The final Star Trek: Mission Chicago panel from the new batch of Star Trek Universe shows was for Star Trek: Prodigy. On hand was star Kate Mulgrew along with co-creator Dan Hageman and director/executive producer Ben Hibon, speaking to an audience featuring a lot of younger and newer fans of the animated series. Paramount also brought out an actor dressed as Dal to (silently) join in on the panel. TrekMovie was there to capture the highlights.
Chakotay and the Janeways
The first ten episodes of season one wrapped up in January, with the second half of the season due later this year. Episode ten introduced Admiral Janeway, who is searching for the Protostar and Captain Chakotay. The panel began with a clip from an upcoming episode of Admiral Janeway watching a recording of a meeting between herself and Captain Chakotay. In it, Chakotay talks about his mission to the Delta Quadrant, telling Janeway: “This time the Protostar will get me home in a fraction of the time. And I won’t be alone. I’ll have your hologram there to advise me.” He also promised, “If I run into any trouble, you’ll be the first one I call.” The clip also shows Commander Tysess (Daveed Diggs) telling Admiral Janeway the Protostar has been tracked to the Carinae Nebula.
Talking about the clip and previewing what is to come, Kate Mulgrew said:
They’re going to get all kinds of Janeways… and all kinds of secrets are going to emerge as a result of her presence. So please tune in. It’s terrific.
Dan Hageman talked about how the introduction of Admiral Janeway set up what’s coming in the next ten episodes:
We’ve introduced Admiral Janeway and her crew. And I just we just love this idea that Admiral Janeway is coming after the kids. She wants that [the Protostar], because she knows that ship leads to Chakotay. And these kids, they thought they were ready, but they don’t know what they’re in for because Admiral Janeway is not going to quit. And with the help of Hologram Janeway, they’re going to do the best they can to keep out of her sight.
More canon characters and a “love letter to TOS”
When asked about what familiar characters from Star Trek might show up in addition to Janeway and Chakotay, Dan only hinted that more are on their way:
We honor where we are in the timeline. And we understand where we are. So there’s gonna be other characters you’re going to run into. But I can’t reveal anything.
At another point during the panel, he did talk about how the animation style allows them to work with characters throughout the franchise, as they did by bringing back characters like Spock and Odo in the episode “Kobayashi,” and how there is an upcoming episode in the second half of season one that will tie into The Original Series:
We were only limited by our imagination with animation. And that’s what led us to do the episode “Kobayashi.” We felt like that was an amazing time to give homage to some of our favorite Trek characters. I think we can spoil an upcoming episode in the next ten episodes, written by Aaron Waltke, who is who is our resident Trek fan. He wrote “Kobayashi” as well. He wrote a love letter to TOS in the next ten. So for all you Ensign Garrovick fans, this is an Ensign Garrovick episode.
A “Metamurfosis” and explaining Jankom’s whiskers
Dan Hageman also talked about how the next ten episodes will show more growth for the characters, and in particular Murf:
I can tell you that in the first ten we had a great episode that really featured Rok, that was a fantastic episode. And she’s not going to be the only one that grows. I believe very early on we’re going to find out a little bit more about Murf…. I will say he goes through a sort of “metamurfosis.”
As for Dal, Hageman said he still has a lot of room to grow and to learn from his mistakes:
I think everyone knows down that Dal needs to grow probably the most. But Dal’s going to teach them something too. There is strength in failing. It’s okay to fail. And Dal’s going to do it quite a bit.
When pressed by an astute young fan who questioned if Jankom Pog counts as a kid because “he literally has facial hair,” Hageman explained, “I believe Tellarites grow by facial hair by the age of two.” And when pressed about exactly how old the character is, Dan revealed, “If we count the Tellarite sleeper ship, he is probably around 200 years [old].”
Finished writing 40… but much more work to be done
We also got an update on where they are behind the scenes. Paramount+ has ordered a total of forty episodes so far, split into two 20-episode seasons. Hageman and Hibon explained more about the process of putting the show together:
Hageman: It’s a long process. We just finished up writing episode 40. It takes a while. We finished writing the first 20 episodes before Covid hit. And then we wrote the next 20 episodes all through Covid. So that gives you an idea of when episodes are airing and when we finished writing.
Hibon: It’s a very long fabrication process. We probably have about 15 episodes in flight right now in terms of production at different stages; writing, storyboarding, animatics, recording the voices, music. So it’s so it’s a very long process. With the storytelling, we have all these different plates going on at the same time. It’s not like one episode at a time… which actually is really good because we have a great sense of where the show goes and what to do early, how the arcs and the storylines are already meeting and making sense. It allows also for us to preemptively decide where we’re going to focus heavier episodes visually, in terms of the fabrication of new ships, actions and new planets.
Mulgrew finding nuances to Janeway
Kate Mulgrew talked about the advantages of recreating Janeway in a sound booth:
It’s not a hardship. It’s a delight. It’s much easier to do than live-action. You need nothing except a headset and the text. These guys are on Zoom. And the engineer is in the other room. I find it absolutely liberating. I can find nuance in my voice that I never felt really comfortable doing in live-action because there’s no time in live-action. But you are given the time here, and you’re given the breadth and you’re given the scope of it. I can really pretty much do what I like. And I know that I’m working with such clever guys, that that also makes me feel more confident. These guys are top-notch. So we have fun.
More to come from Chicago
There is still a bit more coverage from the convention on the way. Stay tuned to TrekMovie in the coming days for more Star Trek: Mission Chicago. Click here for all our Mission Chicago coverage so far.
Find more news and analysis for Star Trek: Prodigy at TrekMovie.
Thanks for this article TM! I’m so happy we FINALLY got some more news on Prodigy. It’s been pretty quiet since it last episode aired.
And I love the fact this show is quietly turning into a quasi sequel to Voyager. I can’t wait to see more of Admiral Janeway and her reunion with Chakotay. That’s going to be a great episode for fans! I suspect it will happen by the end of the season but who knows? Also love we are getting a TOS inspired episode. Admittedly I had to look up Ensign Garrovick to remember who he was (As a Trek fan, I feel so ashamed) but very interesting that character will show up!
Prodigy like Lower Decks has been a fun ride so far and really honors Trek in a great way. Definitely can’t wait for more!
I wonder if it’s actually the energy creature or something similar to it that shows up and not Garrovick himself.
Could be! I don’t think it will be another holodeck simulation this time and at least dealing with a real character on some level. Excited to see how it will fit in with the current story line.
I really don’t get why this new crew does animation so right and live action so poorly. It can’t just be the differences in the genres because the writing itself is just on a whole other level with the animated shows
If I’m being honest, I think Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman just has too much clout on the live action shows and think its part of the problem. I don’t hate either or think Kurtzman is the devil. But he seems to have more control of those shows. And Goldsman has been the show runner for Picard both seasons (and will be for SNW too) and his ideas has been questionable to say the least. Michelle Paradise is the show runner for Discovery. I don’t know anything about her before she got this job. She’s probably a great producer and does it well and the show DOES look amazing; but I think the writing portion of it has been lacking a lot in both seasons 3 and 4.
But the animated shows it seems like the show runners have more control AND are actually great writers too. And those show runners both had acclaim shows before they started working on Star Trek (probably why they got the jobs ;)). Just me as a guy writing this from his couch lol. So I don’t really know obviously, just my gut feeling.
I thought it was pretty good until they Picarded it up with a convoluted nonsensical time travel loop while snoozingifying it with VOY references no kid care about. When did they forget this was for 10 year old kids in 2022 versus people that were 10 when Voyager was on the air in like 1997?
Went from kids going “oh cool, kids can find themselves exploring the galaxy” to “bad guy loses, goes back or something in time, but then is going to lose and then doesn’t go back in time again??”.
They had holo-Janeway to tie it to the 90s, good enough. Holo-Janeway was a great tool. Now we’ve got real Janeway and all these characters kids don’t know in arcs that really don’t make sense. Not having had to watch bad TV in the 90s, there is nothing in it for kids to pretend the time travel arc makes any sense. In fact it is illogical and anti-science, which is the opposite of what this show should have been re: STEM.
What could have been a change to get some kids wondering wtf is anti-matter, what are photons, etc has been totally thrown out the window.
This is easily up there with ENT on what happens when you throw away the great initial concept because your inner fan boy can’t give up on the 90s (which if you rewatch were horrible episodes btw which you only watched because there were only so many networks).
We had 10 episodes yet and real janeway has been introduced in episode 10.
It’s a bit weird to talk about it Like there has been a great Change in the shows concept.
You know what, if it was a one off where some writer just felt they HAD to do some convoluted time travel episode, fine, you’d just ignore it and forget about like all the bad TNG time loop episodes… and travelling to the future, that’s easy, just head to 0.9999 light speed.
But having an arc where people have gone back in time and making it intrinsic to the show which I feel is a huge mistake.
I’m mean every scientist that wants to watch this show with their kids and was hoping for some STEM basically has to throw the entire show under the bus. If the bad guy can go back in time when he loses, why not go back in time again and again until he is sure he wins. What happened to the old timeline? Why doesn’t bad guy go back in time with a phaser and take over the whole galaxy, etc, etc?
I don’t get why they insisted on taking a show called Star Trek and insisted on ensuring it was A Sort of Time Loop Trek The Next Generation.
Like simplify, simplify, simplify – kids in the universe finding themselves exploring it.
“I’m mean every scientist that wants to watch this show with their kids and was hoping for some STEM basically has to throw the entire show under the bus”.
Who made you the voice of scientists? Your comments continue to make zero sense.
Your problem seems to be that the writers included a time travelling element into the season arc. And so what? Time loops are an age old storytelling device that span every genre, from comedies to horror, thrillers and fantasy, sci-fi and romance. And it is a staple of Star Trek, and always has been. It’s as mush a Trek troupe as Kobayashi Maru, the Prime Directive and First Contact. You also underestimate young viewers comprehension. Why simplify?
I have no idea how you can declare the writer’s decision of including time travel a “huge mistake” when it that story point has not been resolved, or revealed totally yet. We’ve no idea how the time travelling works in Prodigy yet, and how Chakotay fits in with everything.
Here’s an idea, why not wait to see what happens before saying it’s bad?
Also for kids who dont know the old characters, those are New characters….
What are you talking about? Have you watched the show?
The “nonsensical time travel loop” elements purposefully haven’t been resolved yet, so obviously they remain nonsensical.
And what is it about real-life Janeway on the hunt for Chakotay and the Protostar, and holo-Janeway and the kids on the Portostar trying to get to the Federation doesn’t make sense in terms of their arcs?
“I thought it was pretty good until they Picarded it up with a convoluted nonsensical time travel loop while snoozingifying it with VOY references no kid care about.”
What a nonsensical comment.
This show is simply amazing. And I was dead set against animated Trek. But it is without question the most thoughtfully crafted Trek in production with great stories, compelling characters and a clear love for the source material. The Prodigy team should be given the keys to the franchise. (And the Picard team sacked)
This team are not only great story tellers but really understand Star Trek! I was VERY skeptical when I heard it was going to be a kids show and was afraid it was going to talk down to its viewers; instead it did the very opposite. I would be more than happy to see them running things! Or at least create another post-Nemesis show in the future.
And the minute you started to like the show Luke, I knew they had a hit on their hands! 😂
Tiger2, Prodigy is just wonderful. Rok is such a great character and lifts my heart. The show embodies all the values that Trek has always stood for… diversity, teamwork, compassion, curiosity, justice. It is, without question, the most Trek show of them all. Again, I was repulsed by the idea of animated characters so this has been a quite a change and an “arc” for me. Lower Decks even to a lesser degree, but animation has not been the disaster that cheapens the Star Trek franchise like I feared. Good storytelling is good storytelling.
And Picard has a creative team that does not understand good storytelling. The last 4 (maybe 5?) episodes are an exercise in peak cringe and simply just bad television that feels trite, cliche, muddled and plodding. How can you ruin a show with such a great cast? How can you take a lifelong fan of Trek who LOVED the first two episodes of the season and just have me crestfallen and disillusioned with each new Picard episode? It’s gotta be very bad for that to happen.
My thoughts? Place the creative team behind Prodigy in charge of the franchise. The whole thing. They got it right straight out of the gate. And fire the Picard team. How sad is it that I am relieved that Picard only has one more season before it’s over?
I’m just happy you were still open minded enough to give it a chance even though you really hated the idea of Star Trek animated shows. And of course if you still didn’t like it, that would’ve been fine too, it’s just nice to see fans genuinely surprised by something or their expectations exceeded.
And as I said I still had some reservations too. They kept pushing the ‘its for kids’ angle so I just assumed even if it was a good show it’s not something that I could get into since I’m waaaaay out of the target demographics lol. And that would’ve been fine. I still would’ve watched it if the stories were fun. But I was expecting something much more simple in general like Janeway explaining to the kids how warp drive works or what a Klingon was, etc. Just very simple stories with a ‘message’ in every episode.
But we got something much much more layered and complex than that. I’m loving the story line so much! Everything about it is very Star Trek in nature. And the kid characters are all very developed and layered. Yes I love Rok too but they are all fun! It’s nice that the people running the show GETS it in a real way! And I love how seriously they take canon. I’m not a canon nut actually. I’m fine if things are changed if there is a story reason for it. But it’s really great to see PRO and LDS following canon in such a superb way. That holodeck episode being on the Enterprise D bridge and how they brought back the legacy characters really endeared me to the show from that point on. It showed how much they DO get it! The show isn’t perfect but it is probably the most Trek show out of all the new shows right now.
As for Picard, I’ll still hope next season will give the show and character a worthy end since it sounds like it’s going to be a real TNG experience. But I can’t pretend the show as a whole has been good. With the exception of a few solid episodes here and there, it’s just been terrible. And it’s sad because that was the show I thought I would be praising as I do Prodigy. Season 2 can still end on a good note but the season as a whole like season one has been a big let down IMO. It pains me to say that but here we are.
Picard is very good, and it’s almost done being made, so that’s an utterly silly comment.
But yes Prodigy is excellent!
Are any kids actually watching this show? Or is it just us old timer fans?
My kids watch it, but that might be because I’ve indoctrinated them with Trek from the moment they were born.
I was at the con, and there were many kids with Murf gear, and at least one wearing a Protostar-type uniform.
A lot of kids watch it, yes.
I love Prodigy. The first 10 episodes were a mixed bag, but the high-points were very high (WE GOT BEVERLY CRUSHER!). I appreciate that the show stays true to the overall spirit of Star Trek and I do think that it excels at it’s difficult dual role of entertaining younger viewers as well as satisfying all us older, eagle-eyed and critical Trekkies. But mostly I am very grateful to the the writer’s and creators for taking the time to have the different character arcs evolve alongside the overall story arc, simultaneously; a feat yet to be mastered in any satisfying or logical way by any of the live-action shows we’ve got.
I agree with other people who’ve said that these guys would be given the keys to the franchise, I would feel really hopeful of the future of Trek then, and excited about the creative and imaginative ideas they could bring to the table and world of Trek.
Mulgrew’s voice work is excellent! You can tell she’s not “phoning” it in (unlike say, Shatner in TAS).
“We were only limited by our imagination with animation.”
Animators everywhere banging their heads into their desks. You’re only limited by “imagination” if you forget the limits of time for the work to be completed and the limits of money to pay said animators a fair wage. Or you accept that you are ALSO limited in how complex and time consuming your animation is.
I mean, I know it’s nitpicky but this is such a common thing for showrunners (and people new to writing comics) to say in public and not only is it disrespectful to artists but it gives fans a misshapen idea of how long it takes to do certain things, and the ways in which certain things are harder in animation/comics. You want outfits to billow, or hair to move a lot? In live action that’s nbg, in animation that’s a blow to the budget and timeline. I once saw someone bemoan a 2D animation project NOT looking like the highly detailed concept art, like they had no clue of how INSANE it would be to animate something like that! Just b/c it’s digital now doesn’t mean it’s limitless.
Anyway, I’m glad they’re taking their time and getting it right b/c it’s a great show and I can’t wait to see more!
Is this coming soon to the UK?
Eh, I don’t want to be that guy . . . but . . . there are people who actually think more Chakotay is a good thing?
Yeah I’m one of those people lol. And there are dozens and dozens of us buddy!! But I’ve always loved Chakotay and especially his relationship with Janeway. I never expected Robert Beltran to ever come back at all frankly. But now that he is, can’t wait! :)
I really hope that they will bring Robert Picardo to play the EMH. Someone’s got to heal the kids when they get sick or hurt!
I’m still shocked the Doctor isn’t on this show. He seems like an obvious choice to bring back or at least a new EMH version of him like holodeck Janeway and just be on the Protostar. Of course I understand they don’t want to make the show too Voyager heavy; but I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’ll show up at some point. I think they are just spreading the characters out.