'Star Trek' Shorts Go Boldly (and Briefly) to CBS All Access This Week

Open your hailing frequencies, Trek fans! More details have been revealed about "Star Trek: Short Treks," the series of short, stand-alone episodes that CBS first announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego this summer.

CBS describes the shorts as stories "that delve deeper into the 'Star Trek: Discovery' universe," according to a statement. The episodes will roll out monthly, on the first Thursday for the next four months (the first episode airs tomorrow, Oct. 4), and will each focus on three characters from "Star Trek: Discovery." [The 6 Best "Star Trek" Captains of All Time!]

Mary Wiseman as Ensign Tilly from "Star Trek: Discovery" in the first episode of the "Short Treks" on CBS All Access, which airs Oct. 4. (Image credit: Michael Gibson/CBS)

The first episode, "Runaway" (which debuts this week), will follow Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) on the U.S.S. Discovery as she "encounters an unexpected visitor in need of help," according to an episode description. "However, this unlikely pair may have more in common than meets the eye."

The second episode, "Calypso," airs Nov. 8 and will star a new character, Craft (Aldis Hodge). According to CBS, Craft wakes up in the sick bay of an abandoned ship, "and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. interface."

The third episode, "The Brightest Star," debuts Dec. 6 and will follow Saru (Doug Jones) at a time before he joined Starfleet. "Before he was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, Saru lived a simple life on his home planet of Kaminar with his father and sister," the episode description reads. "Young Saru, full of ingenuity and a level of curiosity uncommon among his people, yearns to find out what lies beyond his village, leading him on an unexpected path."

The final episode, "The Escape Artist," airs Jan. 3 and will feature the return of Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), "back to his old tricks of stealing and double-dealing." Mudd "finds himself in a precarious position aboard a hostile ship — just in time to try out his latest con," according to an episode description.

The stand-alone episodes will be an interesting experiment for CBS and its streaming platform, CBS All Access. Streaming services aren't bound by the rules of traditional broadcast television, which typically dictate a strict 20- or 40-minute run time per episode, with commercial breaks. Past examples of streaming episodes have met with varying degrees of success.

The Syfy channel released three web-based series of "Battlestar Galactica" — including "The Resistance" (2006), "The Face of the Enemy" (2008) and "Blood and Chrome" (2011) — which added interesting additional information to many of the show's story lines.

CBS's stand-alone episodes could achieve the same interesting result, telling a story that might not fit into the standard TV episode run time but that adds useful points to a character or situation.

"Short Treks" is being shown in the U.S. on CBS All Access. In Canada they're available on Space and CraveTV as well as the Snackable TV app. Sadly however, fans in the UK will miss out as there's no plans for Netflix to show them as yet. The "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 1 on Blu-ray and DVD can be preordered now and will be available on Nov. 13, making them the perfect gifts to ask Santa for.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Oct. 8 to update the availability of "Short Treks" on Canada's Space, CraveTV and Snackable TV app.

Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original story on Space.com

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Scott Snowden

When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset...as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space.