Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Short Treks, Seasons 1-2

So, apparently Star Trek shorts have become a thing, and not just a fan-made thing but an actual, official, canonical, made-by-the-makers-of-Trek thing. Several of these shorts were included as DVD extras with Discovery Season 2 and Picard Season 1, and now a bunch of them have been released on their own DVD. And by DVD, in this case, I actually mean one disc. They're that short. Like, from 5 to maybe 15 minutes each.

The DVD actually doesn't include all 10 episodes of what the Powers That Be Trek designate as Seasons 1 and 2. It doesn't actually even say the word "season(s)" on it. It contains nine shorts, omitting the last Short Trek of S2, which (however) you can find on the Picard DVD: "Children of Mars." (That's the one where the mining droids go nuts and wipe out everyone on Mars.) Here is a quick listing of the shorts on the disc, observing that "Season 1" is the first four and the rest are "Season 2."
  • Runaway, in which Tilly befriends the Xahean stowaway, setting up the backstory for Po's return in the last two episodes of Discovery S2.
  • Calypso, set 1,000 years in the future, when Zora (apparently the name of the sentience that lives in Discovery's computer since the sphere data came on board) rescues a castaway and shares a Funny Face inspired romance with him. Guest stars are Aldis Hodge and Annabelle Wallis.
  • The Brighest Star, Saru's backstory, where he yearns for (and eventually gets) escape from his backwater home planet. This sets up backstory for the Disco S2 episode where Saru goes back to Kaminar and puts his hand on the Balance.
  • The Escape Artist, a side story featuring Harry Mudd, played by Rainn Wilson as in Discovery S1 and S2.
  • Q&A, set on the Enterprise as seen in Disco S2 and dramatizing Spock's first day on board as an ensign. It also showcases Rebecca Romijn as Capt. Pike's Number One.
  • The Trouble With Edward, which reveals that the tribbles became that galactic pest that we know and love because of the jackassery of one science officer, played by H. Jon Benjamin of Bob's Burgers and Archer. His captain, a Pike protégé, is played by Rosa Salazar, late of Alita: Battle Angel.
  • Ask Not, in which a cadet is given a test (cough) of Starfleet discipline when Capt. Pike is made her prisoner. Anson Mount delivers a rare, villainous performance as Pike.
  • The Girl Who Made the Stars, an animated short in which little girl Michael Burnham's daddy tells her a bedtime story about the first people in ancient Africa. Kenric Green, who is actually Sonequa Martin-Green's husband, plays her dad.
  • Ephraim and Dot, another animated short in which a "Dot" maintenance robot (as seen in Disco S3) engages in Tom & Jerry-style antics with a momma tardigrade on the Original Series Enterprise. Besides dropping teasing references to (and archival audio from) a bunch of OG Trek episodes, it also features a framing narration by Kirk Thatcher, who (for what it's worth) played "punk on the bus" in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Anyway, this review will end up running longer than one of these shorts unless I move directly to Three Shorts That Made It For Me. It's a tough choice, but here it is: (1) The Escape Artist, a hilarious installment in the antiheroic misadventures of Harcourt Fenton Mudd. (2) Q&A, which itches the spot that wants to see more about the upcoming Strange New Worlds series. (3) The Trouble with Edward, which is, again, hilarious. It's great to see Star Trek take itself a bit less seriously once in a while, eh? It'll also be interesting to see if they continue supplying us with these shorts, which are (at very least) a nice way to tide fans over until another plop in the (up to now) slow drip of Trek content.

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