Pros: Heroes and actors of Star Trek: Discovery; numerous references to Star Trek: The Original Series; the plots of the short films expand and clarify some points in the main series; different styles and genres of different episodes; Easter eggs hidden in many episodes Cons: Not all episodes are equally interesting; sometimes fan service trumps logic Star Trek: Short Treks / “Star Trek: Short Films”
Creators Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Starring Doug Jones (Saru), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Anson Mount (Christopher Pike), Ethan Peck (Spock), Rainn Wilson (Harry Mudd), etc.
CBS All Access
Year of manufacture 2018–
But first, let’s remember what the three big Star Trek series of 2020 are about. Firstly, this is, of course, the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, which will presumably appear in late spring. Michael Burnham has led her ship and her friends into a dangerous future, and now she may have to find her way back. The second series is Star Trek: Picard, which began airing January 23 on CBS All Access. This is a continuation of the story of retired Captain Jean-Luc Picard, tormented by the events of the past, but who has not lost his enthusiasm, the legendary commander of the USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E of the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation and feature films based on this series. Currently, 4 out of 10 planned episodes have already been released. And finally, the new animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks, which will be released on CBS All Access, most likely in the fall of 2020. This is the first animated Star Trek series since Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74) . He will talk about ordinary members of the team, those same lower decks crew members, one of the most important starships of the Federation (Enterprise?).
How does Star Trek: Short Treks relate to all these shows? Technically, the shorts are part of Star Trek: Discovery. Most of the episodes of the short first season, which aired from October 2018 to January 2019, are dedicated to the characters we saw in Discovery, in fact, they are a bridge between the first and second seasons of the main series. So, in the first episode of the first season, Runaway, we find out how Ensign Sylvia Tilly met one of the key characters of the second season of Discovery, the princess and later queen Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po. In the third episode, The Brightest Star, we will see how Commander Saru ended up in Starfleet. In the fourth, The Escape Artist, we will once again meet with the iconic Star Trek character, the scammer Harry Mudd. Only the third episode of the first season, at first glance, has nothing to do with Star Trek other than the location (this is the same USS Discovery) – it is an independent story in the spirit of Love, Death & Robots or the early stories of Robert Sheckley.
With the second season of Star Trek: Short Treks, which ended on January 9, 2020, on the eve of the premiere of Star Trek: Picard, things are a little more complicated. For example, the first episode, Q&A, is 15 minutes of pure fan service and a possible prologue for the series about Captain Pike, which seems to be actively discussed, because… He’s a hugely important character to Star Trek, and he was a big hit with audiences in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. The second episode, The Trouble with Edward, will tell you where the iconic creatures for this universe came from, the cutest and deadly tribbles that multiply like wildfire. The third episode, Ask Not, is another sketch of the Captain Pike series. The fourth and fifth episodes, Ephraim and Dot and The Girl Who Made the Stars, are generally animated and show us what the upcoming Star Trek: Lower Decks will look like. Plus, the Ephraim and Dot series is a kind of tour of the sights of Star Trek: The Original Series in the company of that same tardigrade from Discovery. Well, the last, sixth episode of the second season of Short Treks is, in fact, a prologue to Star Trek: Picard, allowing us to understand the events that will force the old captain to return to space.
As mentioned above, formally Star Trek: Short Treks refers to Star Trek: Discovery; on Netflix, the first season of Short Treks is located in the “Trailers and More” section of the Discovery series. Episodes of the second season will probably appear there soon. But in fact, the series would look good on its own, as an anthology of fantasy short films like Love, Death & Robots. Yes, the connection to the characters, events and locations of Star Trek is quite strong here, but many episodes would look quite organic without such a connection.
However, who am I kidding, Star Trek: Short Treks is intended primarily for old fans of the Star Trek universe. Those who can appreciate the appearance of the First in the Q&A series. After all, this character only appeared in The Cage, the pilot episode of The Original Series, which later became part of the double episode The Menagerie, a story within a story. The first, just like that, without a name, was played in that episode by Medjel Barrett, the wife of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. In the main series, she no longer played the first mate, but the sister of Christine Chapel, one of the main members of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 crew. A female first mate was too cool for 1966, TV bosses decided. Star Trek: Short Treks is created for those who can see how accurately, but using new materials and design solutions, the teleportation room, turbolifts, corridors and bridge of the NCC-1701 have been recreated. Those who remember all the episodes of The Original Series that flashed during the Tardigrade’s rapid flight through space. Who will appreciate the appearance of tribbles and Harry Mudd. Etc. Short Treks is the ultimate gift for Star Trek fans.
However, even if you cannot call yourself a trekker and only started getting acquainted with the universe with Star Trek: Discovery, still watch Short Treks. Firstly, they are short and will not take much time, and secondly, they are important for understanding the events of three series at once. Plus, they are the ones who close the Star Trek universe into a single whole, building a bridge from the most recent series, Star Trek: Picard, to the very first, The Original Series, filmed… 54 (!) years ago. And this is really very cool.
We really hope that Alex Kurtzman, who is now responsible for the development of Star Trek, will not abandon this good undertaking, and in 2020 we will see a new, third season of Star Trek: Short Treks.
Star Trek: Short Treks is the Love, Death & Robots of the Star Trek world