‘Lower Decks’ returns with a mediocre season premiere

“Strange Energies” opens with Mariner being interrogated in a Cardassian prison (“Chain of Command” style), which she breaks out of in a lively action sequence where she, as one individual, takes on an entire security force in a daring and fantastical escape. It’s a holodeck “workout routine” fantasy, but a fun and inventive one that serves as a good curtain raiser for the new season.

Unfortunately, I can’t really get behind most of the rest of the episode, which borrows from TOS and TNG highlight reels and amps them up with Animation Zaniness. The strategy seems to be: start with a smallish character story, then filter that through escalating, over-the-top cartoon action. This has the paradoxical but predictable effect of things becoming more boring as they get more outlandish. By the end, I was zoning out.

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Doubling back for ‘Lower Decks’

A year ago, I announced I would not be reviewing Star Trek: Lower Decks. I had my reasons for that decision (like the endless commodification of the franchise into still more “product,” which I still believe is true), but the biggest reason was that I just didn’t have the will to take it on at the time.

I’m now announcing that I am reviewing Lower Decks, and I’m releasing all my reviews for season one instantly, Netflix style. You can go read them now. These are in my more condensed format — in the neighborhood of 500 words rather than 1,200 or 1,500 or more — that I’m thinking may be more of the norm for me for some shows moving forward.

I will say that I struggled with this series, especially early on. A lot of the problems I noticed in the original trailer a year ago were indeed problems that I experienced watching the show. To call this series “uneven” would be an understatement. The success rate was about 40 percent, and the lows were lower than the highs were high. That said, I found enough of value in this series to continue on with it. It’s a journey I took alone, as my wife declared the show unwatchably annoying within five minutes and tapped out. I understand her position, but I soldiered on, and while I did not love this, I found things in it to like, which you will see if you read the reviews.

Besides, I’m a completist running a website here, and with season two coming in August and nothing else happening in the Trek universe at the moment, I want to be up to date with what’s going on.

On the maintenance/administrative front, I have moved all the comments that those of you made over the past year on the general Lower Decks placeholder commenting page to the new Lower Decks review pages. Because I’m thoughtful like that. For the most part, they should align with the reviews they were meant to be posted on, but there may be some mistakes I made in moving them around. It’s the best I could do without sinking a ton of time into it.

Anyway, enjoy!

Read the reviews here…

Reviews: ‘Mandalorian’ Chapters 5 through 8

As promised — at this point, too long ago — here are reviews for the rest of The Mandalorian‘s first season.

I’ve unfortunately found very little time to write due to a slew of home improvement projects that have kept me extremely busy for the past three months. So hopefully these reviews, although they may not seem like a lot to account for the past two months without any update here, will be something to tide you over until I can get back to something on a more consistent basis. Fortunately, it looks like there’s still some time before any shows that I cover here return.

For now, you can revisit Mando getting perpetually double-crossed, whether it’s on Tatooine, on a prison ship, or back on Nevarro. This guy just can’t trust anyone, can he? I wonder why he still bothers.

I swear I did not plan to post these reviews on May the Fourth day; it just happened to work out that way. Happy coincidences.

Read the reviews here…

Reviews: ‘Mandalorian’ Chapters 1 through 4

In my effort to get caught up on The Mandalorian before new content buries me (whatever it is and whenever it arrives; many TV show schedules are still very uncertain with all the COVID-19 shooting delays), I’ve posted reviews for the first four episodes of the first season. These follow the shorter format established in my reviews of much of the second season. The last four reviews of season 1 will be posted at a later date.

Overall, I’m more bullish on season 2 of The Mandalorian (with its forward movement of storylines and tie-ins with the larger Star Wars universe and its bringing together of characters) than on season 1, which was good and entertaining, but with a much looser (and sometimes repetitive) overall narrative structure.

Anyway, here they are. More to come.

Read the reviews here…

‘Discovery’ season finale: That hope has bid adieu

Discovery‘s third-season finale is an episode that alternates excessive, choppy, overwrought, and interminable action sequences with a Trekkian plot that would be perfectly fine if not for all the arbitrary technobabble and junk-science extras that are bolted onto it to explain other things. This is a mess for 50 minutes, and then exceedingly tidy for 10.

This is also an episode that cements (although it was pretty clear by the time "Su’Kal" got here) that this season is barely about anything it seemed to be when it started. The season started as "Rebuild the Fallen Federation!" (The cover art had Burnham holding a tattered Federation flag on a barren planet.) But then a few episodes later, in "Die Trying" (the season’s best episode) it became "Rediscover the Current Diminished Federation!" Now, at the end of the season, it’s "Kill Osyraa!" The season gradually went from potentially grand to painfully reductive and unambitious.

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