The Element of Surprise

Animated Short

Written by: Curt Danhauser
Directed by: Curt Danhauser
Release Date: July 23, 2008
Stardate: 2739.4

Watch the Film:

While ferrying several ambassadors to a conference on Ivor Prime, the U.S.S. Enterprise crew encounters a Naradan cargo vessel in apparent distress. However, there appears to be more to the ailing ship than meets the eye.

Images from the Episode:

Read the Official Press Release

Notes about the Episode:

  • Clearly, this short film is presented with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Several people have written to me wondering why Kirk acts so aggressively against the "cargo ship." I figured it was clear that it was not intended to be serious. It is a classic shaggy-dog story with the requisite long build-up to the joke's punch line. Part of the fun was that she talks so long that the bridge crew can only react to what she says. It is also a parody of limited animation where most of the story is conveyed with dialogue and little or no action. Kirk clearly would not destroy the ship after learning the future events, he would beam aboard a security team to commandeer the ship and then escort it back to the nearest Federation base. I simply created this short out of several scene frame sets that I created for my upcoming 30-minute episode plus a dozen or so new scenes. I figured I'd have some fun with the short since it was only a proof-of-concept.

  • When Gene Roddenberry was first fleshing out the concept behind STAR TREK he stated that he did not want his science fiction show to feature robots or psychic phenomenon like mind readers or precognitives. "The Element of Surprise" was an explicit depiction of what would happen if psychic aliens were to be seen on STAR TREK. Gene didn't want psychics in STAR TREK because it made storytelling very difficult. What jeapordy could the crew find itself in if their resident precog could just tell them what dangers lay around each corner? By the way, Gene's admonition against robots obviously did not include androids.

  • This short animation featured a number of new scenes not seen in the original animation series. Apart from the new scenes featuring Ambassador Trelling and the transport ship, the scene of M'Ress with an ear receiver was new. Also the reaction shot showing both Kirk and Spock looking forward and exchanging a glance (left) was new. Lastly, a brand new view of the bridge from overhead was seen in the next to the last scene (right).

  • Ambassador Ladmar was an homage to Ladimir Kwiatkowski (1928-1994) who played the character of Ladmo (pictured) on The Wallace and Ladmo Show, a beloved daily children's variety show broadcast on KPHO in Phoenix, Arizona from 1955-1989. I grew up in Phoenix and fondly remember watching the show after school in the 1960's and 70's.

  • The featurette makes reference to a conference on the planet Ivor Prime. Ivor Prime was first mentioned in the 1996 movie STAR TREK: First Contact.

  • The image of the Naradan ship was a reuse of one of the derelict ships seen very briefly in "The Time Trap."