Paramount+ Cancels and Disappears ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’

'Star Trek: Prodigy' becomes the latest victim of tax write-offs

Joining an increasingly long list of streaming services who are nuking their shows for tax breaks, Paramount+ quietly announced on Friday that they had canceled several of their shows, including their highly touted Grease prequel show Rise of the Pink Ladies and their Star Trek animated show for young audiences, Prodigy. That’s bad enough, but not only would those shows stop production, they’d be removed from the service entirely and in just a few days.

Prodigy is about a band of youngsters who escape a penal colony in a Starfleet vessel. They are aided by holo version of Captain Janeway, voiced by Kate Mulgrew, who helps the young crew navigate the galaxy. It was exciting and well made, and we here at The Workprint were big fans of it.

Adding even more insult to injury, Prodigy had been greenlit for a second season and was in postproduction on those episodes when the cancelation came down. The hope of fans is that the second season will be sold to another network and shown there, but who knows?

This is just the latest chapter in streamers axing their content in order to get tax breaks. MAX (formerly HBO Max, formerly HBO Go, formerly HBO Now) kicked it off last summer when their CEO, cartoon villain David Zaslav, deleted a $90 million Batgirl movie that was in the final stages of post-production. The film would have featured Michael Keaton as Batman and now-Oscar winner Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly. Gone, and never to be seen, so they could get a write-off. It was joined by more movies, like Scoob Holiday Haunt, Seth Rogen’s movie American Pickle, and hundreds of episodes of Sesame Street.

Disney+ saw that and said “Hold my Dole Whip.” They canceled and deleted a wad of their original content to get a $1.5 billion tax write off, including the expensive and much hyped Willow series, The World According to Jeff Goldblum (which was a show they hyped as being a big part of the streamer’s first day), and the criminally underseen Muppet project, Earth to Ned.

And because most of those shows were only on streaming, not many got a physical release. So, if you didn’t watch Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies or the charming Bryan Cranston movie based on an award-winning kid’s novel, The One and Only Ivan, tough. They’re gone. Fortunately for Star Trek fans, Prodigy Season One was on Blu-Ray and it quickly sold out.

Now, I grew up in a pre-historic era where if you weren’t in front of your cathode-ray TV at the right time, you didn’t see your show. This was before VCRs, before cable on demand, and way before streaming. So I am aware that shows get canceled. I am aware that nothing is forever.

But, back in the day, things were canceled for a reason. This show had bad ratings, sorry. Here’s the Nielsen report. How can you even measure streaming ratings? Netflix is quick to tout their total hours viewed stats, but even then shows getting a second season is dicey. (Sandman was an incredibly popular show, but it was on the edge to get renewed for a while.)

The promise of streaming was that we’d have a library of shows at our fingertips. Old favorites, creative new shows that the old networks wouldn’t take a chance on, everything. Now that promise is getting ground down under the realities of the market. Netflix and MAX are happy to pump out garbage reality shows that are cheap to make. (Netflix churns out Love is Blind and The Floor is Lava. MAX considers 90 Day Fiancé as valuable as DC) Paramount touted itself as the home of all things Star Trek, and that’s the main reason I subscribed. (Well, that and Evil. That show is cool.) But if you’re just going to disappear programming like Stalin did his senior staff from old pictures, what are you even doing?

How is a show supposed to build an audience? The Grease show was barely on Paramount+ for two months. If shows don’t do Wednesday type numbers instantly, they’ll get erased? I hope that SAG and the WGA are paying attention and work in some clauses about shows that get terminated for tax purposes.

And as of today, Prodigy has been deleted from Paramount+. Hope you were able to snag a Blu-Ray.

Victor Catano
Victor Catano
Victor Catano lives in New York City with his adorable pughuaua, Danerys. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, production manager, and chaos coordinator. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles. Follow him on BlueSky and Instagram at @vgcatano and find his books on Amazon

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