Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Shows The Enterprise's Entire History In Just 8 Minutes

Star Trek is taking an animated tour through the life of the USS Enterprise in the latest Short Trek from CBS All Access. December has seen a pair of new shorts, both of which tie in loosely with Star Trek: Discovery, and both of them animated. Star Trek has done animation before, most notably with Star Trek: The Animated Series in the 1970s, but this time CBS is aiming more for a slick, Pixar-style aesthetic in an obvious attempt to bring a younger audience to the final frontier. With Nickelodeon developing an ongoing Star Trek animated series, it's a boom time to be a Starfleet cartoon.

While "The Girl Who Made The Stars" is a charming story from Star Trek: Discovery star Michael Burnham's childhood, "Ephraim and Dot" is likely to be the more intriguing of the two shorts for longtime fans. It chronicles the life of a tardigrade looking for a good place to lay its eggs; it eventually decides on the Enterprise's engine room. However, the tardigrade is continually thwarted by an Enterprise security drone that looks more than a little like Wall-E.

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Through some clever use of archive audio and some stunningly beautiful space animation, we see the entire history of the Enterprise unfold in the background as the tardigrade fights to protect its eggs. Classic episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series like "Space Seed," "The Trouble With Tribbles" and "Who Mourns For Adonais?" all get direct references, including a brief cameo of Captain Kirk meeting Khan for the first time, featuring dialogue from William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban.

Confidently directed by longtime composer Michael Giacchino - who scored all three of the Kelvin timeline films - "Ephraim and Dot" is a decidedly new and different flavor for Star Trek. The tone of the short is essentially that of a sci-fi Looney Tunes segment. The short wraps up where the original Enterprise's life ended, over the Genesis planet in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. Things work out a bit better for the tardigrade and security drone than they do for the Enterprise.

The final Short Trek of season 2, "Children of Mars" will debut in January and serve as a prelude to the hotly anticipated Star Trek: Picard. Very little information is available about that one, though it will return to live action and will likely feature a much more somber tone. Current Star Trek mastermind Alex Kurtzman has stressed that he wants to showcase the franchise's ability to do different things than it has in the past, and the Short Treks have been something of a farm system for many of those ideas. No matter where Kurtzman and company take Star Trek next, "Ephraim and Dot" proves that they're capable of innovation and tonal shifts while still honoring the legacy and spirit of the franchise.