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Especially in a time of embarrassingly hokey visuals of superheroes standing aside for front-line COVID-19 first responders, it’s actually a great idea, borrowed by creator Mike McMahan from an old TNG episode of the same name and premise.
But in its first few episodes, it’s paid off in spades — for example when ensign Boimler saves the ship, indirectly, by being covered in spider slime which proves to be of great medicinal value during a full-on space-zombie crisis the high-ranking crew has to deal with.
And the cast, so far, clicks. Boimler, sort of a Rick & Morty Jerry character, is easily outshone by his friend Beckett Mariner, a fun-loving, demoted troublemaker who we first meet drunk on Romulan whiskey swinging a Klingon Bat’leth straight into his leg yelling, “I love honour! I demand honour!” Another keener, green Orion D’Vana Tendi, joins the crew, and we soon meet a glitchy cyborg workaholic named Sam Rutherford to round up our main heroes.
These feel like real people — ironically less cartoonish than the ultimate source material, especially considering they’re cracking wise at a steady pace.
A Klingon general, for example, brags to Mariner, “I must update you on my sexual conquests!” Not missing a beat, she retorts, “What, both of them?”
In a hilarious teaser at the top of the second episode, Mariner outright tackles a glowing transdimensional space sphere threatening to destroy them and extorts it to poop out a tricorder she’s had her eye on, batteries included. It’s a great marriage between familiar tropes and modern sass, down to Boimler barking, “Yeah, I think I’ve heard of Spock,” when Mariner asks if he knew the famous Vulcan came back from the dead.