Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Lower Decks, or, The Animated Series: The Next Generation

If you're keeping score, the 2020 release of Star Trek: Lower Decks represents the ninth ST series in terms of tv release, but the eighth chronologically. And ST:LD looks like yet another departure from traditional Trek –and a glimpse at another era of the ST universe.

Along with all the news about Star Trek: Picard dropped at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) ST panel was a whole info load on Lower Decks. And from the sound/look of things, It’s no coincidence that this series has lifted its title from a certain TNG season 7 episode; “Lower Decks” the episode is clearly a template for Lower Decks the 2020 animated series.

The kick of the TNG episode was that bit players and stars had roles reversed, with characters of lower rank (or even civilians) serving aboard the Enterprise taking center stage. Each of the young ‘uns in that episode interacted with his/her commanding officer, and due to the structure, “Lower Decks” ultimately afforded viewers an outside-looking-in viewpoint of the bigger-picture events.

Star Trek: Lower Decks, it seems, will work this way as well and in deliberately comic fashion. After all, some of the first-ever breaking news on ST:LD was the announcement of Rick & Morty writer Mike McMahan as show runner. At SDCC, folks were introduced to eight main characters from the series. Presenting our heroes, those of the titular lower decks!

Star Trek: Lower Decks stars

From left to right, this is Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells), presumably Orion and fresh out of Starfleet Medical; Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), a hapless engineer with an eccentric cybernetic eye; Ensign Backett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), high on recklessness and low on discipline; and Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), your typical bookish sort.

Meanwhile, the featured commanding officers’ lineup looks like so:

Star Trek: Lower Decks officers

And includes (L to R) chief engineer Lt. Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) of Bajor, Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) and Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman). And please let’s all celebrate the return of the Caitians, the people of M’Ress, through Dr. T’Ana! Let’s hope the as-yet untitled Nickelodeon animated series includes at least one cat person as well…

The setting for hijinks and mayhem is the USS Cerritos, a California-class (!) starship, in the year 2394, some 15 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. (Making this series essentially the Discovery to ST:Picard’s TOS…? Crazy!) In addition, not only is the Cerritos rather small – hey, California may be big, but not compared to the size of the galaxy – it’s also routinely sent on inconsequential missions.

Definitely a different sort of Star Trek…

Star Trek: Lower Decks will debut on CBS All Access in 2020.