A comment I recently saw in a review of the new Paramount+/Nickelodeon show Star Trek: Prodigy has been living rent-free in my head for the last few days. The comment centered on the notion that it’s a good show but it’s too childish. Well, duh, that’s because the target audience is kids. Seriously.
I get it. With the pandemic and everything, our lives have been disrupted and many of us haven’t kept up with the development news on TV shows. Maybe the person who left the comment didn’t know Star Trek: Prodigy was envisioned as a Nickelodeon show before Paramount+ came into being. Exactly who is the target audience for Nickelodeon? Kids, primarily ages 7–11, with some programming intended for 12–17. As such, you’ll notice the “Y7” rating on episodes of Star Trek: Prodigy, indicating it’s appropriate for children ages 7 and up.
Star Trek: Prodigy is meant to be an introduction to the universe of Star Trek, a way to specifically and intentionally involve a younger audience and help them understand and get excited about Star Trek. It is the first Star Trek series deliberately focused on a younger audience from the ground up. Whereas other Star Trek series might have had the occasional story element that could be understood and enjoyed by kids, Star Trek: Prodigy is for kids.
Why is Star Trek: Prodigy necessary? Times have changed. My own introduction to the Trek universe was at the age of 4, watching reruns of the original series with my aunt. Did I understand it at that age? No. I was fascinated by Spock’s ears, phasers, and space travel. All that other stuff flew over my young head. I began to understand the show and grasp the story elements as I grew older. By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation came around I was thoroughly a Trekker and needed no introduction to Star Trek, yet there it was in the first few episodes of the show anyway. In each successive iteration of the Star Trek series, some time was spent introducing the audience to the world that had been built, with the understanding that for the seasoned audience some story elements were already part of the zeitgeist. The assumption, however, is that most people watching each newer series have seen something of Star Trek previously. The fact of the matter is some of the oldest Star Trek fans are now in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s. Star Trek: Prodigy is…