The animated series is as funny and adventurous as ever

While much of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” Season 3 is more or less the same but better, two episodes, in particular, see the show stretch in opposite, but equally enjoyable directions.

Yes, as teased in the trailer, this season returns to the titular location of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” a nostalgic bombshell for any “Trek” fan who desperately misses that seedy place and its deeply wounded characters. However, the episode itself ironically eschews all talk about guest stars (and yes, two “Deep Space Nine” cast members return to voice their characters), and lets the station serve as the backdrop for a core-centric story “Lower The cast of Decks. The nostalgia, easter eggs, in-jokes, and hilarious references are all there (the Cerritos crew love Deep Space Nine as much as a “Trek” fan), but that never becomes the point of the episode.”Lower Decks” is smart enough to know that we want to return to these amazing places and their amazing characters, but wise enough to incorporate them into the existing show.It’s emblematic of which the whole show does so well.

But there’s another episode that breaks the format in a major way, sidelining nearly every member of the main cast to focus on a minor supporting character and their increasingly bizarre adventure on an alien planet. It’s a big swing, evoking ‘Avatar’ and ‘Wall-E’ as much as ‘Star Trek’, often skipping comedy for large parts of the story to focus on painting a touching portrait. of an alien world and those who inhabit it (don’t worry, there’s also a recurring gag on interspecies mating). It’s bold. It’s strange. It’s funny. But it’s also serious. He just wants to tell a sci-fi story, damn it. He wants to be “Star Trek”.

There’s a confidence here, a demonstration of the show’s writers and animators realizing they can’t help it. Yes, they are here to put on a comedy show. But they also do “Star Trek”. Who can blame them for pressing pause on the gags to indulge in the universe they so clearly love?

Season 3 of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” premieres August 25 on Paramount+. New episodes arrive every week. This review is based on the first eight episodes.

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