Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks Brings Back Key Tech Skipped By Discovery & Picard

Star Trek: Lower Deckswill bring back the holodeck, a fan favorite technology that has been largely absent from the recent Star Trek TV series and movies. Created by Mike McMahan (Rick & Morty), Star Trek: Lower Decks is the first half-hour Star Trek animated comedy. Set aboard the U.S.S. Cerritos, which is described as "one of the least important ships in Starfleet," Star Trek: Lower Decks will explore the funny side of the final frontier and usher in a new dimension of the venerable franchise.

The holodeck is an extremely popular (plot) device that is standard in 24th-century starships and starbases. Although it was originally introduced in the 1970s Star Trek: The Animated Series (which slips in and out of official canon), the holodeck was heavily featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Similarly, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had holosuites in Quark's Bar, and Star Trek: Voyager's eponymous starship also came equipped with a holodeck, which gave the crew a necessary escape from the stresses of being lost in the Delta Quadrant for seven years. More importantly, several episodes set within holodecks (which inevitably malfunctioned) became all-time classics. Holodeck episodes also produced memorable characters who were friends, like DS9's affable 1960s crooner Vic Fontaine (James Darren), and foes, like TNG's diabolical Professor James Moriarty (Daniel Davis), of the various Star Trek casts.

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Since the U.S.S. Cerritos is a 24th-century Starfleet ship, it also comes equipped with a holodeck, which means Star Trek: Lower Decks will bring back holodeck episodes. This is especially good news since, as an animated series, Lower Decks isn't bound by any budgetary restrictions so their episodes can literally produce anything the writers and producers can imagine. (Although TNG, DS9, and Voyager never held back with their own holodeck episodes in terms of production values.) Intriguingly, the animated comedy will also tackle the dirtier side of the holodeck; the trailer for Star Trek: Lower Decks shows Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) assigned to "holodeck waste disposal," meaning she has to clean out the results of people inevitably using the virtual restrooms within the holodeck's programs. It looks like Star Trek: Lower Decks will boldly deal with the logical questions about the holodeck that the live-action Star Trek series wouldn't even dare to ask.

The return of the holodeck in Star Trek: Lower Decks is a cause for celebration since the holodecks have largely disappeared from Star Trek in recent years. After DS9, Voyager, and Star Trek: Nemesis, every Star Trek series and movie since 2002 was a prequel and/or set in an alternate universe. Star Trek: Enterprise took place in the 22nd-century, long before the holodeck's invention. The J.J. Abrams-produced Star Trek movie trilogy was set during the 23rd-century and Captain James T. Kirk's (Chris Pine) Starship Enterprise had no holodeck. Even though the U.S.S. Discovery had holographic technology and even a spore displacement hub drive, they also had no holodeck sinceStar Trek: Discovery was set a decade before TOS. And Star Trek: Picard wasn't set aboard a Starfleet ship; Captain Cristobal Rios' (Santiago Cabrera) starship, La Sirena, did have a holodeck, but he only used it to recreate Jean-Luc Picard's (Patrick Stewart) study to make the Admiral feel at home.

All of this means the holodeck and holodeck episodes now fall under the purview of Star Trek: Lower Decks. Hopefully, the animated comedy can produce its own classic holodeck episodes. However, with beloved stories like TNG's "A Fistful of Datas" and "Ship in a Bottle," DS9's "Our Man Bashir," "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," and "It's Only a Paper Moon," and Voyager's "Worst Case Scenario" and "Bride of Chaotica!" Star Trek: Lower Deckshas an incredibly high bar to meet.

Star Trek: Lower Decks premieres on CBS All-Access August 6, 2020.