It definitely took some convincing. It definitely took some time. But Alex Kurtzman, the gatekeeper of everything Star Trek, finally convinced Kate Mulgrew to return to her titular role as Captain Janeway in, get this, an animated series. How? Why? Check this out.
Much like her Captain counterpart, Patrick Stewart as Picard, Kate Mulgrew was quite reluctant when Kurtzman broached the idea of her return. Even though Mulgrew has recently stated that she and Janeway represent the “perfect marriage”, her reluctance was understandable. Janeway was a classic character, one that Mulgrew admitted to having a tough go at the beginning but finally settling in.
She told ComicBook, “By the end of Star Trek: Voyager, it was a marriage made in heaven,” she said. “As you know, I was shot out of a cannon, and all I could do was stand and feel numb at the same time. By the seventh season, I belonged to her, and she belonged to me, and I carry this forward every day in the most unusual way. It’s a transcendent kind of reality.”
So leaving her character on a high note is a great reason not to go back. Why cloud the wonderful memory? But Kurtzman is Kurtzman and, as with everything Star Trek related, he had a vision. It took months to wear Mulgrew down, but in the end, it’s Kurtzman for the win. “Well, frankly, the negotiations took quite a long time,” Mulgrew said. “When Alex Kurtzman presented me with this idea, I wasn’t entirely sure, and then over the months, the conversation evolved into what we could bring to an entirely new demographic of watchers. I thought the idea of bringing this to young minds was just too exciting, too evocative, and too promising.”
So now we have Star Trek: Prodigy, an animated series that will debut on Nickelodeon in 2021. Demographics are most definitely coming into play here. The description of the series goes as such: a group of teenagers “take” an abandoned Starfleet vessel and joyride through the galaxy, finding adventure and trouble along the way. Where Mulgrew’s Janeway comes in is an unknown at this point, but it can be surmised that she will helm the ship that is to track down the wayward teenagers.
During Kate Mulgrew’s New York Comic Con Metaverse appearance where she announced her return as Captain Janeway, she remarked, “I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway, and I can’t wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before in Star Trek: Prodigy. How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades. To be at the helm again is going to be deeply gratifying in a new way for me.” It does sound promising but just one piece of the upcoming Star Trek puzzle.
Alex Kurtzman spoke on The Hollywood Reporter podcast Top 5 when revealing how the decision was made to try to get Mulgrew to reprise her Janeway role. “When you’re looking at legacy characters you have to have a very specific reason to bring them back. Without revealing too many details, Kevin and Dan [Hageman] came in with a pitch that just blew the doors off the place. There was a really clear wonderful reason to bring Janeway into the story.”
He stated specifically that this new series will be aimed at the younger population. “I think one of the things that Star Trek has not done as effectively over time is bring in new people, particularly much younger people, and I don’t see any reason why that this amazing story that has existed for 55 years, that is so about everything that we are dealing with in our lives right now, cannot be shared and enjoyed by younger generations.” Again, demographics.
At this point, Kurtzman has Star Trek planned throughout 2027. “Heather Kadin and Aaron Baiers, who work with me at Secret Hideout, we literally just got off a call before this with the network mapping out with us through 2027. When I say that, it’s not like it’s set in stone, it’s just ‘okay here’s a plan, here’s what we’re looking, here’s how the different shows are going to drop.’ Consider that it takes a year from start of production to airing, so you have to plan way, way in advance to get these things done and you have to stay on top of the zeitgeist and make sure what you’re doing is relevant.”
At the moment, Kurtzman is rolling with a full plate of Star Trek. He’s got Discovery, Short Treks, Picard, and Lower Decks going. Discovery is starting production on season three and, according to Kurtzman, it has years left in it. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m going to say in all honesty there are years and years left on Discovery. I think that because, first of all, you know Star Trek, in general, has a long history of going seven seasons minimum, and we just jumped into the future, and in a way, it’s not that it’s a brand new show, but it’s a whole new set of variables with a whole new set of ideas and stories.”
To some, this could be good news, but to others, is this too much Star Trek? There is much more planned for Star Trek’s future when it comes to TV series, not to mention the on-again, off-again feature film franchise. So, what say ye, Giant Freakin Robot Trekkies? Is more of all this a good thing? Let us know.