You’ve really got to admire what Short Treks has become. Where it was just a holdover until new episodes of Discovery aired, it has become, in its second season, the only Trek series were anthology and experimentation has become the norm. Short Treks isn’t afraid of doing something off center and wacky just for the sake of doing something different and that makes this a series I really look forward to.
Take “The Trouble with Edward,” for example. It’s a comedy unlike anything we’ve seen on Star Trek before. Jon H. Benjamin, the voice actor behind Archer and Bob from Bob’s Burgers plays a socially awkward Starfleet scientist trying to genetically modify a species of tribble to reproduce rapidly and be used as a food source for an alien world on the verge of starvation.
Given that Edward is awkward and mostly unprepared to present his report to the captain — and the fact that he seems both clueless and unconcerned that tribbles might be intelligent, he gets shut down… but unofficially and, rather hilariously, he picks up his experiments again in secret and designs the tribbles we all know and love… and then they take over the ship in glorious fashion.
This episode was a pure joy… a romp from beginning to end with everything from a quick cameo by Anson Mount as Captain Pike (Give this man his TV show already!) to the after-credits breakfast cereal commercial. It was absurd and delightful and so different from Star Trek as we’ve seen before.
Sure, Star Trek has done comedy before and they’ve done it incredibly well, but unlike the other Star Trek comedy, this is a comedy where absolutely no one gets along and no one grows…. it’s got a hint of Rick and Morty nihilism with a touch of Archer‘s cynicism. Edward is an unlikable person, unlike Lt. Barcaly who I’ve seen a few people compare him to. He’s lazy, he’s passive aggressive, he’s a sniveling little snitch, and he’s a liar… basically, a borderline sociopath and, honestly, it’s kind of comforting that those kind of people are still around in Star Trek‘s utopian future. It means that we’re still growing and still trying to get better.
Plus, come on… the dude was in a corridor in just his underwear. I’m sorry, that’s funny.
“The Trouble With Edward” isn’t deep and makes no effort to be… it’s a screwball comedy and, in that department, it more than delivers on what it is supposed to be. I enjoyed it, I laughed, and I thought that the sequences were the tribbles were literally filling a starship to bursting was hilarious.
I love this experimental stuff and I want to see Short Treks do more. I want to see them visit different eras, different genres, revisit old friends and create new ones. As far as all of the new Trek series go, Short Treks is definitely the most ambitious… I just wish it got the respect it was owed.
And more episodes, of course.