“Hey! What are you two doing back here? You’ve drawn my attention.”
Is there something wrong with me? Is there … something I’m just not getting about Lower Decks? Has humor evolved to such a point that you have to be of a certain age to understand it? Is it that the new crop of “comedy” writers want to make sure we, as viewers, get our money’s worth by cramming as many jokes as possible into 22 minutes? I had the same problem with the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
I always thought comedy needed time to be processed, that timing was what mattered more than anything else. Lower Decks may be the most hilarious show ever made, but I’ll never know because I’m not given enough time to process any of the humor. This is Short Attention Span Theater* to the nth degree.
We’re thrust into “Veritas” (the Latin word for “truth”) mid-episode, or perhaps toward the end where Boimler, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford are all thrown into an inquisition situation, or so it seems, officiated by a Prime alien known as Clar (voice of the great Kurtwood Smith) who questions the four of them at length about a recent incident. With the senior officers suspended in stasis, each of them tells a different Rashomon-like story, but none of those stories actually connect to stated facts.
The questioning then takes a different turn as Clar thinks the officers of a starship are infallible, incapable of making mistakes and are sworn to the truth. What’s interesting is that the four of them don’t refute that mindset, but they also make it clear they will not reveal certain events that might violate protocol and confidentiality. Because of the overall goofiness of the set-up, I started thinking this was either a test or a gag.
Well … it wasn’t a test. The “trial” turns out to be a party. Apparently, this is how the Prime celebrate. The occasion for celebration is the rescue of Clar from Romulan space, or something along those lines. I don’t think it matters. We’re supposed to believe this is how these people have fun. Fine. It doesn’t matter because it’s all about embarrassing Boimler, just like the next episode, and the next, and so on, and so on.
Other than the brief running time, there is one other thing I enjoyed about the episode. Q returns! As voiced by John de Lancie, this is the fun, ridiculous Q of Star Trek: The Next Generation, not the psychotic bitter old man of Picard. It almost gave me hope someone was thinking of Trek when it was something special and not a unsettling commentary on modern-day politics, or a tome of self-referential dialogue that removes us from the action and drama. It’s good to have hope.
*Short Attention Span Theater was a landmark series on the Comedy Channel/Comedy Central hosted by (among others), Jon Stewart, Marc Maron, Laura Kightlinger, Sue Murphy, and Brian and Dennis Regan that took stand-up comedy bits and ran them like MTV would run music videos. This was back in the days when comedians were permitted to be funny, and comedy was REALLY FUNNY.
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