One of the reasons that the “Star Trek” franchise is unique and stands alone from most all other science fiction and adventure stories is the focus on optimism. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a positive future stands in stark contrast to what fans see in “The Terminator” or “Blade Runner.” Trek certainly is different from the endless war and fighting seen in “Star Wars.”
It was to this high standard that Roddenberry created the franchise’s first cartoon show — “Star Trek: The Animated Series.” Written as if it were the continuation of the show, which was canceled in 1969, TAS did not fall into the familiar Saturday morning cartoon tropes that most shows geared toward children do. In fact, TAS even won a Daytime Emmy Award for one of its episodes.
‘The Animated Series’
So this legacy for taking storytelling seriously is absolutely a focus of the creative team behind the franchise’s newest addition, “Star Trek: Prodigy.” This show is breaking new ground in quite a few ways. First, it will be the first Trek ever to be made entirely with 3D-style computer animation. Secondly, it’s the first Trek show to be geared specifically toward children. The show will air on Paramount+ first, then later it will be shown on Nickelodeon.
The show will star a team of youngsters who find the U.S.S. Protostar, an abandoned Starfleet vessel. An emergency hologram, in the form of Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), will guide the team through their adventures. “Prodigy” begins airing on Paramount+ next Thursday.
Heavy’s own Robin Zabeigalski got a chance to ask some questions to the show’s director and showrunners. Her questions and their answers revealed quite a bit behind what fans can expect from this new show. And for those afraid that “Prodigy” will be just for kids, the answers might change minds.
‘Star Trek: Prodigy’
Zabeigalski asked director Ben Hibon and its co-showrunners, Dan and Kevin Hageman, how they planned to create a show that treats the audience as intelligent and intuitive. Hibon was the first to answer.
“We’re taking our time to set the stage to examine how one’s feeling in a situation prior to going into stakes, prior into going into challenges,” said Hibon. “We’re taking the time to let the kids really connect with the characters and the scenarios that we establish. And that time is very hard to get when you make a show like this. It’s really hard to spend all that … adding layers to all the personalities that you may encounter and the dynamics of the group before we start out opening up to the rest of the adventure.”
“I hope that is what the story does well for kids,” said Hibon. “It is not telling them to go ‘we need to go really fast through it, so we don’t lose your attention.’ We want them to go with us and take the time to really understand the facets and aspects of that story.”
‘Tale of the Three Brothers’
Before joining “Prodigy,” Hibon was best known for the “Tale of the Three Brothers” sequence in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I.” The Hagemans, Dan and Kevin, are known for quite a few projects geared toward children, including the LEGO Ninjago series.
“I would say that kids like what adults like,” said co-showrunner Dan Hageman. “If you look at the books that we grew up on like Shel Silverstein or even Dr. Seuss, these are amazing pieces of work.”
“And I think that oftentimes, you can look at kids’ entertainment as like throwing sausage,” said Hageman. “The kids will eat it! Just give ’em some gags and give ’em some whatever it is … you give them a character to connect to, and it’ll stick to their bones for their lives. And that’s the hope.”
“What you guys will find with this show… you’re going to laugh,” added co-showrunner Kevin Hageman. “You’re going to be thrilled. There are going to be really powerful moments that will make you cry. They made me cry many times.”
“We’re challenging kids because kids should be challenged,” said Dan Hageman.