These two are both shorter so I figured I’d put them together. I feel very good about both The Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds but I don’t feel like my take here is anything special so it’s not as in-depth as my thoughts on Discovery.
I’ll start with Lower Decks. It’s just so much fun. It spoofs the absurdities of the Star Trek universe in fun ways. It’s always goofy but it respects the canon. You can tell the writers have a blast making it. I watched the first episode when they put it up for free on YouTube and it killed me. Dr. T’ana immediately joined a long list of beloved medical officers in my heart.
The main cast is hilarious, well-voiced, and remain interesting after two seasons. The shit they get into doesn’t make any sense. The fact that they get promoted and demoted on a whim, are all over the ship getting into shenanigans, and constantly screw up and then save the day is… well… very Star Trek.
And the character of Beckett Mariner kills me. She is almost a perfect spoof of Michael Burnham. She is selfish, reckless, and rebellious but she doesn’t get praised and promoted for that behavior. Instead she is a highly competent officer who remains an Ensign because she can’t get out of her own way when it comes to moving forward with her career. But she remains loved by her friends and her crew because they recognize who she is and that’s okay. Very Star Trek.
I’m really looking forward to the 25th when 3rd season starts.
As for Strange New Worlds. I just love it. SNW grew out of Discovery when the characters of Captain Pike, Number One, and a younger Spock were introduced. And they were great. Ethan Peck is so spot on in his portrayal of the character that I’m stunned every time he’s on screen. He’s just amazing.
Captain Pike – played by Anson Mount – is almost the perfect Starfleet captain. He’s almost too good to be true. He’s kind, thoughtful, intelligent, diplomatic, trusts his crew, and accepts any challenge. He’s also balanced in his approach, willing to use violence when necessary, and capable of making the hard calls. He’s also pretty. They should put him on the recruitment posters. “Be Like Pike.”
Rebecca Romijn was a great choice as Number One (who now has a name and a history because even Star Trek had a ways to go on women). She portrays the strong, stern, capable first officer with a nice touch of humor and grace.
And choosing to add Jess Bush as Nurse Chapel is a very interesting twist. She is a great actress and her portrayal of the nurse as a bit lonely, a bit closed off, but everyone’s friend makes for some interesting scenes. She’s a strong addition to the crew and her scenes with Spock are always exciting.
Overall, the cast is strong from top to bottom and I find that when I think about SNW, that’s what comes to mind… I think about the characters, the crew, and not the plot. The plot(s) are very typical Star Trek fare with a side of “Holy Shit the Gorn are SCARY!” But the crew is the high point of SNW. You care about them and their relationships the way you want to with a Star Trek cast. They might not end up having character arcs that are as dynamic as Discovery’s cast, but it’s okay… I love them just the way they are. And for me, that’s the essence of Star Trek… the people. On that frontier, SNW delivers.