“Subspace Rhapsody” also doesn’t bother to make its silly pseudo-science feel convincing. They feed music into a space wedgie, and they become singers? There’s a lot of talk as to how the crew might free the Enterprise from the ribbon’s effect, but there’s little exploration as to how this nonsense works. Ordinarily, “Star Trek” is very good at painting multisyllabic technobabble over their fantastical stories. Here, they barely explain anything. In this regard, “Subspace Rhapsody” is less a “Star Trek” episode, and much more closely resembles an episode of “Red Dwarf,” the 1988 sci-fi sitcom that played like a Douglas Adams-inflected riff on “Star Trek.” That series wouldn’t bat an eye at being goofy and featured musical numbers throughout. Fast-forward to 2023, and “Star Trek” has finally caught up with “Red Dwarf.”
The most damning complaint I might have about “Subspace Rhapsody,” however, is directed at the music itself. Uhura feeds Cole Porter into the space wedgie, but the crew does not emerge singing the Great American Songbook. Instead, they sing kind of mealy, unmemorable pop ballads about aching hearts and other bland emotional states. Kirk and Chin-Riley do get a somewhat whimsical number about doing their jobs well, but none of the numbers have the earworm qualities of “Anything Goes.”
The cast avails themselves well enough, and some of them actually have excellent singing voices. Indeed, Gooding has won a Grammy for her performance in Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill.” Others, however, strain a little through their numbers. Luckily, they emerge largely unscathed. I just wish “Subspace Rhapsody” warranted the purchase of a soundtrack record.
“Subspace Rhapsody” is perhaps the least episode of “Strange New Worlds” to date. But given how strong that series has been, this is no major damnation.