Star Trek: Prodigy writer explains how they did all of those cameos in “Kobayashi”
Star Trek: Prodigy had a whole host of cameos in “Kobayashi”.
If you decided to watch Star Trek: Prodigy’s most recent episode, “Kobayashi” you may have seen several characters return to the franchise for the first time in years (if not decades) in the form of holograms. Dal, one of the show’s main protagonists, discovered the holodecks and activated the Kobyashi Maru program in order to prove to his shipmates that he was the right choice to be captain.
In doing so, he had to choose a bridge crew of legendary Starfleet personnel, and ended up getting “the best”. That included Uhura, Odo, Dr. Beverly Crusher and Spock initially, and later Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. While seeing them wasn’t surprising, hearing the original actors’ was very surprising.
That’s due to the fact that with the exception of Gates McFadden, all of the others who “reprised” their roles have either passed away or are no longer in good enough health to perform. McFadden was the only one who returned, as she played Crusher in this episode and across all of the Star Trek: The Next Generation franchise. Leonard Nimoy (Spock), James Doohan (Scotty), and Rene Auberjonois (Odo) all passed away, while Nichelle Nichols is no longer able to act anymore.
So how did the writer of the episode, and producer of the series, Aaron J. Waltke manage to get all of those actors to come back for one more episode? It wasn’t easy and it took hours upon hours of watching old Star Trek episodes to find the right lines of dialogue to be able to lift and use.
Waltke spoke to TrekMovie.com about the process and revealed that he read dozens upon dozens of scripts to help find the perfect lines.
Can you talk about the logistics of what it took for you and the team to put all of that together using the voices of the legacy actors?
I basically had to create some algorithms with every Star Trek script ever written in order to search the databases for relevant lines. I also wound up reading probably 80 or 90 scripts, and rewatching about 40 or 50 episodes top to bottom. Knowing the shape of the story I wanted to tell, which, of course, is the Kobayashi Maru scenario and how Dal would interpret that, I then proceeded to go through find the lines to try to line them up to make sure they sounded like they’re all in the same room talking to each other. Then I went to the Star Trek archives where they thankfully have the remastered audio from all the DVD sets and the movies and such. And I would give them the time code and the episode and say, “Please give me the cleanest, just dialogue track of this line.” And then our team at Audio Circus, they had a specialist who was able to clean up the audio as much as they could using modern technology. Obviously, there’s still some of the stuff that was recorded in the ‘60s and it still has a little bit of a guttural quality to it. But I think it’s that’s almost charming in a way. Because it does feel relatively seamless once you kind of buy into the wish fulfillment of it. But there was a lot of a lot of takes that didn’t work for one reason or another. Maybe they’re too far away from the microphone or the line just didn’t work or the inflection was wrong. So there was a lot of back and forth and testing. Like getting the right delivery of “Live Long and Prosper” to work. He actually doesn’t say it very often in the series. I was kind of surprised to learn he only says it maybe six or seven times.
Star Trek: Prodigy did right by the legacy actors
Star Trek: Prodigy did right by the legacy actors used in the episode. Each character came across authentic, and while you could tell they weren’t new lines of dialogue, they did fit pretty well in the context of the show.
Even if the lines that Nimoy recorded were from nearly 60 years ago, to hear him have a conversation with Dal after he yet again failed the test, was a heart-warming moment. Spock provided so much comfort to many Starfleet captains, and here he is once again giving logic and perspective to a young captain.
It was nearly perfect.