If you’re like most people, you only subscribed to CBS All Access to watch Star Trek: Discovery, but if you’re wavering over whether or not it’ll be worth taking another financial hit to see Star Trek: Lower Decks, the first episode has been made available for free. Although viewable above, it’s unfortunately geo-locked to only be available in the US, but adjusting the server location of a VPN should function as a workaround. After all, something this fun deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
The animated series takes place aboard the USS Cerritos, one of Starfleet’s minor vessels, and is set in 2380, a point in the Star Trek timeline after the conclusion of each of the series (except Picard), probably to give itself freedom by not operating concurrently with major events and thus not requiring their acknowledgement. Unlike other shows in the franchise, it chooses to not focus on the bridge crew and command staff, but instead the anonymous grunts who perform the bulk of the work that actually keeps a starship operational, but due to their lower rank are confined to the bowels of the ship – hence the show’s title.
Representing such people are a quartet of ensigns: a competent but irresponsible former officer repeatedly demoted for various infractions, an ambitious would-be captain, an excitable new transfer and a socially awkward engineer. The perspective of the lesser crew of one of the Federation’s least important vessels is used to good-naturedly poke fun at everything about Star Trek that left itself open for parody over the years and fans have already observed. The bridge crew act as supporting characters, and in keeping with the tone of the show, have exaggerated traits that may sound familiar, such as a posturing manly man, a crotchety doctor and a violent security officer quick to anger.
Although Star Trek: Lower Decks is obviously made with fans of Star Trek in mind, in all honesty, it can be enjoyed by anyone, since its exaggerated portrayal of life aboard a Starfleet starship is how many people aware of but unfamiliar with the property may perceive it, while those who know and love the saga should take it in the light-hearted spirit in which it’s intended.