CBS All Access is launching a short-form spinoff of Star Trek: Discovery, called Star Trek: Short Treks. The series is intended to launch in the fall and roll out monthly, with the aim to ensure viewers remain excited about Discovery season 2, which will return in January 2019.
Star Trek: Discovery was a remarkable success for CBS. While the first episode aired on CBS, drawing 9.6 million viewers, future episodes were available only on the CBS All Access service. Although the approach led to a surge in piracy, it also saw CBS report record subscriptions. Subscriber growth was long-term enough for Discovery to be renewed, but the problem facing the streaming service is how to keep people signed up between the seasons.
The answer, it seems, is to expand All Access's Star Trek output with a short-form spinoff. At SDCC 2018, CBS revealed that they'd commissioned a four-episode series designed to further explore the characters and themes from the Star Trek universe. Each episode will run between 10-15 minutes in length, and will focus in on one of the characters from Star Trek: Discovery.
Rainn Wilson will both star in and direct a short featuring his popular character Harry Mudd. Aldis Hodge will star in another installment as Craft, a human who finds himself alone on board a deserted ship. Another short will explore Saru's backstory as the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, while the final short will focus on Tilly. It's particularly interesting to note that one of these episodes is dedicated to Saru. CBS seems to view the Kelpian as a breakout character in Star Trek: Discovery, with two of the show's canon novels actually dedicated to Saru's time in Starfleet as well. The end of Discovery season 1 saw Saru finally earn the much-coveted rank of Captain, and the fascinating dynamic between Saru and Lieutenant Burnham will no doubt be a central arc in the second season.
Speaking at SDCC, showrunner Alex Kurtzman stressed that Short Treks would be a valuable addition to the Star Trek franchise.
"There is no shortage of compelling stories to tell in the Star Trek universe that inspire, entertain, and either challenge our preconceived ideas or affirm long held beliefs, and we are excited to broaden the universe already with Short Treks. Each episode will deliver closed-ended stories while revealing clues about what’s to come in future Star Trek: Discovery episodes. They’ll also introduce audiences to new characters who may inhabit the larger world of Star Trek."
The fascinating question is whether or not some of these shorts will tease plots in season 2. It's possible that Aldis Hodge's short will set up his appearance in the main series, or that the deserted spaceship will actually figure in as a plot point somehow.
This #SDCC post is brought to you in partnership with Regal Cinemas.