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Star Trek: Short Treks

Paramount // Unrated // June 2, 2020
List Price: $13.91 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 8, 2020 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

Laying out whatever qualifications I have on the Star Trek mythology, I've seen a few of the movies, and watched the first show, and scattered things of the subsequent ones. And while I have not seen Star Trek: Discovery, the edition of the show on the CBS streaming package by executive producer Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Into Darkness), so I don't know how it is or is not, but they've done something unique with this Short Treks presentation.

The premise of these episodes is easy, in they are short films (8 to 18 or 19 minutes each), which allow Kurtzman and others to expand on some of the stories told by the characters on the show. And for someone who has not seen Discovery, not only was I introduced to some of the people on the show, but other people that might be on the show? I mean look, I was not expecting to see Rainn Wilson (The Office) and H. Jon Benjamin (Archer) in guest appearances on the show, but here we are.

For a ‘show' such as this, there is a lot of creative expression that occurs; the first episode ("Runaway") starts off traditionally as far as science fiction goes, then in episode two ("Calypso") there is a sense of melancholy and romance that I don't recall in past Star Trek things that I've experienced. The desolation transcends the genre and makes for a surprising story to watch. Wilson plays Harry Mudd, a character from the original series, and the show borrows from TOS later in another episode, albeit in animated (and interesting) direction.

Extending that out a little, Short Trek manages to accomplish a couple of things; that its casual nature allows for more cinematic flourishes (Benjamin's last scene among them), but manages to extend a thought or two that Discovery placed, and gives it more room to breathe. It is not without a miss here or there, such as a small origin story of a long-lasting and familiar character. But as a whole, the concept of Short Treks is worth the time to explore for other shows, not just fans of the Star Trek incarnation you prefer.

As a whole, Short Treks is something that in a vacuum is fine from a storytelling perspective, but it is something that should be mimicked for other popular shows, even at a fraction of the commitment that those shows would do, because they could be some special things. I mean, we're all moving to streaming anyway, so why not give this a go Hollywood?

The Disc:
The Video:

Each episode is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and comes off looking fine. Lots of green screen is employed to convey the obvious stuff, but the closer in, more practical shots possess good clarity. Flesh tones and colors are accurate and without oversaturation, images are devoid of edge enhancement (as much as can be I guess) and looking at physical media from a streaming platform, combined with not knowing what the material looked like in the past, it was OK.

The Sound:

Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for each installment, and generally is good, with dynamic effects reproduced accurately in the surround channels, while dialogue is well-balanced. Channel panning is decent, though directional effects tend to lack in the rear speakers, but the immersion level as a whole is fine.

The Extras:

There is a slight confusion to the bonus material layout but quickly forgiven as there is a lot here; the ‘extras' section has a ‘making of' (4:26) which gets into intent for Short Treks. After that, the extras are on the ‘episode selection' section, and there are making of featurettes on 8 of the 9 episodes of the run (50:21), which get into the production of each segment, production and design choices and the like. There are even two commentaries; one on the first episode with Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, and one on the eighth episode with Anson Mount, who plays Christopher Pike on Discovery. Some of the material is generally redundant but the value for material is darned good.

Final Thoughts:

I think that if you have seen either season of Star Trek: Discovery, that Short Treks provides you a treat that you should explore, if you have not already. If Discovery is on physical media, then this is worth the time to explore and supplement to the collection. Technically it is solid, but the bonus material to feature material ratio is up amongst the best, and worth checking out whether you're a fan of the show or not, to get an idea of how to get some good fan service karma points.

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