On May 15, 2005, the final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise ended and the franchise was put in stasis for four years. With the release of the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek in 2009, a new timeline was born and audiences went on adventures with the rebooted crew of the NCC-1701 for three installments, including 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness and 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. Since then, the future of the blockbuster film franchise has been in doubt, but streaming service CBS All Access brought Trek back to television in 2017 with Star Trek: Discovery, and the return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard earlier this year in Star Trek: Picard. The current boom in televised trek doesn’t end there either. There are plenty of future shows in various stages of development including an animated comedy from creator Mike McMahan (Rick & Morty, Solar Opposites) titled Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Ever since the franchise jumped back in time a hundred years to tell the story of the first ship called Enterprise, the Trek canon has been a tricky one to pin down. This task became all the more complicated with the introduction of the Kelvin Timeline (as seen in Star Trek 2009). Discovery is set before The Original Series and Picard is set 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, the final of the films to feature the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, one can’t help but wonder where in the canon does Star Trek: Lower Decks actually fit?
In an interview with inverse.com, creator Mike McMahan confirmed that the series takes place during the Next Generation era. The TNG era includes the spinoff series Deep Space Nine and Voyager, as well as the Next Generation films (Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis) and Star Trek: Picard. He also compared the series to a Twitter account he used to frequent called TNG Season 8, where he would suggest ideas for an imaginary eighth season of the show. Therefore, it is natural to assume the show does not take place during Star Trek: The Next Generation, but after the series ended.
According to the limited information that has been released about the series so far, Star Trek: Lower Decks details the adventures of a support crew on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, a California class ship called the U.S.S. Cerritos, in the year 2380, placing it after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, but before the events of Star Trek: Picard. This gives them a substantial 19-year gap in which to tell stories.
Star Trek: Lower Decks has a cast of characters that sound as though they fit right into the universe, while also providing hilarious tension. It will star the voice talents of Tawny Newsome as Beckett Mariner, an excellent ensign who doesn’t follow the rules, Jack Quaid as Brad Boimler, a by-the-book ensign who has trouble improvising, Noel Wells as Tandi, a new recruit to the Cerritos who is thrilled to be working in Starfleet, Eugene Cordero as Rutherford, a brilliant engineer with a new cyborg implant, Dawn Lewis as Carol Freeman, the captain, Jerry O’Connell as Jack Ransom, a William Riker type Commander, Fred Tatasciore as Shaxs, a Bajoran lieutenant and Gillian Vigman as T’ana, a Caitian doctor.
Including such a blend of irreverence and respect to the tropes of Trek is an excellent example of how the series fits into the timeline because it highlights McMahan’s approach to the creation of the show in general. In the same interview, he explained that it was his goal to craft a show that would be pleasing to both die-hard Trekkers and complete Trek novices. He described it as a love letter to fans while also being just a funny show for anyone unfamiliar.
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Creator Mike McMahan opens up Star Trek: Lower Decks and as to where it falls within the franchise canon.