She’s back. One of the most beloved and fearless “Star Trek” captains of all, Kathryn Janeway, will return to the space franchise in animated form for Nickelodeon’s cartoon series, “Star Trek: Prodigy.” Debuting in 2021, “Prodigy” will be CG-animated from CBS’s new division Eye Animation Productions, with original Janeway actor Kate Mulgrew lending her vocal talents.
Fans last saw Janeway, promoted to admiral, in 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis,” when she gave Jean-Luc Picard his mission briefing. Before that, Mulgrew’s character led all seven seasons of “Star Trek: Voyager,” about a Federation starship flung by a mysterious alien power to the far side of the galaxy and facing a years-long journey to get home. She was fiercely dedicated to her crew and their safe return, but also opened up a whole new swath of the galaxy — the Delta Quadrant — to exploration. Mulgrew, with her Katharine Hepburn-like diction, won over fans with the intensity she brought to the character as Janeway battled the Borg, became a mentor to Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine, and on one time travel-related occasion even went down with the ship (“Time’s… up!”).
Little is known about “Prodigy” other than that it will concern itself, in the words of CBS and Nickelodeon’s own description, with “a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.” Does Janeway’s presence indicate it will be set in the 24th Century after the events of “Voyager”? Or perhaps sometime in the far future as a hologram? The final episode of “Voyager” did provide a glimpse of one possible future version of Janeway, sporting white hair, whose decades lost in the Delta Quadrant had turned her into an Ahab-like figure who struck a decisive blow against the Borg and helped get the younger version of herself back home. It’ll be interesting to see what the visual reference for the character will be.
CBS All Access’s “Star Trek” series have increasingly drawn upon elements of the beloved 1990s’ run of “Trek” series with “Picard” (which also featured Ryan’s return as Seven of Nine) and multiple references to that era of “Trek” on the animated series “Lower Decks,” which all but serves as a continuation of the Rick Berman-Brannon Braga years, by way of the singular stamp of creator Mike McMahan. “Lower Decks” is geared for adults, while “Prodigy,” by virtue of its placement on Nickelodeon, will be aiming for a younger audience.