Star Trek’s new foray into animation has been a total delight.
First off – though it may not seem like the most retro of topics, you really need to be watching Star Trek: Lower Decks on CBS All Access. Now, one could argue that this, Star Trek’s second animated series, couldn’t be more different from the 1970s Filmation series if it tried, and there may well be some truth to that. But the new show, with its lovable (and very flawed) characters and its very modern comedy, may be just the Star Trek we needed in 2020. I really didn’t expect, in a year that brought Jean-Luc Picard back to our screens, that my favorite Star Trek show would be “the cartoon”, and yet here we are.
The most recent episode gave us a whole new gift, though. The episode Terminal Provocations shows us that one of our heroes, Ensign Rutherford, has written his own holodeck training program to help him and his crewmates keep their skills sharp. And at the center of that program is a floating, friendly-faced Starfleet badge named Badgey – the 24th century’s answer to Clippy, the omnipresent Microsoft paper-clip-with-eyes, the first “virtual assistant” many of us ever had to deal with. Badgey’s still a work in progress, though, and Rutherford has to give it a few kicks – both literal and metaphorical – to make sure it works. But this just means that Badgey gradually grows more unhinged, attacking its “father” and his crewmate.
I won’t spoil the rest of that story for you, except to say…it’s a good thing that Badgey is confined to the holodeck. (He…is…confined to the holodeck…isn’t he?) It’d be a mess if Badgey could somehow venture out into the rest of the U.S.S. Cerritos.
It’d be even more of a mess if Badgey could migrate to other animated shows. Consider the terrifying possibilities.
Very much like his inspiration, Badgey could be ubiquitous, and simultaneously somehow unhelpful. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of him.