WARNING! The reading of this blog WITHOUT first watching “Ask Not” WILL ruin an amazing experience for you!
It only took seven minutes and forty-five seconds.
Actually, it took even less time than that. Without the traditional SHORT TREKS opening title sequence, this latest offering of CBS’s series of mini-episodes dropped me immediately into the action. What followed was a whirlwind of masterfully delivered, impactful lines between two very strong characters. One was Captain Christopher Pike, and ANSON MOUNT could be taking a nap in a hammock and I’d still be mesmerized. So imagine what this amazing actor can do when the dialog is flying fast and furious…and lives are at stake.
The other is a brand new character, Cadet Thira Sidhu (played perfectly by Amrit Kaur), a young engineering cadet facing an impossible decision: does she follow Starfleet protocol or trust Pike? The answer is surprising, to say the least! It’s also the culmination of a tense, non-stop five-minute sequence that doesn’t leave the viewer any time or opportunity to ask “Hey, what’s really going on here?” And that was a very, very good thing!
This is where I start spoiling the episode, folks. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it yet, stop reading now, subscribe to All Access for 10 minutes, and watch “Ask Not.” Or if you’re in a country that hasn’t gotten the second series of Short Treks yet, bookmark this blog and come back to it in January. It’s not time-sensitive.
Okay, I warned ya. If you read further, the irreparable damage is all on you…
I’m not sure I can forgive the creators of SHORT TREKS for eternally inserting a connection in my head between actor H. JON BENJAMIN and tribbles. I will never again be able to watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers or another ARBY’s commercial without wondering if those small, furry creatures somehow made it into their food menus. And if I’m ARBY’s, I am not happy right now.
But all kidding aside, I really wish this episode had put all kidding aside…or at least a good deal of it (tribbles do invite comedy, after all). But they didn’t. Short Treks is an experimental medium for CBS, and they’re to be admired for at least trying some new things. But as a fan, I felt the jokes landed as flat as a tribble falling off a desk and dying (something the episode actually mentioned!). And it does make me a little more wary about what kind of content we’ll be seeing from the upcoming new LOWER DECKS animated Star Trek series. If this is the level of humor we’re in for, well, I might be writing a bunch more critical blog reviews. Time will tell.
As with my reviewyesterday of the first of this season’s Shorts Treks, “Q&A,” I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this episode…although sadly tipping more into the latter emotion this time out. For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see the episode and wants to know what the heck I’ll be talking about, here’s an excellent review that includes a summary…along with some of the same annoying points that I’ll be kvetching about.
First, however, I’ll list the positives. I loved seeing Anson Mount‘s Captain Pike, even for just a few seconds. I also found it cool to glimpse a Trill. And it was nice to see the costume department finally getting a chance to create some Starfleet uniforms without the weird single collar.
Um, what else, what else? Let’s see…well, the lighting was lovely. The music was good. The acting was quite decent. And the tribble vacuum cleaner was a nice touch. Oh, and I did like them showing how your generic detractor of just about anything might be created, even two and a half centuries in the future…
But yeah, aside from that, this episode was hard to love….
On October 5 and five days later on October 10, CBS released the newest two 15-minute episodes of SHORT TREKS to All Access subscribers in America (sorry, rest of the world): “Q and A” and “The Trouble with Edward”…or as I like to call them: the latest two fan films from CBS.
CBS was actually rather quiet about marketing the debut of these two Short Treks, releasing the first on the same Saturday they announced it would be available (during a presentation at New York Comic Con) and the second during Thursday Night Football later that week. In fact, the rest of the Short Treks will also be premiering during Thursday Night Football (as will STAR TREK: PICARD) because that’s when the majority of All Access subscribers are watching (don’t ask me how I know that). Here’s the schedule for the remaining new Short Treks:
“Ask Not” – Thursday, Nov. 14
“The Girl Who Made the Stars” – Thursday, Dec. 12
“Ephraim and Dot” – Thursday, Dec. 12
“Children of Mars” – Thursday, Jan. 9
Because CBS is targeting the sports viewers of All Access with these “15-minute commercials” more than they are the hard core fans, many folks weren’t even aware that Short Treks had already debuted. In fact, I took an informal poll on the Fan Film Forum Facebook group and discovered that 40% of our responding members had no idea any new Short Treks were available….
But since these two episodes have, indeed, been released, how about we do a good ol’ editorial review? Or rather, let’s make it a two-parter since there were two Short Treks…
Have video pirates lost their enthusiasm for the new SHORT TREKS mini-episodes being released by CBS…and possibly for new Star Trek in general? If so, then it’s a sorta good news/bad news situation for CBS. The good news is that video piracy hurts the bottom line for CBS. So if folks are downloading Discovery and Short Treks without paying a subscription fee (to either All Access or Netflix), that’s potentially money out of CBS’ pocket. So less piracy is a GOOD thing, right?
Well, here’s the bad news. Video piracy is also a barometer, of sorts. Does decreased interest in ShortTreks by pirates imply that the general public is also not interested? And what makes me say that video pirates are losing interest in ShortTreks in the first place?
It all began early last month while I was having dinner with a friend (who shall remain nameless) who illegally downloads Star Trek: Discovery and Short Treks. For the record, I personally do NOT do this, and I subscribed to CBS All Access from October 2017 through February 2018. Here’s my e-mail receipt from them…
So just to be clear, I am NOT endorsing video piracy in any way. This blog is simply looking at an existing trend from a journalistic perspective. Video piracy (or any kind of digital piracy) is illegal and should not be attempted by anyone reading my blogs.
And now that that’s out of the way, back to my story…