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Star Trek Lower Decks: Second Contact

After successfully completing "discussion reviews" of the entire run of Star Trek: The Animated Series last week, the Agents of Doux are feeling their oats and have chosen their next project: Star Trek: Lower Decks. Starting at the beginning, the pilot episode.

Mikey Heinrich: Okay, that was a lot of fun. It's impressive how much they managed to get into this episode without it coming across as overstuffed. They established all the characters well, got a classic, old school "virus from a strange planet gets aboard and infects everybody" story, and got in an amusing tale of Mariner helping out some farmers.

It helps that the tone of this is so different from the previous animated series. With ST:TAS, they were trying to replicate the tone and pacing of the Original Series, which led to a lot of the episodes feeling overstuffed. Here they're clearly going more for a hyper-accelerated Animaniacs style pace and tone, which allows for a lot more ground to be covered without feeling too over-complicated.

And the joke about "I fought a yeti for my shoes for no reason. He was just being a dick" made me laugh out loud, which is as much as you can ask a comedy to do.

I have lots of other thoughts, but want to pass the talking stick (Bat'leth of conversational honors?) What did everybody else think?

(After thinking about it for a moment, that would clearly be called a Chat'leth.)

Billie Doux: Well, it's just a tad different than The Animated Series. :)

I like the main concept – the unimportant grunts on the least important starship. I did like the main characters, all of whom seem to be on meth – Marina, Boimler, Tendi, Rutherford the new cyborg – and spent a lot of time trying to figure out who Jerry O'Connell played when I should have just checked on IMDb. (It was Commander Jack Ransom.) I loved that they all had to sleep in the hallway. Loved that the doctor was a cat.

Isn't Cerritos a nothing town in California? That's hilarious.

Mikey Heinrich: I totally want to be Commander Ransom.

I had to have the Cerritos joke explained to me, as – being a poor boy in flyover country – I'd never heard of the city.

Samantha M. Quinn: I kept seeing it as the USS Cheerios, possibly because Cheerios is still my goto cereal.

I kinda loved Mariner; she is amazingly unhinged but clearly very competent. Rutherford was a little annoying, but it could be because he gave up on Barnes after one small issue. Boimler was just as annoying, although it helps to just think of him as Hughie from The Boys. I did like that he backed up Mariner at the end, so I look forward to his future character growth. Tendi was perhaps the one with the least screen time, but I liked her so far. I loved her reactions, especially the heart gag, which was gross but funny.

The plot was meh. The zombie outbreak felt a touched forced, but it would've been hard to pull off in live action, plus the zombie look was cool. I also liked some of the background characters, especially the cat doctor T'Ana. Not a bad start overall, I must've laughed half a dozen times.

Billie Doux: It did seem busy to me, especially for a pilot. Zombies and farmers and spiders with butt-webbing and we learned who Mariner's parents were. I guess I'd better get used to the pace. We're not in the 70s anymore.

Joseph Santini: I absolutely loved this introduction to Lower Decks. The notion of addressing all the people who clean up the background messes and pick up the alien parts when the battle's all done? Genius. I love the contrast between the bridge crew and the cleanup crew. I feel like there’s a concerted effort since Deep Space Nine to find a way to keep the Roddenberry vision of Star Trek while also moving the franchise to a more realistic approach in showing communities, people and politics, and this episode puts Lower Decks squarely into that role.

Boimler and Mariner are the perfect foils for each other with Boimler not just acting as Mariner’s straight man but also giving contrast to her personality. Every time these two work together they hit the high notes.

I’m looking forward to learning about the other characters. I loved that the Trill have a presence here and that we can see a ton more races and uses of the holodeck (I bet Riker had his own Olympic team program.)

Mikey Heinrich: Oh my lord, the all-nude Olympic training facility! Yes, Riker definitely had a copy of that program.

CoramDeo: It's funny, given how much I've grown to love this show and these characters, because I still don't really like this episode very much. I think it comes down to the fact that these jokes just fly by too fast for me to find them very funny. Mariner in particular just throws so much stuff at me all at once, that it's all just too jam-packed for any of it to breathe. So much of comedy is timing, and so much of the timing here is too rushed. I really do love the concept, though, and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the show, where it's applied very successfully, in my opinion.

Billie Doux: I'm encouraged that you like the show but don't like this pilot episode. I'm looking forward to seeing more. (I haven't seen the series yet.)

Joseph Santini: Oh this is definitely a Pilot Episode too complete with Pilot Episode Problems. I may have come to start expecting those too readily. I can think of worse Star Trek pilots, though.

Mikey Heinrich: I really liked how they handled the reveal of what Mariner's relationship was to the Captain. I may be in the minority on that.

CoramDeo: It’s a good reveal, agreed.

Mikey Heinrich: Does anybody have any closing thoughts, or should we move on to ratings?

Samantha M. Quinn: 2.5 out of 4 Herbivore Spiders with Butt Webbing.

Billie Doux: Lol, Samantha. Two out of four alien farmers that look like Blue Meanies.

Mikey Heinrich: I'm going to go with three out of four mouthfuls of delicious human flesh.

I'm always a little generous with pilots. Pilots are hard.

(Joseph Santini reviewed this pilot episode back when it originally aired.)


  1. Not sold on this one yet. I’ve “tried it” a few times, and 4 episodes in I’m still a little put off by it. The animation style is not my favorite. If the episodes were more engrossing I wouldn’t feel quite so much like I’m wasting my time, but I’m getting doubtful about improvement. I’m hanging in there, but with Strange New Worlds back I may bail. I want to like Lower Decks because your reviews are fun!

  2. Måge, I get you. I'm giving it a second try because some of the writers here love it. Plus I really love doing these discussion reviews. :)


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