Paramount has been attempting to lure new audiences into the Star Trek fandom, and a big part of that has involved embracing animation. Shows like Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy have succeeded in recruiting new fans, and that’s likely why the studio authorized the creation of Very Short Treks. These bite-sized bits of YouTube entertainment are meant to win over new fans and appeal to old ones, but we have some bad news: this series stinks like targ droppings and is the worst thing to happen to the franchise since the TNG episode “Code of Honor.”
Fundamentally Misunderstanding the Series
Very Short Treks started out with the episode “Skin a Cat,” and it provided the first indication that this new show would be one serious stinker. The title refers to the entire premise of the episode: Captain Kirk keeps using phrases like “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” and inevitably offends crewmembers like M’Ress, the cat lady from Star Trek: The Animated Series. Things get more surreal from there, but the jokes never land because the Very Short Treks writers seem to fundamentally misunderstand the franchise and its fandom.
Honestly, almost every punchline in the episode revolves around Kirk’s growing annoyance that his crew is so easily offended. Regardless of fans’ personal politics on that subject, Trek has always been a show that prides itself on inclusivity and diversity. To put it mildly, making the first Very Short Treks episode all about how this diversity annoys a captain who seemingly wants fewer aliens on his ship is problematic at best and downright stupid at worst.
The Writers Just Don’t Get the Characters
Very Short Treks is a kind of parody series, and we obviously expected exaggerated portrayals of our favorite characters. However, it’s hard not to be disappointed by the fact that almost every joke boils down to the writers misunderstanding the franchise’s famous characters. In our “Skin a Cat” example above, we had Captain Kirk, who famously said, “Leave bigotry in your quarters; there’s no room for it on the bridge,” portrayed as someone who seems downright annoyed to work with crew who are so different from himself.
It gets worse: in the Very Short Treks episode “Holiday Party,” the punchlines revolve around Spock’s inability to understand that his crew wouldn’t find gory mutilation and mass murder hysterical aspects of his “blooper reel.” The gross episode “Worst Contact,” meanwhile, has Riker resorting to blowing up a warp drive and violating the Prime Directive just so he can get away from some nasty aliens. At some point, we just have to ask: is it still a parody when the final result bears almost no resemblance to what is being parodied?
Gross Bodily Humor Has No Place In Star Trek
In Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard famous discussed the need to take a stand against the Borg with his declaration that “the line must be drawn here…no further!” When it comes to Very Short Treks, we’re ready to draw our own line, and here it is. Simply put, body humor, like fart jokes, has no place in the Star Trek franchise.
In the Very Short Treks episode “Holiday Party,” Spock finally elicits laughter from the crew by summarizing his final clip: “the ensign hurt his genitals and then farted.” That was bad enough, but “Worst Contact” derived all its humor from Commander Riker and Dr. Crusher dealing with aliens obsessed with picking their noses and shaking hands because “boogers represent our essence and bind us to all things,” which is why they wipe snot over all their walls and even use it as a “sauce” for their “national dish”…microwaved fish.
We were literally dry-heaving by the end of this one, which left us with one simple request for Paramount. If you can’t entertain us with your new Star Trek content, could you at least not go out of your way to literally make us sick?