My father once asked me, “What was your first memory of ‘Star Trek?’” I wracked my brain thinking of an answer and I couldn’t. “Star Trek” has always been a part of my life. My father is a massive fan of the franchise, so I grew up watching the shows and movies.
He would dress me up in a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” onesie he bought at the “Star Trek: The Experience” Vegas attraction in the ’90s. He also bought “Star Trek” teddy bears that still sit in my room.
When the 2009 “Star Trek” reboot film came out that Halloween, my costume was the red female Starfleet uniform my parents bought me at Party City. I posed for photos with a replica phaser and tricorder.
I bring up my long history with “Star Trek” because, in the past few years, there has been a resurgence of new “Star Trek” shows on the streaming platform Paramount+, starting with “Star Trek: Discovery” (2017-present), “Star Trek: Picard” (2020-2023) and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” (2022-present).
The “Star Trek” show I find the most interesting is the franchise’s first adult animated comedy, “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” Yes, you heard that right, animated! “Lower Decks” is the first cartoon since “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” which ran from 1973-1974.
A majority of the “Star Trek’’ shows follow the captain and bridge crew of the various starships that are a part of Starfleet.
“Lower Decks” mixes it up and primarily follows the adventures and mishaps of the USS Cerritos lowest ranking crew members who live on the ship’s lower decks.
The show focuses on four main ensigns: Brad Boimler, Beckett Mariner, D’Vana Tendi and Sam Rutherford. Season one takes place a year after the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” film “Star Trek: Nemesis” (2002) in the 24th century.
When the show premiered, I was hesitant about it. A “Star Trek” show that leans heavily into comedy I could either like or dislike it. But I decided to give the show a chance because there have always been comedic moments in the franchise.
The show’s humor is drawn from 57 years worth of episodes and recurring moments one might find while watching a live-action “Star Trek” episode: having a run in with the Klingons or Romulan, characters dying then coming back to life with no explanation.
However, it doesn’t stop there: popular “Star Trek” characters and places pop up on the occasion. Some of the most prominent are William Riker and Deanna Troi (“Next Generation”) and Tom Paris (“Star Trek: Voyager”). And one of my favorites is the appearance of the space station Deep Space Nine from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
“Lower Decks” also focuses on the more mundane aspects of our main character’s chosen profession such as the menial jobs they are assigned to.
While entertaining, the first half of season one did get off to a rocky start in trying to be both a loving homage to everything “Star Trek” and trying to tell its own original stories within this vast universe.
First season gave me major “Futurama” vibes in the way certain jokes landed or how an episode was structured.
Disclaimer: before I go on I’m not saying being like “Futurama” is a bad thing. I love “Futurama,” it was just the first show that popped into my mind while watching the first season of “Lower Decks.”
Season two and three is where I definitely said to myself, oh yeah this feels like “Star Trek.”
It has that classic “Star Trek” optimism as we get to know the characters and explore this part of the universe more.
The currently airing season four seems to be the story arc driven season, yet with its foreshadowing that something big will go down later on down the line.
“Lower Decks’” characters are one of the cartoon’s biggest strengths. One of my favorite character is Boimler because if he lived in our world he would absolutely be a nerd for “Star Trek.”
Boimler and all the other characters are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them which in turn helps their character develop.
Mariner like Boimler also has enthusiasm for all things Starfleet and Federation history but keeps it underwraps, but as the show progresses she is revealed to be just as much of a nerd as Boimler is.
The episodes that stood out me the most and have rewatch potential are season one episode nine “Crisis Point,” and its sequel season three episode eight “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus” because they pay homage to various films all the way from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”(1979) to the reboot trilogy (2009-2016).
Season three episode five “Reflections” gets a shout out because they brought up one of the smallest details that have always fascinated me the amount of times Starfleet uniforms change (I chuckled a lot at that scene).
All I can tell you now is “Live Long and Prosper” (just imagine me doing the hand sign while writing that).