Star Trek: Lower Decks Annoys More Than Entertains, I’m Out!

The title art says it all, trust me!

Episode #8 is now out for Star Trek: Lower Decks, if my interest and excitement for the show was there, I would be watching and reviewing right now. Nope.

After struggling to find any merit behind Star Trek: Picard, I doubted the desire to ever review another live action Star Trek TV series from Alex Kurtzman.

I might make an attempt to watch the first episode or two of Strange New Worlds, if it ever sees a release date, but definitely am not a fan of Discovery. Kurtzman’s five year contract seems to have been a colossal mistake for CBS, at least in my opinion.

Basically, I’ve given up on new live action Star Trek for awhile. Am not alone, as even Paramount has — in movie form, at least. See: Paramount No Longer Making Star Trek Movies, Citing Not Enough Interest.

(UPDATE 9/24/23 @ 5:43am PT: there are disputing reports that Paramount ever said what’s rumored in the other article source (multiple articles claimed the same thing was said by Paramount, but in fairness can’t find any press release or official Paramount statement confirming this). Believe what you want to believe, I guess, but we all know right now very little movie production is happening, Star Trek or otherwise. I tend to believe the original report that Paramount doesn’t want to proceed with any more Star Trek films at the present time. They never said never and why would they? But the whole idea of Tarantino getting involved officially is a pipe dream. Why would he waste his 10th and final film — according to him his tenth will be his last ever film — on a remake of an R-rated episode “Piece of Action” from TOS?)

They need somebody else to come in as showrunner. Somebody that can mine what truly makes Star Trek great. Somebody that will do something like Jon Favreau is doing with Star Wars TV right now a la The Mandalorian (season 2 is coming next month, woot!)

What I’m missing from Kurtzman Trek is the humanity, the fantastic alien adventures that enlighten and help the crew develop their characters and interaction with each other and future stories. Heck, I’m just plain missing likeable main characters.

Currently, we’re receiving Star Trek: Lower Decks, a not adult enough animated show and I kept watching each week hoping to return to the world — at least the kindred spirit — of the original Animated Series with a modern twist. The one from the 70s that I grew up watching and rewatching (and soon will be excitingly reviewing here).

I thought maybe with a Trek fan like Mike McMahan from Rick and Morty (see: Hey Trekkies, Mike McMahan is one of you), we’d see that same spirit and energy, but with a 2020 freshness. We’d get adult themes, a la Harley Quinn, but instead we’re subjected to TV-14 weak humor that doesn’t appeal to adults and probably not funny enough for teens either. You’ll have to ask them, as all our children are grown up and the grandchildren are much too young to care about what’s going on with Lower Decks.

Instead of enlightenment, Lower Decks is a story about a woman who doesn’t want to be on a Federation space ship doing anything except bitching and moaning. She’s a terrible example of what strong women characters like Uhura or Nurse Chapell have done in Star Trek.

A piece of advice from a disgruntled viewer to Beckett Mariner, “QUIT!” Just leave Starfleet and go hang out on future earth or some alien world doing whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Why make everybody around you so miserable all the time? The Lower Decks on the Cerritos doesn’t need or want you — your own captain mother doesn’t want you there — viewing audiences certainly don’t and your “friend”, Boimler definitely doesn’t. If he were only smart enough to realize that, of course.

Boimler? Man, if there was ever a male character that needed balls, it’s him. This guy is about as spineless as Play Doh. I kept hoping in one episode he’d just tell Mariner he didn’t want to be her friend any more. How much verbal abuse can any one guy take anyway? You can choose your friends, Boimler, really, you can. Can’t always choose the a-holes you have to work with, but friends? Yes, you can choose your friends.

Rick and Morty is more fun than Lower Decks. I just feel too many producing hands were stirring the Lower Decks pot, ruining whatever stew Mike McMahan tried to cook.

A few Lower Decks episodes watched to date have had brief moments, but the two main characters, the very weak Brad Boimler and overbearing, boisterous and whiny lower decks friend, Beckett Mariner were not characters I want to spend time watching any more. Today, with so many movies and TV shows to watch — and some that are ground breaking good — it’s just not worth it following any show that becomes a struggle to watch.

There are some characters in Lower Decks I would like to watch more of, but they are bit players. Ransom, that is number one, voiced by Jerry O’Connell, stands out. Also the head of security with the itchy trigger finger. That character might seem one-dimensional, but he has potential in the Trek universe for some fantastic stories. Even the captain of the Cerritos, the conflicted significant other of the admiral, with her doomy, gloomy daughter, seems like more fun to spotlight than the broken viewer interest Boimler and Mariner saga.

I realize the series is supposed to be about the lower decks characters, but I’d rather follow any other lower decks characters than Boimler and Mariner. There are moments we do get to see other lower decks characters, and some of them have semi-meaty stories, but it always goes back to the unlikable mains: Boimler and Mariner. Sigh.

Since the new half-hour animated series Lower Decks focuses on the lowly support crew of one of Starfleet’s “least important ships”, this could be a great opportunity to add some interesting characters to the Star Trek canon just like the original cartoon did with Arex and M’Ress.

Love Star Trek: Lower Decks? Give the ’70s Star Trek: The Animated Series a try – CNET

Read that entire article linked, because it’s a shining example of what Star Trek: The Animated Series did for those of us that are long time Star Trek fans. I don’t consider myself a diehard Trekkie or anything, but love the original series and animated series and enjoyed TNG. A few of the movies have been really good (KHAN!) and some of the other TV that followed TNG (DS9, Voyager). Maybe my comparison of Lower Decks to any of this was unfair. It wasn’t the original animated series and it wasn’t as edgy or smart as Harley Quinn, it was just some sort of in between half-baked concept that didn’t work.

Don’t want to assault readers with too many episode reviews for any TV show of “I hate this” because what’s the point? If someone dislikes something and it’s not his/her job to review it, then the smart play is to bounce. That’s was Picard and now, that’s Lower Decks. I wanted to love this, really I did, but it just let me down too many times to continue.

There is another alternative for both us: find something we enjoy better. The final four episodes of Lower Decks will be labeled as NR. I’m not watching them or reviewing them, maybe never. They might be the best episodes of season one, and will likely never know. I watched episode 7 multiple times, but it kept bringing me back to Beckett Mariner being the most unlikable female animated main character I’ve ever had the displeasure of viewing. Her weak male sidekick, Boimler is right up — or down, depending on your perspective — there.

No, I’m not recommending watching Lower Decks or any other Kurtzman Trek to anyone. If someone reading enjoys Lower Decks or Picard or Discovery, that’s awesome, these shows didn’t work for me. Doesn’t mean I’m totally giving up on watching any Star Trek going forward, but can’t remember a time I’m more disinterested in the current era of Star Trek than right now. I’m going back to a warmer, friendlier Star Trek era.

CBS, fire Kurtzman and hire somebody else. Anybody else!

Hey Trekkies, Mike McMahan is one of you

I’m more than a casual fan of Star Trek, but don’t consider myself a Trekkie. The creator of Star Treks: Lower Decks is a bigger Trek nerd than me.

Have never gone to fan event or cosplayed, I simply loved the original season and The Next Generation. I also enjoyed some of the movies (mostly the even-numbered ones, including the immortal Wrath of Khan).

I haven’t researched Mike McMahan’s career in great depth, but what little I’ve seen and read about him is that he sounds like a bigger Star Trek fan than me. In that regard, his writing, if not poisoned and diluted by too many overzealous producers, should yield at least some good Star Trek.

McMahan is the ideal candidate to captain Trek’s foray into comedy. After assistant roles on Drawn Together and South Park, he became a writer-producer on the first three seasons of sci-fi sensation Rick and Morty, then went on to create Hulu’s Solar Opposites. He was also the thumb behind the @TNG_S8 Twitter account, which blurted out loglines to a make-believe extra season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan to Star Trek purists: I’m on your side – Polygon

In fact, after enjoying so far season one of Rick and Morty and finding the first episode of Star Trek Lower Decks entertaining — not great, mind you, but entertaining (see: Star Trek Lower Decks: S1E1 REVIEW) — I’m interested more in McMahan’s other work. We have Hulu, and now even more Solar Opposites is on my radar.

I disliked episode 2 of Lower Decks (see: TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: Lower Decks S1E2 – Envoys), so maybe McMahan’s committee of producers around him, possibly providing too much creative interference and influence, will be the show’s undoing.

Another dig at Lower Decks is that those who saw episodes ahead of the rest of us felt it was so bad that no other streaming companies wanted to take a chance on releasing it internationally. Netflix has the international rights and allegedly passed as well as Amazon, which licensed Picard internationally,.

This rumor I don’t completely believe is accurate. Maybe Viacom placed too high a price tag for the Lower Decks international distribution because they want to release it themselves when they release their international super streaming service (no name provided yet) in 2021. They’ve been upgrading CBS All Access, so why not when you launch your new, beefed-up streaming service, have more titles to release at launch globally. That makes more sense than them wanting to see another company release Lower Decks and then having the licensing reverting to them.

We’re in an era of heavy streaming channel competition and licensing is going to get even more prickly going forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more streamers holding onto their own originals and promoting exclusives to improve subscriber retention.

SECOND LOOK: Star Trek: Lower Decks video clip from first episode courtesy Comic-Con@Home

The Comic-Con@Home version is now playing (July 22 – July 26) and yesterday there was a virtual Star Trek panel where more was revealed about the upcoming Star Trek: Lower Decks (FIRST LOOK) adult animated series coming August 6.

Star Trek: Lower Decks virtual panel starts at/around 45:00 in the video

All of the main voice actors and actresses are included. An enjoyable group discussion listening to their take on each of their character’s roles on the Ceritos. Was also glad to hear from the showrunner Mike McMahan (Rick & Morty) that while there is a lot of zany fun planned in the first season, they tried to stick close to cannon of the time period around when Star Trek: Next Generation.

They bleeped and SPOILER title tagged it, so they give enough away to tease, but don’t spoil, which I enjoyed.

A clip of one of the lower decks crew mates drunk on Romulian whiskey was also shared.

Romulan ale will give a serious buzz

I thought this clip was humorous. It’s the kind of comedy that pokes fun from the inside out. Klingons? Yeah, they are all about honor and dignity. Next Gen would poke fun at Worf from time to time, but this takes it to a different level. I liked it.

From what the voice talent revealed, this show sounds very promising to me. Without seeing any of the episodes, I’m most drawn to Jerry O’Connell’s character Ransom and the overzealous security officer, Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) that just goes all in (something about a security officer that wants to go nuclear on every situation offers a ton of comedic potential). I also liked the voice of the security character. Reminds me of Rip Torn’s voice on steroids.

Am more looking forward to this then Picard before seeing any episodes, because my fear of Picard beforehand was he was too old and they weren’t going to be Star Trek enough.

Neither appears to be a problem here. They are taking the light — sometimes very light — tone of the Star Trek we know and love and amplifying it.

There is a vibrance and youthful aura around this show. Will it deliver or be too much for mass appeal (after seeing Harley Quinn, I hope they go into super “too much” mode here)? I don’t know how this will turn out, but am intrigued by the idea and concept and, as mentioned in the FIRST LOOK last week that from what little I’ve watched of Rick & Morty so far, I’ve enjoyed that series, too. Mike McMahon seems to have the right mix of enthusiasm, love and respect for the older Trek. McMahon admits being more in tune with Next Gen than any other series, but I’m OK with that. I liked Next Gen. Not as much as the original series, of course, but it’s a solid second place in my Trek ranking.

The one area that concerns me is that nobody else wanted to buy into this series. It’s strictly CBS going it alone. Amazon and Netflix passed from what I’ve read. If they saw the show and it was great, logic suggests they would have bought in.

Then again, maybe the price tag was higher than they thought it was worth? Amazon and Netflix know the numbers for Star Trek streaming on their platforms — since they’ve been streaming those shows for years — and maybe they didn’t think Lower Decks would bring enough new eyeballs? Either that or the potential controversy with Trek fans concerned them (doubtful Netflix would be concerned about that with shows like 365 DNI, but Amazon might be a little more concerned about negative publicity fallout).

Whatever happens, we don’t have much longer to wait. I’m stoked, anyway. I want to review the first season, but am going to wait until after watching the entire first episode before making the weekly commitment (sorry, the Picard stain is still fresh in my memory). The timing of Lower Decks starting is excellent because Stargirl is wrapping up its first season on August 10 and I am missing watching a new adult animated TV show since Harley ended (Rick & Morty is always there, though).

What are you thinking? Does this additional teaser/promotional content make you any more or less interested in the show? Now that we know a little more, has any of this changed your level of interest?

Bonus – Star Trek: Prodigy

There is a main title reveal of the Star Trek animated children’s show in association with Nickolodean that will be officially called Star Trek: Prodigy. No trailers or anything for that. It sounds from what little we’ve been told about this series that it’s going to be more serious in tone, but of course focused on children. Will it be more like the original animated series? Perhaps.

Star Trek: The Lower Decks season 1 first episode will premiere on CBS All Access on August 6, 2020.