‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 1 Review: The Best Modern Star Trek Series

Star Trek: Lower Decks

Spoilers Below

Star Trek: Lower Decks, developed by Mike McMahan, is my favorite Modern Star Trek series. I am a Trekkie who was first introduced to the franchise by The Next Generation (TNG). I rank The Next Generation as my number one Star Trek show. The adult comedy animation is greatly influenced by the aesthetic, tone, and storylines of TNG, so my love of Lower Decks makes a lot of sense. Lower Decks is about the ensigns aboard the USS Cerritos, the California-class Federation Starship. The Cerritos’ primary mission is making second contact. The Cerritos offers engineering support to allies or new members of the Federation. Unlike other Star Trek shows, the bridge crew’s adventures are in the background of this animation.

The animated series returns to the more episodic episode structure of the classic Star Trek series. I find these storylines a welcome reprieve from typical serialized modern Star Trek. Episodic means that a whole story is wrapped up in one episode. The main characters are left unchanged at the end of every episode, for example, in ” Envoys,” where the main plot is that Boimler and Marnier transport Klingon General K’orin to Tulgana IV. The Klingon steals the shuttle leaving the ensigns with no idea where he is going. Boimler and Marnier spend the rest of the episode trying to track down K’orin. In the end, the pair successfully drops K’orin off at his destination. We never hear about K’orin or Tulgana IV again.

Lower Decks does have elements of serialization. In ” Terminal Provocations,” Rutherford’s holosuite program, a holographic assistant named Badgey, turns evil, causing the cyborg to strangle his creation. Rutherford reboots Badgey turning him back to the “harmless” assistant. In the final episode of season one, Badgey returns to help program a computer virus to attack the Pakled starship. The serialization strands in Lower Decks remind me of the first couple of seasons of Deep Space Nine.

The animation style of all of the starships and landscapes are detailed and naturalistic. The USS Cerritos looks like it’s straight out of a live-action Star Trek Series. The yellow in the design and the lowering of the warp nacelles make the starship instantly recognizable as the Cerritos. The inside of the ship looks like a more modern version of the Enterprise D in TNG. The USS Cerritos is one of my top three favorite Starfleet starships. The character’s animation style is simplistic but cute. The Klingons, Ferengi, Vulcans, and all the other well-known aliens look like their live-action counterparts. These recognizable Vulcans and Klingons help me dive into the animated Trek universe.

The best character on Lower Decks is Ensign Beckett Marnier. Marnier is a rebellious Starfleet officer. Before coming to the Cerritos, she was demoted for acting disrespectfully toward higher-ranked officers. Even though the ensign does not follow all the regulations, she still embodies the spirit of the Federation. Marnier believes in helping people, that infinite diversity means infinity combinations, and teamwork solves problems. Ensign Marnier doesn’t want to be a bridge crew officer because she believes it stops her from doing the right thing. In “Moist Vessel,” her mother, Captain Carol Freeman, wants her to transfer off the Cerritos voluntarily. Since “hard labor” doesn’t convince Marnier to leave, her mother promotes her to the rank of lieutenant. This means she is a member of the bridge crew. Marnier is miserable because she does bureaucratic tasks instead of doing real good. Marnier jumps into action when a terraforming machine starts taking over the Cerritos. She refuses to dress in proper Starfleet regulation, but her knowledge about how starships work leads her to realize that something is changing the air quality system. Marnier and her mother, Captain Freeman, work as a team to save the day. In the end, Marnier gets herself demoted again by insulting an admiral, but her loyalty is to Starfleet.

Lower Decks gets a lot of humorous moments from referencing other Star Trek shows. Some Trekkies worry that the animated show’s comedy only works if you are a fan of the franchise. They think that the animated series does not allow any new viewers to enter the Trek universe, but I can’t entirely agree. I think the television show is made for Trekkies, but there are still plenty of ways to enter the Star Trek universe. All the classic series are available on multiple VOD sites. All the other Modern Star Trek shows have plenty of storylines and characters for new fans to latch on too, and Lower Decks references may make new viewers curious about the other shows. Below I have listed some of my favorite Star Trek Easter Eggs in the comedy animated series. Captain Freeman frees the Betans from their computer overlord Landru after Captain Kirk already broke the computer’s spell back in The Original Series. Captain Ramsey says her Vulcan officer will kick Borg butt with her Vulcan jiu-jitsu, a form of karate created on Enterprise, and Boimler says his girlfriend “is as real as a hopped-up Q on Captain Picard Day,” which is a TNG reference. For a long time, the original Star Trek: The Animated Series was not considered canon, but Lower Decks has brought it into the fold.

Star Trek: Lower Decks is a great new addition to the Trek universe. I can’t wait for season two.

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