Last year, I got hooked on the new CBS All Access iteration of the classic Star Trek series, a show called Star Trek: Discovery. The program had its quirks – the storty seemed more episodic rather than self-contained, some plotlines required an intense knowledge of Trekkie history, and the show’s characters – while themselves the typical archetypes of what a Star Trek lineup is supposed to contain – did venture into areas we weren’t expecting to see.
If that description was confusing, trust me. I sat through an entire Season 11 of Star Trek: Discovery and I’m still confused.
Now with the new season arriving in January, the show decided to treat fans with a special goodie. They took several stories that are set in the Star Trek: Discovery universe, condensed them down to 15-minute blips, and are presenting them as “Star Trek: Short Treks.” Essentially, these would be secondary stories, B-plots, dressed around a main plotline. You know … when Captain Janeway tries to fight off Species 8472, while Seven of Nine explores a new and forgotten part of her humanity. Oh wait, that’s Star Trek: Voyager. Wrong show. But a good show, nonetheless.
Anyway, there are four “Short Treks” scheduled, and the first one – featuring befuddled Ensign (and future captain) Sylvia Tilly – is a typical Star Trek trope. A Star Trek character encounters an alien species, they communicate, learn from each other, and leave with positive knowledge of each other’s existence. It was a decent episode, and yeah 15 minutes for it didn’t seem too rushed. Plus, I like Ensign Tilly. She’s like the Chekhov / Neelix / Ensign Barclay character in other Trek shows.
Besides, this show is on a streaming service. The episodes can be as long or as short as they wish. Some of the Star Trek: Discovery episodes were only 38 to 45 minutes in length, it’s not like they’re locked into a timeslot where they have to finsih up the episode in time for a new broadcast of NCIS: Cabot Cove or the like.
And it’s not like Star Trek needs a full hour to tell compelling stories. Heck, the Star Trek cartoon on NBC in the 1970’s won several awards (including an Emmy) on stories that, without commercials, were 22 minutes at the most.
Other upcoming “Short Trek” episodes will feature the super-tall Kelpian Saru, the cunning and conniving Harry Mudd, and a new character who may or may not appear in Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery. I’m okay with this, if it helps whet one’s appetite for new Trek episodes.
That, and if they can keep fans from being totally confused and scratching theirheads after each episode. That would be a plus as well.