Star Trek: Lower Decks

I like the concept of Star Trek a lot — some of my favorite books growing up were optimistic science fiction, and the majority of Star Trek falls into that category. That said, I’ve mostly failed to actually get very much into Star Trek; without the nostalgia of having grown up watching it, I (watching in the ‘golden age of TV’) struggle to get past the date aesthetic of the older series.

All that said, Lower Decks feels like it was specifically targeted at me — I love the “adult animated television series” as a form of media, and it’s nice to have a clear entry point into the greater Star Trek universe.

The concept is pretty simple: instead of following around the bridge crew, what’s life like for the regular folks on a Starfleet ship? It feels more like a space opera: from this perspective you get glances into the crazy sci-fi goings-on, but half the time it’s just background dressing for interpersonal stories. It’s fun watching the characters shrug off a member of the bridge crew returning from the dead because “oh, they always do that. Probably they got Borg’d, or it’s a transporter clone, or something.”

Having it as animation also works quite well. It frees them to do ridiculous scenes without blowing through an entire season’s worth of special effects budget. It’s a lot easier to animate the aforementioned transporter clone scene when you just… draw the person twice and have them record two takes. No compositing shots together, no body-double in a green-screen suit. And, I hope, it will allow the animation to remain much more timeless than the live action shows can manage.

All told, I quite like Lower Decks, and do recommend it. As of this writing, we’re about halfway through the second season, with new episodes coming out every week, so go ahead and check it out. Each episode is around half an hour, and they work well as a palate cleanser between heavier series. Check it out.


The Astronaut Wives Club

Apparently I’m adding television shows to the things I review on here from time to time? What the heck, it’s still summer break, I’ve got time for it.
Anyhow, I just finished up the first season of The Astronaut Wives Club.1 The style kinda reminded me of Manhattan, with the following of a major historic event from a more personal standpoint, but Astronaut Wives captured my interest much better than Manhattan ever did. I really couldn’t say why, although it might have something to do with my slight obsession with the Cold War, rather than World War II.2
It’s a little bit hard to keep track of all the characters, at first – it starts off with the seven Mercury wives (and, to a lesser degree, their husbands) – and then adds the Gemini wives at some point. By the time Apollo rolls around, they aren’t really bothering to introduce the new set of astronauts and wives, they’re just accepting that it’s too many people.
That aside, though, the show is quite enjoyable. It’s historically accurate to a degree that I feel comfortable filing in moments of history that I learned from the show with the rest of my knowledge about the world, though I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to study for a test.3
The show is definitely predictable if you’re a history buff, but that is something that I am distinctly not, and the few specifics about the space program that I actually did remember, I managed to block out long enough that everything could be a surprise. That made a couple moments – one of which was one hell of a sucker-punch at the end of an episode – incredibly effective storytelling, and very emotionally charged at that.
Tl;dr: I enjoyed the show, and it’s worth taking the time to watch it once it pops up on Netflix.

  1. And I just now looked it up and saw that it was cancelled after one season, so apparently that should say ‘only season.’ Oh well. 
  2. What can I say, I’ve got a favorite historical period. 
  3. More because you won’t be getting tested on things like “who was cheating on who, and which wife was known for her baking prowess?”