are new to the franchise:

Kate Mulgrew: Growing up we were only allowed to watch Notre Dame football… I too came to Star Trek as an innocent. And I think that actually stood Janeway in good stead. I came into it knowing nothing. And now I wouldn’t dream of being without it.

Kate Mulgrew at New York Comic Con 2021

Dal is learning to lead

The leader of the crew of kids who discovers the Starfleet ship (the USS Protostar) is Dal, voiced by Brett Gray. He spoke about the character and finding his voice:

Brett Gray: Dal is super scrappy and funny and charismatic and sometimes overzealous, so I have those qualities myself. It was really easy to find his voice. Dan and Kevin were super instrumental in my recording sessions. And we found a really great balance of overconfidence and learning how to lead another group of people.

The young actor also talked about his personal experience with Star Trek:

Brett Gray: I had always known Star Trek… But I never really had a way in. Who do I follow and what’s happening and where are we now? To get this start with new characters in their own sort of story going forth and learning all of these things, even for myself as someone entering the Star Trek universe, I’m becoming such a Trekkie. So it’s awesome to start and be a part of it, and to be able to give that to other people as well.

Brett Gray at New York Comic Con 2021

Rok-Tahk is just a little girl rock monster

Prodigy is introducing a Brikarian into Star Trek canon, a Federation race previously only seen in Trek books and comics. Rylee Alazraqui talked about the contrast between the look of Rok-Tahk and how she sees herself in the character:

Rylee Alazraqui: Rok-Tahk is a very loving animal-lover character. She wants to be loved and she wants other people to see her as how she is and who she truly is. And I think that Rok-Tahk is exactly like me. All I have to do is just be myself to be Rok-Tahk because I’m an animal lover. I’m pretty sensitive. I am kind so I think that Rok-Tahk and I are kind of like twinning over here…

Firstly, I thought I had to be the person who was making the big heavy voices. And I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And then I realized that she was inside like an eight-year-old girl. And I was just really excited because this is funny. It’s this big rock monster who’s like an eight-year-old girl. So I just was myself and it was great.

The young voice actor also talked about the impact she felt the show will have:

Rylee Alazraqui: I think that this show is going to inspire not just young ones, but everyone. It’s going to inspire people to work together and have cooperation. And if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.

Murf is a friendly, helpful, spineless blob

One of the more mysterious characters in the show is Murf, a blob creature that “speaks” in a series of squeaks and other noises, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. After demonstrating some of Murf’s repertoire of sounds, the veteran voice actor offered some insight into the character:

Dee Bradley Baker: Murph is a spineless blob… He’s sort of an enigmatic but seemingly friendly little fellow. And you can’t really quite tell if what he’s doing is by chance or by design. But it seems to help out with whatever it is they’re trying to do. We started not really knowing what he was going to sound like. Probably something squishy, but also something that’s kind of friendly, and that can move around a lot and morph around a lot. And so there’s a lot of latitude in terms of making the sounds of Murf. But ultimately, you want to project a sunny, helpful, friendly little personality to this creature. And we’ll see where that where that goes.

Baker also spoke about his connection to Trek and how he feels it is relevant today:

Dee Bradley Baker: I’m an old Star Trek fan. I watched the old Star Treks and was very much into that when I was a kid. I think this world needs this kind of optimistic framing of the project of humanity whereby we can collaborate together, we can try to understand each other, we can find a language so that we can talk and see where each of us are coming from. But then to find adventure, to follow our curiosity together, not just on this planet, but beyond and into the stars. What more optimistic framing could you possibly render than Star Trek? For me, I’m hungry for this perspective. And I think the world is too. So I was very thrilled to voice a blob. But I’m also thrilled to be a part of just this optimistic rendering of what is possible for us.

Dee Bradley Baker and Rylee Alazraqui at New York Comic Con 2021

CG animation fit the soul and scale

Nickelodeon Animation’s Ramsey Naito and art director Ben Hibon spoke about why CG animation was chosen for Prodigy:

Ramsey Naito: I think we at Nickelodeon–and everyone up here–we love all forms of animation. But I think for Prodigy, you really felt like CG was the most immersive approach. And two and a half years ago, the president of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon and I were sitting with Secret Hideout, Heather Kadin, Alex Kurtzman, the Hagemans, and you guys pitched this amazing show. It was so sophisticated. At that time, we knew it should be CG. But then Ben came on board and he really had a vision for the CG; a vision that had soul that really captivated you and drew you in.

Ben Hibon: The soul came from all of the people coming together and loving [Star Trek] so much, and all the wonderful words on the page. Initially, when I was approached and I looked at the project, there was so much heart and so much love for the IP, for sci-fi, for animation, and characterization. And I think we felt that for CG, we wanted the show to have great scope, and this feeling of adventure to be immense, and fantastical. But at the same time, the characters and their stories are very intimate. And so we wanted just the freedom to be able to shoot these characters as we would in the most cinematic way possible and to be as engaging with all of us as we go on this adventure with them.

Ben Hibon and Ramsey Naito at New York Comic Con 2021

Bringing back Star Trek movies experience… and composer

Later Kevin Hageman spoke about how he and his brother want the show to evoke the cinematic feeling of Star Trek movies:

Kevin Hageman: Dan and I watched Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. That was our way in. It was the theatrical cinematic experience, which definitely influenced our show. And I think those two movies are just some of the most emotional stories I’ve seen. In Star Trek II with the death of Spock. And that’s what we all wanted to bring to this show was that heart along with the brains.

Dan also talked about bringing on Oscar-winning composer (and veteran of three Star Trek feature films) Michael Giacchino to score the opening theme, who brought in Nami Melumad as the series composer:

Dan Hageman:  At the very beginning of the process, we were lucky enough to meet Michael Giacchino, and we said “Hey, we’ve got we got this little show.” And he’s like, “Yes, I’m in” before even having to say anything. He just jumped right in. And then we go, “We were also going to need a composer for all the episodes,” and he said, “Nami.” And Nami is his little protege. And she is so immensely talented, you guys are going to witness… This is the first female composer on a Star Trek series. We’re very proud of that.

The title sequence was released last month. Listen to it below.

 

More from NYCC

This wraps up our initial reporting from the New York Comic panels, but we will have some interviews with Prodigy starting next week ahead of the series debut on October 28. We will also have interviews to share with the Discovery panelists ahead of the season four debut on November 18. Stay tuned to TrekMovie for our full NYCC coverage.

Prodigy is coming soon

The Prodigy debut will be available to stream on Paramount+ in the United States on October 28. The series is also coming to Paramount+ in Latin America, the Nordics, and Australia, and  CTV Sci-Fi in Canada. It will debut in 2022 in parts of Europe with the launch of the Paramouint+ Sky partnership.


Keep up with the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

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The saucer section (is it even a saucer section anymore?) still reminds me of the Orville.

So what you’re saying is, it reminds you of something that was designed specifically to look like Star Trek.

Nami Melumad did the wonderful score on the Short Trek “Q&A” including that fabulous end credits theme that revamped the TOS theme to something new. Great to see she’s doing more Trek.

I am Groot….

Amazing opening credits and music. Epic. I’m very excited for this. Lower Decks has been a disappointment that is neither funny or stands on its own without all the wink-wink-nod-nod endless references and in-your-face supposedly-hidden “Easter eggs.” This looks full of wonder and awe. Kind of the opposite of a series based on a “hey we’re not important” California class ship crewed with the Starfleet versions of burger flippers.

Will there be any way to watch this in Europe? Because we have childrens too :)

It seems that it will be on Paramount Plus when that service expands to Europe sometime next year. I haven’t heard any plans about releasing it simultaneously with the US release.

I spend a lot of time on Reddit talking about Star Trek and one of the common posts you see almost daily is someone new to Star Trek asking members there which Star Trek show should they watch first? And of course it’s always a gluttony of varied answers suggesting TNG, VOY, TOS, etc, etc. There is no clear answer because not everyone loves everything or they are simply suggesting what they started off with personally.

In many ways, although it’s an animated show made more for the younger set this may be the first show designed to get not just kids but adults into Star Trek and speak directly to them how this universe operates. I think its great they keep iterating its not just for kids. I think people will decide for themselves when they see it but if that’s true and it’s a good show in general it may be the go-to show for people who are curious about Star Trek but feel overwhelmed when they come across that huge library on Paramount+ or the others.

And I really think this show is made to also explore what the older shows like TOS, ENT, DS9, etc is about. I expect references to lots of former characters but done in a way where they are actually leaning about them and not just referenced like in LDS where it’s assumed you know about everyone and everything.

Really looking forward to this show now. Just sounds like it will be a fun adventure show for us long time fans but also a way to understand the basics of what Star Trek actually is and learning about characters from all the various shows (with an emphasis on Voyager obviously) for new fans.

Agreed and this is important for the future of the franchise too. Tiger, I am always impressed with your thoughtful posts both when praising and criticizing Trek and this is another one of them. I was just thinking of Trek needing something like Star Wars animated shows to get the attention of that younger generation that is going more for comic book stuff and Star Wars these days. If the Trek franchise wants to continue effectively for the future it also needs to take its share of the pie from these younger generations.

Alphantrion, I always appreciate that! Thank you so much. I always say that I am a fan first and I root for everything! If I’m tough on it, it’s only because I’m disappointed that I want it to be better of course but that more importantly it hasn’t made me a bigger fan of it yet. But I don’t want to give up on anything. I want ALL these shows to succeed, go 5+ seasons, etc. And I think they all have the potential to be great even if some take more time than others to get to that point.

And I read a review of the first episode today that aired at Comic Con and they said its exactly as we hoped and it reaches both kids and adults. It does a good job of introducing the world of Star Trek to a new generation but also still has all the elements long time fans want, especially exploration. They also compared it to Star Wars Rebels (which I watched and liked). If you want to read it for yourself, here it is:

https://www.engadget.com/star-trek-prodigy-first-look-183049340.html

It’s just the first episode but it sounds like its starting off strong!

Good article there, Tiger. Thanks for sharing.

You’re welcome of course! The review got me more excited about the show too.

Love how we get a non Federation group of adventures slowly learning about the Federation, gives them a chance to learn “Star Trek” over time. Hopefully being from the frontier and having dealt with real hardships they have a fire to explore the galaxy and learn from the unknown that seems lost in the TNG era. Sets up a great theme where the Federation has something to learn this ragtag crew and its own past.
Also even gives a chance to pick up on the themes Enterprise should have covered but didn’t (or did so poorly) like why the Prime Directive is so important, hardships on the frontier, etc.
I might be looking forward to this Trek as much as Strange New Worlds!

I also like the fact that the crew of the Protostar is fully alien. It was about time Star Trek looked at issues from the aliens perspective as well. This will need much more creativity and imagination from the writers that hopefully they can achieve.