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New Escapist Column! On the Paradoxical Nostalgia of “Star Trek: Lower Decks”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Star Trek: Lower Decks launched last week, the latest entry in the larger Star Trek canon.

Lower Decks is an interesting phenomenon. It is perhaps the most overtly nostalgic Star Trek show of the new era, given how transparently it harks back to Star Trek: The Next Generation in both form and content. However, the show’s aesthetics – an animated series with a modern comedic sensibility – are likely to alienate those fans most obviously yearning for a nostalgic Star Trek hit. At the same time, the show’s reverence for the trappings of Star Trek prevents it from working in the mold of good comedy – even good Star Trek comedy.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

One Response

  1. After clicking on the link I hope you don’t mind if I leave my comments here as the only way to leave a comment on the other article is to log into an account I don’t have or wish to use:

    to say that voyager established that the federation was built on slave labour of artificial lifeforms in author author because it showed holograms working in mining operations is a bit extreme. For one thing, holograms working in such conditions was only a recent development and the production of androids as slave labour never became a thing at that point thanks to Picard’s efforts in the measure of a man (but then I know from reading several articles on your blog how harsh you can be on the series). It’s also worth remembering that holograms are not considered to be lifeforms at all, at least by the majority of people in the federation, and I recall the trial in author author was whether the doctor was a sentient being or just programmed to appear self-aware. Mind you I have wondered whether all the mark 1 emhs were more self-aware than their creator realised or intended (e.g. the scene where he tries to use Bashir as a new template and the emh is alarmed at being replaced. If he was just a program would he have reacted like that?).

    Also I came across the following article (https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-reviews/star-trek-lower-decks-review-1039704/) where the person argues that the series shines the most is when it’s referential rather than a hindrance. For me, I enjoyed the series. It might not be the best thing ever but it kept me interested. I guessed the problem for me is that the show’s satirical and parodied nature (and yes, I’m aware of people who have tried to play down it being a parody or true satire, but come on, if you had no idea it was canon, wouldn’t you think that’s what it is?) doesn’t really fit with the rest of the universe or it being canon, because isn’t parody/satire not meant to be canon? That’s not to say there can’t be a star trek comedy show. We know that star trek is capable of being funny (or at least, trying to be funny, whether the jokes hit or miss), but the jokes are in a sense, in-universe, whereas lower decks’ humour parodies the franchise. I think cobra-kai is a good example of a show that is described as a comedy even though the film it’s based on is was not a comedy because the jokes that are made you can accept can be made in this universe.

    The person who wrote the article I mentioned argues in a way that it’s the canonical nature of the show that is holding it back from making the jokes it’s capable of, and I agree. A show like Harley Quinn is capable of making the jokes it does because it doesn’t have any canon status, but if it did it would be much harder to take seriously a joker who gets upset because he’s still waiting on en electric car or the legion of doom debating on whether there could be a sequel of Up.

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