A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Star Trek: Lower Decks is an animated series set in the Star Trek universe that concentrates on lower-ranking Starfleet officers and their work. In classic Star Trek fashion, the cast is diverse in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, even species, and all are urged to cooperate in order to get the important work of interstellar diplomacy done. Messages of courage and teamwork are evident, but emotion and positive messages are generally overwhelmed by violence and jokes. Violence is gorier than the show's tone might lead one to expect, with sci-fi weaponry, giant space monsters, and surprisingly intense sequences, like one in which an alien virus turns crew members into black-bile-vomiting zombies who tear each other apart with dripping blood and gore. Deaths and injuries are played for laughs, so they're less disturbing than they might be, and the worst violence is reserved for faceless characters. Characters are young and single; expect romantic complications, flirting, dating, and references to sex. One scene in which a female crewmember shows another her holodeck fantasy features brief glimpses of men's buttocks. Language is infrequent, but "ass," "d--k," "bitch," "damn," and "hell" are all heard; "holy s--t" is bleeped. There are also jokes about drinking, such as when a character drinks too much Romulan whiskey and gets sloppy and silly and then injures a co-worker.
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What's the story?
After heroes and brass hats of Starfleet have made historical first contact with alien species, it's up to the peons of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS to do the grunt work of diplomacy. Nonetheless, Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) is dedicated to his work on the U.S.S. Cerritos, despite his efforts going unnoticed by Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), who's understandably distracted by the presence of her rebellious daughter, Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome). Rounding out the main cast is Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells), a wide-eyed medical officer from the planet Orion, and Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), a ship's engineer who recently received a Vulcan cybernetic implant that's causing some serious readjustment.
Is it any good?
Mixing loving Trek fandom with lite irreverence, workplace comedy, and startlingly gory violence is an interesting idea on paper, but ultimately this animated series is less than the sum of its parts. From tone to animation, Star Trek: Lower Decks seems inspired by Rick and Morty, along with (if to a lesser extent) Futurama, but it doesn't hit the high points of those two inspired comedies. The problem? The jokes don't land, so it's just not a lot of fun to watch. Certainly the fan service is in fine fettle. Within the first few minutes of the show, Ensign Mariner wields a Klingon bat'leth, which Next Generation fans will recognize from any Lt. Worf fighting scene; she refers to Spock as a guy who "fought Khan and some space-whales"; and first officer Commander Ransom (Jerry O'Connell) is given to ripping off his shirt, Kirk-like, before hand-to-hand combat.
Unfortunately, the writing just isn't that sharp. When an alien leader is accidentally offered a tribute made of wood rather than crystal, an official witnessing the handoff flinches and yelps, "He's got wood!" Really? The last time we heard a fresh joke about wood it was on Beavis and Butt-Head. Make no mistake, there's an interesting show to be made about the redshirts who do the grunt work of interstellar diplomacy after Starfleet's brass has claimed all the glory, and there's plenty of talent on Lower Decks' cast list. If either the humor was better, or the characters more richly realized, this could mature into something enjoyable, but at first blush, Lower Decks is a mission that only fervent Trek fans will accept.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the market for shows such as Star Trek: Lower Decks. What is the appeal of animated series for grown-ups?
The amount of violence in Star Trek: Lower Decks may be unexpected, given the show's light tone. Does it ever feel over-the-top? Is it exciting, or gruesome? Which do you think it's intended to be? Why? What is the impact of media violence on kids?
Families can also talk about the enduring appeal of Star Trek: What makes people become such faithful fans? Why do you think the studio decided to make a new version? How does it compare to the older movies and TV shows?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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