Star Trek: Prodigy, the latest installment in the ever-expanding Star Trek franchise debuts today on Paramount+ with a super-sized premiere. “Lost & Found” introduces audiences to the newest starship crew in a dazzling display of animation full of scenic views and a wide variety of alien species (some of which existing fans may recognize).
I was provided with free advance screeners for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
“Lost & Found” drops us right in the middle of the action, following Dal (Brett Gray) as he attempts yet another escape from Tars Lamora, the prison colony on which he’s currently incarcerated. In a brilliantly-animated sequence, he evades capture multiple times, steals a vehicle, and almost makes it off-planet, only to come crashing down. It is a truly epic introduction both to the show itself and its main character and showcases the high production quality quite well.
From there, as we go along, we uncover the rest of the story. Dal’s latest escape attempt is aided by a Medusan (a non-corporeal being) known as Fugitive Zero, who escaped after being forced to essentially torture people into insanity. The planet, where prisoners and orphans of various species are conscripted to do hard labor, is a cover for the prison warden’s, The Diviner (John Noble), search for a starship buried deep underground. Unsurprisingly, these two points are related.
Naturally, Dal is the one who discovers the starship, along with another prisoner named Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), as well as Zero. They assemble a ragtag crew of teenagers, including Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) and the shapeshifting Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), kidnap the Diviner’s daughter Gwyn (Ella Purnell), and flee the planet. This, of course, occurs in the most haphazard way possible, full of witty banter (“Find the ‘pew pew pew’ button!”) and last-second saves.
Prodigy has some great humor in it, which I was expecting from a children’s show, but it doesn’t rely on potty humor the way a lot of kids’ content does. (At least, not yet.) A lot of the humor comes from cultural differences – Gwyn messes up slang phrases (the way Ziva did on NCIS), Jankom Pog is stubborn and argumentative but very aware of it (“Do you know what you’re doing?” “Making a series of bad decisions, yes, Jankom Pog is aware.”), and Dal is a typical teen protagonist on a sci-fi show, in that he’s a smart-mouth. He has no problem talking back to some truly terrifying antagonists – like the robotic Drednok (Jimmi Simpson), Tars Lamora’s chief enforcer.
As evidenced by the first two episodes, Prodigy will no doubt continue the long-standing Star Trek tradition of moral lessons and social commentary, though as it’s intended for children, the lessons may be a bit more simple and on-the-nose. For example, “Lost & Found” definitely teaches that it’s important not to judge people based on appearances when we learn more about Rok-Tahk. I don’t want to say more here because the reveal was genuinely charming, and you should all see it for yourself.
There are also lessons about finding common ground and making an effort to understand others. By design, the prisoners of Tars Lamora can’t talk to each other because with all the different species there is no common language. After Dal and Rok-Tahk find the ship, the translator on board allows them to speak to each other for the first time. And they all have the goal of getting out of the prison colony, even Gwyn, which motivates them to work together to get the ship spaceworthy.
Despite close ties to Star Trek: Voyager (by now you may have heard of the semi-return of Kathryn Janeway, via hologram), Star Trek: Prodigy requires no knowledge of any of the previous incarnations. And while it is aimed exclusively at younger viewers, it is nonetheless a fantastic starting point for anyone who may be new to the franchise to dip their toes in. That’s because the all-alien cast (a first for the franchise) also knows absolutely nothing about Starfleet or the greater universe, which is the purpose of Hologram Janeway (Kate Mulgrew).
I cannot heap enough praise on the animation. “Lost & Found” features some jaw-dropping backgrounds, smooth CGI during the action sequences, and (pardon the pun) stellar character design. Prodigy is really leaning into the diversity of alien races, something that can’t often be showcased that well in live-action incarnations. No matter how skilled the makeup department is, aliens have always looked humanoid – but not on this show.
Another aspect that deserves all the praise is the soundtrack. Prodigy features a score that is cinematic at its very core, epic, sweeping orchestral movements that would be perfectly at home in theater surround sound that can’t be done justice on the paltry speakers offered by my laptop. I really hope they end up releasing the soundtrack, because there are some inspiring tracks in “Lost & Found”.
Prodigy’s first two episodes are funny and entertaining, a great introduction to the story and the characters as well as to the greater Star Trek universe. I can only hope that the rest of the episodes maintain the same quality of storytelling and animation.
New episodes of Star Trek: Prodigy will stream Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+. The episodes will later air on Nickelodeon.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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