Star Trek: Lower Decks — Second Contact: It was not uncontroversial, starting a new Star Trek show in a completely different format. Star Trek: Lower Decks is the second animated series and the very first Trek comedy. Mike McMahan, the show’s creator, who is famous for his contributions to Rick and Morty, is not immune to the slings and arrows of grouchy Trek fans, who yearn for … what is available to stream in CBS All Access’ massive library.

The show is funny! Indeed, there are many laugh out loud moments, and a ton of references to Trek shows the past. People say that the parody show, The Orville, is a love letter to The Next Generation. That’s true if the letter was written by “Weird Al” Yankovic. This show, which is named after a TNG episode, is genuinely created out of the love of the Enterprise-D, Jean-Luc Picard, and the rest of that fantastic crew. 

And so it begins, the first episode of a new Trek show…

STARDATE: 56436.2

The show starts with an animated look at the familiar Douglas Station Spacedock (designed by Andrew Probert). A few ships float past. We hear the voice of Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), who is giving us a compelling “Captain’s Log” style report. 

“The Cerritos is docked at Douglas Station for routine maintenance and resupply,” said Boimler. “We will soon set course for the capital planet on the Galar system, where we’re scheduled to make second contact with the Galardonian high council.”

Boimler explains that “second contact” is when the paperwork is signed, and they get the name of the new planet spelled right. We see that he’s in a supply closet with a PADD. Not a place for a high ranking officer to give a report. 

The U.S.S. Cerritos | Courtesy of CBS
The U.S.S. Cerritos | Courtesy of CBS

Just then, Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) burst in to catch, and make fun of Boimler.

“Are you pretending to do a Captain’s Log?” she sneered as she chased after the PADD. She wrestled him, and he realized that she was drunk from Romulan whiskey (which looks a lot like Romulan ale). Same thing?

“Romulan whiskey is against regulation!” Boimler scorned.

“Yeah, that’s because it’s awesome!” said Mariner. She then pulled out a Klingon bat’ leth, which she got from a one-eyed man at Douglas Station. She chased him around with the weapon until she hacked into his leg. 

OUCH… and funny!

The episode begins as Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells) stepped out of a shuttlecraft inside the U.S.S. Cerritos. She got in line to collect her orders (followed in line by a Benzite) and gushed as she accepted them. 

“Can I just sat that I’m really so honored to be…” said Tendi.

“Keep it moving, lower decks,” responded the surly lieutenant. 

The green-skinned Tendi made her way to where Mariner and Boimler were trying to fix a replicator, making only hot bananas. 

Tendi said that she had never worked with commanders before. Mariner introduced herself but noted that she was not as “impressed with herself” as Boimler was. Tendi said she was excited to work together as an elite team.

“We’re not really an elite team,” said Mariner, as Boimler grimaced. “We’re more like the cool, scrappy underdogs of the ship.”

“But I do have a big box of shore leave contraband I need help with!” said Mariner.

Boimler told Tendi that she could one day be the chief medical officer with hard work. Mariner said the high-level positions were overrated, and they were always stressed and yelling about directives.

Mariner said she didn’t care about rank and that she had already been there. She then gave Tendi a tour of the ship, which she usually does not do.

“But I do have a big box of shore leave contraband I need help with!” said Mariner.

Later, Boimler showed Tendi where they were on the Cerritos’ map (which is made in that iconic Michael Okuda style), Mariner said that everything up “there” was super-lame, except for the bar.

As the three pushed a box down the hall, they encountered Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), who had some short outs with his cybernetic implants. Rutherford welcomed Tendi. 

Mariner asked Rutherford about his date, which was scheduled for that night, with Ensign Barnes. He said that he was not nervous until Mariner adjusted his implant, and then he started to worry — funny!

They walked to the crew bunks, and Tendi ran to a large window to see the view outside at warp. 

“It’s perfect!” she said. 

Mariner wanted to go to the holodeck, but Boimler said Tendi didn’t have time for that. She won the argument.

“Welcome to the holodeck — easily the best part of the ship,” said Mariner. Boimler argued, and said that the warp core was the best part of the ship, “followed by the bridge, the torpedo tubes, cetacean ops…”

NOTE: This was a big one. Again, something only whispered about in Trek lore, and drawn by Andrew Probert, Cetacean Ops was where dolphin members of the Enterprise-D were supposed to be housed. 

First, they went to Hawai’i, then the Adashake Center on Orion. 

“I never made time to go before I enlisted,” said Tendi. This confirms that Tendi is an Orion, which was one of the first aliens on Star Trek — as seen in “The Cage.”

Mariner and Tendi on Orion. Courtesy of CBS
Mariner and Tendi on Orion. Courtesy of CBS

When it was Boimler’s turn, to go anywhere in the universe in the holodeck, he chose the warp core. SIGH…

Just then, Boimler was called to the bridge, which impressed Tendi. Mariner said that Boimler goes to the bridge only when “someone spills a drink or something.” Mariner then programmed the holodeck for an “all nude Olympic training facility.”

“Wow… this is a very detailed program,” said Tendi.

On the planet, Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) thanked the pig-like Galardonians for their hospitality. As he did, he got stung by a bug. They beamed up, and Ransom itched the spot where bug stung him. He and another officer walked off and talked about getting beers. 

A successful second contact. Courtesy of CBS
A successful second contact. Courtesy of CBS

As soon as Boimler got to the bridge, Ransom fussed him out for not being at his post. Then, Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) asked Ransom for an update of the “second contact.” Ransom said that all was going smoothly, and she told Boimler to follow her. 

Ransom scratched the bug bite — which was now purple! 

“Brad Boimler. Born Modesto, California… commissioned in ’79,” said Freeman. “Not a single demerit. Do you keep a personal log?”

Boimler said that he did. He said that he did. Freeman asked Boimler if he wanted to be a captain someday, and he said that he did. 

“Well, I see a lot of potential,” said the captain. She then assigned him to keep an eye on Mariner. “If she breaks protocol, I want a full report.” 

She said that she wanted her crew in lock-step and that he would keep this assignment to himself.

In the cafeteria, Rutherford was on his date, Ensign Barnes, who was a Trill. She joked about Lt. Cmdr. Billups (Paul Scheer), and Rutherford’s implants buzzed. 

“That is illogical!” he growled. She apologized, but he said it was his Vulcan implants that suppress emotion. 

“Sorry if this is making it weird, I’m just not used to being a cyborg yet,” said Rutherford. Barnes said that her dad was a cyborg.

The scene cut Boimler beaming down to the planet with a group of others, including Mariner. When they arrived, Billups gave out instructions to the landing party, on how to assemble the Galardonian’s subspace comm array. This would allow them to communicate with the rest of the Federation.

NOTE: One member of the away team had a Geordi La Forge-style VISOR. Cool!

Back on the U.S.S. Cerritos, as Rutherford and Barnes were just beginning to enjoy each other, Ransom fell on the bar and began to froth at the mouth. He then turned into a ZOMBIE! Or, a regular human, affected by an alien bug bite, which caused his skin to become pale, his eyes to turn yellow. He threw up black bile, and started attacking other crew… zombie style. With his teeth. They said it was a “rage virus,” but it looked like pure zombie if you ask me.

All hell broke loose in the cafeteria, and the crew began firing at Ransom and the other zombies that he created. Meanwhile, Rutherford and Barnes tipped over a table and continued their small talk. Another crewmember informed them that this same thing was happening all over the ship.

“I’ve never played squash,” said Rutherford. “Is it fun?”

Back on the planet, Boimler oversaw Mariner loading up and driving away in a dune buggy…

NOTE: The same model dune buggy that Picard drove in Star Trek: Nemesis

On the Cerritos, Tendi walked into sickbay to see the chaos. Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) called to Tendi for help tie down the patients. She immediately got to work and received a bunch of black vomit in her face.

Poor Dr. T’Ana, she has to deal with the rage virus and all their puke. Courtesy of CBS
Poor Dr. T’Ana, she has to deal with the rage virus and all their puke. Courtesy of CBS

Boimler followed Mariner and watched her as she gave equipment to the Galardonians. He leaped out to confront her, saying that she was giving away Federation weapons. She tried to explain, and the Galardonians decided to leave, but Boimler fired a shot with his phaser and ordered them to stay put. 

“Selling Starfleet technology without the express consent of the Federation Council is a breach of regulations,” said Boimler. 

“It’s farm equipment, you idiot!” said Mariner, as she showed him a shovel. 

Mysteriously, the Galardonians scurried away, as a GIANT SPIDER charged at Mariner and Boimler! As they crawled away, Mariner explained that she gave the Galardonians farm equipment so they would not starve waiting for the Federation bureaucracy. Boimler asked her how she knew they existed. 

“Because I was here for first contact last year on the Quito,” said Mariner. “Before I got my ass demoted and transferred to the Cerritos!

“Of course, I don’t include stupid Vulcan,” Mariner yelled. “You may as well include Earth!”

She said that she’s served on five ships, and had been through some things. She even was trapped in a sentient cave.

“I’ve been in a Klingon prison, where I had to fight a yeti for my own shoes… for no reason,” said Mariner. “He was just being a dick. You’ve been on … what, four planets?”

“Five, if you include Vulcan,” said Boimler. 

“Of course, I don’t include stupid Vulcan,” Mariner yelled. “You may as well include Earth!”

“I was counting Earth,” he whimpered.

Boimler tried to beam out, but Mariner grabbed his combadge and tossed it away. 

“We can’t just beam out of here,” she said. “These guys need that animal!”

Mariner told him to follow her lead as she gathered sticks and vegetation. She ordered him to take off his pants. They set a trap for the spider with their clothes, which attacked Boimler’s but left Mariner’s alone.

She then jumped on the spider’s back, telling Boimler to do the same. When he tried, the spider caught him and shook him around in its mouth. 

“Phaser it!” he yelled. 

“Please don’t phaser her,” said a Galardonian to Mariner. “It’ll spoil the milk!”

He explained that the spider is an herbivore, and it was just suckling on Boimler to “suckle out some moisture.”

She told Boimler the news and advised that the spider was starting to tire, so he should relax. He continued to scream.

On the Cerritos, Rutherford and Barnes fought their way through the zombies toward the rally point on Deck 8. They put on space suits and walked across the Cerritos exterior to an access hatch. 

When they got to Deck 8, they were greeted by a bunch of zombies, but they were clear of them. Rutherford and Barnes kissed for a second, but then he fussed about the doors, not recognizing their combadges. While he calculated the odds of that happening, Barnes sighed and rolled her eyes.

Back in sickbay, Dr. T’Ana and Tendi operated on Billups. Dr. T’Ana took out Billups’ heart and told Tendi two hold it — and not to pass out.

“I recommend we detonate the entire warp core, captain,” Shax replied. 

“Nobody’s authorized to pass out!” she yelled.

On the planet, Mariner pulled Boimler from the spider’s mouth as the beast slept. Boimler cried because his “bones hurt” and he was naked. She got him overalls from the Galardonians to wear.

As they drove back to camp, he admitted that he’d been monitoring her. She lectured him on why he “worshiped” the bridge crew, who only cared about glory. He said that Mariner would not talk him out of reporting her.

When they arrived at the camp, the team beamed back up to see the chaos on the ship. Captain Freeman, Shax (Fred Tatasciore) were mounting a defense against the zombies. Freeman asked Shax for options.

“I recommend we detonate the entire warp core, captain,” Shax replied. 

“What? No!” said Freeman. 

As this happened, T’Ana took a sample of the spider goo (which covered Boimler) and said that she needed to get Boimler to sickbay.

Freeman asked why Boimler was so important. 

“He’s worthless,” said T’Ana. “It’s the slime! He’s covered in slime that could save us all!”

The crew fights to save the slime. Courtesy of CBS
The crew fights to save the slime. Courtesy of CBS

Freeman ordered them to protect the slime. They fought their way to sickbay, where T’Ana found that the slime neutralized the “rage effect.” Freeman asked if T’Ana could synthesize a cure. T’Ana said she would try since the captain did not have much time — the purple veins, the sign of zombie infection, was crawling up Freeman’s neck.

Soon, T’Ana administered a shot to Ransom, who asked:

“Where am I? Did I eat flesh?”

Then T’Ana flooded the corridors with a gaseous version of the cure, and everyone returned to normal. 

As the Freeman and the bridge officers walked away, Rutherford, Mariner, Tendi, and Boimler rested on the floor. 

“Still happy to be here?” Mariner asked Tendi.

The four relax after the craziness. Courtesy of CBS
The four relax after the craziness. Courtesy of CBS

“Are you kidding?” she responded. “I got to hold a heart!”

Later, Freeman gave all credit to Dr. T’Ana for the cure, as Boimler stood in her office and listened. 

“Luckily, my senior staff are always up for a challenge,” she said. Boimler rolled his eyes.

“Sorry about that, Bumford,” said Freeman.

“It’s Boimler, not Bumford,” he said. She ignored the error and asked about Mariner’s performance on the away mission. Boimler noted that she followed protocol, and would tell the captain nothing of their adventure. She dismissed Boimler.

Freeman got a call from an admiral, who asked about the rage virus. Freeman dismissed it, and they began talking about how to manage Mariner. Freeman yelled the admiral, saying that they agreed if Mariner fell out of line, they’d transfer her back to the Quito. He hung up, saying that he had “admiral stuff” to do.

“Don’t hang up on me!” she yelled! “She’s your daughter too!”

In the cafeteria, Tendi and Rutherford talked about his date.

“She was smart and pretty, and highly effective in a ship-wide crisis,” said Rutherford. He said that he wasn’t going to see her again because she had no interest in figuring out the combadge / lock problem. Tendi agreed.

Boimler told Mariner that he did not snitch on her.

“I had you wrong! I had you pegged as a boring worker drone,” said Mariner. “But inside that drone is an ambitious little weasel, and inside that weasel might be a tiny human being!”

She said that she wanted to help him make captain and that she was his new mentor. He tried not to accept.

“I’m gonna be your cha’DItch baby!” said Mariner as she wrestled Boimler. Freeman, Shax, and Ransom watched in the back, and the captain rolled her eyes.

She tossed him around like a rag doll, and asked Boimler if he knew Spock, who came back from the dead! She also mentioned the Genesis device, Khan, and “space whales.” She said that “Sulu rocked the sword,” and the sword could be Boimler’s thing too. 

“Do you know Kirk? My man Worf? Gary Mitchell? Deanna Troi?” she asked Boimler as they walked out of the cafeteria. 

The Cerritos warped away.

TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:

This was really, really fun. I enjoyed the heck out of this show. It had references to The Original Series, Next Gen, the films, and Trek in general. It did things with animation that would have required a movie-style budget for live-action. I thought it was great and can’t wait to see more. 

I was really impressed how McMahan weaved three storylines (four if you count Tendi) into one show. It was like watching an episode of TOS on fast forward. It was an episodic story (like TOS), completed in 26 minutes (TOS was more like 48). Fast and fun!

I also think Tendi will become a fan favorite. 

And adding the TNG font was a nice touch. That font was designed by (guess who) Andrew Probert!

RATING: 4 out of 5

CREDITS

STARRING

Tawny Newsome
Jack Quaid
Noël Wells
Eugene Cordero
Dawnn Lewis
Jerry O’Connell
Fred Tatasciore
Gillian Vigman

GUEST CAST
Jessica McKenna
Phil Lamarr
Ben Rodgers
Paul Sheer

Music and Theme by … Chris Westlake

Original Star Trek theme by … Alexander Courage

Based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry

Created by Mike McMahan

Executive Producers … Alex Kurtzman, Mike McMahan, Heather Kadin, Katie Krentz, Eugene Roddenberry & Trevor Roth

Co-Executive Producer … Aaron Baiers, Chris Kula,

Supervising Producers … Chris Prynoski, Shannon Prynoski, Ban Kalina,

Producers … Dave Thlenfeld & David Wright

Co-Producers … Robyn Johnson, Brad Winters

Edited by … Todd Raleigh

Supervising Director … Juno Lee

Line Producer … Benjamin Kaltenecker

Written by … Mike McMahan

Directed by … Barry J. Kelly

Executive Story Editors … John Cochran, Ben Joseph, Ann Kim
Story Editors … Ben Rodgers, M. Willis
Staff Writer … Garrick Bernard

Casting by …Ruth Lambert, C.S.A., Robert McGee, C.S.A.
Art Directors … Antonio Canobbio, Khang Lee

Animation Produced by … Titmouse, Inc.

Supervising producer for Titmouse Canada … Jennifer Ray
Line Producer … Melissa Berry
Production Manager … Megan Trevino
Writers Assistant … Ben M. Waller
Writers Production Assistant … Kayla Pavia

Production Coordinators … Zoey Boyadjian, Jeffrey New, Serena Ng, Claire O’Malley, Vyvy Tran, Adam Wilson, Klara Woldenga

Storyboard Artists … Ian Higginbotham, Aki Yun Lee, Gabriel Lee
Storyboard Revisionists … Marvin Britt, Will Heff, William Rowe, Erin Won

Character Designers … Zan Czyzewski, Stephanie Liaw, Marisa Livingston, Alexandre Pelletier

Assistant Character Designers … Robby Cook, Erica Feld, Michael Magilo

Color Designers … Angela V. Llerena, Oliva Pecini

Prop Designer … Shay Lurie

Background Designers … Howard Chen, Brandon Cuellar, Joseph Martinez, Sunny Shah, Kirk Shinmoto

Background Painters … Richard Chang, Yudi Chen, Reza Iman, Bina Liu, Crystal Yoori Son, Angela Sung, Amanda Turnage

Background Layout Supervisor … Ivan Louey

Production Paint Supervisor … Heather Arm

BG Layout Artists … Antonio Caggiano, Adrienne Iu, Genevieve Lam, Forrest Molloy, Ruby Poon, Ben Szabo

BG Paint Artists … Kat Brechtel, Breanna Cheek, Vincent Cosenzo, Ivy Chu, Ankh Do, Hayley Kallberg, Shay Klassen, Tai Marie

Animation Director … Alexandre Pelletier

ANIMATORS

Alyssa Alvarado
J. Alan Baker
Anamika Baruah
Jhonny Bezerra Gomes
Tico Bolpas
Joao Henrique Brum
Angela Cheng
Brendan Cheong
Kyuwan Choi
Maureine Good
Leah Clementson
Emily Gossmann
Jesus Colon
Michelle Ikemoto
Danial Danabi
Mack Johnson
Deborah Dixon
Addison Johnston
Andres Espinosa
Marcel Delfino Junges
Gemma Findlay
Cassandra Lau
Sara Franco
Emiliane Leduc

ANIMATORS

Tommy Levi Morenos
Nathan Pangiliai4N
Vic-Ely Lucema
Alexander Phan
Matheus Serpa Machado
Braden Poirier
Raphael Maltais
Carla Ravina
Alison Mcleod
Leah Reddington
James Nguyen
Liz Syrnick
Rebecca Noble
Emily Terry
Bel Oh
Alanna Train
Jazmine Valickis
Sarah Vancuren
Steve Vitale
Daisy Wang
Stephen Wedel
Riley Windrum
Karen Wood
Lisa Tan

FX ANIMATORS

Michael Chan
Alastair Sew Hoy
Naoki Araiza Tokumasu

Post Supervising Director … Barry J. Kelly

CG Generalist … Allan Douglas Parker

CG Modeller … Brad Kotris

Retake Animator … Robby Cook

Retake Background Painter … Pablo Rivera

Composite Lead … Matt Gilligan

COMPOSITORS

Jordan Barnes-Crouse
Laine Butler
Scott Coleman
Robyn Fulbrook
Charles Higson
Steve Kellener
Alex King
Marcela Mac
Nicolas Mermet
Eddie D. Moreno Iii
Mike Newton

Scent Set Up … Mike Gilbert
Builds Supervisor … Travis Wall
Animation Builds Team … Andrea Carroll, Tommy Ho, Jessica Yang

Animatic Editor … Haley Gansert
Assistant Picture Editors … Jason Albrecht, Paul Mazzotta
Dialog Editor … Paul Mazzotta

HR Director … Sharon O’donnell
HR Manager … Peggy Lw
HRR Coordinator … Debbie Lemus
Financial Controllers … Rod Akizuku, Jason Lucas
Production Accountant … Richard Honig
IT Director … Steve Wolstrup
IT Support … Merrel Davis, Michael Douglas, Kashan Khan, Hani Sadjadi, Vanessa Tumlos

Assistant to A. Kurtzman … Monica Shapiro, T’essence Minnitee, Aviel Mann Ballo
Assistant to M. Mcmahan … May Darmon
Assistant to H. Kadin … Megan Talmadge, Tallinn Kiefer, Claire Mathiot
Assistent to K. Krentz … Joe Barrasas
Assistdrt to A. Baiers … Maggie Mcfarren
Assistant to C. Prynoski … Becky Bellavia
Assistdht to B. Kallna … Alma Feller
Assistant to A.Canobbio … Meagan Washington
Consultant … David Mack

Music Editor … Amber Funk
Scoring Mixer … Oren Hadar
Orchestrators … Jim Honeyman, Gary K. Thomas, Carl Johnson
Scoring Assistants … Maria Vertiz, Matthew Bobb
Music Librarian … Rob Skinell

SFX Editors … Jeff Halbert, James Singleton
Foley Editor … Michael Britt
Production Sound Services … LA Studios
Post Production Sound Services … Margarita Mix Hollywood
Re-Recording Mixer … Conrad Pinon
Supervising Sound Editor … James Lucero
Recording Engineers … Chris Cirino, Bobby Garza
ADR Mixer … James A. Moore, Mike Greenberg

The persons and events in the program are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons or events is unintentional

Copyright © MMXX CBS STUDIOS INC. All Rights Reserved This program Is protected under the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Unauthorized duplication, distribution, or exhibition may result In civil liability and criminal prosecution.

STAR TREK® and STAR TREK: Lower Decks™ Is a Trademark of CBS STUDIOS INC