When the world was graced with Star Trek: Discovery, it quickly became the flagship show for CBS All Access, as it was the first new Star Trek television show to hit the small screen in ages. It was slightly stale creatively in the beginning, but the series really started to find its footing in the back half of the first season. When the service realized that the time it took to produce an episode was going to cause a lengthy delay in new content, they decided to order Star Trek: Short Treks to fill that gap. These nine shorts in this collection run anywhere from eight to eighteen minutes in length, and they allow the show to explore new territory and characters inside the world of Star Trek: Discovery that would not have fit into a typical episode. Even though these are shorter pieces of entertainment, you can still tell there was a lot of passion poured into them that makes them essential to any fan of the series. The episodes included either aired before or after the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. The episodes included on this disc are as follows:
- Runaway: Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) discovers a stowaway, a Xahean known as Po (Yadira Guevara-Prip), on Discovery following an argument with her overbearing mother. This is a fun one that lets the audience get to know a new race and gives Tilly more to her backstory.
- Calypso: The tale of a computer system named Zora on the long-abandoned Discovery who has a passenger (Aldis Hodge) awake with whom she forms an emotional attachment. This is my favorite of the dramatic shorts. There is a beautiful, heartbreaking emotional arc that is wonderfully executed.
- The Brightest Star: Saru (Doug Jones) gets his backstory fleshed out as it shows his time on his home world of Kaminar before he joined Starfleet. Saru has long been a character of great interest, so it is nice to learn more about where he came from and the traditions of his race.
- The Escape Artist: The dastardly fugitive Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson) gets his own short where he tries to talk his way out of the possession of a bounty hunter. This one is more lighthearted, and has a good performance from Wilson.
- Q&A: The first day of Ensign Spock (Ethan Peck) aboard the Enterprise is depicted here. Spock gets stuck in an elevator with Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and the two run the emotional gamut of frustration to friendship. It’s a pleasing piece of entertainment that provides a different side to these characters.
- The Trouble With Edward: A story of an idiotic scientist about the USS Cabot named Edward (H. Jon Benjamin, Bob’s Burgers), who inadvertently creates a Tribble infestation, little fur balls replicating uncontrollably. This is a major headache for the newly appointed Captain Lucero (Rosa Salazar, Alita: Battle Angel). This one is hilarious and ranks as my favorite overall.
- Ask Not: Cadet Thira Sidhu (Amrit Kaur) is tasked with guarding the mutinous Captain Pike (Anson Mount) aboard the Enterprise during a crisis. This is a quick, tension-filled short that gives a minor character more personality.
- Ephraim and Dot: The first of two animated shorts that follows the tardigrade as it tries to protect its eggs during iconic moments in the Enterprise’s history. This one is a treat for fans of The Original Series.
- The Girl Who Made The Stars: The second of the animated shorts, and the more stunningly animated of the two. This one is a depiction of a bedtime story that a young Michael Burnham’s father told her of a fierce African girl who unleashed the stars in the universe. This is a wholesome wrap-up to this collection of shorts.
The quality of the 1080p transfer across these nine shorts is quite high for the most part. There is a great amount of clarity throughout, and skin tones are rendered accurately in all shorts. The details of the prosthetics such as Saru and the alien bounty hunter in “The Escape Artist” reveal very intricate designs. Colors are natural and vibrant, popping off the screen when appropriate, such as the animated shorts. There are some instances of digital noise in the black levels, but this is not prevalent and not extremely likely to distract from the content. Close-up shots reveal very fine detail such as facial hair and pores. Overall, this is a very pleasing disc with only a few minor hiccups of note.
The Blu-Ray comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless audio track that does a great job of bringing these shorts to life. The track showcases strong directionality with sounds coming from all of the appropriate places in the room. Dialogue is always crystal clear and never overwhelmed by sound effects or the score. While not extremely action packed, the track is fairly lively across all channels with some healthy activity in the low end. “Ask Not” and “Runaway” prove to be the most dynamic of all of the shorts, but each one has its moments to shine. These shorts are brought to life on this disc as well as you would hope.
- Audio Commentaries
- “Runaway”: Executive Producers and writers Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet give some good details on this episode from casting Po to coming up with the prosthetics for the character.
- “Ask Not”: Captain Pike himself Anson Mount gives detailed thoughts on his experience shooting the short. He does a good job of filling any dead air and remains pretty charming throughout.
- Coming of Age: A nearly eight-minute look into the initial episode “Runaway” which delves into their visual inspiration from Monsters Inc. to the themes behind the episode.
- Shall We Dance: A nine-minute look into “Calypso” which discusses the challenge of acting alone on screen and why the story has the classic Star Trek feel.
- First Contact – Kaminar: A five-minute look into “The Brightest Star” and how they decided to flesh out some of Saru’s origin story. Stars Doug Jones and Michelle Yeoh are interviewed.
- Covered in Mudd: A five-minute look at “The Escape Artist” with director and star Rainn Wilson. He discusses the development of the story and how it felt to jump into the director’s chair.
- Ensign Spock’s First Day: A ten-minute look into “Q&A” and why it was so important to get Spock’s first day on Enterprise right. Writer Michael Chabon discusses the emotional resonance of developing this around the time of his father’s death.
- Here Comes Tribble: A nearly four-minute look at “The Trouble With Edward” and how they expanded upon the story and look of the Tribbles from Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Score!: A six-minute look at the animated short “Ephraim & Dot” and the fun the writers had dropping in Easter Eggs for Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Bedtime Stories: A nearly eight-minute look at the second animated short “The Girl Who Made The Stars” and how they developed the story from a line of dialogue from the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.
- The Making of Short Treks: A four-minute discussion with the creators as to why they decided to make this companion series and what they were hoping to accomplish with these bite-sized stories.
Star Trek: Short Treks proves to be a fun way to explore the Star Trek universe for a couple of hours. This format gives the writers more of a chance to experiment and do some fun world building, and there is a good balance or serious, emotional and comedic shorts presented here. Fans will gain more from this if they have seen one or both seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, but one would probably fare reasonably well if they went into this blind. CBS Home Entertainment has provided a well-rounded disc with a solid A/V presentation and an insightful look into each episode. Fans of the series should buy with confidence. Recommended
Star Trek: Short Treks is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: CBS Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.