Interview: Aaron Waltke On How Voyager’s Doctor Shakes Things Up In ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ Season 2

Star Trek: Prodigy may not be on Paramount+ anymore, but the first season is available digitally and on physical media (with the second half arriving on DVD/Blu-ray soon). At the recent #SaveStarTrekProdigy aerial banner event in Hollywood, TrekMovie had a chance to talk to writer and co-executive producer Aaron Waltke about the status of season 2, what’s new in season 2, and the chances for a third season.

So are you surprised by this effort [getting an aerial banner] by the fans?

Honestly, no, because I think Star Trek fans more than anyone don’t like it when you mess with their shows. I think they’re some of the most passionate people out there. There’s a great legacy in Star Trek of efforts to sustain the movement dating all the way to Bjo and John Trimble. So the fact that that kind of legacy has been resuscitated for our show is a deep honor.

When you were on stage in Vegas, the Hagemans talked about a possible third season. When the removal from Paramount+ was first announced, Prodigy was reported to be cancelled, but technically that isn’t right is it?

Yeah, as far as I know. There was a lot of confusion because it was kind of announced alongside a number of shows that were I believe, officially cancelled. But at the bottom of some of those articles, you saw the caveat of like, “Oh, we’re actually still producing our show and we’re shopping it around for the potential for more episodes and licensing.”

Aaron Waltke looking for the #SaveStarTrekProdigy banner flying above Hollywood (Photo: TrekMovie)

So Paramount isn’t shopping it around saying “you can buy seasons 1 and 2 and that’s it.” It’s open-ended, like they can buy the first two seasons and more if they want?

Exactly. I think there’s nothing preventing them from paying for more episodes. I think the question now is just who’s paying for it? But from what I understand the talks are active. There is some positive trending, but deals like this take a very long time, as you can imagine. All I can do is just like keep up the movement, keep the faith, and eventually I think we can expect some very good news.

With regards to the second season, I know you guys have been optimistic the show will find a new home, but even the absolute worst-case scenario would be that it gets released to buy on digital and physical media, right?

You know, that’s above my pay grade. But what I can say is that the sales for the DVD and Blu-ray and digital have been unprecedented. Specifically, I was told the season 1 volume 2 Blu-ray [pre-orders] has outperformed many of their other shows, like way beyond what they would have expected. So I think that that’s a very positive trend, and partially why CBS Studios recognizes that this show can and will continue.

DVD box for second half of season 1

Regarding making the second season, when do you think you’ll actually be done?

So right now, I believe we’re still continuing on track to produce all 20 episodes by the end of the year. There might be some mixing this spills over into January, but we never stopped making the show, fully anticipating for it to be ready to air by December. And that’s where we are now.

So, all 20 episodes of season 2 would be ready by December?

Yeah, but like I said, the last few episodes might need a little bit of mixing or whatnot. But definitely, the first 10 and the majority of the rest of the episodes will be completely done by the end of the year.

Speaking of season 2, can you tease anything? Can you give us a little taste?  

One little taste. Well as you know, the Voyager-A has arrived and, as I’ve hinted elsewhere, it is fully equipped with all sorts of technology that Voyager brought back from its travels in the Delta Quadrant and beyond. We’ve already seen a little taste of a limited sort of tandem quantum slipstream. I think there are other elements that you’ve seen shall we say on the Enterprise-D, or heard about it, and on the Cerritos, that will also be on the show.

The USS Voyager-A in Prodigy season 2 clip

So, the season 2 clip shown at STLV had Bob Picardo back as The Doctor. Is the implication that Admiral Janeway will be busy with admiral stuff and so The Doctor will be overseeing the kids as a recurring character?

Yes, as I’ve said elsewhere, when we bring a legacy character onto Star Trek, it’s not just for pure nostalgia or a fun “Hey, look at that guy.” Because of both financially and because of how our story unfolds, we want their relationship to be an integral part of both our young cadets’ journey and hopefully have an influence on those characters’ story as we get this sort of coda to what happened after Voyager returned to Earth. So Picardo as The Doctor is in it for the long haul. And he certainly has his fair share of teaching young people about how the warp core of the cell works. I think he fancies himself as something of a mentor to them, even if they still don’t quite know what to make of him.

Warp core of the cell, that’s deep…

Yes, that’s a deep cut to the Voyager episode where he taught young Naomi Wildman about how cells work.

Anything else you want to say before we wrap up?

I just want to say thank you to everybody. I know it can seem like firing missiles into a void but you are being heard. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. We deeply appreciate them. And the #SaveStarTrekProdigy movement is something that I think will resonate for a very long time.

The doctor gives the provisional cadets a briefing in Prodigy season 2 clip

Reminder: Season 1, Vol. 2 DVD & Blu-ray arrives in September

The second half of season 2 of Prodigy with episodes 11-20 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on September 26, 2023. The set includes over 45 minutes of brand-new bonus content featuring exclusive interviews and collectible character cards. You can pre-order on Amazon: $14.99 on DVD and $22.99 on Blu-ray. The first volume with episodes 1-10 is also back in stock at Amazon: $13.99 on DVD and $17.78 on Blu-ray. You can also buy all of season 1 (episodes 1-20) digitally for $9.99.

Season 1 volume 2 Blu-ray set coming on September 26

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That’s more like it.

I won’t be a bit surprised if Paramount+ backpaddles and winds up airing the next season after all…

That makes it a bit hard to claim as a tax write-off.

They aren’t claiming it as a tax write off. If they were they would legally not be allowed to air it or sell it or anything else of the kind. Tax write off is what happened to Final Space.

But if they fail to sell it for a good price, then couldn’t they claim it as one? If so, that would mean they are weighing their options seriously, hence pulling season 1 when they did.

That dude wasn’t paying attention to the news reports on this. It’s a tax write-off.

Taking a page from Disney and Max owner Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global is also removing Star Trek: Prodigy, and the other shows it canceled on Friday, from Paramount+ in exchange for a tax writeoff.

— Endgadget, June 24, 2023

This sounds exactly like the show I wanted after Voyager ended! 😎

It’s a Voyager sequel but not quite. And can’t wait to see the Doctor back! Seriously what took so long to get him back?

Prodigy is an awesome show and proof these guys really get and understand Trek we haven’t seen since Enterprise went off the air.

I used to imagine, before nu trek, where Starfleet and the crew ended up. Prodigy got it right with my head canon. VOY brought back Borg tech, different propulsion systems, and crippled the Borg. Seeing the Dauntless, I went crazy. It makes sense Starfleet would adopt or experiment with the tech from the Delta Quandrant. I’m a ship guy and as soon as I saw Voy-A, I geeked out. These guys know Star Trek. Can’t wait!

Yeah season one had so much Trek goodness and got the Voyager canon completely right.

You can see how much this show did it’s homework and brought back all that tech again. It’s great they are going even farther with it next season with the Voyager A. 😃👍

Heck, a lot of this is what I would have liked “Endgame” or the last few episodes of Voyager to be. Interesting peek into the future developing main characters with a little more thought is certainly welcome. All that’s missing is flashbacks to what their immediate homecoming was like and a confirmation that Harry is still an Ensign.

Totally on point. Endgame is still deeply disappointing for me for many reasons but that’s still the biggest IMO.

We should’ve gotten some epilogue of where they ended up a year later or something. Give us something after watching these characters for seven years but I digress.

It’s funny how we been getting it in bits and spades literally 20 years later thanks to Picard, Lower Decks and now this show but we shouldn’t have waited this long to begin with.

Endgame was such a cheat. Just go back in time and give new tech and bring everyone home. Look, Janeway is a genius!!!

Yeah I really hated how they easily just wrapped things up but did love how they wiped out the Borg. And it only took 22 years later to see what happened to them. 😆

But the finale should’ve been much stronger.

I honestly thought we would get him in Picard Season 3 but I guess live action might have been too hard to explain Picardo’s aging.

Less hard for characters fascinated with being human and able to adjust their appearance. Worked for Q and kinda for Guinan, anyway.

Yep. And hows abouts that Data fella?!

Probably a part of it although they could’ve brought in Dr. Zimmerman at least.

“Specifically, I was told the season 1 volume 2 Blu-ray [pre-orders] has outperformed many of their other shows, like way beyond what they would have expected. So I think that that’s a very positive trend, and partially why CBS Studios recognizes that this show can and will continue.”

Aaron, that’s because you and your gallant crew made a Star Trek series that honors the legacy, but brings new characters and worlds! Keep Fighting!

All positive, agreed. And I purchased volume one on disc. But I’m not considering purchasing volume two until I actually see the season. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Indeed. Prodigy did a great job honoring the legacy characters but still gave us these new characters we can see rise in Starfleet.

And I bought the digital version but plan to buy the blu rays too. I haven’t bought a single disc involving Star Trek since First Contact in 2002. This will be the first thing I buy in over 20 years.

“I think there are other elements that you’ve seen shall we say on the Enterprise-D, or heard about it, and on the Cerritos, that will also be on the show.”

Does this mean the Voyager–A can do a saucer separation?

Almost certainly Cetacean Ops.

Yes, Cetacean Ops is exactly what I thought how the response was worded.

Wait, when have we ever seen that on the Enterprise D?

I believe it was included in Rick Sternbach’s technical manual and it might have been alluded to on-screen in TNG too. With Aaron mentioning TNG and LDS Cetacean Op’s was the first thing I thought of as well

The Cerritos can’t do a saucer separation.

LOL it would be funny if it could. Just a pair of nacelles and pylons flying around by themselves in space!

All very positive vibes, I wonder if Paramount + reverses and decides to keep the show in-house. In any case, I look forward to seeing this new season with a newfound sense of “porpoise.”

It would be awesome if they could but do to the tax thing I think they are locked in at this point.

I’m not convinced that it has a great chance of being picked up by another service, whether it be streaming or tv.

‘Snowpiercer’ was cancelled with the 4th season completed and they have been shopping that since January to no avail.

Disney+ has just cancelled ‘Spiderwick Chronicles’ and ‘Nautilus’ and are now trying to shop them.

More and more series are being half cancelled and then trying to get someone else to take on the costs.

If everyone is pretty much doing this then that means no one has the money or interest to pick up all these expensive series.

Spiderwick Chronicles is a Paramount production, one of the few shows or films they ordered that wasn’t wholly-owned, so that makes a little more sense as something they would put on the chopping block in a period of austerity.

Correction: Spiderwick Chronicles is a combined Disney and Paramount production.

Never heard of it?

Correct (20th Century), with Paramount reported as taking the lead in shopping the series around.

Shoehorning in more Voyager characters here was part of the problem of why the show got canned, not part of the solution to keep it going.

Did you read the end of article? He specifically addresses that they don’t shoehorn in legacy characters for nostalgia’s sake, and if they appear they serve a purpose in the young characters’ journey.

I watch the show. I love all of it, except they overdo the amount of Janeway, and the Chakotey stuff seems unnecessary. Let the kids explore and do Trek stuff without bringing back every old character in Star Trek…just for once please!

It’s a Trek tradition at this point anyway to provide connective tissue with returning characters, going back to TAS and TWOK. Obviously TOS didn’t do it, but the only show that really didn’t indulge (pilots are excused) was Enterprise. Well, until that one time everyone keeps talking about.

A tradition I love. So excited to have the Doctor. It’s going to be fun to see him and Janeway interacting again.

NuTrek is finally starting to feel like old Trek these days lol.

Marvel made interconnectedness cool for the masses. TPTB often made concerted efforts to limit the cross-pollination, but we got a good number of shared characters, particularly in that sweet spot where DS9 and Voyager were being set up to succeed. But I’d have been happy to see them lean into it more. Let the Enterprise cameo during the Dominion War. Put Jadzia on the Enterprise fighting the Son’a. Put Sela in Nemesis. Why not? Often could have had real story benefits.

Totally agree.

That’s what made 90s Trek fun and memorable because there were so many crossovers with characters between all four shows: TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY. So much fun to see Scotty, Janeway and Quark on TNG and the movies, Troi and Sulu on Voyager or Riker, most of the TOS cast and the Duras sisters on DS9 and on and on.

I’m not one of these fans bothered by tons of crossovers. For me I always want more. I was happy to see Scotty show up in SNW last season just like I am to see the Doctor back in Prodigy and hoping for another Voyager character show up in LDS next week.

I wish we got more in Picard last season but was happy we did get a few. And Matalas said there would’ve been more but ran out of money or we would’ve got Janeway and Kim back too.

The more the merrier!