This might flag me as a super nerd, but my little trekkie heart couldn’t pass this one up. Lower Decks is a officially liscensed Star Trek cartoon where instead of following the top brass as they brave strange new frontiers, we follow several lower deck crew members as they struggle fervently to not totally screw everything up.
Ensign Mariner is a tough talking, utterly unambitious, oddly street smart member of the USS Cerritos crew. The goal of the Cerritos is to make second contact, meaning they follow around the more important discovery missions to do all the paper work. Mariner is also the daughter of the ship’s captain, Captain Carol Freeman, a fact that drives both of them a little crazy.
Each episode the crew is assigned to complete a new mission, much like any traditional Star Trek, and with each new mission we get to see how the different characters perform under pressure. Mariner’s friends represent different life philosophies, and as such react to all these bizarre events in very different ways.
Mariner’s closest friend, Brad Boimler, is desperate to get into command to the point that he will literally do anything to gain attention. This gets him into trouble, as his efforts are entirely misguided and shallow. Instead of being excellent at his job, he tends to seek out shortcuts instead. This makes him Mariner’s polar opposite. She is excellent at her job, despite being an inappropriate loud mouth while she does it, and she also has a knack for getting people on her side, something essential for a commanding officer.
There are also Tendi and Rutherford, two thoroughly geeked out engineers who fixate on how wonderful it is to do tedious engineering tasks. When it comes to real issues and dangers, the two are completely useless.
Lower Decks is an irreverant and super amusing look at an industry that has prided itself in being serious since 1966. The whole feeling of the show feels as if someone took the attitudes from either Rick and Morty or Futurama and smashed it together with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Is it a perfect fusion of the two? Nah. Of course there are areas that could use tightening. Is it an entertaining show? Absolutely.
Much of the joy of this show is that it takes all the expectations of a traditional Star Trek – all the stiff stoicism, all the adherence to the Prime Directive, all the space ship utopia – and pokes fun at it in a fresh new way.
The one thing that’s missing from Lower Decks is a deeper meaning hiding beneath all the slapstick and violence, like we find in Rick and Morty. There’s no real message or theme that pulls the season together. Although it’s not strictly necessary, it would have turned something fun to watch into something that’s also interesting to think about.
Even with all that, I thought Lower Decks was fun to watch because of all the fun it pokes at traditional Star Trek all while carefully staying faithfully close to the franchise image and ideology.
There is a lot of gory freakish cartoony violence in this one, more than expected or strictly necessary. As the violence is usually used as part of a joke, the severity of it all doesn’t really register. It’s just kind of gross. The general subject matter of each episode also tends to skew into adult topics that often border on the inappropriate. There are plenty of mild swears, anything more serious is bleeped out. As for nudity, I think there are a few naked butts in there, anything else is blurred. There is talk of romantic interest, such as flirting, kissing, and dating and is at times a bit rude.
To put it short – this one’s for the adults and the teens they let play.
I give Lower Decks a 4/5 stars for being a fun romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
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