Lower Decks: Boldly Satirizing Star Trek
A genre-bending Star Trek gem
In a galaxy far, far away… wait, wrong franchise. Let’s try that again. In the vast expanse of space, there are a lot of Star Trek spin-offs. But the one that’s really making waves (and phaser blasts) is Star Trek: Lower Decks. This animated comedy series takes a jocular approach to the final frontier.
Ever wondered what life is like for the people who aren’t part of the bridge crew on a Star Trek ship? You know, the ones who don’t get to wear the cool uniforms or sit in the captain’s chair? Well, wonder no more! Star Trek: Lower Decks is here to give us a comical behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the “lower decks” crew members who don’t always get the spotlight. Let’s be honest, it’s about time we got to see what happens when the ensigns take over. So, set phasers to pun, because we’re about to dive into the hilarious world of Star Trek: Lower Decks.
First up, let’s talk about the characters. Lower Decks follows the lives of the support crew on the USS Cerritos. They’re like the janitors of the Enterprise, but with cooler uniforms. The show is basically saying, “Hey, these guys are important too!” We’ve got Ensigns Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, D’Vana Tendi, and Sam Rutherford. They’re the perfect mix of personalities for a laughable and fun ensemble cast.
Mariner (Tawny Newsome) is the cynical, rule-breaking badass who doesn’t take orders from anyone. She’s always ready to utter a snarky comment or outright disobey orders and instead do things her own way. She’s like the lovechild of Han Solo and Captain Kirk, with a healthy dose of Deadpool’s sarcasm thrown in for good measure. And speaking of good measure, she’s also got a bit of a drinking problem. But hey, who doesn’t need a stiff drink after a long day of dealing with annoying alien ambassadors?
Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) is the opposite of Mariner in every way. He’s the overeager, hapless ensign who is a stickler for the rules and just wants to impress his superiors. He’s like an accidental transporter mixup of Sheldon Cooper and Mr. Spock, but without the charm. He’s the kind of guy who brings a PowerPoint presentation to a first date.
And then there’s Ensign Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), the cybernetically-enhanced engineer who is the ship’s resident tech nerd. He’s always tinkering with something, whether it’s his implants or the ship’s systems. He’s like a combination of Tony Stark and Geordi La Forge, but with a bit more anxiety.
And let’s not forget about Tendi (Noël Wells), the wide-eyed and enthusiastic new Orion recruit who’s always eager to learn everything she can about the ship. She’s like the lovechild of Baby Yoda and Wesley Crusher, but with more hair.
The voice cast delivers exceptional performances, infusing the characters with energy, nuance, and comedic timing. Their voice work makes the animated counterparts feel tangible and allows the audience to forge a connection with their on-screen personas.
As for their vessel, the Cerritos is depicted as a unique and interesting starship. Its portrayal in the series emphasizes lightheartedness and a more relatable perspective compared to the typically grandiose nature of other Star Trek ships. It allows for exploration of day-to-day challenges and comedic situations within the Star Trek universe, creating a distinct dynamic and tone for the show.
Humorous Homage with Heart
It’s not just the characters that make Lower Decks hilarious. It’s also the situations they find themselves in. The senior officers always seem to miraculously survive dangerous situations and leave the Lower Decks crew to clean up the mess.
And then there are the references. A love letter to all things Star Trek, Lower Decks is chock-full of callbacks to other Star Trek series. From the Ferengi to the Borg, from the classic “red shirt” trope to the infamous “Kobayashi Maru” simulation, the show knows its Trek lore. Not just limited to The Original Series and The Next Generation, Lower Decks references everything from Deep Space Nine to the Kelvin Timeline movies. It’s like a giant game of “spot the reference.”
But let’s be real — the true star of the show is the humor. Lower Decks is one of the funniest shows on television, and it’s not afraid to go for the cheap joke. Whether it’s Boimler getting stuck in a holodeck simulation or Mariner becoming a bit too feisty with a bat’leth, the show is always finding new ways to make us laugh. And it’s not just the obvious references that are funny. The subtle nods to the franchise really amuse us, the way the show pokes fun at Star Trek tropes and conventions. It’s like the writers are winking at the audience, saying, “We know you’re nerds too.” And let’s not forget about the running gags, like the crew’s obsession with “upper deckers.”
Speaking of which, Lower Decks is a refreshing change of pace from the usual “Starfleet is perfect” narrative we’re used to seeing in Star Trek. The show isn’t afraid to poke fun at the bureaucracy and red tape of Starfleet, or the fact that the crew members are basically working 24/7 without any time off. And really, the fact that they have to clean the holodecks after someone uses them is just too funny.
But the show also has its serious moments. Despite the comedy, Lower Decks still manages to hit us right in the feels from time to time. Whether it’s Tendi dealing with the loss of a friend or Mariner coming to terms with her past, the show knows how to balance the humor with the heart. And it’s not only restricted to the main characters. The show’s recurring characters, like Captain Freeman and Commander Ransom, have also had their share of emotional moments.
The animation of Lower Decks is another distinct feature of the show. It embraces a comedic and exaggerated visual style, combining traditional 2D animation with vibrant colors and lively character designs. The animation often leans towards a more cartoonish aesthetic, which suits the humorous tone of the series, giving the show its own unique visual identity.
A Stellar Blend of Comedy and Sci-Fi
Overall, Lower Decks is a delightful take on the Star Trek universe. It’s not afraid to be silly, but it’s also not afraid to explore deeper themes. And that’s what makes it so great. So, if you’re a fan of Star Trek and you’re looking for something that will make you laugh out loud, give Lower Decks a try. And if you’re not a fan of Star Trek, well… what’s wrong with you? Get on board!