Will Star Trek: Prodigy ends up doing the same thing Star Trek: The Original Series did?
The recent news that Paramount+ is scrapping the nearly completed second season of Star Trek: Prodigy for a tax write-off angers many fans and leaves many of the people who worked on the series in an uncertain position. Fans may be able to “save it”, but can they do it in time?
One of the most well-known parts of franchise history is how Star Trek: The Original Series became as popular as it did through reruns decades after production ceased. Older fans may have memories of running home to watch the reruns themselves or of their parents doing that. Yet there is no guarantee about PROD doing this in a timely manner.
Would PRO be able to hold onto its existent fan base and then be able to bring in new fans after leaving Paramount+? Could it be left to languish for decades or become an overlooked part of the franchise?
Time can help or hurt fan response, so what might it do to Star Trek: Prodigy?
The much lower cost to rerun TOS did allow many channels to air it without spending millions of dollars, but it also benefited from being the only Trek series available for years. Later series of Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise – have become very popular among parts of the fandom, but it was not the same for each series.
TNG side effects and plotlines that haven’t aged well have made some fans wince and actors call for a particular episode to have a disclaimer attached to it. Overall fan love for the series allowed for Star Trek: Picard, but it’s taken decades to do so and part of the ability to do this is that the TNG main cast is still alive and active in the industry to this day.
DS9 has benefited from streaming more than other series as being able to binge episodes with complex plotlines and character arcs allows fans to observe plot points and then make connections between episodes that may have been harder to do in the weekly episode airing. However, it has taken until the thirtieth anniversary to really push DS9 to this level of fan enjoyment. Fans have called for an equivalent for PIC for DS9, but several cast deaths have made this much harder to do.
VOY and ENT benefit from streaming as well, but many of the plot elements that fans were not fond of during the original run still impact fan enjoyment. Fans may still complain about the lack of science in the infamous episode “Threshold” or Archer’s reckless attitude towards keeping Porthos safe, but some fans may enjoy getting to fast-forward through episodes they don’t like and not have to worry about waiting a week or more for a new episode.
PRO may end up facing the same fate as The Animated Series – an odd curiosity only hardcore fans know. TAS is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year to barely any fan interest – no special edition DVDs, Blu-Rays, merchandise, Hallmark ornaments, novel tie-ins, and barely any acknowledgment in the main TV canon at all. A few fans have made a few parody animations of TNG in the TAS style, but these are fan products, not official products or tied to canon. Could PRO end up being the next TAS – almost entirely cast aside by most of the fandom or forgotten until a die-hard fan brings it back decades later?