Star Trek: Lower Decks: 10 Things You Need To Know Before Watching The Parody
The Star Trek universe keeps expanding on CBS All Access, most recently with the brand-new animated series, Lower Decks. This show represents perhaps the biggest departure for the franchise since Deep Space Nine. While that series explored a darker side of the Federation, this new show explores the exact opposite end of the spectrum.
Lower Decks follows the adventures of four junior crew members of the U.S.S. Cerritos, told from their perspective as opposed to the traditional focus on the ground crew. The show is an irreverent take on the classic Trek concept. How irreverent? Here are ten things you need to know about Lower Decks.
10 Familiar Concept
If the core concept behind the series sounds familiar, it's because it is. Lower Decks borrows the concept of focusing on junior officers aboard a starship—and its title—from a classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. That episode focused on a quartet of newly minted Starfleet personnel aboard the Enterprise as they tried to make their bones aboard the storied starship. The episode proved so successful that many fans lobbied for another take on the idea.
9 Support Crew
Similar to the episode that inspired the show, Lower Decks focuses on a group of four ensigns aboard the U.S.S. Cerritos. While The Next Generation crew proved serious—fatally so, in the end—this lot is anything but. The group includes Beckett Mariner, an ensign who just doesn't care anymore; Brad Boimler, who sticks to the rules; Rutherford, who has a cybernetic implant; and Tendi, a green-skinned alien who serves as something of an audience surrogate in the series.
8 Command Crew
Though the junior officers provide the focus for the show, the ship doesn't fly itself, though it probably could. A command crew occupies the bridge of the U.S.S. Cerritos, and all of the characters serve in roles fans will be accustomed to. Captain Freeman commands the ship, supported by Jack Ransom, a hulked out version of William T. Riker, security comes courtesy of Shaxs, a Bajoran, and the ship's doctor is T'Ana, a member of the Caitian race who will be familiar to hardcore fans.
7 Second Contact
The primary mission for the crew and ship is something no one has ever really seen in Star Trek before but naturally makes sense: second contact. Ships like the Enterprise or Voyager get the glory of first contact with an alien race, but the Cerritos comes in behind them for the real work.
The U.S.S. Cerritos is described as one of Starfleet's "least important ships," which gives fans an idea of how little emphasis the Federation places on this work. Since no one is apparently paying attention, it likely leads to a lot of mishaps.
6 Uniform Confusion
At first glance, more than the title of the show probably seems familiar. The ship itself echoes the classic U.S.S. Enterprise-D in many ways, and the uniforms the crew wears give off strong TNG vibes, as well. There's just one problem: the show takes place in 2380, right after Star Trek: Nemesis.
Starfleet had moved on to a different, darker uniform by then. What gives? Likely the same thing that had Picard and company wearing both their TV uniforms and the Deep Space Nine jumper in Star Trek: Generations. Starfleet seemingly mixed a lot of different uniforms.
5 Mike McMahan
Another element of the show that might seem familiar to fans of animation is the style itself. There might be a passing similarity to the style of Rick and Morty, and that should come as no surprise as the executive producer of Lower Decks is Mike McMahan, one of the head writers on the Adult Swim series. McMahan also worked on the current Hulu series Solar Opposites and won the 2018 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for the legendary episode "Pickle Rick."
4 Not The First Animated Trek
Lower Decks might seem like a first in the storied history of the Star Trek franchise, and, in many ways, it is. But, it's not the first animated series. Star Trek: The Animated Series broke a lot of ground when it debuted in 1973. The show picked up where the prematurely canceled original show left off and brought along almost all of the original actors. The Animated Series is generally not considered canon, but it did introduce some major elements that might be up for debate.
3 A Little Catty
One of those new elements The Animated Series introduced in the 70s was the Caitian species. Lieutenant M'Ress, a cat-like alien, joined the crew for the series, where makeup and effects budgets were less of a concern. T'Ana, the doctor on the Cerritos, is of the same species.
Another unique alien the cartoon introduced was Lieutenant Arex, an Edosian with three arms and three legs. So far, his species has yet to make it back into canon.
2 Canonical Concerns
Whether or not something is canon might seem an odd concern for a show that takes a decidedly light-hearted approach to what is traditionally a very sober franchise, but it is. The creative team even hired writer David Mack, author of several Star Trek original novels, to help make sure the show fit within the established canon of the franchise. This pays off right away in the trailer: eagle-eyed viewers may spot easter eggs from the television shows and movies in the background.
1 U.S.S. Cerritos
Though the show bills the U.S.S. Cerritos as the least important ship in the fleet, it's the most important one in the show. The California-class starship features a design that recalls a little that of the U.S.S. Grissom. Its name originates from a city within the Greater Los Angeles area, and maybe also a local television ad. While specific details on the ship are scarce, fans pouring over screenshots of the trailer have already determined the ship—the saucer, at least—has six decks.