Kevin & Dan Hageman Interview: Star Trek Prodigy Season 1.5
Warning: The following interview contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Prodigy season 1, episode 11 – « Asylum »Over the last year, executive producers Kevin and Dan Hageman have watched Star Trek: Prodigy go from « that Star Trek show for kids » to a highly-acclaimed part of the Star Trek franchise. After a long hiatus, Star Trek: Prodigy has returned with the second half of season 1 on Paramount+.
Star Trek: Prodigy season 1.5 brings plenty of firepower, starting with Kate Mulgrew now doing double duty by voicing Hologram Janeway and Admiral Kathryn Janeway. As the ragtag teenage crew of the USS Protostar tries to make contact with Starfleet, Prodigy is also bringing in familiar aliens like the Borg, the Romulans, and the Klingons, as well as Star Trek legacy characters like Admiral Jellico (Ronny Cox) and The Outrageous Okona (Billy Campbell).
Screen Rant had the pleasure of chatting with Kevin and Dan Hageman about the back half of Star Trek: Prodigy season 1, what species Murf (Dee Bradley Baker) is, the true goal of legacy characters joining Prodigy, and how the new episodes will be released in season 2.
Screen Rant: It’s been a year since Star Trek: Prodigy launched. Can you talk about how you went from not knowing how the show would be received to now coming back with a lot of anticipation after winning kids and adults over?
Dan Hageman: We’re very happy with where we are, but we can’t wait for more episodes to come out to get more fans to come on in. That’s something we’re really looking forward to when the next 10 episodes drop.
Kevin Hageman: The first 10 we had to drop during the intensity of COVID. So it was five episodes, and then we had production pipeline problems. And so we had to wait for another five. And now you’re gonna get a full 10 episodes.
Dan Hageman: 10 uninterrupted episodes, and I love that.
In the second half of season 1, Admiral Janeway is a major player, and she has the crew of the USS Dauntless with her. What was it like to create your own Starfleet crew to complement Admiral Janeway?
Dan Hageman: It was a great thought experiment of who would she have around her? We love that we were able to get Jason Alexander to play Doctor Noum. We love this idea of a Tellarite doctor with the worst bedside manner.
Kevin Hageman: And a little bit of a foil to Jankom Pog. We knew we wanted an Andorian. [Commander Tysses played by Daveed Diggs] And we wanted to hit some classic species and introduce kids to [them so] if they were to change the channel or jump onto the next Trek show, they would see some of these species.
Dan Hageman: As well as Asencia, the Trill played by Jameela Jamil.
Trills are awesome. And Ascenia is a particularly beautifully drawn Trill. Following the Jadzia Dax mold.
Kevin Hageman: You like her? Good. (laughs) And Jameela’s fantastic, too.
I wanted to ask you about her. You have these amazing actors now who are also huge Star Trek fans like Jameela Jamil and Jason Alexander. Does working with super fans like them make your job easier?
Dan Hageman: Yes, it does. Absolutely.
Kevin Hageman: Oh, my God, it just it makes everything… I don’t want to say it’s like you’re all part of the same religion, but you all have the same purpose. You know what Trek represents and how it only deserves the best.
Dan Hageman: We treat it as more than a job. It’s not a job. It’s truly fun. And for a lot of people, it’s things they’ve always wished they could do.
And Trek kind of is a religion in a way. To a degree, we kind of treat it like that.
Kevin Hageman: To a degree, yes. (laughs)
You’re bringing back Ronny Cox as Jellico, which is an inspired choice. Did you think everybody would be so excited to see Jellico again?
Dan Hageman: Well, yes. I think everyone’s seen the Jellico memes that are around. We needed to find a foil who can outrank Vice Admiral Janeway. We looked at who, in that timeline, are the active Admirals, and then we saw the name Jellico. And it was not a conversation. It was like, that is our guy.
Kevin Hageman: And we want Prodigy to be canon. We want to be compared to the live-action shows. We didn’t want to be in a different category. Since our concept starts outside of Federation space, some people, if you just watch the pilot, you might go, « Oh, this doesn’t feel like Trek that much. » But if you understand and see the big picture of what we’re doing, now you’re seeing familiar faces, familiar species, and it just gets more and more Trek every episode.
In the midseason premiere, you solve the mystery of what Murf is. And even I was like, « Wow, that is a deep-cut reference. » Did you know what Murf was when you created him? Or did you have to figure that out along the way?
Dan Hageman: To give you a peek behind the curtain, no, we didn’t know. We didn’t know what Murf was.
Kevin Hageman: And Murph was a very late addition to the pilot, who was not a character until we realized it’d be probably fun for the youngest kids to have a pet on board.
Dan Hageman: But it was a bit weird to have two different characters who you’re not quite sure what their origins are. Dal, you’re not sure what species he is. So we did a quick Google search for ‘Star Trek Worm.’ And I saw a clip of someone calling Wesley Crusher a Mellanoid slime worm. And then I said, « This is it! » And I believe one person guessed it, but I don’t think they even took themselves seriously.
I really was like, wow, that is a really, really deep cut.
Dan Hageman: (laughs) Sorry for showing you how the sausage is made.
Kevin Hageman: But that’s the fun of Trek, right? Because we get to do some new stuff, but there’s always such a deep well to pull from and expand upon these species that aren’t even really explored yet.
What’s your favorite thing in this next half of the season that you just can’t wait for everyone to see?
Kevin Hageman: The ending. I’m excited. I think when you see our full 20 episodes as one entity, you’ll discover it’s one of the strongest first seasons of Star Trek that has been made.
Dan Hageman: Yeah, the first thing we knew was how the story comes together in episode one, and then we also knew what would happen in episode 20.
Kevin Hageman: It’ll feel like a really complete story. It’ll be really satisfying. You know, sometimes, for a season of any show, you get a bunch of stuff, and it’s really great. But then it just leaves you hanging. This is going to feel like there’s an ending but a new beginning as well.
That’s what Brett [Gray] and Ella [Purnell] both kind of alluded to, as well, when I talked to them. They were so excited about the finale. Where are you guys at now with season 2?
Dan Hageman: So we finished writing. It’s another 20 episodes for season 2. I think the animation is about finished on episode 21. And so we’re in the process of making all 20 of those episodes all at once.
Kevin Hageman: We’re entering post on the first episode of season 2. Doing music and sound effects and finalizing the animation and visual effects. And then we’re also getting [and] we’re locking the animatics in for the finale, the final episode of season 2. So we’re actively busy across the board with that.
Do you guys know if season 2 will play straight through? Or will it also be broken up into halves?
Dan Hageman: I don’t know for sure. But I’m gonna guess it’ll be 10 and 10.
Kevin Hageman: And that’s how we’ve always designed it. Sometimes, the powers that be say, « Nope, we’re changing it up. » But it’s been designed to always be 10 and 10. It was sad that we had to do the first five and the next five, but the first 10… After that return to Tars Lamora and the event that happens with Zero and Gwyn, that was supposed to feel like a midseason break.
Star Trek: Prodigy follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning, and salvation.
Check out our other Star Trek: Prodigy interviews here:
Star Trek: Prodigy streams Thursdays on Paramount+.