Star Trek: Lower Decks got a lot of flak ahead of its release. Fans weren’t all that keen on the concept of an animated adult-oriented comedy series set in the actual Trek universe, feeling that it would make a mockery out of the franchise. It seems showrunner Mike McMahan – who previously worked on Rick & Morty, so he knows a thing or two about devoted fanbases – expected such a backlash, though, and he wasn’t surprised when it happened.
While speaking to Variety about his thoughts on fan complaints against Lower Decks, McMahan explained that viewers have had issues with practically every new show in the franchise ever since The Original Series, so he wasn’t bothered by any of the harsh words flung at his project before its release.
“I mean, fans are taking issue with every season of Star Trek that has come out since the original series, and they didn’t watch TOS until it was in syndication. If fans hadn’t taken issue with everything, I would have been blown away.”
To be fair to Lower Decks, it’s been able to win over a lot of people across its first season as it turned out to be a hugely loving homage to Trek history, as well as a good-natured spoof of the conventions and tropes of the franchise. McMahan and the rest of his team’s passion for Trek is clear in every episode, too, and that’s helped in getting a large chunk of the fandom on board.
The EP went on to explain to Variety how he put a lot of work into nailing the tone of Lower Decks, as he felt the pressure of making a Trek parody that has to line up with the wider universe of the franchise.
“The thing that was scary to me was that you have stuff that works like Galaxy Quest and The Orville — they’re just not Star Trek, which is fine. They’re almost Star Trek. My challenge — this was my chance to get to make a Star Trek that I was proud of. And I really honestly felt like, listen, I’m going to do the best show that I can possibly do on a day-to-day basis, that really fulfills the joy and the sanctity that Star Trek has to me.”
One major way McMahan did this was to feature a ton of easter eggs and deep cut references to Trek in every episode. There were a few fan pleasing cameos, too – like John de Lancie turning up as Q and Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis showing up as Riker and Deanna Troi in the season finale. More Next Generation stars are set to lend their voices in season 2 as well, which is already in production.
With Star Trek: Lower Decks concluding last week, Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premieres this Thursday on CBS All Access.