Star Trek: Lower Decks

"Terminal Provocations"

2.5 stars

Air date: 9/10/2020
Written by John Cochran
Directed by Bob Suarez

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

I dunno. The teaser of this episode has the lower deckers all doing their best to make ship sounds with their mouths like a bunch of insane people (or, alternatively, children). The episode is absolutely committed to the bit. If you find it funny, more power to you, but it's bits like this that feel to me like this show is trying with all its might to "do comedy" but mostly comes off looking like it's "doing an alien impression of bad comedy." It's bewildering and I just don't "get" it. Probably because there's nothing to get.

It's things like that which make it really hard to recommend "Terminal Provocations," which is better than a lot of Lower Decks episodes but still not really what I can call "good." It's … something. It flirts with inspiration at times and it goes all-out at all times. This is perhaps the most frenetic, batshit crazy episode to date (which is saying something), and yet that tone somehow works in the episode's favor (where in a lot of others it doesn't) because there's just enough plot and danger here to sink our teeth into. Also some crazy comedy ideas that work way better than losers making ship noises.

This is an episode that has a piece of the ship's warp core transform into a rampaging monster because Fletcher, the lower deck's most incompetent officer, thought it would be a good idea to try to hook it up to his brain in an effort to make himself smarter. Instead, he inadvertently creates a rogue AI. (The very concept of Fletcher, whose incompetence makes Mariner and Boimler look downright responsible, makes me rethink my position that these two were as bad as I thought. Clearly, there is much worse. That Fletcher ultimately fails upward and is promoted for the convoluted end result of his awfulness is something that sadly rings true, and thus scores some humor points.) The crazy unleashing of the warp core component somehow ends up saving the ship from the unfolding inexplicable confrontation with the Drookmani (whose captain is voiced by the familiar J.G. Hertzler).

This is also an episode that has Badgey, a talking holodeck combadge assistant designed by Rutherford and apparently modeled on Clippy from Microsoft Office. Badgey is voiced by the instantly recognizable Jack McBrayer in a brilliant piece of casting that makes you think, yeah, absolutely no one else should've been the voice of Badgey. Badgey eventually turns into a homicidal maniac bent on chasing Rutherford (his "father") and Tendi through an ever-shifting holodeck program — with, of course, the safeties off — because he wants vengeance on the father he sees as abusive (and not totally without reason). This idea just keeps on building, until Badgey has Rutherford pinned to the ground in the snow, ready to kill him with an icicle. Ultimately Rutherford has to kill his own creation by tearfully snapping Badgey's neck. (But it's okay, because then he's reset and good as new, except maybe with some vague memory of what's happened...) It's a darkly funny end to a darkly funny continuous escalation, and I kind of have to applaud the writers' commitment.

All of this is clearly unhinged, and doesn't add up to much beyond throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall to see what sticks. But more sticks here than with many Lower Decks outings. I'd be curious what a page count of a Lower Decks script is compared to a traditional hour-long Trek episode. These episodes are absolutely packed to the brim with lunacy, delivered at breakneck speed. Sometimes that can be somewhat entertaining, if you can extract the fun from the exhaustion.

Previous episode: Cupid's Errant Arrow
Next episode: Much Ado About Boimler

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

51 comments on this post

Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
Trek fans really are insufferable. No wonder the franchise has turned into garbage.
Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 2:49pm (UTC -6)
Why did the weapons go offline at the end? Did I miss something?
Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 4:27pm (UTC -6)
Six episodes in, I still find this show surprisingly palatable. It actually feels like Easter, with all the eggs lying around. Most recent exam­ple is “[the Holo­deck] is not just for hang­ing with Sher­lock Hol­mes and Robin Hood and Sig­mund Freud and Cyrano de Bergerac and Ein­stein and da Vinci and Ste­phen Haw­king and So­cra­tes”; it took me some time to solve the last re­fe­ren­ce, be­cause I had me­mo­ry-wiped my­self after watching “Darkling”.

I was not too enthusiastic about #1 (“Se­cond Con­tact”), but the worst of­fen­der was clearly #5 (Cupid’s Errant Arrow)— I get Mariner is some­what dri­ven to para­noia by her many ad­ven­tu­res (how old is she real­ly?), and she is heli­co­pter­ing around Boim­ler’s head to pro­tect him, but if anyone ever says “Yeah, I mean he is a dork, but he’s my dork” about me, I should ne­ver want to see that per­son again.

Today (#6, “Terminal Provocations”) was inoffensive rea­son­ably enter­tain­ing, though. This makes it the fourth en­joy­able epis­ode out of six, which is definitely better than TNG season 1 (something I’ll never ever going to say about DIS). I get that “Lower Decks” is ba­si­cal­ly a back­port of “The Orville” into the Star­Trek uni­ver­se, minus the body part jokes plus a lot more of ir­re­spon­si­ble and reck­less be­ha­vi­our by ever­yone plus half an isoton of fan­ser­­vi­ce per epis­ode. This sort of works for me.
Cody B
Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 5:06pm (UTC -6)

Saying Lower Decks is “better than TNG season one” is a little silly. They are vastly different shows. I could spend all day naming TV shows that had a better first season than TNG. Lower Decks is filler. It’s there to string subscribers along until the next live action season of Trek. The “Easter eggs” are very in your face and pandering. Like when Mariner rattled off a bunch of Trek characters a few episodes back, or now episode six mentioning all the famous historical figures featured in holodeck episodes, or a few episodes back when they showed a giant Hor’gahn (the Risa wooden figure) in the middle of the screen for almost ten seconds. It’s not smart or clever. I don’t hate Lower Decks but there’s no need to pretend like everything about it is middle of the road entertainment. It’s never going to be a classic must see series or matter in any way to the Trek universe (the way TNG season one does, even despite its shortcomings).
Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 5:37pm (UTC -6)
I'd also predict that TNG is going to age a tiny bit better. By the time the 24th century rolls around phrases like "hell yeah, that's what I'M talking about!" accompanied by high-fives are going to seem as head-scratchingly silly and hilarious as early 20th century visions of a future run by chrome vacuum-tube based monotone talking robots. Not that I think anyone would be the slightest bit interested in watching this in even 20 years time from now.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 3:35am (UTC -6)
I haven’t watched nor intend to watch Lower decks it’s probably as shitty as DIS and PIC but I just wanted to step in and defend the first season of TNG. I think it’s vastly underrated.

It has a wonderful sense of the unknown and exploration. It does a good job of introducing and giving the audience a feel for the 24th century There’s a lot of good to great episodes—conspiracy, the neutral zone, Datalore, 1101001, arsenal of freedom, skin of evil, last outpost, naked now, heart of glory, home soil.

I think people are far too hard on it. I think season two is weaker but I do find I enjoy seasons 1-5 the best overall and have the largest concentration of highly rewatchable and entertaining episodes
Tommy D.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 4:11am (UTC -6)
JG Hertzler!


I think the weapons going out was just a gag on Shaxs finally getting his number called to fire away after being rejected, ala how Worf's mostly aggressive course of action suggestions in TNG were continually shot down by Picard and RIker.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 8:25am (UTC -6)

i do agree that the first season of TNG does an excellent job to inspire a sen­ti­ment of awe and won­der about the things that po­pu­late the cosmos, and it also suc­ceeds to give an im­pres­sion of what the 24ᵗʰ century looks like. Vi­su­al­ly, the season com­bines the sound­stage aes­the­tics of TOS with im­pres­sive pan­ora­mic views. That is some­thing that only a first season can do, and there is success.

But when we come to individual episodes, most don’t work at all. I have, un­like most re­view­ers, quite a high opi­ni­on about both the pre­mi­ere and the fi­na­le, but there isn’t much in be­tween. Sure, “11001001” is great be­cause it uses inter­esting aliens to tell an inter­esting story. “Con­spira­cy” sticks to the mind be­cause it is so un­ex­pected. Ho­nour­able men­tion goes to “Heart of Glory” and “Home Soil”, but that’s it; the rest of the sea­son falls flat for me, being either pedes­trian or deep base­ment level (“Angel One”, “Code of Ho­nour”, “Jus­tice”). So I’m speak­ing that ¾ of the season is un­remark­able or worse.

The main culprits are simplistic stories and weak cha­rac­ters. Troi is a pain to watch, Riker is social and gets the girls, Worf mostly lacks humour, Geordi is nice, Beverly is sweet and Wesley sucks. Yar was set up to be inter­esting but, alas, left the show. Picard behaves aristo­crati­cally, a lea­der dis­tanced from his sub­ordi­na­tes, and opens up only when alone in the Holo­deck. This leaves us with Data as the only cha­rac­ter of inter­est in that really large en­semble.

When it comes to the stories, than pretty much of it boils down to two types: Either, the human crew teaches some aliens or non-crew-humans (and the audi­ence) a les­son; or the crew (and the audi­ence) learns a les­son from some super-evol­ved aliens. That’s not a bad con­cept in principle, but the les­sons are often one-note and trite, and the story bends around the mo­ra­le it wants to tell; more­over, that con­cept can­not make an entire sea­son go. Several epis­odes try to do better, but fail in execu­tion (“Data­lore”, “Hide and Q”).

Lower Decks, on the other side, has some good cha­rac­ters; they are mostly de­fined by one or two traits, but I think that is a typical pro­blem for ani­ma­ted shows. There are some signs of cha­rac­ter growth, in par­ti­cu­lar for Mari­ner, who for the first time eschews her dickish­ness in #6 and even dis­cus­ses this ama­zing change with Boim­ler. The jokes are very often sim­plis­tic (like they were in early Orville epis­odes), and there is a lot of fan pan­dering, but then, I am a fan.

I think there is no chance that LD could ever come close to the great TV in later seasons of TNG (3–7). This is very much Star Trek light, but (for me) quite suc­cess­ful on this term. In con­trast, I find the dark and hyper­emo­ti­o­nal StarTrek shown in DIS ab­hor­rent, de­spite some good epis­odes in S2. With PIC, I still with­hold judge­ment, for there was so much light and so much shadow in its S1.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 9:45am (UTC -6)
I've realized I haven't watched an episode of STLD since the third one -- saw the teaser for the 4th one where Mariner is yawning during a high-level briefing and then turned it off. Enough is enough. I intended to watch all the episodes and approach it like I would any other Trek series, but it is truly fundamentally different and, for me, putrid. I just wonder if, for those who initially did not like it but who are softening to it somewhat, if the episodes are truly getting better in some meaningful way or if the viewers in question are getting accustomed to it and now unbeknownst to them just have lowered their standards. Is STLD undergoing an evolution like ORV did?

Interestingly there's a little discussion here about TNG S1, which I've said a few times is clearly, for me, the worst season of Trek including DSC and PIC. I won't include STLD in the comparison as it is totally different. So I think folks might increasingly give TNG S1 a pass based on its legacy and sort of looking at it through revisionist goggles. I generally agree with the comments Lady Galadriel made about it and can see where Startrekwatcher is coming from just as far as sense of unknown and exploration goes, given that it's the first meaningful Trek since TOS ended 18 years prior. But some of the episodes he/she lists as good to great ("Skin of Evil", "The Last Outpost", "The Neutral Zone") have way too many flaws to be anything other than at best weak and at worst terrible.

But it takes more than just ideas and a sense of freshness to be good Trek -- so many execution problems (bad acting, writing etc.) hampered TNG in S1. It didn't know what it wanted to be and, for me, didn't find it's identity until well into S2 and possibly S3. When TNG was trying to be TOS, it was a failure. Worse still, the Picard character was such a hardass in S1 and hadn't evolved to be the incredible character that it would become even by S2 ("The Measure of a Man" stands out, for example). "Encounter at Farpoint" was such an over-bloated mess and kind of sums up the season in a way -- a good idea: existential idea to hold humanity's feet to the fire, but ultimately it had its boring moments, poor acting, poor structure etc. Of course, we know how TNG turned out and of course it's a bit much to expect much improvement in DSC S3 and PIC S2 unless there's an overhaul of the showrunners.

Now, STLD, I can't see it evolving to something palatable given the constraints of being a 1/2 hr animated show. It is its own thing and will cater to an audience that can accept something different from non-animated Trek.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 9:46am (UTC -6)
Startrekwatcher, I agree with your main point but I am surprised you apparently didn't like season 6 of TNG? I'd say it's one of the strongest - if not the strongest.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
I decided to have a look here after using the website a couple of years ago while I was watching Voyager.

Wow. What an angry and sad this part of the fandom is. Bitter enough so that they despise a cartoon series clearly not made for them. And any kind of show as long as it is "star trek".

I don't mind apparently there is a part of the fanbase that supports the series throughout the world so that they can expand while making a profit. Or they are being supported by fans that just feel that need to watch so they can complain more, who knows.

Anyway cheers to the creators. I wish I had their job despite all the bitterness it ensues.

I do find the episode reviews fair to be honest most of the time. But man, this hate is not healthy.
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 1:16pm (UTC -6)
Tomalak, I felt season six was when the shoe first started showing its age

Michael Piller left jeri Taylor in charge who was a weak showrunner(look at TNG season six, seven and voyager tail end of season 1 and start of season
2, then season 3)

Season six decreased the number of outside story ideas and scripts leading to what I would consider a bad thing

The season felt like it loss the urgency and sense of purpose it had in the prior five seasons. Even the actors felt like they had gotten too comfortable and it hurt the show

I thought the number of bad episodes went up dramatically-fluff like Fistiful of Datas, Rightful Heir, Realm of Fear, True Q, Lessons, , the Birthright two parter to name a few

It just felt very different and whenever I do a rewatch I find myself skipping more episodes
Fri, Sep 11, 2020, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
"What an angry and sad this part of the fandom is. Bitter enough so that they despise a cartoon series clearly not made for them."
Cody B
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 6:35am (UTC -6)
I can tell you why I continue watching it. I accept Lower Decks as a filler mid tier show. It’s only 25 minutes and I don’t think it’s garbage although I think there are about a million different interesting Trek shows that could have been made in place of it. I’ve seen every other episode made of Trek and it’s not like I find Lower Decks offensive or get angry. Basically I watch the 25 minutes each week, shrug, and go on with my life. That’s as good a summary of Lower Decks and the feelings it elicits as anything
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 6:50am (UTC -6)
Forget Threshold and STV. This week's episode was the worst Trek I've seen by far. Just unwatchable.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 6:54am (UTC -6)
I keep hearing this statement "it's not made for you", but I really would like to know who it IS made for? It's too violent for kids and way too immature for adults.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 8:55am (UTC -6)

It is meant for people who enjoy animation like Rick and Morty, disenchanted and the Simpsons, maybe even the recent Glitch techs. All these animations are funny, employ banter and have violent elements. And they are some of the most famous worldwide as well.

I can give you a list of other shows that people living under huge rock formations are probably unaware of. Also the magic word is "teen".

Btw I wonder if all these Orville fans have any idea who Seth McFarlane is actually. .. I mean Star Trek is the greatest tv ever period, but you can watch other shows as well.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 9:25am (UTC -6)

Fair enough.

I agree with you that there are so many better things -- in principle -- that Trek could have done instead of this type of half-hour attempt at parody. Let's hope Strange New Worlds, DSC and PIC deliver on that.

Taking place in a period after TNG, there's such a rich canvas with which to tell stories, reference events, races etc. -- and still parody them -- that I held hope of some interesting bits here and there with STLD. But I've found it far too annoying to sit through. I don't think that if somebody takes a dispassionate, objective view of STLD, that they could call it good television.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 10:03am (UTC -6)
I'm really enjoying Lower Decks at this point, particularly since it's more about "Star Trek as a place". Often it does parody or subvert Trek tropes, but that's arguably been needed for a long time. And Badgey was great!

Some Trek fans definitely adhere to a rigid definition of canon, except that there is little to no consensus on what counts as "correct" canon vs "incorrect". Years ago when I still went to con panels, I remember encountering some guy who has harping on some inconsistency on DS9 vs TOS - I can't even remember what it was, something about Klingons? - and I had an epiphany that such arguments were pointless, petty, and nonsensical. I mean, who cares? When you have dozens of writers and producers involved over several decades, it's normal for some stuff not to make sense. Because they're still TV shows and movies. However much Star Trek may represent a certain kind of philosophy or progressive ideology, it's also an exercise in future world-building over 50 years that sometimes to collapse under its own inertia.

Watching Lower Decks I never get the sense that the writers don't have anything less than love and nostalgia for "legacy" Trek. I'm not sure why we need to define it as "mid tier filler". I do wish that we could have a Vince Gilligan written/paced Trek show... but this franchise has never been accepted as "prestige" television.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -6)
I stopped by my Trekkie friend's (the only one in town) place for the first time since Coronavirus chaos began, and since he has CBS All-Access we watched episodes 5 and 6 together. I am waiting for DSC Season 3 to renew mine so I hadn't watched any Lower Decks (as I said before, animation-style shows are not my thing).

That being said, we had a ton of fun watching episode 5, bantered and laughed together quite a bit. I didn't think episode 6 was quite as funny but the amount of Trek references gave us plenty to chat during the watch. I agree with Josh above when he says, "Watching Lower Decks I never get the sense that the writers don't have anything less than love and nostalgia for "legacy" Trek." Mike McMahan and his crew truly love and know Trek, it seems. I am not sure how much non-Trekkies will get those references but it's not only targeted to Trekkies but also at people who like animation-style shows, in the visual style of Rick and Morty (I presume, seen very little of it in passing) and Archer, but rather in the tenor of Trek spirit.

I won't watch any other episodes, it's for me, not because it's not good but not my visual taste for a TV show. I think watching with my buddy (he loves it), and that we could marvel at the little throwbacks and easter eggs together, made it a better experience than it would be if I watched it alone. I certainly didn't laugh through episode 6 more than once or twice.

Characters seem to be established (according to my friend they did a good job with that in the first couple of episodes, he says his favorite so far is #2). I may revisit it in the future when I have All-Access, but only with someone else who enjoys Star Trek. For now, I am rather looking forward to DSC 3 especially after seeing the trailer and the panel on Star Trek day.
Chris Lopes
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 12:50pm (UTC -6)
"I can tell you why I continue watching it. I accept Lower Decks as a filler mid tier show."

This. As I said in another comment, if you like hanging out in the TNG universe, this show isn't entirely unwatchable. Yeah the jokes can be stupid, and these folks are not behaving as "real" Star Fleet officers would, but there are enough Trek references to be entertaining.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 3:08pm (UTC -6)
An occasional reference is entertaining. Wall-to-wall references are annoying. And purely Star Trek-based humor really isn't a wide enough vein to sustain a whole series, a vein Farscape and Futurama largely mined out already. (I was waiting for Rutherford to blurt out "Nearly two million lines of BASIC!")

I tried watching Solar Opposites and have pretty much the same problems with its style of humor, logic and consistency get sacrificed in the pursuit of easy gags, which makes it hard to get particularly invested in the story or the setting.
Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 9:59pm (UTC -6)
Well according to these comments about who the show is for, I should like it. I like animated shows, I like hanging out in the TNG universe, and I'm not too bothered about canon or violence.

What I have noticed is that when people talk about animated shows that Lower Decks is "in the style of" they are never the ones I could appreciate. Largely quip or reference-based, mean people making fun of others, lots of fast-paced physical humor. The animations I like tend to have more emotional cues, subtle observations about society and people, and slow-burn themes or dilemmas that last the episode. I would have thought a Star Trek animated series is better suited to the latter style, but I'm not an executive so what do I know.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 2:51am (UTC -6)

I respect your point. I mean people like different things. Some like animations that are funny and provocative, some like them more sentimental, societal, most western audiences just like Disney fare etc. Saying that there is no audience for something you dislike is a different thing though. And I do feel there is a big audience for the series as it is even if I am not aligned 100% with that, my favorite animated shows being in the vain of "Future boy Conan" (which is an absolute masterpiece).

Also emotional resonance is something difficult to achieve in such a short timespan and format, especially since we have not seen the entire thing so far. I do feel the series will get to that point progressively but it is an achievement to be won over time rather than an instant gratification.

You can't expect the depth, societal critique and subtlety of a David Lynn movie anyways. I mean it would be great if they managed something like that but I do feel that If we go for such a high ground eventually we will probably be disappointed by virtually every Star Trek episode ever out there.

I would rather take what they give and see if they can elevate it further step by step than expect it will all come hit me instantly.

But maybe I am wrong, who knows, only time will tell...
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 2:56am (UTC -6)
Apparently I meant David Lean of Lawrence of Arabia and other masterpieces but messed it up.

Damn these typos...
Tommy D.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 3:04am (UTC -6)
I don't find the show mean spirited at all, although of course, ymmv.


I'm actually kind of excited for season 3 of Discovery as well. I thought they were so close to figuring it out with the first half of season 2 before it kind of fell apart at the end.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 3:06am (UTC -6)
Watched the trailer for Discovery season 3, surprisingly hard to find, and I guess we can confirm that it will not be about a beam from the sky threatening destruction of EVERYTHING. No this time it will Burnham who single-handedly rebuilds the federation. I guess the others help. Oh oh and lots of cool new hairstyles!!! and flips and kicks and lots of shooting. NuTrek is certainly at the top of it's game.
It is not the show that we want, not even the show that we need but the show we deserve. Well, at least we have the cool hairstyles. I'm really looking forward to those.
Tommy D.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 3:31am (UTC -6)
Well, I'm just hoping the show evolves through hairstyles much like TNG's did through Worf. The better his hair, the better the season.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 3:42am (UTC -6)

"I respect your point. I mean people like different things. Some like animations that are funny and provocative, some like them more sentimental, societal, most western audiences just like Disney fare etc. Saying that there is no audience for something you dislike is a different thing though. And I do feel there is a big audience for the series as it is even if I am not aligned 100% with that, my favorite animated shows being in the vain of "Future boy Conan" (which is an absolute masterpiece)."

Just to be clear, I wasn't saying there was no audience for it. It was a genuine question, in response to someone earlier in the thread telling anyone who dislikes the show that they are not the show's audience.

"Also emotional resonance is something difficult to achieve in such a short timespan and format, especially since we have not seen the entire thing so far. I do feel the series will get to that point progressively but it is an achievement to be won over time rather than an instant gratification. "

Netflix's "Hilda" managed to do it in less than a handful of episodes. I was well and truly won over by the main characters by the 6th episode, and most likely a lot earlier. "Infinity Train" is another example.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 4:18am (UTC -6)
@Tommy D.
I hear ya and you are right. His hair did improve. The fairly bleh timid style at the end of season 1 to this lion like mane later on but there is a catch, in DS9 his hairstyle regressed into a pony tail. Sure when he untangled it then that looked nice but that barely happened. I'm worried. If Burnham has not at least three new great hairstyles per season then I'm out.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 7:26am (UTC -6)
Lower Decks so far is better than DIS and PIC combined. It may start off rocky, but unlike DIS and PIC it actually gets *better* with every episode. And by episode 5 is doing some quality Star Trek parody in only 20-ish minutes!
Chuck AzEee
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 11:15am (UTC -6)
I personally love the show. Being that the original “Lower Decks” episode was so morose especially the ending, the campy humor of this series is a welcome surprise.
Tommy D.
Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 11:26pm (UTC -6)

This is true, though fortunately, Worf's decline in hairstyle prowess seemed to have an inverse effect on the quality of DS9.
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 1:58am (UTC -6)
@Paralax You know, it's far healthier to hate a show than it is to condemn people for daring to not share your opinions.

Just want to chime in on the TNG Season 1 Talk, I have always had a soft spot for it. It is partially the sense of exploration and wonder which is stronger there than any other season of Trek. It's also the soundtrack, which is really strong and emotional in the first few seasons before it became the famous droning "sonic wallpaper music" of the later seasons.

I think that even many of TNG Season 1's "bad" episodes like Naked Now, Code of Honor, and Angel One are pretty entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. There's only a few episodes that are actually boring, like Too Short a Season which is my vote for the true worst episode of season 1 (the guest actor's acting is unbelievably bad!)

Personally I find TNG season 7 to be solidly the worst season, with a whole bunch of boring and/or ridiculous episodes. I actually enjoy episodes like Masks and Genesis for the same reasons as some season 1 episodes, but the environmental message episode Forces of Nature and the space indians episodes for me are worse than just about anything in season 1. A lot of the episodes just feel really half-baked and are less entertaining than anything before them.

Give me the enthusiasm and freshness of TNG season 1 any day! And that soundtrack!

(Also I don't know if anyone noticed, but the original version of the TNG theme song used for season 1 has more lively instrumentation and I prefer that version as well!)
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 2:02am (UTC -6)
The show is for me worse than Picard or Discovery. While both of those shows suffer from nonsensical plots, Lower Decks is mostly boring. Main character is also like "Savior of the Universe Michael " quite unlikable.
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 1:17pm (UTC -6)

I can't condemn anybody. It just happens strange to me to see all this negativity targeted at a franchise that already spans 3 wildly different series.

You can also dislike something, but fervently wishing it fails because ..insert reasons. You can judge how that sounds.


Yes, sure there are animated series that can work like that, maybe especially depending on the number of episodes. I have not watched Hilda yet, so thank you for recommending it :)

I also prefer gradually expanding themes than giving everything from the first few out takes because in animation, where there are no actors to somewhat carry a weaker story, it can lead to long stagnant runs.
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
Star Trek Lower Decks is as much a Star Trek show as Hot Shots is a Rambo movie.
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 2:03pm (UTC -6)
the fact that Mariner isn't always saving the ship is the only saving grace. The stories are decent I suppose but the characters are annoying and the animation and style is disgusting. I guess the show is fine as a time filler, but really lowers the standards of Trek
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
I got caught up on this show recently. "Temporal Edict" was mostly obnoxious; the oddly bloodless slapstick fighting aboard the ship wasn't funny and most everybody came off like an idiot in this episode. That said, this was probably the best use of Mariner so far; they gave her something to do besides be smug and too-cool-for-Starfleet, and the dynamic between her and Ransom made her much more tolerable.

"Moist Vessel" was a mixed bag. The plot with Mariner and her mother was rote and tired, but the terraforming goo and "ascension" plots were the closest this show has gotten to decent sci-fi concepts. I really enjoyed the ascension scene even if the "universe is on a koala's back" part was a bit cliche; it was a fun twist to make becoming one with the universe a terrifying and painful transition for a mere mortal.

What I didn't like was Tendi's role. For one thing, manic enthusiasm on its own isn't inherently funny, which the show doesn't seem to grasp. Tendi is obsessed with making everyone like her, and when that doesn't work out she engages in stalking, harassment and even physical abuse. This is presented as charming and funny, perhaps even relatable, when really it's just deeply unhealthy. I realize I'm reading into the psyche of a character in a comedy show, and deeply flawed characters are often the point for comedy, but even so I'm baffled as to what the comedic appeal is supposed to be here. IMO her antics aren't funny, they're mostly just uncomfortable to watch; she comes off like someone with some pretty deep-seated issues, which the show presents as "cute". It's weird and off-putting.

The sen-sors bit at the end would have been funny if it was much shorter and didn't involve Mariner. I should have named myself Space Abe when I had the chance.

"Cupid's Errant Arrow" was a big eye-roll the whole way through, but the reveal of the sweet-talking parasite was pretty funny.

"Terminal Provocations" was mediocre. It was funny how "Temporal Edict" went out of its way to make the fighting aboard the ship completely bloodless and in this episode Badgy is just pulling people's heads off.

The idea of negotiating with aliens whose position is "fuck you" is prime Trek comedy fodder, I wish they would have done more with it instead of whatever the hell the Fletcher plot was about. He's introduced as a model Starfleet mook, level-headed and diplomatic, until he is suddenly a lying, wigged-out incompetent moron? What? The AI monster shouting "DON'T TALK ABOUT MY DAD" before getting blown out the airlock was funny, but that's it.

At this point I freely admit I'm only watching to participate in this comments thread. The show just isn't very funny, and the couple of chuckles I get from each episode are almost always due to the animation or the actions of a side-character; I don't really like any of the main cast and I definitely don't find them funny. The show revels in fan-service easter eggs but seems to resent the larger ethos and themes of Trek as a whole, which points to the dissonance of being a Trek parody and an actual Trek show at the same time.
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
"Terminal Provocations" - S1, E6:

Another very enjoyable episode.

The incomparable J.G. Hertzler makes an appearance!

The "Badgey" bit with Tendi and Rutherford was hilarious!

Mariner and Boimler continue to grow their relationship. Mariner has turned into a likable character and Boimler isn't the village idiot anymore.

Tons of Trek eggs sprinkled throughout.

Not quite as good as last week, but 3.5 stars from me.
Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 3:14am (UTC -6)
As Sen-Sors points out, this is a parody not an actual Star Trek show and should be seen as such.

Merriam-Webster has two definitions:
- a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule
- a feeble or ridiculous imitation

This show only exists to make fun of Star Trek which is fine but it is not Star Trek.
It is an imitation for comedic effect, I guess, for parts of the fans, people who like the art style, sense of humor.

Again Hotshots is not a Rambo/Top Gun movie.

Of course there is "the corporate overlord is always right" view that boils down to everything called Star Trek by CBS is Star Trek. For these people I hope that we will get Star Trek: Kardashians or Star Trek: Saw and have them defend that.
Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 3:47am (UTC -6)
"but it is not Star Trek"

Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 4:23am (UTC -6)
Great argument, did you come up with that yourself? Universities might reject you but I think that you are a gut genius aka the perfect NuTrekker.
Jason R.
Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 5:44am (UTC -6)
I'm usually with the ctothels of the world on the whole "this is not Trek!" debate but this time it does seem different with Lower Decks. I mean is the Family Guy "Blue Harvest" Star Wars parody a Star Wars tv movie? What about Robot Chicken?
Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 7:06am (UTC -6)
Exactly. A parody by the very definition cannot be what it parodies.
Discovery is a very poor Star Trek show, Picard is a zombified Star Trek show but Star Trek Lower Decks is a straight up parody and therefor not actual Star Trek.
Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 5:44pm (UTC -6)
I dunno. I agree that you cannot be a parody of X while also being an official offshoot of X, which is what this show feels like. But I think if you were to ask the people who write this show they would say it's not a true parody, but a "light, comedic" take on a real Star Trek show. Okay, fine.

But I keep thinking about how the spear-wielding species in "Temporal Edict" was granted recent membership in the Federation. Really? They're spacefaring, sure, but their culture also features gladiatorial trial-by-combat and they're currently at war with another species under questionable circumstances. How exactly do they qualify? Lighthearted comedy or not, if this is a legitimate Trek show this seems like a fair question.

I think the case can be made that this show functions as a parody regardless of the creator's intent, which is a problem because you can't parody Trek while also being Trek. And if the show runners want this to be a legit Trek show they're doing a pretty piss-poor job of it while leaning hard towards parody.

I dunno. I feel like I'm engaging in meandering navel-gazing without much of a point, I'm just trying to parse out what this show's angle is in theory and in practice. Mostly I think they're trying to have it both ways, using the recognizable Trek brand to appeal to people who would never actually watch Trek because it's lame and boring while putting in enough easter eggs to make Trekkies feel respected.
Wed, Sep 16, 2020, 6:14am (UTC -6)
One thing that everyone forgets about the "Orville" that makes it brilliant and unique is that it does something that I haven't really seen done before: it can turn a JOKE into the source of serious drama later. Think about that.

Yeah.. Mr. Potato Head Pieces.. let's prank the robot and decorate his head with them.

Cut to next season, that Robot Race found out about it. Oh i could be one of the reasons they want to destroy the Union.

The first episode had a lot of quippy humor about Bortus, the fact that he urinates once a year and comes form a species with only males.

Except that they are not only males. The government of that race wants everyone to THINK that, and it could jeopardize their relationship (in terms of values) with the rest of the Union, and it might affect the power balance in the .. area.. quadrant.. galaxy.. going forward.

I could give other examples. As simple as Seth and his team make this look, turning a joke early on into drama later on is something i'd not really seen before that I can immediately recall.

Trek.. particularly LD.. needs to actually get talented people who are not inspired by Trek, but literally have their own take ON Trek and WHAT KIND OF APPROACH THEY WANT TO TAKE TO HUMOR AND STORYTELLING in order for this to work.. it's NOT enough to make simple Trek references.
Tommy D.
Wed, Sep 16, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -6)

I don't care much for seasons 1,2, or 7 of TNG. However, 100% agree about the soundtrack of the early seasons. Its fairly incredible.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 1:34am (UTC -6)
Lower Decks...

Whether it's Trek or Not Trek, satire, parody, or whatever...none of that matters to me.

It's clearly intended as a comedy. I just don't think it's funny.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 1:38am (UTC -6)
"[...] My theory of film is, nobody cares what the movie's called, nobody cares what the movie's about, and nobody cares who's in the movie. They only care about one thing: 'Is the movie any good?'"

~ Nicholas Meyer, "Star Trek Movie Memories," p.167, on the renaming of Star Trek II that happened without his permission

"And if I think Lower Decks sucks... well, that's my opinion, too!! Ha ha ha ha ha"

But seriously, this show sucks. I'm sorry to not be able to say anything further, really. I can't watch it. It depresses me.
Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
I actually thought the teaser was the least annoying part of the episode. I didn't laugh, but I thought the notion that the Lower Decks are like in-Universe Trekkies (obsessing over the minutiae) was kind of clever.

As for the rest of the episode, again, there were some interesting ideas, but they were executed way over the top to be interesting or funny.

A comment on the visuals. The exteriors look great, the interior of the ship is fine, but the outlines of the characters look like they were drawn by a five year-old. This is obviously done on purpose (since the rest of the animation is so much better), but WHY?

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.