'Star Trek: Lower Decks' Season 1 - TV Review

Another "Star Trek" series. This time set on the "Cerritos," a starship that does "second contact." Many of the crew dream of being on the legendary "Enterprise" which does "first contact." Our protagonists are all lower ranking crew, who live and work on the "lower decks." The two we focus on most are Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), with some of the others being D'Vana Tendi (Noël Wells), Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), and Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) who is both the captain of the ship and (although no one other than the two of them know it) also Beckett's mother.

One of the things I liked about "Star Trek" - both the original series and TNG - was that they often used "the future" to look at social and political questions. "Lower Decks" doesn't do this. What's it about then, what makes it stand out? It's animated. And it's a comedy. Star Trek has been around 50 years and it's taken them this long to realize that they can make fun of themselves. And I'm not sure they got there on their own: they got a huge push from "The Orville," which is "Star Trek" in everything but name. And man does "The Orville" mock "Star Trek" (but it's also a tribute). I loved "The Orville" when I watched it, and watching "Lower Decks" made me appreciate "The Orville" even more.

There's this group of expressions in the English language that we use about creative endeavours: "they aimed high and didn't quite hit their target, but did well in trying." That kind of thing - with "high" being meant to indicate "creative" or "thought-provoking," and "low" being fart jokes or stuff exploding. "The Orville" aims both high and low: it's thought-provoking and humane, and it's also occasionally wildly crass and comedic. And it hits both sets of targets most of the time. "Lower Decks" never aims high: it doesn't try to be art, or even thought-provoking like the older series. They're just here to make you laugh. But they're still barely making their quota: it's mildly amusing.

All the characters are massively exaggerated: Mariner's rebelliousness, Boimler's insecurities, D'Vana's nerdiness. I admit that they only have about 25 minutes to put together a story in each episode as opposed to the approximately 50 minutes for an "Orville" episode, but the contrast is again stark: "The Orville" does emphasize people's quirks for humour occasionally, but the characters are far more complete.

I watched the second season of "The Orville" as soon as I could lay hands on it. I may, eventually, watch the second season of this. If I'm bored.