On Tuesday, the first two seasons of Star Trek: Short Treks get releases on Blu-ray and DVD, with both releases having the same content. TrekMovie has had some time to check out the Blu-ray release to see if it is worth your quatloos.
The Short Treks
The concept of Short Treks is a good one, born out of a pinch of necessity due to the long production and post-production times of a season of a modern Trek show and a desire to experiment with different styles and formats.
The first season of Short Treks was done during the production of season two of Star Trek: Discovery, and benefited from the new visual style and budget of its flagship series. Two Short Treks episodes directly related to the narrative of Discovery’s second season (“Runaway” and “The Brightest Star”). The two other entries were set in the Discovery universe but not tied to it as directly (the excellent “Calypso” and Harry Mudd entry “The Escape Artist”). Short Treks have also been a way to audition new writers and directors for the CBS Star Trek Universe fold. Michael Chabon (who would go on to be heavily involved in the creation and production of Star Trek: Picard) wrote “Calypso,” and Mike McMahan (who would go on to be the creator of Star Trek: Lower Decks) wrote “The Escape Artist.”
After the good reception to the first season, the second season became even more experimental. It included the first new animated Trek since the 1970s’ Star Trek: The Animated Series with two episodes which have very different tones and styles: “The Girl Who Made the Stars” (which expands on the legend that Michael Burnham recounted in the Discovery season 2 premiere), and the delightful Tom and Jerry-style “Ephraim and DOT,” told through the music of Michael Giacchino. And again the Short Treks were used to test the waters, especially with three episodes featuring the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Pike. “Q &A” starred Spock and Number One, and was written by Michael Chabon, “Ask Not” focused more on Pike himself, and “The Trouble with Edward” experimented with outright farce in an episode written by The Office alumnus Graham Wagner and starring (Archer and Bob’s Burgers lead) H. Jon Benjamin.
The final short of the second season: “Children of Mars,” is a unique case as it is the only short so far not related to Discovery. It was made to be a prequel (of sorts) to Star Trek: Picard season one and isn’t included in this Short Treks release, but we expect it to be included as a special feature on the Picard Blu-ray/DVD release (likely coming out later this year).
All in all, TrekMovie has been impressed with Short Treks for both its experimentation and the way it gives added depth to Star Trek: Discovery, and now, possible insight into the upcoming Pike show Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. These short films have provided some of the highlights of this new era of Star Trek. Star Trek Picard season one showrunner Michael Chabon’s two Short Treks episodes (“Calypso” and “Q&A”) are some of his best work as part of the franchise, showing how the format can benefit from a singular creative vision. For more details about each episode including links to our reviews of each episode please see our Short Treks page.
The Special Features
The single-disc release of Star Trek: Short Treks complements the two seasons of episodes with almost an equal amount of new special features. The features are a highlight of the release and like the series itself, offer a variety of different styles instead of just being typical talking head comment commentaries.
There is a featurette titled “The Making Of Short Treks,” which has a nice in-depth discussion with executive producer Alex Kurtzman and others who worked on the series. It offers some honest insights into the origins and background of Short Treks along with details into the making of the series. (The following clip is from the featurette on Short Treks.)
There are also two audio commentaries. One is included with the first episode “Runaway,” featuring Kurtzman and co-writer Jenny Lumet, who offer interesting insights into the making of the episode, including how it was changed after the casting of Yadira Guevara-Prip. The second commentary is for the episode “Q&A” from Anson Mount (Pike), which also gives some insights into how the episode was put together, along with insights about his acting process and love for Star Trek.
The bulk of the special features consist of video featurettes for each of the episodes (except for “Q&A” which has the Mount audio commentary).
Coming Of Age – Tied to the “Runaway” short, the first installment of the new Short Treks format, this featurette includes executive producers Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman as well as director Maja Vrvilo, and star Mary Wiseman. The highlight is the discussion of Tilly as a character from the writers and Wiseman.
Shall We Dance? – Writer Michael Chabon and Director Olatunde Osunsanmi discuss the challenges of creating a compelling story with only one on-screen character in the “Calypso” short. Chabon offers a look into his process creating a Star Trek version of Homer’s Odyssey.
First Contact: Kaminar – A deep dive into “The Brightest Star” short and creating Saru’s backstory. Writers Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt explain the origins of this short and how it ties into their Discovery episode “The Sound of Thunder.” In addition to Saru actor Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh talks about what it was like for her to return as the original “good” captain Georgiou.
Covered In Mudd – Tied to “The Escape Artist” short, an interview with star Rainn Wilson about directing the Harry Mudd short and his experience on both sides of the camera. This featurette will be of most interest to those who like to go behind the scenes as it includes mostly on-set footage as well as details on the visual effects. (The clip below gives you a taste of what to expect.)
Ensign Spock’s First Day – Writer Michael Chabon talks about writing for Ensign Spock’s first day in “Q&A” and opens up about how it tied into his relationship with his own father, who introduced him to Star Trek. He also gives some insight into how Rebecca Romijn’s Gilbert and Sullivan skills worked their way into the character of Number One.
Here Comes Tribble – Like the episode itself, this featurette is a departure from the others, focusing on just one behind-the-scenes element: Prop master Mario Moreira explains what it took to bring back tribbles for “The Trouble with Edward.”
Score! – Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino discusses taking the reins on “Ephraim and Dot” as a director. The composer shows his love of Star Trek and especially The Original Series as he goes over how the music was created for “Ephraim and Dot” and the Short Treks series.
Bedtime Stories – Writer Brandon Schultz, director Olatunde Osunsanmi and actor Kenric Green (“Mike Burnham”) discuss the development of “The Girl Who Made the Stars,” the animated Short Trek about a bedtime story. The highlight of this featurette is Schultz, Osunsanmi, and Green talking about making a kid-friendly Star Trek short they wanted to share with their own children.
Since Star Trek: Short Treks are shorts (no more than 15 minutes apiece), they easily fit on one Blu-ray disc. The navigation is very straightforward. The special features (both audio commentaries and featurettes) that correspond to each episode are found under the episode titles in the “Episode Selection” menu. The “Making Of Short Treks” is under the special features section.
Since these episodes were made either concurrently or just after the main season of Discovery, they get to benefit from all the production and style changes made to season two. These second season changes improved the show, as it was generally more brightly lit, and the move to anamorphic lenses not only offered a change to the aspect ratio, but also gave the image a more pleasing cinematic look. As for being on disc rather than streaming, there’s an extra bit of sharpness, and notably, the dark scenes are a bit less murky.
The episodes have losslessly compressed DTS-HD MA 5.1 channel soundtracks. This is pretty standard for a TV show release. Discovery and thus Short Treks sounds great.
The Short Treks Blu-ray release comes in a standard clamshell with a slide-out cardboard sleeve.
This Blu-ray is the highest quality way to watch Short Treks, so for people who care about getting the best audio-video experience, this is the set for them. It is also recommended for fans of Discovery who want more insights into the show, both in terms of the narrative as well as how the show is made. It’s recommended for collectors as well as anyone who wants an offline copy of the show.
The Star Trek: Short Treks Collection is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD, this Tuesday in the US. You can pre-order them on Amazon. The Blu-ray is priced at $19.99 and the DVD is priced at $14.96.
For fans outside the US and Canada, the Blu-ray and DVD releases are the only way to see the second season of Short Treks, since it has yet to be picked up on Netflix internationally. Short Treks will be released on July 13 in the UK, and on July 15 in Australia.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Short Treks news and reviews at TrekMovie.com.