Star Trek: Short Treks

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Star Trek: Short Treks
StarTrekShortTreks.png
Genre
Created by
Based onStar Trek
by Gene Roddenberry
Theme music composerJeff Russo
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes10 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Production location(s)Toronto, Canada
Running time8–18 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Release
Original networkCBS All Access
Original releaseOctober 4, 2018 (2018-10-04) –
present (present)
Chronology
Related shows

Star Trek: Short Treks is an American anthology web television series created for CBS All Access by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman. It originated as a spin-off companion series from Star Trek: Discovery, and consists of several shorts that use settings and characters from that series and the wider Star Trek universe. The shorts are around 10 to 20 minutes long.

After signing a deal to expand the Star Trek franchise on television, Kurtzman announced Short Treks as the first such project in July 2018. The first four episodes aired from October 2018 to January 2019, between the first and second seasons of Discovery. The shorts were mostly produced by cast and crew members from Discovery, including composer Jeff Russo who provided an updated main title theme and original underscore for the series. Filming took place in Toronto, Canada, on the set of Discovery.

In January 2019, two new animated shorts were revealed, with four additional live action episodes announced in June 2019. The second season of shorts aired from October 2019 to January 2020, between the second season of Discovery and the first season of Star Trek: Picard, with the last short serving as a teaser for the latter series. The animated shorts were created by visual effects house Pixomondo, while a roster of new composers supervised by Michael Giacchino provided the music for the second set of shorts.

The series has received positive reviews, and has been nominated for several awards including a Primetime Emmy Award.

Premise[edit]

Each episode of Star Trek: Short Treks tells a stand-alone story that serves as an "opportunity for deeper storytelling and exploration of key characters and themes that fit into Star Trek: Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe."[1]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast released
14October 4, 2018 (2018-10-04)January 3, 2019 (2019-01-03)
26October 5, 2019 (2019-10-05)January 9, 2020 (2020-01-09)

Season 1 (2018–19)[edit]

The first set of Short Treks were released between the first and second seasons of Star Trek: Discovery.[1]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Runaway"Maja VrviloJenny Lumet and Alex KurtzmanOctober 4, 2018 (2018-10-04)
Following a discussion with her mother, Sylvia Tilly encounters a young Xahean stowaway named Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po. Tilly, who is accustomed to taking orders from others, decides to make decisions by herself, to help Po return home in time for her coronation.
Cast : Mary Wiseman as Silvia Tilly, Yadira Guevara-Prip as Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po, and Mimi Kuzyk as Siobhan Tilly
22"Calypso"Olatunde OsunsanmiStory by : Sean Cochran and Michael Chabon
Teleplay by : Michael Chabon
November 8, 2018 (2018-11-08)
The USS Discovery has held position in space for a thousand years, and its computer system "Zora" has become sentient. She retrieves a passing escape pod carrying a man named Craft. Zora keeps Craft aboard the ship and begins to fall in love with him, but eventually lets him take Discovery's last shuttle to return to his family on Alcor IV.
Cast : Aldis Hodge as Craft and Annabelle Wallis as the voice of Zora (with Sash Striga as the hologram of Zora)
33"The Brightest Star"Douglas AarniokoskiBo Yeon Kim & Erika LippoldtDecember 6, 2018 (2018-12-06)
On the planet Kaminar, Saru wants to learn about life outside the pre-warp society of his village, where his people are harvested as food by the predatory Ba'ul. Saru is able to send a distress signal into space that is answered by Lieutenant Philippa Georgiou, who takes Saru to join Starfleet.
Cast : Doug Jones as Saru, Hannah Spear as Siranna, Robert Verlaque as Aradar, and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou
44"The Escape Artist"Rainn WilsonMichael McMahanJanuary 3, 2019 (2019-01-03)
Harry Mudd is captured by a bounty hunter and taken to a Federation ship, but there the hunter finds multiple other versions of Mudd already detained. Elsewhere, the real Mudd continues to create android copies of himself so he can continue to evade the authorities.
Cast : Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd

Season 2 (2019–20)[edit]

The second set of Short Treks were released between the second season of Star Trek: Discovery and the first season of Star Trek: Picard.[2]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
51"Q&A"Mark PellingtonMichael ChabonOctober 5, 2019 (2019-10-05)
On his first day aboard the USS Enterprise, Ensign Spock and his new superior officer Number One get trapped in a turbolift. While waiting for the turbolift to be repaired, Spock asks Number One numerous questions, and the pair bond over their similarities.
Cast : Rebecca Romijn as Number One, Ethan Peck as Spock, and Anson Mount as Christopher Pike
62"The Trouble with Edward"Daniel Gray LonginoGraham WagnerOctober 10, 2019 (2019-10-10)
On the USS Cabot, science officer Edward Larkin tries to solve a planet's food shortage by genetically modifying tribbles against his Captain's orders, creating a species that is born pregnant and reproduces at a dangerous rate. The Cabot is overrun, and Larkin dies when he chooses to remain behind while the rest of the crew escapes.
Cast : Anson Mount as Christopher Pike, Rosa Salazar as Lynne Lucero, and H. Jon Benjamin as Edward Larkin
73"Ask Not"Sanji SenakaKalinda VazquezNovember 14, 2019 (2019-11-14)
When Starbase 28 is attacked, Cadet Thira Sidhu is given care of a mutinous prisoner: Captain Christopher Pike of the Enterprise. Pike attempts to pressure Sidhu into releasing him, but she refuses. Pike reveals that this is a simulated test, and by passing it Sidhu is accepted as a part of the Enterprise crew.
Cast : Anson Mount as Christopher Pike, Ethan Peck as Spock, Rebecca Romijn as Number One, and Amrit Kaur as Thira Sidhu
84"Ephraim and Dot"Michael GiacchinoChris Silvestri & Anthony MaranvilleDecember 12, 2019 (2019-12-12)
A tardigrade looking for a place to lay her eggs crosses paths with the USS Enterprise and is attacked by a repair drone named Dot. When the Enterprise self-destructs, Dot helps save Ephraim's eggs. When the eggs hatch, the pair travel with the baby tardigrades together.
Cast : Narrated by Kirk Thatcher, with archival recordings of William Shatner as James T. Kirk, Ricardo Montalbán as Khan Noonien Singh, and George Takei as Hikaru Sulu
95"The Girl Who Made the Stars"Olatunde OsunsanmiBrandon SchultzDecember 12, 2019 (2019-12-12)
Young Michael Burnham's father eases her fear of the dark by telling her a story about a young African girl. In the story, the girl's people fear the dark because of a predatory Night Beast, but she braves the night and discovers an alien that gifts her new light. The girl uses this to create the stars, and grows up to be a warrior queen.
Cast : Kenric Green as Mike Burnham and Kyrie Mcalpin as Michael Burnham
106"Children of Mars"Mark PellingtonKirsten Beyer & Jenny Lumet & Alex KurtzmanJanuary 9, 2020 (2020-01-09)
Two schoolgirls on Earth develop a fierce rivalry, but are drawn together by a tragedy when they see news of Mars and its orbital facilities (where both girls have family working) attacked by rogue synthetics. During the news footage an image of Admiral Jean-Luc Picard appears, with the network reporting that Picard called the attack "devastating."
Cast : Ilamaria Ebrahim as Kima and Sadie Munroe as Lil

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In June 2018, after becoming sole showrunner of the series Star Trek: Discovery, Alex Kurtzman signed a five-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios to expand the Star Trek franchise beyond Discovery to several new series, miniseries, and animated series.[3] A month later, he announced at San Diego Comic-Con that a spin-off miniseries titled Star Trek: Short Treks, consisting of four shorts, would be released monthly between the first two seasons of Discovery. He said they would "deliver closed-ended stories while revealing clues about what's to come in future Star Trek: Discovery episodes. They'll also introduce audiences to new characters who may inhabit the larger world of Star Trek." The shorts were expected to be around 10 to 15 minutes long.[1][4] Kurtzman later said Short Treks had been devised as a way to buy time so they could get the second season of Discovery right. The shorts were designed to tie-in with the second season of Discovery, but appear standalone at first so those connections would be a surprise for fans.[5]

CBS CCO David Nevins indicated in December 2018 that there would be more shorts released between the end of Discovery's second season and the release of the new series Star Trek: Picard.[2] A month later, CBS All Access was confirmed to have ordered two new installments of Short Treks to be released in that time period, with both set to be animated. Kurtzman described the shorts as expanding "the definition of Star Trek" and allowing them to tell "very intimate, emotional stories that are side stories to characters. So you get the benefit of the experience in and of itself but then when you watch Discovery you'll see that these were all setting up things" in the main series.[6] Kurtzman suggested in February that future shorts could tie directly into other new Star Trek series, and be used to introduce ideas to audiences and set up mysteries.[7] At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Kurtzman announced that the second season of Short Treks would consist of four new live-action shorts in addition to the two animated shorts previously announced.[5] After the end of the second season in January 2020, Kurtzman said the series was an interesting way to test both new stories and new filmmakers, with writers, directors, and composers on the shorts going on to work on other Star Trek series. He also said this short-form story telling was "satisfying", and compared the shorts to those created by Pixar.[8]

Also in January 2020, Kurtzman and writer Kirsten Beyer revealed that one of the first ideas discussed for Short Treks was a story featuring Nichelle Nichols reprising her original Star Trek role of Uhura. The short would have seen a young Jean-Luc Picard visit Uhura in hospital and receive a mission related to the Borg. Kurtzman and Beyer did not explain why the idea was abandoned, but they said these discussions had led to the development of Star Trek: Picard with an older Jean-Luc Picard. Kurtzman added that this story could still be told at some point.[9] In March, Chabon said there were no plans for any shorts based on Picard to be released between the first and second seasons of that series.[10] After the series received an Emmy Award nomination in July 2020, Kurtzman said he hoped the accolade would lead to more Short Treks being made. He expressed interest in expanding the Star Trek franchise in a "myriad [of] other directions" with future short films, including potentially making a musical short film and a black-and-white short film.[11]

Live-action[edit]

Of the initial four shorts ordered in July 2018, three were set to feature characters from Discovery, with Mary Wiseman, Doug Jones, and Rainn Wilson reprising their roles of Silvia Tilly, Saru, and Harry Mudd, respectively, in a short each. Jones's short would explore the backstory of Saru, while Wilson would also direct the short that he was starring in. Aldis Hodge was set to star in the fourth short as a new character, Craft.[1][4] The shorts were produced on the set of Star Trek: Discovery in Toronto, Canada.[12] In August, Wilson revealed that his short was written by a writer from the popular science fiction animated series Rick and Morty and described it as "very funny and weird. You see some alien situations you have never seen before in the Star Trek canon, and I am thrilled." He added that in making the short he assumed it was set after his last Discovery appearance, "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad", but he was not certain of this since it "stands alone" and "doesn’t really tie into" Discovery.[13] The Rick and Morty writer of his short was later revealed to be Star Trek fan Mike McMahan,[12] who went on to create another of Kurtzman's new Star Trek series, the animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks.[14]

In October, Wiseman explained that her short ("Runaway") "fleshes out a little bit who this character is" and introduces Tilly's mother, but otherwise would not affect the second season, so anyone who did not see the short could still understand the main series. Because of this, she did not have an exact placement of the short in the series' timeline though Jones pointed out that Tilly's hair in the short indicates it takes place during the second season due to her change in hair style between the two seasons. On his short ("The Brightest Star"), Jones confirmed that it is set before the rest of the series and explores how Saru first joins Starfleet. He said that his short would tie-into the second season more than the others with "breadcrumbs" and "hints", but the idea was still for the short and the second season of Discovery to stand alone.[15] The writer of Hodge's short ("Calypso"), novelist Michael Chabon, explained that he had been working on a film project with Discovery producer Akiva Goldsman while development on the shorts was beginning, and through Goldsman joined the series as a writer for this short as well as showrunner of Star Trek: Picard. This short was the first work Chabon wrote for television to actually be produced.[16]

After Anson Mount was confirmed to be leaving Star Trek: Discovery with the second-season finale, fans began calling, including through online petitions, for him to reprise his role of Christopher Pike in a spin-off set on the USS Enterprise, alongside Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Spock. Mount and Peck both responded positively to the idea.[17][18] In April 2019, Kurtzman also expressed interest, saying, "The fans have been heard. Anything is possible in the world of Trek. I would love to bring back that crew more than anything."[19] When announcing the second season of Short Treks at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Kurtzman confirmed that three of the new stories would feature the Enterprise actors, with the fourth live-action short being a "teaser" for Picard set 15 years before the start of that series. Kurtzman said the Enterprise-based shorts was a way to bring those characters and actors back now that Discovery had jumped into the future for its third season, but that these new stories would not preclude a potential spin-off series featuring the Enterprise cast from being made.[5] When a spin-off series starring Mount, Peck, and Romijn and titled Star Trek: Strange New Worlds was officially ordered by CBS All Access in May 2020, Dominic Patten of Deadline Hollywood opined that the Enterprise-set Short Treks "now seem almost like rehearsals for Strange New Worlds".[20]

Animation[edit]

Kurtzman explained in February 2019 that the first two animated shorts would have a different animation style to the series Lower Decks, and that they would be directed by Discovery producing director Olatunde Osunsanmi and composer Michael Giacchino (who wrote the score for the Star Trek "Kelvin Timeline" films that Kurtzman wrote).[21] Producer Heather Kadin said the animated shorts would answer questions that previous Discovery seasons had left and "fill in some blanks", while Kurtzman elaborated that the two shorts would have different animation styles from one another based on the story and tone of each installment.[22] Pixomondo provided the animation for the shorts.[23][24]

The ideas for the two shorts were set before Giacchino joined, and he was able to choose which one he would direct.[23] He chose "Ephraim and Dot", which focuses on a female tardigrade and a DOT-7 repair droid.[25] Discovery originally included a tardigrade named Ephraim as a starring character, but the idea was abandoned due to budgetary requirements. A male tardigrade named Ephraim was then introduced as a major character in the Discovery tie-in novel Dead Endless.[25][26] DOT-7 repair droids were introduced in the second season finale of Discovery.[25] Giacchino wanted the short to be like an episode of Tom and Jerry set on the Enterprise. The original designs for Ephraim were based on the tardigrades that Pixomondo created for Discovery, which looked much more like real tardigrades, but Giacchino asked to add eyes and a mouth to the character model so she could express emotions clearly throughout the short. Similarly, the model for Dot was designed to stretch and move in ways that a real robot would not to help show more emotion from the character. This stretching was part of Giacchino's aim to use traditional animation techniques, such as those seen in the works of Tex Avery, to give the short a more retro style than modern, computer-generated animation generally has.[23] The short takes place across 30 years of Star Trek history, and Giacchino was excited to include several easter eggs to other parts of the Star Trek franchise.[23][25] The short recreates scenes from the original Star Trek series episodes "Space Seed", "The Naked Time", "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "The Doomsday Machine", "The Tholian Web", and "The Savage Curtain", as well as the films Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984).[25] Original audio from some of the episodes was reused for these scenes.[23] The short ends with the USS Enterprise labelled as NCC-1701-A, which is a different ship from later in the franchise's timeline. Giacchino acknowledged this mistake after the episode's release, and indicated that it could be addressed moving forward.[25]

Osunsanmi's "The Girl Who Made the Stars" originated from Discovery writer Brandon Schulze wanting to expand on the character of Mike Burnham, father of that series' protagonist Michael Burnham, as Schulze identified with the character's role of a black man with a young daughter. Schulze co-wrote the episode that introduced Kenric Green as Mike in Discovery, and pitched an idea for the second season finale of the series where Mike would be shown in flashback telling the story of a young African girl to Michael. This would have mirrored the second season premiere, where Michael recounted that story herself in narration. The flashback did not fit in the season finale, but Kurtzman liked the idea and it was developed into an animated episode of Short Treks with Green reprising his role. The story told in the short is based on an actual African legend, but Schulze wanted to bring the ideas of the myth into the world of Star Trek and embellish the original ideas based on Michael's imagination, which included introducing an alien being into the story.[27] Osunsanmi was comfortable working with Pixomondo for the short after collaborating with the company on the visual effects for Discovery as a director of that show. He explained that the short was animated due to the magical feeling they wanted to capture for the story, and because of this he did not want the style to be too realistic. The designs for the Discovery-based part of the short were based on the series, while the African part of the short was based on images of Africa and African tribes from across the continent.[24]

Music[edit]

Star Trek: Discovery composer Jeff Russo returned for the first season of Short Treks. He based the main theme for the series on his Discovery title theme, and he was able to produce a different version of it for "The Escape Artist" which is not something Russo would be able to do for the main series. Russo approached each short's underscore individually. He was unsure how to approach the score for "Calypso" at first, and whether to have it similar to the music for Discovery due to that ship's presence or to intentionally make it different due to the different time that the short is set in. Russo was ultimately inspired for the music by the dance sequence in the short.[28] Three cues from Russo's "The Escape Artist" score—"Many Mudds", "Star Trek Short Treks End Credits (Lounge Version)", and "Star Trek Short Treks Main Title (Disco Version)"—were released on the soundtrack album for the second season of Discovery alongside Russo's score for that season. The album was released digitally by Lakeshore Records on July 19, 2019.[29]

By the time work began on the second season, Russo was working on the score for Picard and did not have time to score each of the new shorts, though Kurtzman still asked him to compose for "Children of Mars" since that short ties-into Picard.[30] Giacchino was set to compose the music for his short "Ephraim and Dot",[31] and Kurtzman asked him to provide music for the rest of the shorts as well. Giacchino was busy with film projects at the time, but suggested hiring a diverse group of composers who had not been given such an opportunity which he felt was in the spirit of Star Trek.[32] Giacchino supervised this group of composers,[31] which consisted of Nami Melumad for "Q&A",[33][32] Sahil Jindal for "The Trouble with Edward",[34][32] Andrea Datzman for "Ask Not",[35] and Kris Bowers for "The Girl Who Made the Stars".[25][32] Two cues from Russo's "Children of Mars" score—"Page" and "Children Of Mars End Credits"—were released on the soundtrack album for the first season of Picard on February 7, 2020.[36]

Release[edit]

Streaming[edit]

The shorts are released on CBS All Access in the United States.[1] Bell Media broadcasts the series in Canada on the specialty channels CTV Sci-Fi Channel (English) and Z (French) before streaming episodes on Crave.[37] The first four shorts were released monthly, beginning in October 2018 and ending in January 2019.[37] At the end of January the first season was made available to countries outside of the United States and Canada on Netflix under the "Trailers and More" section of the streaming service's Star Trek: Discovery page.[38] The first two shorts of the second season were released in October 2019 in the U.S. and Canada, with monthly releases through January 2020.[39] After the second set of shorts had all been released on All Access, Kurtzman said that he expected they would be released on Netflix "at some point".[8] The second season was made available for free in the U.S. on CBS.com, CBS mobile apps, and YouTube from August 17 to August 31, 2020, as part of the series' Emmy Awards campaign.[40]

Home media[edit]

The two shorts from the first set that tie directly into the second season of Discovery, "Runaway" and "The Brightest Star", were included on the Blu-ray and DVD set of that season alongside all the season's episodes and several bonus features. This was released in the U.S. on November 12, 2019.[41] A home media release collecting nine of the shorts was released in the U.S. on June 2, 2020. It includes the four original shorts—"Runaway", "Calypso", "The Brightest Star", and "The Escape Artist"—the three U.S.S. Enterprise-based shorts—"Q&A", "The Trouble With Edward", and "Ask Not"—and the first two animated shorts—"Ephraim & Dot" and "The Girl Who Made the Stars". The collection also includes making-of featurettes as well as audio commentaries with writers Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet for "Runaway" and star Anson Mount for "Ask Not".[42] "Children of Mars" will be released on October 6, 2020, with the first season of Picard. The release includes an audio commentary with writers Kurtzman, Lumet, and Kirsten Beyer.[43]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

In a positive review, IGN's Scott Collura mostly praised the series after the release of the first four episodes saying, "The Short Treks have been an interesting experiment that have mostly worked, and it seems with this final installment that the Trek production team was just starting to nail the formula down."[44]

In 2020, Space.com recommended watching the short "Children of Mars" as background for Star Trek: Picard.[45]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2019
Golden Reel Awards Live Action Under 35:00 "The Brightest Star" Won [46]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Short Film Design Gersha Phillips (for "The Brightest Star") Nominated [47]
2020
Golden Reel Awards Live Action Under 35:00 "The Trouble with Edward" Nominated [48]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Star Trek: Short Treks Pending [49]

References[edit]

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