Welp, the second episode, and my kid and I are still fine with it. We were talking about online reaction to it and he was stunned to find that a significant portion of fans I’d been reading said it was flat-out not funny. I went off for a while about how some folks don’t have a sense of humor about somebody satirizing their sacred cows. After a short digression about what a sacred cow is, he reminded me about John Mulaney’s “Kid Gorgeous” Netflix set, where he told the story about writing for Mick Jagger.
It’s well-worth seeking out on Netflix, or clips on YouTube, but Mulaney did an impressive impersonation of how it was writing a novelty song for an SNL skit, and having Mick reject bits by yelling NO! and NOT FUNNY! at him. It’s so funny, when we’re mildly inappropriate at each other in the house, we yell NOT FUNNY! at each other, and so it was that I don’t even hear that criticism from fans about this show. NOT FUNNY? Yeah, well, you may be a genius in your area of expertise, Mick, but just let the professional comedians be professionally funny. Just because it isn’t your cup doesn’t mean it’s not hysterical.
Yes, most of the humor comes from the standard “workplace comedy” vein, but just when you think the jokes are going to be mined from the predictable boss/worker conflict, the senior officers provide tension relief by being… nice and understanding. It’s a bit of a feint even within the Star Trek universe, but it’s a welcome surprise. Rutherford attempts to change his career track just to make Tendi feel welcome on the ship, and when he aces Bajoran Stephen Lang’s security test, he instead longs for the calm Jeffries Tube life of an engineer. He’s insecure in his place, Boimler is over-confident (booksmart but not streetsmart), Mariner is a secret softie. At least Rutherford got to wear command red and science blue before changing back to his engineering gold. That has to be some kind of a record on a Starfleet ship for career changes in a single episode.
So much fun in this episode: Mariner gets a Ferengi pal of hers to stereotype it up (He even did the finger thing!) even though he’s so erudite and cultured, he wears a monocle. Klingon names all sound the same, and have unnecessary apostrophes. There’s a Cardassian at Ops in Commander Ransom’s holodeck scenarios. My thirteen year old saying to me, “Horga’hn? More like WHORE COME OVER HERE, AM I RIGHT?” This entire show seeming like a Brooklyn 9-9 episode in Star Trek drag.
And come on. I can’t be the only one who thought rectal worms and a shitfaced Klingon was hilarious… in a show about a bunch of nerds flying through space and loving what they do, whether they’re top shelf officers or sleeping in the hallways of… the lower decks.