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Jammer’s plans for ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’

Star Trek: Lower Decks, the latest entry into the ever-expanding CBS All Access Star Trek Extended Universe™ (the trailer is embedded above, if you somehow haven’t already seen it), premieres on Aug. 6. I will not be reviewing it. I will not be watching it, either, because I don’t intend to re-up my CBS All Access subscription at this time (which I canceled immediately after Picard‘s first season concluded) just to consume yet another Star Trek product, in this case one I have no interest in.

(As a result of COVID-19, Star Trek: Discovery season three still has no premiere date, so far as I can tell. I can only assume the delays will continue indefinitely, just as the delays in many aspects of many of our lives will appear to continue indefinitely. One wonders if Lower Decks was pushed up as a result of those delays.)

I’ve hinted at this since well before Discovery premiered in 2017, but the fact that a new season of Trek premieres does not automatically mean I will be reviewing and/or watching it. Life is finite, time is limited, etc., and some things I just don’t care about. I just don’t have the interest to commit to an animated comedic take on Star Trek, which I’m sure will largely boil down to a lot of the usual animated comedy standbys, layered over with Trek references.

The seventh-season TNG episode, “Lower Decks,” was a novel concept documenting the travails of the lowly crew members who don’t work on the bridge and don’t have sexy ranks or jobs. It was one of the best episodes of the season and packed a good punch as drama. As a pitch for an irreverent comedy show, I guess I could maybe see the appeal of the concept. But I’ve had my fill of Trek lately, and all the tepid-looking jokes in the trailer didn’t convince me this would be something worth paying a subscription fee among my ever-expanding list of streaming and telecom services. The show was created by Mike McMahan, who was a writer and producer on Rick and Morty, a show I am aware of but have never seen. So there’s no connection drawing me in from that angle.

I dunno. We’ve quickly reached a point in the Alex Kurtzman era of Star Trek where the law of diminishing returns has become evident. The strategy is to throw as many different Trek productions at the wall as possible, spaced out over the course of the year, such that viewers (the ones in the U.S., that is) will hopefully keep their CBS All Access subscriptions year-round.

Viewed as a product, I guess there’s a certain business strategy there that makes sense, especially if you’re creating different shows appealing to different tastes and sensibilities and audience segments. But there’s also that pesky problem of over-saturating the market, a problem that Star Wars found out about pretty quickly after being too ambitious, resulting in multiple announcements for projects that have since been canceled.

The current state of Star Trek is quickly resembling an economic bubble that strikes me as implausible, though I confess I have no understanding of the streaming business. Not only do we have Discovery, Picard, and now Lower Decks, we also have in development Section 31 and Strange New Worlds. It’s possible there could be as many different Trek series on the air as there are years since this new era of streaming Trek began. It’s all becoming too much of a muchness. The feeling of specialness is lost and instead it feels like soulless … well, product.

That’s not to say that Lower Decks will necessarily be bad. With all these shows, there are individual showrunners and writer/producers who hopefully bring their unique perspectives and stamps to these projects. But the overall arc of the Trek universe is appearing more and more mercenary and expansive, and less relevant and thoughtful. I guess that’s what happens when growth is the goal in and of itself.

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