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As I said in my reviews of Star Trek: Discovery, the context in which the show is created is important. The fact that Discovery's seasons are heavily-serialized, singular stories means that they must be judged on a different basis than the episodic episodes of previous Trek series. Discovery's stories must be held to a higher standard because its structure means that "bad" episodes cannot be dismissed as easily as a bad episode of any other series of Trek.

The difference in context between the animated comedy series Lower Decks and the more serious, live-action, canon series of Discovery and Picard is the one thing that gives me hope regarding Lower Decks. The trailer for the cartoon's first season was released over the weekend, and I'm honestly not upset with it at all.

Trailer for season 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Because Lower Decks is an animated comedy, I am assuming that CBS is not going to consider it "canon". And if the show isn't being presented as "canon", then I as a viewer don't have to take it as seriously either. I can much more easily forgive divergences in theme, tone, aesthetics, and [especially] lore because inconsistencies from the original source material don't serve to retroactively pollute the original source material in the way that Discovery and Picard have done.

That being said -- and tone and lack of seriousness aside -- Lower Decks has a lot of elements of its design presented in this trailer that takes more cues from golden age Trek than either of the two live-action series that CBS has produced. The design of the ships, the interiors, the holodeck, the uniforms, and so forth all seem to show more respect to the original source material than Discovery or Picard bothered to show. I'm going to hope that is a good sign that the writers are also taking more of the story and character cues from golden age Trek, albeit with the slapstick cartoon tone.

Besides, Star Trek is old enough, and bloated enough, as an intellectual property that it could probably use a good deconstruction or self-satire. I mean, skits on Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Futurama, and so forth have [arguably, and to varying degrees] worked well over the years. The Orville has been generally well-regarded by audiences and eventually shifted towards telling stories that were more in-line with Trek -- far closer than anything in Discovery or Picard.

The original Animated Series was able
to take more creative liberties.

Lastly, Lower Decks, being animated, is much more free to affordably explore new worlds that are stranger than anything that can be shown in live-action. Remember all the more creative liberties that the original Animated Series was able to take? Tripedal alien crew members. A holodeck (long before one appeared in TNG). More exotic alien spacecraft. More exotic stellar anomalies. And yeah, there were also giant tribbles the size of whole rooms.

And look, I'm not saying that I think this Lower Decks trailer looks particularly good, or particularly funny. In fact, a lot of it looks pretty derivative and lacks creativity, and the trailer provides no sense for how the actual stories and sci-fi concepts will be explored. It does, after all, still list Alex Kurtzman as an executive producer. I firmly believe that Kurtzman is one of the most incompetent people in Hollywood and poisons everything he touches, and the sooner CBS and Paramount remove him from all things Star Trek, the better. But I do think that Lower Decks shows a lot more potential than either Discovery or Picard showed (well, aside from that very first teaser for Discovery -- that was really promising!). At the very least, Lower Decks is far less likely to disappoint to the degree that Discovery or Picard have because, as I said, I'm just not going to take Lower Decks as seriously. After all, the only thing Lower Decks has to do is either be decent Star Trek, be decent sci-fi, or to just be funny. If it can do any of those three things, then it will be far more successful than CBS's other Trek efforts.

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