While “Star Trek” usually focused on the captains of the various spaceships, this new show by Mike McMahan (“Rick and Morty”, “Solar Opposites”) emerges far below the bridge and highlights unsung characters who consider themselves Designate ships. “cool scratchy outsiders.”
Not only does this bunch have relatively secular jobs, it also serves aboard the USS Cerritos (understanding the geography of Southern California is helpful to appreciate the banality of it), whose mission is to make “second contact,” which is far from being the case is important as the first variety.
The key figures are Ensign Brad Boimler (voiced by Jack Quaid), who dreams of a more important role in the Starfleet hierarchy; and Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), a free-spirited rule breaker who, for reasons that will eventually become clear, does not appear to have much respect for the chain of command or authority in general.
“Lower Decks” has fun with various aspects of the “Trek” universe, such as the insolence of the Klingons and the difficulty in pronouncing their names. Yes, we see the Captain and First Officer (voiced by Dawnn Lewis and Jerry O’Connell respectively), but this is about the grunt side of a starship, not the glamor.
It’s an amusing premise, if not particularly nervous. At the beginning it doesn’t go deep enough to play out the idea of faceless crew members with a red shirt, for example, who were so available in the original series, shone on planets and rarely brought it back to life.
CBS recognized early on that “Star Trek” was one of the most impressive assets for the streaming age and was based on the passion of its fans to beam subscribers. No wonder that another live action show is in the works and an animated one for Nickelodeon.
However, when scanning this long list of Star Trek related films and shows spanning more than half a century, Lower Decks falls into the second contact category.
Star Trek: Lower Decks premieres on August 6th on CBS All Access.