6 Thoughts on Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 (Review)
I am not a classic Trekkie. I can count the number of pre-Discovery Star Trek episodes I’ve seen on one hand. It simply wasn’t my thing when I was growing up — though I’ve come to believe I probably would have loved the shows. I can’t rewrite the past and I don’t really have an interest in watching the classic shows in this day and age…so instead, I watched and loved Star Trek: Lower Decks!
TV Show Rating: 10/10 – Fantastic!
I’ve seen both seasons of Star Trek: Discovery and have enjoyed that show well enough. I watched Picard and don’t think very much of it. I enjoyed all the J.J. Abrams movies. But man, Lower Decks is the bee’s knees. Lower Decks is my Star Trek now. It’s smartly written, it’s legitimately funny and it’s clearly made by Star Trek fans for Star Trek fans. And that’s pretty neat! So join me after the jump for my review of the first season of Star Trek: Lower Decks!
Expect FULL SPOILERS for the first season of Lower Decks.
Also, happy 4,000th post for Henchman-4-Hire!
Premise: Star Trek: Lower Decks is a new comedic cartoon set in the Star Trek universe. It focuses on the U.S.S. Cerritos, another starship out on a mission in space. The show is set only a few years after The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager. It focuses on a couple of low-ranking ensign officers who work in the “lower decks” of the ship. There’s Beckett Mariner, a street smart rule-breaker with a heart of gold; there’s Brad Boimler, an uptight company man who lives by the rules; there’s Sam Rutherford, an upbeat engineering geek; and there’s D’Vana Tendi, a new medical recruit who is thrilled to be a part of Star Fleet. And along with these four main characters, there’s an entire bridge crew and a whole host of background characters.
Lower Decks is the sort of show that is smart enough to put characters in the background of early episodes who will then have a larger role later in the season. Fletcher makes a lot of appearances before his actual starring episode, for example. And Jennifer…
Star Trek: Lower Decks is available to watch on CBS All Access.
6. This show is so good!
Star Trek: Lower Decks is great television. It works as both a comedy and parody of Star Trek as well as a Star Trek show in and of itself. It leans heavily into the world of Star Trek. We’ve got a brand new ship, we’ve got a brand new captain, we’ve got crew members and adventures, all portrayed with the loving grace of a fan getting to dip their toes into creating. The writing and humor are exactly my sense of dry, character and situation-based comedy. It’s not pratfalls. It’s not fart jokes. It’s not thinking you’re edgy when you’re really just pathetic. It’s smartly written dialogue that builds off the characters at play and the situations they’re in. It’s excellent line reading of such great scripts. The stories are built out of Star Trek canon and then build on the new show as the season progresses.
This is a show made by people who know what they’re doing and know what they want to do, then they execute it perfectly.
5. The finale is a masterclass
My favorite episode of the season is the finale. I loved each and every episode, and they all got progressively better as the season went along. But the finale is a masterclass in television production. I gave this season as a whole a 10/10, but the finale is an 11/10. It takes everything that came before and it raises the bar to such an intense and wonderful degree. The way it uses callbacks to earlier in the season, with returning characters. The way it amps up the tension and storytelling with the destruction of Solvang. That was unlike anything this show had delivered before and it set the stage for an episode of action and excitement, along with comedy.
The death of Shaxs is so good on so many levels. It not only shows that Lower Decks is willing to kill crew members, but how much fun is that death scene? First of all, it’s foreshadowed a lot across the entire season, if you go back and watch. That’s smart writing. Second of all, it’s so touching! The way Shaxs calls Rutherford “Baby Bear” one last time, another callback to earlier episodes, is perfection.
Then there’s the final moments with the ultimate in Star Trek references: William Riker shows up in the Titan. As a non-Star Trek fan, I don’t have any clue about the significance of the Titan, but I’ve read that this was an especially cool moment for fans. I could appreciate it for how plain cool it was as an action scene; which, again, was bigger and bolder than anything the show had done so far. The season finale raised everything a whole new level, and that’s how you make a season finale!
4. The references work for a non-fan
Speaking of references, Lower Decks is very, very reference heavy. And it totally worked for me, even as a non-fan. Some might complain that it was too reference heavy, that it was just name-dropping stuff in a desperate attempt to be relevant. But I disagree. Lower Decks didn’t make obvious references for general audiences. Lower Decks made obscure references that only Star Trek fans would get. When Star Wars puts the Millennium Falcon in a new movie, it wants general audiences to recognize the Falcon and be happy. When Lower Decks make a background gag out of the legendary Star Trek Spock helmet, that’s a deep cut. And I think they had a lot of clever writing around these references. They weren’t just thrown off to be references, they were worked into jokes and banter and situations. And as a non-fan, I may not have understood every reference, but this just had me going to the Star Trek Subreddit to bask in the giddy glee of old school fans explaining and reveling in the references. It made me feel more connected to the episodes and to Star Trek.
3. Beckett Mariner is my new Star Trek
Mariner is my favorite character in Lower Decks, and is now my favorite character in all of Star Trek. Honestly, I didn’t have a favorite character before. Like I said, I’d simply never watched the classic shows, and no one from the new shows has been all that great. But Lower Decks, and especially Mariner, are my Star Trek now. I finally have a favorite character and a show to call my own! It’s exciting.
Also, I do not ‘ship Mariner and Boimler. No thank you.
2. I want more character combos
If I have one complaint about Lower Decks it’s that the show never really meshed its four main characters as well as it could have. Every episode seemed to pair off Boimler and Mariner and then Tendi and Rutherford. Why not some Mariner/Tendi episodes? Or episodes starring all four of them? Granted, these things did happen occasionally, but not nearly enough for my tastes. Hopefully we get some more mixing and matching in season 2.
1. I want live action appearances
A fun thing about the Lower Decks cast is that the voice actors all look like they could play their cartoon counterparts. Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Noel Wells and Eugene Cordero could all play Mariner, Boimler, Tendi and Rutherford in live action, as could a lot of the bridge crew. I hope this was intentional, because how much fun would it be to get some kind of live action cameo at some point in the future? I don’t know where, because there aren’t any live action counterpart shows or films set during the same time period…but man, it would be a lot of fun!
I need a Beckett Mariner action figure…