Review: ‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ – “Children of Mars”

Star Trek: Short Treks “Children of Mars”

Writen by Kirsten Beyer & Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet
Directed by Mark Pellington

Every generation has that moment, at least once: that moment when everyone remembers where they were when it happened. The first such moment in my life was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff. I remember the father of one of my classmates coming quietly into our classroom, his face pale, whispering to the teacher, who suddenly stood up from her desk and commanded me, “Something’s happened. Turn on the television!” I remember where I was when President Reagan was shot. (I was in the dentist’s chair.) Of course for a more recent generation, it was the terrorist attacks of 9/11. These were moments when everything you thought you knew about the world underwent a shift. Especially when you’re young, these are moments when what you thought of as safety was shattered, and life suddenly became unpredictable and frightening.

“Children of Mars,” the January 2020 episode of Short Treks, is a brief look at just such a moment in the lives of two Federation schoolgirls. It is a glimpse at how that can suddenly reorient the priorities of life, and can turn enemies into allies, at least briefly.

It is an episode that, unlike most of the Short Treks we’ve seen so far, adds a considerable amount of information to Star Trek canon. It is sensitively written, stylistically interesting, and competently created. And it provides a fascinating twist to what we’ve guessed so far about the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series, which debuts in just under two weeks. That’s about all I can say without resorting to spoilers, so if you haven’t yet seen the episode, go watch it now before continuing on. You have been warned!

Kima and Lil sit in detention.

 

SPOILERS BELOW!

 

Synopsis

In a change from most of the Short Treks that we have seen so far, this episode begins cold, with no Short Treks title screen (the words “Short Treks” do not appear anywhere in the episode) and no opening title screen. Instead, we jump right into following the lives of two teenage girls, one human and one not.

We meet Kima, a non-human girl whose mother works as an “anti-grav ringer” at the Utopia Planitia Shipyard on Mars. We see Kima goofing around in a video call with her Mom, revealing that their species has unusually (for us) long and flexible tongues. We also see an orbital spacedock facility above Mars, with four Starfleet ships being assembled there.

We then meet Lil, a human girl whose father is a quality systems supervisor at the Mars Orbital Facility. She is watching what looks like a prerecorded video message from her father, who is apologizing to her for not being able to come and see her this year due to work pressures. Lil is deeply disappointed and sad, and cuts off the message early.

Both girls are in identical small, single-occupant rooms, and are dressed in identical prep school uniforms with white blouses, khaki slacks, and maroon jackets with blue striping on the shoulder, sleeve, and lower front. Both girls sadly gather their school supplies, and walk from their rooms, on their way to school.

They make their way to an outdoor school shuttle boarding area, where a yellow school shuttle lands. A final boarding call for WSA shuttles is heard, as many teenage students hurry to the embarkation point. Lil hurries to pass Kima, accidentally hitting her with her shoulder, knocking Kima’s pack to the ground. Lil proceeds onward as if nothing happened, while Kima disgustedly tries to recover her spilled things. The slight delay makes Kima miss the shuttle entirely.

In another rare stylistic choice for a Star Trek episode, a non-orchestral piece of incidental music begins to play, a cover of David Bowie’s song “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel. This song plays over much of the rest of the short. As Kima watches the shuttle depart, she hurries to try to get to school in some other way.

The school atrium is a wide-open space, with large holographic screens at either end proclaiming, “GROW” and “ACHIEVE.” A revolving overhead holographic info station in the center of the atrium features the WSA logo, what looks like a class schedule, and a slogan reading, “Happy First Contact Day,” meaning that whatever year this is set in, the day is April 5. We see that Lil is alone and sad, while other kids gather in groups, socialize, and play holo-games. While kids make their way to class, Kima hurries in, late, under the disapproving eye of WSA’s balding Vulcan principal.

Kima arrives at stellar cartography class while it is already in session, and hurries past yawning students to her seat, hitting Lil forcefully with her shoulder as she passes. Students write with styluses on holographic displays. Lil draws a mean caricature of their teacher, Mrs. K, on her display, and waves it across to Kima’s screen. Before Kima can delete it, Mrs. K spots it, and gives Kima two demerits of some sort. Kima shoots Lil a nasty look, and later, in the library, hides in wait and trips Lil as she passes. Lil then angrily confronts Kima at her locker, and the two get into a fistfight while their classmates cheer, only to be pulled apart by adults and sent to detention.

As the Vulcan principal walks over to talk to the two girls, his PDA bleeps an alert, and a holographic screen pops up, giving him news. A worried and sad member of the support staff hurries over to him, her PDA displaying a similar screen. The two confer and agree, and the secretary puts the Federation News Network (FNN) feed up on all three holographic displays in the atrium. As Kima and Lil watch in horror and kids rush into the atrium, released from class, we see flat, trapezoidal starships firing red phaser beams at Mars-based targets, close-ups of frightened Martian residents running up staircases, and many massive explosions. Many of the planetary bombardment shots are reminiscent of scenes we saw in the recent Star Trek: Picard trailer outside the windows of what looked like Ten Forward from the Enterprise-D. The bottom of the screen reads, “Attack on Mars” with the scroll beneath it: “Rogue Synths attack Mars – 3000 estimated dead.” We see the Mars Orbital Facility blown to bits by these synth raiders, and see Jean-Luc Picard’s face on the screen, with a UFP logo and the text, “’Devastating’: Admiral Picard reacts.” Kima and Lil turn toward one another, tears streaming down their cheeks, as they remember their parents. Their hands reach for each other, and clasp in friendship.

Analysis

This short is more of a meditative piece than any of the other Short Treks. There is very little “live” dialogue – almost all the words we hear are voice-overs, pre-recorded messages, or come over loudspeakers. When we hear the teacher teaching, or a few words from the girls as they fight near the lockers, the dialogue is muted or distorted. Most of the story is told through images, screens, music, and silent acting. The piece is very much told from the perspective of the children. Adults in this short are distant, disconnected, and disappointing. It very much captures the bewildering experience of a child whose world is shattered by events beyond her control.

Both Kima and Lil are lonely, at boarding school, separated from their families. They are longing for a connection with someone else, and at first they find it through conflict. For a child without emotional connection, conflict and anger can be a way of at least puncturing the isolation and getting someone else’s attention; anger is at least better than nonexistence. This short embodies that truth remarkably well.

The short builds relentlessly from the quiet beginning to the almost oppressively loud middle, with the Bowie song increasing in volume and intensity as the hostility between the girls grows. But the song disappears once they are in detention – it is a moment of seething, angry quiet… and into that moment, disaster falls.

We see more children in “Children of Mars” than possibly all the children ever depicted in the rest of Star Trek combined, which is delightful. This is our first real look at an Earth-based primary or high school, and the short spends all its time on 24th-Century Earth, which is rare in Trek canon. Aside from Joseph Sisko’s restaurant,  Voyager’s “Non Sequitur,” and a bunch of holoprograms, these may be the only scenes in Star Trek that show a civilian look at 24th-Century Earth. (Star Trek II and Star Trek III both showed brief glimpses of 23rd Century civilian life.)

The short offers a look at daily civilian life in the 24th century.

The short is well directed by Mark Pellington, who previously directed the Short Treks episode, “Q&A.” In this short, Pellington displays a number of creative and unusual choices that are rare in Star Trek. As we’ve mentioned before on TrekMovie many times, Short Treks serve as a fertile test bed for cinematic experimentation in Star Trek. This episode’s focus on teenage girls may also be an aspect of CBS’ desire for Star Trek to reach out to a younger demographic. If so, mission accomplished: My thirteen-year-old daughter was transfixed. Writing credits are given to Kirsten Beyer, Alex Kurtzman, and Jenny Lumet, all of whom are key production personnel on Star Trek: Discovery.

First Contact Day is a symbol of the way classic Star Trek believed that unity would be achieved between the various strands of humanity. Contact with extraterrestrial life would be the galvanizing event that caused us to put aside our relatively-petty differences, and embrace one another as equally human as we faced the stars together. The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise posited that shared loss and disaster could be another galvanizing force, with the Xindi attack on Earth as the inciting incident, a post-9/11 approach to human unity. We could be brought together by the joy of shared discovery, or by the sadness of mutual loss. This short is an emotional exploration of the latter approach, and as a hint of what’s to come in Star Trek: Picard, it’s fascinatingly evocative.

Jean-Luc Picard is still in Starfleet and is an admiral during the events of this short. We know that Star Trek: Picard is set in 2399, and that Picard left Starfleet about 13 years before the show begins, meaning that this short is set some time before 2386, and the attack on Mars is somehow connected to Picard’s decision to leave Starfleet. The trailers for Picard have indicated that a Soong-type android (likely B4) is currently in pieces in a drawer in a lab somewhere. Could the “rogue synth” attacks depicted here have triggered an anti-artificial life-form backlash that led to the Soong-type android being deactivated? Is it possible that Starfleet took the measure of the man, and decided that, people or not, sentient artificial life was too dangerous to allow to remain active? Could that have been the disappointment with the way Starfleet was headed that led Picard to resign? Is that part of the “isolationism” that Sir Patrick Stewart and other showrunners have said in interviews that Star Trek: Picard addresses?

We shall see when Star Trek: Picard debuts on January 23…

Admiral Picard appears briefly on the news feed.

Brief Bits:

  • I dearly, dearly hope that WSA stands for “William Shatner Academy.” What a great name for a prestigious boarding school!
  • The Vulcan principal is played by Robert Verlaque, who also played Aradar (Saru and Siranna’s father) in “The Brightest Star” in the first season of Short Treks.
  • The “ACHIEVE” holo-banner appears to have the famous Paramount Pictures “Majestic Mountain” as a background behind it.
  • The FNN (Federation News Network) was first seen in Star Trek Generations.
  • In the Voyager episode, “Homestead,” Kathryn Janeway remarks that First Contact Day was typically a school holiday—why the students at WSA didn’t have the day off is unknown.
  • Kima’s species has pale blue eyes and blue blood.
  • Detention is held in the school’s atrium for some reason.
  • I loved the shot of the Vulcan principal watching Kima and Lil sulking in detention, with his silhouetted head, ears, and shoulders splitting the screen, one girl above his left shoulder, and the other above his right. It’s an interesting echo of the split screen effect seen near the beginning of the short.
  • Is it too much to ask that the “Rogue Synths” alluded to in this episode will include Mudd-type androids and Korby-type androids, as well as Soong-type androids?
  • For some reason the Utopia Planitia Shipyard is seen building mid-23rd-century ships, yet this episode takes place in the late 24th century. Two are from the same class as the USS Cabot (the Magee Class, Memory Alpha informs me) from “The Trouble With Edward,” and two are Starfleet tugs, like the ones seen towing the USS Enterprise in DSC: “Brother.”
  • This is the first Short Treks episode with the credit “Based upon Star Trek: The Next Generation, created by Gene Roddenberry,” rather than the standard, “Based upon Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry.” In addition, the “Children of Mars” title that appears at the end of the episode is in a red TNG-style font, rather than the DSC-style font that all the other episodes have featured.

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Captain Braxton

An interesting episode that asks a lot of questions. However, does sound very Battlestar Galactica. Rogue Synths? Is this Earth or Caprica? I guess we now know why Ronald D. Moore was seen in a BTS photo a few years back lol

Yes I know they reused CGI assets for money saving purposes/easy of use (including the starships, shuttles and UFP logo) however I was disappointed not to see some 24th century iconography of the era. If it wasn’t for the Picard image, you’d have thought this was set during Discovery’s time. That’s not good, considering how iconic and recognizable the aesthetic is of each Star Trek era.

I do hope we will see better in Picard, but from the teaser trailers, they are still using those damned Disco shuttles. Would it be too much to ask for a type 11 shuttle or something completely new that follows the lineage?

Ah well, I’ll have to wait and see in a few weeks if my concerns are valid or not.

Denny C

It was all off a bit visually as well in that the effects looked as if they hadn’t been fully rendered and LOOKED like visual effects. They’re entirely different franchises but The Mandalorian has raised the bar on how to present a visual effects heavy series.

edwet

Lucky ST relies on good stories, good acting, science and exploration not SFX and pew-pew lazors from a big ball in space.

Dan Dare

Funny though, that The Mandalorian feels more character driven/exploration-y than Star Trek at present. Star Trek has gone heavy on the pew pew and flashy aesthetics > good writing/science.

Denny C

Not what I’m getting at. At all. I’m all about story but visually it seemed a bit off for a series with a substantial budget.

will

You should send this comment to Kurtzman to remind him about that “good stories” thing.

The Collector

None of which it gets with Kurtzman at the helm.

Mel

DIS has really badly written storylines and arcs with tons of plotholes and things which just doesn’t make sense at all. And it is not like they stayed away from a lot of “pew-pew” figths either.

Aries

@edwet
Star Trek also relies on canon, continuity and an immense attention to detail.
At least Star Wars is staying true to their established SFX and pew-pew lazors and not acting like everything else didnt exist.

Danpaine

Agreed, Denny C, and imo the Mandalorian has raised the bar in a number of ways.

Denny C

Which took me by surprise, truth be told.

edwet

If the imagery in ST:P isn’t the way it should be it could be very damaging for the series.

A34

The TNG look is awful. That’s why they ditched it when the movies started.

Ross G

The problem i have with this short trek is the same issue i had with the tardigrade episode, someone in the visual department screwed up.
In this case, they started the episode making you think we were still in Discovery’s timeline. But we are now in Picards. Which is it? So either the ships were wrong or the banner with Picard was wrong.
In the tardigrade episode, someone put 1701-A on the refit enterprise when it wasnt that Enterprise. This is sloppy work and is not a good sign of things to come.

Denny C

“THE CYLONS WERE CREATED BY MAN. THEY REBELLED. THEY EVOLVED. THERE ARE MANY COPIES. AND THEY HAVE A PLAN.”

Gary 8.5

Except that according to Ronald D.Moore, they never really had a plan.

Denny C

I loved that he confessed that it sounded good but as showrunner and writer he really had no idea what that plan might actually be.

Tiger2

Sadly that became obvious by the end. I DON’T get why they do things like that? I mean sit down and hash out what they want and their purpose before you start shooting the show. It was the exact same problem with Enterprise and the temporal cold war. Both he and Brannon Braga both dropped the ball hard on their own shows because they were clearly flying blind with their main stories although at least Enterprise it wasn’t entirely about the TCW like BSG story line.

Denny C

Well, aside from “the plan”, they had mapped out where the show would eventually go but, as often happens with a show like BSG, some ideas are abandoned along the way in pursuit of avenues which provide a more intriguing path to get there and that’s all I can say about that…

edwet

I’m really worried about the ships in the shipyard being a century out of place. If this carries on into ST:P it will be a big problem.

CaptainSheridan

meh, Feds are probably still building Mirandas and Excelsiors, and the Klingons are probably still building countless Birds of Prey……

FrostUK

Yeah. It makes zero sense. I’ve seen so many people confused about this short because the opening shot (which needs to ESTABLISH the world) was showing ships from the wrong era.

Then it cut from Exterior Mars to Interior Earth. Just to be extra confusing.

The Collector

It’s because the hacks making Star Trek at the moment simply do not care. They just don’t. If they did, they would have watched at least the key episodes from each season of each series to gain a feel for the universe and to not make the horrible errors they keep making.

Georgiou’s Sass.

Don’t you ever get tired of making insulting and rude comments about people who’s work don’t you like?

The Collector

I think what I wrote was perfectly reasonable.

Fred Javelina

You wrote that the people making the show are “hacks,” which is an insult.
You wrote that they “do not care,” which is impossible for you to know whether it is true or not, and is also insulting.

Making a TV show, even a short film like this one, requires the work of hundreds of people. People who trained for years to do what they do.

The nature of TV and film work is such that most of the trade / craftspeople – from writers and producers to the people who do makeup and VFX – are on short term contracts.

They’re not sitting in an office working on spreadsheets 200 days a year and slacking off commenting on Trek websites because they’re bored; they’re working hard to put their best work front and center because it puts food on the table for their families.

Because *the quality of their work determines whether they get hired again.*

People that turn in substandard work, or are hard to work with, don’t get rehired.

So the likelihood that you’re seeing the work of “hacks” who “do not care” is actually pretty minimal. Hacks who don’t care get flushed out of the system.

Yes, production / continuity errors happen. That’s not because people don’t care. In every production I’ve seen, those sorts of errors happen because the lead time to do something like VFX is so long, by the time errors are caught it may be too late or too costly to redo them.

And they have happened within every series and in every movie. If we rated TOS on internal consistency we’d throw it all in the bin and set it on fire!

I notice that you didn’t comment one bit on the story, the message, the acting, or the artistic/visual choices made, you decided to nitpick some VFX choices. Who is to say that Starfleet doesn’t produce older ships? The Excelsior class was in service for well over 80 years.

And in the real world, the exteriors of naval vessels and aircraft don’t change that much, it’s systems that get upgraded. The USAF still flies B-52 bombers which is a *sixty-seven* year-old design, the navy’s Nimitz-class carriers date back to 1975. The new Orion and similar crew capsules rely heavily on Apollo-era technology, because the problems they were designed to face were solved and remain so.

Starfleet’s ship designs, once tested and proven, would represent much lower operational risk than coming out with new flashy ship designs every other year – and the spaceframe design is (according to the manuals, if you take them as canon) modular so ships can be customized for different mission types.

So even within the world of the show, it’s not at all sloppy writing or a lack of care that shows older ship types still being constructed well into the late 24th century. It’s conservatively realistic!

If you don’t like that, fine, but that’s on you, and if you want to change that, go work in television.

Matt

EVer consider that Short Treks are done on a tiny budget? Also these are produced by the Discovery production team, they might simply not have had access to the assets from Picard.

International distribution may come into this as well, Short Treks are sold to Netflix at the moment, if it used Picard assets that might have caused licensing issues with Amazon

Boo

“hacks”? You do realize that the people making the shows have watched Star Trek right? Some have even worked on previous Trek shows before. So this attitude of “oh they should have watched the show to gain the feel”, they don’t need you to tell them that when many of the people making the show have had personal experiences in productions of other Trek shows.

And that isn’t even to mention that there is no reason why Starfleet couldn’t have used old ship designs or just refitted and reworked older class ships. This stuff happens even in real life with machinery and ships. I don’t see why they won’t continue to do that in the future.

The Collector

Keep defending the regime if you want, Boo. Good luck to you.

If as you say the hacks have watched previous Trek, it’s even worse given the amount of errors they’re making or deciding to just defy the 50 years of mostly consistent universe building.

I read the argument in your second paragraph and quite a few people have made it in a desperate attempt to protect Kurtzman. It’s a poor argument. Navies of the world today don’t use 150 year old ships and if Starfleet were retrofitting old ships, why would they be a strategic target? No, it simply shows that the producers don’t care.

Mark Wood

Sorry but that a load of crap. Throughout all of Trek’s history going back to the TOS to the series Enterprise, the hard working people doing design and fx work have had to frequently reuse models (both physical and digital) because budget and / or time wasn’t available for original or era or region specific creations. This not only applies to ships, but to props, costumes, makeup, and sets. It has impacted every season of every show, and it has impacted the films which had a much larger time frame and budget to work with.

If you feel that way about Kurtzman then in fact you are also insulting every single craft and creative person who worked on Trek and had to reuse something that didn’t actually fit because the time and budget were more important on other things. And this impacts hundreds of workers going from the 60’s to the early 2000’s.

You can not like Kurtzman, and that is fine, but to use this as a reason attacks every era of Trek that has ever been created.

Mike Burnthem

It’s not as if they are having to order physical models costing tens of thousands of dollars with a long construction time, all they had to do was build a vague spaceframe of a starship under construction, but instead for inexplicable reasons the federation have abandoned the sovereign class, prometheus, intrepid, defiant, the galaxy class, all of the ships that came before, and returned to building ships from 80 odd years before them.

That’s sloppy production ethics and implementation, they can’t even keep continuity in their own “canon”.

Tiger2

Yeah that was the only real disappointment to me that it was weird they we only saw 23rd century ships in the opening. I think it bothered a lot of people. I don’t think it will mean we will only see those ships on the show itself, they know if we see any starships fans want to see the stylish and new 24th century ships. And to be fair they showed one in the new comic series that Picard was in charge of so my guess we will see some even if minimum.

dennycranium

We still don’t know the complete back story of what’s happening. The trailers seen mention Picard heads the biggest rescue (failed) armada. If you think it through, it might make sense we are seeing “vintage” 23rd century ships being pressed into service. Give the show a chance, FFS!
Also, from a show BUSINESS standpoint, it’s about new eyeballs in front of Trek. Based on the nitpicking about esthetics I can see why they do what they want.
Personally, I liked how the story wad told with minimal dialogue. The David Bowie song was a brilliant idea, in my opinion.

Tiger2

LOL dude I am the biggest supporter of this show, relax. I also reviewed the short down below and said how much I liked it. I didn’t even bring this issue up in it. And here I only said it was strange and little disappointing, but not a huge deal since I ALSO said I fully expect the show to show us more modern ships. Or did you not get that far in my post?

dennycranium

Tiger2- apologies- my post wasn’t directed at you personally. I just read all of the usual nitpicking posts and just happened to hit reply on your post…my bad…

Tiger2

OK no worries dennycranium! I understand now. I was just a little shocked because I wrote a pretty long post about the short and how much I liked it but of course it doesn’t mean you have read it either.

But to make it clear I do understand why using only the DIS models put some people off but yeah it’s an 8 minute short, I don’t think we can base that decision on much other than saving time and money. I’m pretty sure the show itself will go all out with new and fancy designs given its budget assuming we see any starships.

A34

I didn’t notice or care. It was a good short.

Thorny

Could something really, really bad happen to all the 24th Century fleets? “Children of Mars” shows 23rd Century starfleet ships. The Picard trailer shows 23rd Century Romulan Birds of Prey. Weird.

Mark Wood

I would assume based on what we have heard about the Short Trek’s in general is that they have been made on a shoe string budget. Trek has a long, long, long history of reusing old ships (both models and digital) that aren’t necessarily era or region appropriate because they didn’t have the time or budget to show a more appropriate design. This has impacted all aspects of production not just ships or fx.

Pixelmodo the supplier of digital effects works in Maya, previous Trek’s outside of Santa Barbara studios credit work on DS9 and Voyager and the film Insurrection, have been in Lightwave.

Most of 24th century Trek ships, weren’t created for HD. Enterprise was at least created for 720 but that is even further back than Discovery.

So they would need to either design new ships and stations, or convert meshes and upgrade them from Lightwave. Both of those are going to cost money and take time. Reusing a mesh already created, saves both time and money. And depending on the story can be relevant. After all we already know Starfleet and the Federation do use century old ships in mass (how many Miranda’s Excelsiors, and Oberth’s did we see in 24th century (its over a hundred), Space Stations like the Orbital Complex and Space Dock were still being used (or redressed) for late 24th century. So it’s not like having old ships is something new to Trek.

Now Picard the show has a sizable budget, we are going to see designs and and fx that are going to be Picard specific. What we don’t know is how much of what we have previously seen of 24th/ 23rd century ships and stations will be used. A lot, lot of that will depend of where the story takes us, and if the producers like any of those designs.

AJinMoscowinBangkok

TNG used Excelsior-class vessels, so it’s not unprecedented.

Mike Burnthem

Ships are upgraded until it becomes easier to design a whole new class of starship. They are designed with an 80 odd year life, but certainly won’t still be getting built 80 years later.

TeaRunner

Or they’re not new ships at all.

Just older ships being refitted for the Romulan rescue effort.

UP doesn’t just build new ships. It repairs and refits old ones too.

Quarks pre-owned tribbles

Hey, 747s are still being flown today, 50 years since the first one was built.

Anthony Mango

It was okay. The presence of the 23rd century ships bugged me, but I’m pretty sure that’s just them using detailed models they already had around for this rather then spend the money to design new ones. Makes sense for a 9 minute short, with only a 10 second shot of them- but they better have more TNG looking ships in Picard.

will

They could probably have gotten fans (the ones who make high quality CG art for fun) to donate their personal models of TNG era ships just to have been part of Star Trek to at least get in the ballpark of period correct.

Mark Wood

They have historically rarely done any such thing. Trek has literally used hundreds of ships that were originally created as something else, from different eras and different parts of the Galaxy and when did the previous producers ever ask for elements and models from fans to be more accurate? Now they have asked for some set piece recreations previously for things like “Relics”, and have used personally created ships from professional model builders that they have had a working relationship with (things like the Pasteur). But that’s about the extent of it.

J.S.

Flying school shuttle, because, you know, “it’s the future” ;)

“In the Voyager episode, “Homestead,” Kathryn Janeway remarks that First Contact Day was typically a school holiday—why the students at WSA didn’t have the day off is unknown.”

Two options
1. Because the writers don’t care
2. It might not be FC day yet – much like you see “Merry Christmas” or “Happy holidays” before the actual Christmas. Unless it’s explicitly stated that “today is 5.04.23xx” somewhere?

Also “synth” is a “synthesizer” (as in “electronic sound generator/instrument”) :>

Denny C

Are you saying it was a KORG attack?!

John Bigboottee

I see what you did there, Denny. Well done 😜

Denny C

I might also add that Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise a kid. In fact, it’s cold as hell.

dennycranium

Reginald would have pitched a hissy fit at them using his song….;-)

Fred Javelina

Ever since the Ring opened the kids aren’t staying here to finish the terraforming project, man….

Philip Seifert

Moog Rogue Synth attack!!

dennycranium

The Borg assimilated Kor? That’s a good idea….

CaptainSheridan

“Typically” a day off does not mean “always” a day off, so lets go with option 3: they didn’t have the day off.

Gary 8.5

Synthetic.

331dot

It could also be a private boarding school with its own schedule, and is not obligated to follow government holidays.

Tiger2

Thats what I was thinking too 331dot. Maybe its a private school and not a public one. Although would they still have private schools in Star Trek? I still don’t understand how this show works sometimes lol.

TG47

The school uniform had me wondering about the situation too.

I was thinking that it might be a special school for children of Starfleet engineers. Perhaps there was an urgent building program that meant that dependant children couldn’t be housed and educated on Mars.

Tiger2

Ah, I like that idea! I can go with it! :)

J.S.

“Displaying “happy [holiday]” several days in advance” (much like displaying “Merry Christmas”) seems much more plausible

DeanH

My impressions exactly regarding the Merry Christmas banners going up several weeks before Christmas or holding birthday parties on a weekend before or after someone’s real birthday. Not much of an issue IMO.

Quarks pre-owned tribbles

…On the first contact day, the synths gave to me, the Picard series back story:)

VZX

Loved it. We need more Short Treks like this.

Cmd.Bremmon

I’ll give TNG fans points in that Picard is extremely effective at giving AI related organisms near complete access to the Sol system.
That being said nice to know people can have families and that these kids are sad they aren’t with their parents – you’d worry by the 24th you’d have to leave your family for Federation boarding school. Also Picard has private property with his family winery. Some hints of freedom vs. socailism.

Kiān Hāfezi

Socialism is not against private property, socialism means, means of production cannot be privately owned.
And means of production means any big and medium size operation that relies on labor and commons.
A vineyard or a restaurant or a cafe can be privately owned and operated
That freedom v socialism framing is honestly idiotic

Fred Javelina

That’s more communism. Socialism, at least in the modern social-democratic sense, means using common resources to pay for things which benefit the common good, and attempt to balance out inequalities. Typically: Single-payer or subsidized healthcare; old age pensions; daycare, elementary, secondary and higher education; subsidized infrastructure (rural mail routes and internet access, all kinds of municipal infrastructure), scientific and medical research, agricultural programs, etc. It can also mean regulating industries and in rare cases nationalizing monopolies where there is market failure or no effective competition (for instance, the creation of Hydro-Quebec, a crown corporation, by nationalizing private power companies, to provide inexpensive electricity to Quebec citizens and businesses)

The economy of the 24th century may be an advanced, post-materialist take on social democracy as the issues of resource allocation have been mostly solved. Something that has never really been addressed in canon, anyway!

Proctor Bob

Synths could also refer to holograms. Maybe the EMH’s are involved as well? Their rights situation was left dangling at the end of Voyager. Could have taken a bad turn.

John Ruschmeyer

Even if it the synths weren’t Photonic Lifeforms, we know from Voyager that the Federation is not the most tolerant of non-corporeal life forms. (I wonder how the Horta are doing these days? :))

Tiger2

So true! We could be talking about holograms since A. we know they WERE mass produced for starships and not unique like Data was B. they WERE treated differently from Data since they were looked at more like hardware as just another part of the ship and not as individuals as the Doctor was treated in the early seasons of the show and C. that we saw them regulated to slave labor basically by the end. That really bothered me, especially since it became a cause of the Doctor that holograms would be treated more equally as other life forms. He finally became treated that way but clearly only out of circumstance and when the crew just got to know him.

So yes maybe this is about EMH’s as well. We’ll know soon!

A34

You can see the Synths in the trailer.

John in Canada, eh?

“The “ACHIEVE” holo-banner appears to have the famous Paramount Pictures “Majestic Mountain” as a background behind it.“
… and the GROW banner seems to be over a field of grass – not dissimilar to the one seen in the Bad Robot identifier. A subtle plea for a return to cinematic Star Trek? ;-)

Michael K

It’s great to be back in this world again, although it really has no visual elements from TNG, especially from a show that was so meticulous about design. The ships are a huge problem for this episode because they are from DSC. If they had to borrow existing renders, they couldn’t use any from Picard? I suspect there may not be any to borrow since we saw no Starfleet ships in the trailers. Which is a pity since that is such an important link to that time period. DSC is so grand in its visual scale, I get a feeling Picard won’t have that which is a shame because a big part of me was looking forward to inhabiting this world again. But ultimately I’m here for the story and characters and I’ll take what I can get from the designers.

The episode is artfully crafted and told, especially for only 8-minutes. However I’ve seen this song used to similar dramatic effect before so it came off as a little recycled and out of place for the story.

TG47

I was surprised to realize that Children of Mars was produced in Toronto with the Discovery production team (Tamara Deverell, Gersha Phillips).

Robert Verlaque is Canadian, although well respected in his US career. The child actors are both Canadian, with one having a fairly significant resume including work on Orphan Black.

It looks like this was shot in May along with the other Shorts, while I had expected it to be done in LA by the Picard production team to keep a consistent tone with Picard.

One expects that there is a story there, especially given that there was clearly a decision taking to avoid using the Discovery-style titles.

It could simply be that the Picard production team wasn’t ready to work in an extra short, while everything was in place in Toronto.

All that said though, this episode was a dramatic departure in style and tone from what we’ve seen coming out of Toronto. Let’s not get caught up in the minutia, and instead celebrate that Trek could create something with such a vibe than Discovery’s ‘bullet’ pacing.

Michael K

I like the more meditative tone of this short, Discovery by comparison can be a little frenetic and artificial. For me that was the best part of this episode and is a positive sign of things to come with Picard. Something a little more grounded in humanity with bigger personal consequences.

I knew right away that this was shot in Toronto because of the weather tbh. You can always tell the difference between California and Canadian productions if they shoot outdoors.

DaveCGN

You could easily notice that in Stargate where almost each planet looked like woods in Canada. :-)

TG47

DaveCGN there’s a lot of difference between BC rainforest and Ontario Canadian shield forests.

Rain in Toronto in May is about as frequent as in BC though.

Jeff

I think having meditative tones off and one was one of the good things about TNG and DS9 in general. From week to week they might change up the tone and do a different style of story. DIS is starting to feel very cookie cutter in comparison to TNG.

Tiger2

I agree Jeff. But that’s also the difference when you are telling 26 (mostly) individual stories every year on TNG vs DIS which is very serialized and only has around 14 episodes. Although I have NO problem with it being serialized that is definitely the big problem with DIS and that its hard to change up things week to week and go from a comedy episode like Qpid to the Inner Light the next week or Unification after that. That’s why I love Star Trek and shows like TNG because they can just vary things up whenever they wanted. All the shows did it of course. Even DS9 varied quite a bit in later seasons when it became more serialized with the Dominion war and you still had great and varied episodes like The Visitor, Dr. Bashier I presume, Far Beyond the Stars or In the Pale Moonlight. But yes it also just had more episodes to do those kind of shows with.

That’s the beauty of Star Trek, the stories, style and tone could be ANYTHING frankly from week to week. People here seem to think some fans just don’t like Discovery because it’s ‘different’. No, the show still lacks in MANY ways and not just because the ship looks too advanced or they are using holograms. People could get over stuff like that in time. But there are a lot of fundamental story areas it lacks when compared to the previous shows, this is a big example of one.

But DIS did do a little more of that in second season for sure and mixed it up a bit but it could still be done a lot more.

Michael Hall

For various reasons I’ve made a decision to no longer post to this site, but after having seen “Children of Mars” I’m willing to break that vow for now if only on the assumption that the producers lurk for feedback. I won’t get into the details of the plot of this mostly silent short (for one thing, there isn’t much of one), but will say this: just as pure cinema — that ineffable sum of acting, cinematography, visual effects, editing, and music — “Children of Mars” is simply one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen with the name “Star Trek” attached to it. If “Picard” is half as effective at conveying its timely admixture of melancholy and hope, this often jaded longtime fan is all-in, and maybe even a little stoked.

Agreed; this didn’t feel like anything we’ve seen before. And that’s a good thing!

I am disappointed that you have decided not to participate here anymore, Michael.

Michael Hall

Nothing personal, Scott. It’s just that I’ve come to realize that fandom has become so toxic these days — see four comments below for a pluperfect example — that it has begun to bring out the worst in me, which is not a good thing. I can only wish my comments here down through the years had always been as measured and cheerful as yours. (Wish my CGI work was as good as yours, too.) Take care.

Trek in a Cafe

I enjoy your comments, Michael Hall!

Tiger2

Sorry to see you go as well Michael. We didn’t always agree but we were always civil to each other when did disagree. That’s the way it SHOULD work, but yeah message boards can be the worse sometimes. For me though with the exception of 1 or 2 trolls left here (and one who was banned but sadly weaseled his way back here under another name) it’s been fine for me personally. And I just ignore the few trolls still around.

And yes I agree if Children of Mars is a good indicator of what the show will be we may get something great out of it. I been positive about it since day one but SO FAR everything they have shown has only reaffirmed my outlook on it, this short a perfect example. It could still be a different thing with the show itself but so far its really all positive for me. :)

TG47

As you do so often Tiger2, you’ve caught my thoughts as well.

Michael Hall, I hope you can find a way to join us more regularly again. It was nice to hear from you.

Indeed. And Michael, I completely and truly know what you mean. I almost completely stepped back from social media (and especially Trek-related websites) circa 2011 for the same reason, and only started tiptoe-ing back in a year or so ago.

I hope your spiritual cleanse goes well and that you will come back again soon to give me more undeserved but much appreciated compliments :D

All the best!

A34

I loved it.

TechNoir

I also enjoy reading your comments, Michael. Best to you.

Dan Dare

Sorry, I don’t buy the “fandom has become so toxic” argument. Like they say with other fandoms (Star Wars, Doctor Who etc).

If the people making them took care and made a product the fans can get behind and enjoy. There would be little dissatisfaction.

For instance using Star Wars as an example, fans HATED The Last Jedi for what they did to certain characters/they took the story. However, The Mandalorian is pretty much universally praised. Because the people in charge of the show (Faverau/Filoni) understand the franchise and what Star Wars means, while also making a good piece of media.

Imagine Kurtzman et al did this too? If they took the time and effort to make a Star Trek show that was well written that goes forward, while also respecting what came before. Fans are passionate about these franchises, so they’re going to kick up a fuss when they’re handled poorly by people who just don’t get them or worse, don’t care.

Make a product good and the praise will be given. Simple as that.

Michael Hall

Okay — just this one, last time. (Yes, I’m weak.) I find it quite amusing that you cite “passion” as a justification for name-calling and impugning the talent and motives of total strangers. It’s been a decade since J.J. Abrams “rebooted” the franchise with Trek 2009. I loathed damn-near every minute of it. Yet when I debated its virtues with writer Roberto Orci in these very forums I somehow managed to avoid claiming he was a hack, or that he didn’t care about Trek, or that he had raped my childhood. (I may very well have made the statement, based on the evidence of the film itself, that he didn’t “get” Trek, which I still think was fair and legitimate criticism.)

Yes, I get that fans can get passionate about TV and movie franchises, having had fifty years’ worth of passion for this particular one, not to mention the thousands spent on everything from books and convention tickets to a Master Replicas Enterprise model. In the end, though, it’s just that: a TV and movie franchise. Such passion isn’t itself a license for bad behavior, particularly when the point of said franchise is that we all need to put aside our differences and work together to build a better future. You claim that Kurtzman doesn’t “get it.” Apparently, he’s not the only one.

That’s it; I’m done. Thanks to the rest of you for your kind words. Be careful out there. 🖖

TechNoir

Dan, it’s not about fans disliking a product. It’s about HOW they express their dissatisfaction that creates a toxic atmosphere.

The internet has created a generation of people for whom nuance is a foreign language. People throw around extreme words like “love” and “hate” like they’re almost meaningless now, with little discussion in between. That’s the problem.

Jai

Michael Hall, I’m sorry to see you go too. I always enjoyed reading your contributions to discussions here — in fact, I usually made it a point to do so — and I think you’re one of the best commenters that Trekmovie has ever had. However, I completely understand your reasons for withdrawing. You’re right, of course.

Thank you for everything you posted here over the years.

dennycranium

Sokath! His eyes open@

Philip Seifert

Attacked by ‘Rogue Synths’ ??
The analog Moog ‘Rogue synthesizer’ was made in 1981…they end up achieving sentient consciousness and get revenge on carbon-based lifeforms…you say why?…because they were misused and abused in 1980-1990s synthpop, disco, R&B, industrial and electro-house music. Some were circuit-bent and dissassembled to use as parts in modular synths.

Even Peter Gabriel used a Moog Rogue Synth and sings the Bowie/Eno/Fripp song ‘Heroes’ in the Children of Mars Short Trek;
http://www.vintagesynth.com/moog/rogue.php

Maybe this would work better as a meme

DaveCGN

If they choose a David Bowie song, I would have expected Life On Mars.

Fred Javelina

Hence Bowie Base One in the nuWho episode ‘The Waters of Mars’

Tim

Anyone know when these will be out in the UK??

Kevin

The writer remembers the Challenger explosion before the Reagan assassination attempt?! The Reagan assassination attempt happened in 1981 and Challenger was in 1986. For me I was 3 in 1981 so it wasn’t the assassination attempt but rather the Challenger explosion I remember where I was when I heard the news. Just the historian in me had to point that out.

Dénes House

Thanks, Kevin! The Challenger explosion left a bigger mark in my memory.

PaulB

Your introduction is internally contradictory. You wrote “Every generation has that moment…when everyone remembers where they were when it happened. The first such moment in my life was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff.”

But you then say you remember were you were when Reagan was shot. Reagan was shot years before Challenger exploded. By definition (by chronology), Reagan was the “first such moment in” your life.

It doesn’t matter which had a bigger effect. That is not what you wrote. You wrote about which was the FIRST moment in your life. If you remember being in a dentist’s chair when you heard about Reagan, that is the first.

Rewriting your intro to say what you mean would be good. :)

Paulo Cesar

A great piece of shit. If i wanted to watch 13 Reasons Why, i would watch it. It´s horrible what Kurtzman and his crew are doing to Trek. 8 minutes of nothing, with a lot of Canon problems. That´s today´s Trek.

FrostUK

Easily the worst short so far (I missed the animated ones), what a total shame. Not clear when its set, not clear where its set. Bad story-telling that amounts to a cliché-filled music video with forgettable performances.

Michael

“Not clear where its set”. Didn’t the kids explicitly state where their parents work?

TG47

Yup Michael, the kids introduce themselves by saying that Utopia Planitia shipyards on Mars is where their parents are working, but the dormitory and school seem to be on Earth.

Tiger2

It’s definitely Earth. I forget which girl but you can pause the video when they are at home and see San Francisco outside one of their windows. Like everything in this short its VERY fast!

DataLore

Exactly, well said. Performances are way too 2019, 2020.

And music video is great comparison, it looks almost like a lower budget commercial for a local University to me.

A34

“Performances are way too 2019, 2020.”

What does that even mean?

Boo

Not clear when it is set? It is shown that Picard is an Admiral at this time. Therefore, it is easily date to be after Picard became an Admiral.

Not clear where it is set? The kids’ parents work on Mars and Lil’s father says he can’t go home to visit, clearly indicating the children are living on another planet that is not Mars. And outside the kids’ windows is San Francisco, indicating it is Earth.

Perhaps it would be important for nitpickers to pay attention first.

Thorny

I saw it as they were on Earth and their parents were on/over Mars. I’m not sure why there was any real question about that. My only real complaint was that the school looked way too 20th/21st Century. A library with real books?

The Collector

Hear hear. Star Trek Picard looks like it will be another car crash of a show like Discovery. I love the universe built in fifty years of mostly good TV, but I fear it is moribund now.

Boo

LOL car crash of a show like Discovery? Oh you mean go on for 3 seasons and more? Birth a new universe of shows? Bring in new fans to keep the franchise going?

Oh yeah, what a total car crash LOL

A34

LOL. So true.

The Collector

I’m glad you enjoy the nonsensical Discovery. Someone has to!

CBS couldn’t cancel the dumpster fire of Discovery because it would have sent red flags to investors. Netflix dumped it, no one wanted to pay for the abysmal Short Treks and licensees don’t want to touch it with a stick.

A34

Wow, maybe watch the show first.

Mike2

No canon problems. What you saw in that very entertaining and enjoyable 8 minutes IS canon. Sure it raised questions. But I don’t want my Trek spoon-fed to me. Trek fandom at its best comes up with explanations for what we saw on the screen. Maybe those older ships are being refit to help with the Romulan evacuation? Or maybe it’s one of a hundred other possible explanations. Trek fandom at its worst just bitches and moans…

The Collector

Perhaps if the writers and producers didn’t have the appalling track record of Kurtzman and Beyer, I’d give them benefit of the doubt.

A34

Would explain why the ship yard is so busy. I still don’t get why they don’t have robots build the ships.

Boo

8 minutes of nothing? Really? Did you miss the exploration of life beyond Starfleet? Did you miss children dealing with distance and loneliness from their parents? Did you miss children dealing with grief and rage? Did you miss children learning to find unity through sadness? I’m sorry you missed all of that.

And canon problems? Where? Because they used old ship designs? As if that doesn’t happen all the time in real life? Even today’s naval ships stay in usage for decades. That isn’t even to mention that given the shipyards were building for the rescue fleet to Romulus, there is no reason that they wouldn’t have pulled some old ships out of the mothballs and refitted them for rescue missions. This cognitive dissonance from some clinging desperately to tiny scraps of rigid canon is just sad. You’ve boxed up your own thinking instead of being open minded.

LJ (was LJ)

‘Rogue Synth’ almost sounds like a borrow of Red Dwarf’s Rogue Simulants.

Mike Burnthem

Or the hit British TV show “Being Human” in which everyone calls the alexa-style androids “synths”. I can’t take the cliche, I feel like it’s being written by kids on their first job after high school.

Vice Admiral Nakamura

To those who would commend the “style” of this parade of cringe-cheese, I’ll just say that Kurtzman has all the refined aesthetic sensibility of a pharmaceutical commercial. And that was the most atrocious David Bowie cover I’ve ever heard.

Patrick

Ok.

MysticalDigtial

It was Peter Gabriel’s cover, WTF you on about?

PaulB

Peter Gabriel is great, but as a fan of his I can easily admit that his “Heroes” cover is godawful. Glad you like it, though.

DataLore

Really not impressed with this one, at all. Poor production values, the picture looks very washed out and digital, as though it is a low budget commercial for the local college.

The acting and so forth comes off as completely 2019, 2020 while the actors in other Trek at least tried to give the impression that they were living in the future.

Fred Javelina

So there is a futuristic way that kids bump into each other and have petty rivalries, get in fights and stay for detention? Do kids in the future have better control of their emotions somehow?

Is there a futuristic school of acting that is like Stanislavsky or the Method but that uses, I dunno, pheromones or telepathy to convey drama?

Schools TODAY have not changed that much since the 1700s, so why would the essential nature of school – and childhood itself – change in another 300 years?

Your comment really doesn’t make much sense.

I think you mean “actors in older Trek came from a different generation of circa-WWII acting that was more theatrically ‘big’, the lines hit-you-over-the-head obvious,” and “in some later series like Voyager everything was wooden as heck because of the need to deliver reams of Treknobabble and that’s what I think of as acting?”

Maybe if you watch things other than reruns of Trek you can get up to speed on modern acting? Start with the works of Meryl Streep or Daniel Day-Lewis?

Tiger2

FEELS SO GOOD TO BE BACK IN THE 24TH CENTURY!!

I really liked this short a lot. Didn’t love it, mostly because it was just so short, once you start to get into it it was over. But yeah I liked all the points the reviewer brought up, that it took place on a civilian Earth for a change which is still pretty rare for Star Trek to do. And all the great easter eggs like having it coincide with First Contact day; Federation News Network being back from Generations and the TNG font at the end. It’s little things like this that makes fans smile and it certainly made me smile.

But yes the biggest point of all is who actually attacked Mars which is the biggest shock! The fact its rogue AIs is probably what no one really saw coming and add yet ANOTHER big story mystery to the show. It’s really surprising just HOW WELL they have not only kept this story such a secret but its going to be a BIG story in the process with tons of twists. That isn’t always a good thing since as Discovery showed they can go waaaay too far with the twits lol but so far at least they feel more intriguing than eye rolling.

But I’m very excited with it ALL so far. I love how different it all looks and feels and yet still part of the universe we all know and love. MAYBE I would have felt the same way with DIS if it didn’t feel so distracting knowing it was suppose to be pre-TOS but that ship has sailed, I know. And now with the new AI twist I’m more excited because ONE of the reasons I wanted Star Trek to go forward again because I simply wanted more AI stories. Yes there was definitely AI in TOS but it’s never been a mainstay of that show like it was in TNG and VOY with Data and the Doctor. And they were also vert advanced. Now we may get an entire story line about them and that’s very exciting for me.

But a good short, very experimental like a lot of the others and yes our first live action canon story taking place in the 24th century again. We got it, we finally got it!!!!

Mike Burnthem

As you can see, your expectations are singular.

Tiger2

Sorry, but I don’t understand?

But yes I try to be positive overall on all upcoming Trek shows and films…until I’m not lol.

Denny C

I’ve always appreciated your enthusiasm with all things relating to Star Trek. Hoping for the best on this one.

Tiger2

Same to you Denny! As excited as I am about this show I do have a feeling its still going to divide people. HOPEFULLY not as bad as Discovery but we’ll see. But so far I do feel in terms of the fanbase there have been way more positives than negatives concerning this show so that’s a decent sign at least.

Dvorak

Dont worry you are not alone, I’m very much looking forward to Picard. Counting down the days on the calendar like when I was a schoolboy…

TG47

LOL Mike Burnthem, this comment made me snort.

I find myself agreeing with Tiger2 so often that I sometimes worry that others here might think we’re two accounts from the same person – despite being in two different countries.

Tiger2 is definitely not alone in his views.

Tiger2

If we were the same people, you’re clearly the more elegant speaking sock puppet of the two lol.

And I guess this is a good example because I really don’t understand what he means by that? I get its a slight of some kind but what does it mean lol.

Anyway its fine if people are skeptical of this show, especially if you were not hot on the Kelvin films or Discovery (which most people who seem to have issue with one or both of those is suspicious of this one), so I get it. And FOR the record I was mostly positive on Discovery first season leading up to that one too. Not as positive (or excited) like I am for Picard, but was actually in the positive and upbeat column about the show after the trailers….and then I watched the season. ;)

So yes same thing can happen with this show obviously too, its just clicking all the right boxes for me so far and it looks like they are doing the OPPOSITE of what they did with Discovery first season, so another plus for me.

Holden

If you two were actually the same account, my mind would be sufficiently blown.

That said, I’m also optimistic and positive about Picard.

Tiger2

Glad to hear it Holden! I know how you feel about DIS (and I’m not THAT far behind you but like it more now) so hopefully Picard will be great!

A34

Thank God it looks nothing like TNG.

DataMat

Don’t think I’ve seen any of the short treks and that’s ok, because the concept is a big naff in my opinion (they aren’t available anyway here in UK). I’m wouldn’t be too concerned if this short trek didn’t exactly look great or anything because it’s just an experimental teaser for the series to come, and I’d guess much lower budget as well.
So there is still hopefully a lot better to look forward to going forward!

MysticalDigtial

Season 1 of Short Treks is on Netflix under Trailers and More for Discovery

John Ruschmeyer

A couple of random thoughts…
If the “synths” are synthetic lifeforms (e.g., androids and the like), what is the tie-in to the Borg? Also, I’m surprised that no on has mentioned the early speculation that the mysterious girl was a reborn Lal (Data’s daughter).
As for detention in the Atrium, I assumed that they were sitting in the equivalent of the bench outside the Principal’s Office.

Daniel

The Lal stuff has been brought up many times, just not on this thread.

OK, I’m a bad Trekkie, because I TOTALLY didn’t make that connection. But now that I’ve heard it, I can’t unhear (or unSEE) it, because yeah, you’re right—Isa Briones bears a more than passing resemblance to circa-1990 Hallie Todd (“Lal”).

Olli

I hate that there are absolutly NO Informations on how to watch this if you ain’t in the US.
If someone has an Idea, please share :(

TG47

If you are in Canada, it’s on CTV Sci-fi channel and crave.

Else, if you are outside North America you can ask Netflix why they are not posting the Short Treks until they are all out for the season. Netflix has season 1 under trailers. Not clear if they will be putting up season 2 of Short Treks anytime soon as they declined Picard.

MysticalDigtial

I loved it, my wife thought it was OK (she wanted more on the kids to be more engaged in their story), both of us are completely flabbergasted people are so annoyed by the damn shuttle. As my wife said ‘it’s a school bus, who cares?’

Gary 8.5

I never notice things like what class of shuttle were used.. Discovery has referenced the Short Treks before.
Maybe we will see these girls as adults on Picard. It is unlikely, but not totally outside the realm of possibility.

Max Choi

With less than two weeks to go before the Picard series debuts, I hope that the TrekMovie staff will find time to review the three-part Picard: Countdown comic book series that began back in November.

Dytallix B

I’m surprised how few people seem to be talking about the new comics, especially as they actually retcon the other Countdown comics produced just prior to ST 2009, which were meant to be canon at the time.

I’ve quite enjoyed them so far, but I just heard that the third instalment has now been pushed back to a week after the premiere episode of Picard, which is a shame.

Tiger2

I literally asked about that in another article the week the first comic was released and asked if they planned to review it…got no answer. I admit I don’t understand why that isn’t at least posted a page to discuss it since they know people are interested in it. Yeah I really wanted to hear people’s thoughts about it and I want to talk about it, but I don’t because I’m afraid it will spoil for people who haven’t read it yet.

And yeah I heard they pushed the last issue a week after the show too. Seems strange but then the prequel novel doesn’t show up for a month after the show starts so I guess they figure the show won’t ruin too much what happens in those.

Dénes House

I am unable to review them, since my pocket pennies are going to keep my AllAccess subscription. I’m not moaning, it’s a sacrifice I gladly make. I don’t know if any of the other TrekMovie staff read the comics. We are all volunteers, doing this out of our own pockets, out of love for Trek.

Tiger2

No I understand. I appreciate all the things you do here and I know you’re not really getting paid for a lot of this stuff so I don’t expect you guys to follow everything, especially when it costs money to do it.

But as I said no one from the staff has to directly review everything but just post an article for free discussion with maybe a synopsis. It’s a really big part of the back story going into the show so I’m guessing enough people have bought it themselves to talk about it. But I know most sites want to give a full review. Hopefully someone will in time before the show starts. If not, not a huge deal.

Drink-Mix Man

Okay, here’s my guess: the Romulans and/or Borg hack into the sentient Soong androids to stage this devastating attack. Starfleet— stuck in an ethical quagmire— decides the “synths” are too much of a security risk because of this unknown security flaw, rounds them up and deactivates them. This decision to put the security of the state over the rights of sentient individuals leads to Picard’s decision to leave Starfleet.

I feel like that would be a cool way to a post 9/11 Star Trek take (if they must). It would be more ethically complex and in character for Starfleet than just “something bad happened, now we’re security state xenophobes all of a sudden” the way some of the past iterations have done it.

Tiger2

That is a REALLY cool idea! That would be interesting. But if anyone did it, I can see the Romulans involved. They are underhanded and devious that way. The Borg doesn’t really do stuff like that, they just show up lol.

Dan Dare

Androids can’t melt steel beams

Alex

Just realized that in Roman mythology the children of the Roman Goddess Mars are twin boys named Romulus and Remus. Probably reading into it more than needed, but felt that was interesting to note…

Fred Javelina

Mars is a god (male). In the myth, their mother is the vestal virgin Rhea Silvia, a human.

In astronomy, Rhea is the second-largest moon of Saturn, but it’s named after the Titan Rhea, the ‘mother of the gods’, not the human Rhea Silvia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhea_(moon)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_and_Remus

It should be noted, of course, that Romulus and Remus are the human names for those worlds. In the Romulan language, they are ch’Rihan and ch’Havran respectively and have nothing to do with human mythology.

The title confused me. I kept telling my 11 year old, “They live on Mars, under a dome,” then, “Oh, I guess that shuttle’s taking them to their school on Mars,” then, “Um, I guess they’re on Earth.” So, the title is metaphoric? Ugh.

Nits:
The trailer literally tells the same story as the short. It’s a shorter version, that’s all.

‘Heroes’ has WHAT to do with this story about by-standers??

I’m glad the review mentions synths. Missed that in all the text reading on screen. Some dialogue would have helped.

I agree with others that they show the wrong era ships.

Legate Damar

They’re from Mars. They were living in a boarding school on Earth.

Confusing. The dad said he couldn’t make it. I would swear he said ‘home.’ Whatever…

Checked. The dad does say he can’t ‘make it home’ to Earth. So… they’re not ‘Children of Mars,’ they’re children left orphaned by an attack on Mars. BTW — 3,000 dead? (shade of 9/11) — shouldn’t there be tens of millions dead on Mars? Those splosions were the size of countries in an era where the Federation can plop millions down on any given planet in the Alpha Quadrant. Nine million died when the Xindi zapped central Florida…

Tiger2

No they are definitely on Earth. I made a post here citing you can see San Francisco out of one of the girl’s room at the beginning of the short.

Denny C

“Heroes” was a bit of an odd song choice. If they wanted to run with a Peter Gabriel song there were plenty of others that would have worked here but it seems it was a bit like “We’ve got the cash to license us some music and, by gum, we’re going to license us some music!”

Inserting a recognizable song doesn’t make a show more relevant.

Drink-Mix Man

It’s David Bowie. But on that note, they could have done Bowie’s “Life on Mars!”

PaulB

It’s Peter Gabriel performing Bowie’s song. And “Life on Mars” would have been the most painfully obvious, overused, and still pointless song to use.

Dénes House

The girls are “Children of Mars” in the same way that I am a child of the Challenger explosion, and of 9/11. Their lives have been irreparably altered by the attacks on Mars.

Just Another Salt Vampire

The title is literal in the sense that the girls’ parents are on Mars. They are on Earth watching their parents getting blown up on Mars.

I was really hoping Amazon Prime would get the rights to this so I could see it with everyone else, but it seems not. I will probably have to read the spoilers above so at least I know what’s going on.

Tiger2

They will probably get it, but just not right away. Even when the shorts hit Netflix it was literally months after the first one aired if you recalled and I think just before season 2 started. Just a guess but if it comes to Amazon MAYBE it will come the day the show is released. *Fingers crossed*

A34

I liked the new smartphones.

Trig

Very The Expanse (Trek’s true spiritual successor)

A34

And thank god no one is wearing spandex.

Markus

Cant watch it outside US. Wtf

I thought that was pretty lame, personally. I have no idea why the producers chose the song they chose, or why they chose a song at all, or if they know that it was used to much better effect in the third season of “Stranger Things” less than a year ago. I have no idea why these producers do anything they do, though.

And, just like that, I’m rather worried about “Picard.”

Webguest

I liked that it wasn’t corny in my view. Just a strange choice by teachers to play traumatizing footage to a room full of school children.

PaulB

In 1986, teachers showed countless rooms full of school children the footage of the space shuttle Challenger explosion. Nothing unusual about students being exposed to something like this.

Nebula1701

sept 11th 2001 8th Grade Science Class before School was let out they had the TV on showing the news of the attacks with video of the collisions.

So yeah nothing new for me.

_be

Interesting episode, but the sappy schmaltz song made it difficult to watch

Mhoram777

Like all of the other Short Treks, this one was amazing on first blush. But also like all other Short Treks, once you start picking at them and pulling threads, they unravel. So less nitpicking and more just enjoying it.

Nachum

The news report seemed a bit off to me. Yes, I know it’s the future, but if (as seemed from the context), the attack was actually going on *at that moment*, seeing all those shots on the screen- interior shots, space shots, etc.- seemed a bit too quick. And in the middle of the attack they’re able to get Picard to issue a reaction? Wouldn’t he (unless he was the spokesman, which is unlikely, and even if he was) be, you know, a bit busy at the moment?

Tiger2

Yes no doubt that was all a bit rushed. It would’ve made sense to show maybe a few hours passing or something, at least another additional scene. It was only a six and a half minute short without credits, they could’ve added a few more minutes lol. I don’t know why the last few shorts have such small running times? I just went and looked at first season running times and they averaged around 15 minutes. This season after the first two shorts they are well under 10 minutes. The longest Short Calypso was 18 minutes, a full 10 minutes longer than this one.

It’s like they decided they were getting too long or something but the latest ones barely had any time to breathe. Your issue being a great example.

TG47

Tiger2, I think that the visual cuts to the principal and the other students arriving and watching may have been intended to convey that time was passing,

But it might have helped if the light shifted a bit through the windows.

On the other hand, if I think back to 9/11, it was surprising how quickly the key events seemed to happen. The mind and spirit just couldn’t keep up with the tragedy.

So, on on the level of emotion and sensation, this felt right to me.

TG47

I’d been wondering where I’d seen an image of the stairwell the girls come up into the atrium/hall.

It’s the Daniels Building at the University of Toronto (school of architecture) which just reopened in May 2019 after a major renovation and expansion. It got some media profile last year at the time of reopening.

It sounds as though the Short Trek may have been filmed before or close to the time of reopening after the end of the academic year. Clearly, most of the Short was produced at that location. The renovated library even has the LED light strips.

See: http://www.nadaaa.com/portfolio/daniels-faculty-of-architecture-landscape-and-design/

zillabeast

Besides the obvious….all the questions raised at the end there…

…that was as unbearable a ‘Short Treks’ as we’ve gotten so far.

TG47

Fortunately zillabeast, TPTB are cool with some fans not liking any given Short Trek or series.

The days of ‘one-size-fits-all’ Trek are mercifully past.

Some of us like sci-fi that poses more questions than answers or leaves us wondering at the end.

Short Treks are intentionally experimental. Not every short is a standout for me, but I’ve seen this one 4 times so far and the emotional impact is still there.

I’m voting this one as one of the best of this season.

Porco

> We see more children in “Children of Mars” than possibly all the children ever depicted in the rest of Star Trek combined

Episode: “And the Children Shall Lead” – TOS
Episode: “Disaster” – TNG

Wesley Crusher – TNG
Alexander. – TNG
Jake. Nog. – DS9

There are more examples, but those will suffice. There are MANY children depicted in Star Trek.

Legate Damar

Yeah, but apart from Miri, those episodes tended to just have a handful of children at most. This one had an entire schoolful. Pretty much every scene was filled with child extras.

Mike Burnthem

What show have you been watching? We saw the Enterprise’s schools countless times. Picard and others were even turned INTO kids in an episode with them bouncing up and down on the bed while child Picard had to deal with being unable to command any authority.

Legate Damar

The Enterprise school never had more than a dozen kids at most. And it was only four characters who turned into kids.

Gary 8.5

One interesting aspect of this is the girls were not against each other because one was was human and the other wasn’t. they had just bad first impressions of each other. Their dislike of each other was their first step towards accepting one another.

Mike Burnthem

So the NX-01 can do Neptune and back in 6 minutes, yet deadbeat dad can’t come home on his lunch break to look after his daughter.

It’s the next nearest planet for crying out loud, shuttles are going to be like busses, and in Bad Reboot canon they have had transporters that can do a site to site from Earth to Kronos 80 years before.

What a terrible father, and what terrible melodramatic writing.

Tiger2

I don’t think its that big of a deal, they were just underlining she’s struggling not seeing her dad. But yes, if he couldn’t go to Earth I’m not sure why she just couldn’t go visit him if he’s that busy to leave.

And Jake lived with Sisko on Mars when he was in charge of the Utopia shipyards so you can’t use the excuse it’s off limits to children.

TG47

It seems to me that Lil’s father’s situation is not only the trigger for her aggressive behaviour, but also a short-hand sign that the situation is already ‘not normal.’

Yes, in ordinary times Utopia Planitia would have accommodations for dependants (as do many current military bases and ship facilities), and her father would have access to a spot on a shuttle that wasn’t taken for duty travel.

But if there is a massive emergency project ‘this year’ requiring and mobilizing multiple shifts and accelerated work, it means that
1. Housing for dependants is given to additional engineering staff;
2. The extra staff can’t bring their dependants.
3. Priority is given to personnel on duty travel, leaving no spots available for family visits.
4. Resources for dependant family don’t always anticipate the needs of spouses and children.

I’ll put it out to others who’ve had experience with military life or work in defence departments and agencies in other countries, but this all makes total sense to me.

Who cares

As the parent of 4 daughters, Kima and Lil were written and acted as if they have been friends for a while and in 1 day it escalates all the way to a fight.

As to the music choice, its a very Trek message. It can at times be easy to forget who we should be. When pain, loss, and fear can make us lash out. But we can be better, we can decide (as Kirk put it), that today, I am not a killer, today I can be a Hero. I am betting it speaks even more to Picard itself.

Who cares

Also, the shapeshifter in ST6 was played by Bowie’s wife Imam, so a Bowie song is a good easter egg anyway.