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Chaos on the Bridge
USA, Canada
Biography, Sci-Fi, Documentary
IMDB rating:
William Shatner
John de Lancie as Himself
Leslie Moonves as Himself (as Les Monvees)
Richard Arnold as Himself
Maurice Hurley as Himself
David Gerrold as Himself
Lolita Fatjo as Herself
D.C. Fontana as Herself
David Livingston as Himself
Brannon Braga as Himself
Rick Berman as Himself
Ira Steven Behr as Himself
Denise Crosby as Herself
Gates McFadden as Herself
Jonathan Frakes as Himself
Storyline: Canadian acting legend William Shatner takes viewers inside the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the bold attempt in 1986 to recreate the success of the original television series, in which Shatner played Captain James T. Kirk. The documentary, directed, written and presented by Shatner reveals the drama, chaos and controversy behind the scenes as producers tried to make lighting strike twice. Not only were the beloved original characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy excluded from the new series, the studio also attempted to block the involvement of the creator of the original series - Gene Roddenberry. Few believed it would work including those closest to the production. Yet Star Trek: The Next Generation went on to enormous success lasting seven seasons and spawning the multi-billion dollar Star Trek franchise, which continues to the present day. Now, more than 25 years later, William Shatner brings together the cast, crew and fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation to present...
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Love Shatner
I really enjoy having Shatner lead the documentaries for the development of star trek. My only wish is that they had delved into the writers issues developing TNG more... It just, maybe in hind sight, appears obvious to me that the creation of story conflict is easy between the federation values and of its characters against an antagonist. I think there is more to the story of the first two seasons of TNG than they could have dug into..

I'm happy this documentary was made. The interviews with the contributing cast and etc were very I intriguing as both a trekkie and an outsider interested in TV or movie production.
The hurried pace doesn't help, but it's still worth a look
"Chaos on the Bridge" has a story worth telling (the creative staff disorder during "The Next Generation"'s nascent years), but it suffers from that reality TV editing that ruins everything. You know the kind: the rapid cuts and frenetic pacing, like the producer (or Shatner in this case) has a deathly fear of slowing down. It's the last thing a Star Trek documentary needs. I know it's not comprehensive, but even at a mere 60 minutes, surely there's some room to let the thing breathe.

That said, there's enough here to entertain even the ardent TNG fan. I was surprised to learn that Mitchell Ryan and Yaphet Kotto were among those actors considered for Captain of the Enterprise for Paramount's glitzy new Star Trek series. And that the revolving door creative staff was due to a leadership vacuum.

I genuinely like the spirit of this thing, and would love to see someone tackle a broader documentary down the road (one that covers the series as a whole). Shatner's onto something here, if he wants to shed light on Star Trek shows.

Just stop cutting it like a reality show.

Rushed and overstyled but with a look nonetheless
This documentary rushes through separate lines spoken by former TNG actors, writers and directors, edited together to form a narrative of the creative and production problems behind TNG starting out.

To glue this narrative together and not just have people talking on screen, it is full of cartoon animation and animated photos too support the storyline of what the old crew is sharing.

The pace and production style of distraction makes it a little hard to follow, but if you're a true TNG fan, you'll still appreciate the back story of the first seasons of TNG and learn about a few interesting decisions that made TNG turn around and become a sustained success.
Rosy vision of the future marred by infighting in the present
We all love a good gossip fest, and William Shatner's expose of the troubles dogging the early years of Star Trek TNG ('The Next Generation) makes for plenty of entertainment.

This show is pretty lightweight and doesn't take itself too seriously, which is certainly down to Shatner's own direction and presentation. I found it enlightening to watch this immediately after the 50th anniversary documentary that paints such an uncritical view of the Star Trek universe.

If you believe the actor who played Captain Kirk in the original series might have some agenda at work in denigrating TNG, that may be true, but Shatner plays it fair and even-handed when it comes to doling out blame. And it's not as if the film is a work of fiction. There are plenty of people willing to appear on film shoveling the dirt, including Sir Patrick Stewart himself.

Shatner's film is amusing and fascinating more for casting the human condition in sharp relief rather than telling us anything we didn't already know about the TNG series itself. It's likely to affront some TNG fans, but if you accept that the human beings working on the series are more fallible than the crew of Enterprise D, you will likely appreciate and enjoy this minor gem.
A little chaos, a lot of disgruntled sniping...
William Shatner, formerly Capt. Kirk of TV's beloved "Star Trek", executive-produced, wrote, directed, narrates and appears as interviewer for this behind the scenes documentary on the popular syndicated science-fiction TV series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994). With creator Gene Roddenberry's health on the wane (and his creative output in question), the series met with some sharp turns and thorny paths after finally finding an actor to step into Kirk's shoes (Patrick Stewart--a bald man with an accent!--whose careful but acerbic comments here are the centerpiece of the film). Shatner wasn't able to round up much of "Next Generation"'s cast, but the producers and writers of the show have some interesting stories to share, while Paramount's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the series--and condescension for its actors and crew--is a curious morsel. Shatner's healthy ego maintains that the star of this enterprise is Shatner, and his reactions during interviews are way over the top. His film doesn't have a nostalgic feel (in fact, it's quite icy), while Catalin Marin's country bumpkin music is horrendously out of place. Certainly of great interest to "Star Trek" fans, as well as aficionados of television history. ** from ****
"We hate Roddenberry!"
I was very surprised when I saw "Chaos on the Bridge". After all, for decades there has been a mystical sort of image of Gene Roddenberry as an avuncular sort of guru whose vision was THE basis for everything great about "Star Trek". Well, here this is NOT the sort of guy you hear about...that's for sure. It's a shame the guy is dead, as I'd love to see his reactions to so much hostility. But, according to the documentary, everything that was wrong with "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was due to Roddenberry and his unwillingness to create any sort of tension within the show. Instead, he insisted on a perfect, Utopian future where all the humans got along and loved each other....which is just fine except it created a rather bland package. Almost no one defended this apart, at times, Maurice Hurley--who alternated between saying how much he hated Roddenberry but how he tried to stay loyal to his image. Some were nice but insisted Roddenberry was a poor addition to the show but others were quite blunt. I was frankly quite shocked to hear all this. While I could see that the show VASTLY improved in the later seasons, why was something I'd never heard anyone talk about before or so candidly.

Overall, this is very revealing and well made. However, it did have one problem--the pace was too quick and it seems stretching it out to 90 minutes or so would have made the film a bit stronger...though it still is very well done and I urge Trek fans to see it with an open mind.
Shining Light Behind Closed Doors
I found Mr. Shatner's work here very interesting, well developed, and it contained the real story behind the re-booting of Star Trek with Star Trek -- TNG. I can't imagine the series with any of the final three actors who read for Captain Picard and they were very lucky someone insisted Sir Patrick Stewart get a reading too. I always thought Gene Roddenberry was the driving force behind the franchise . . . and it turns out TNG happened, continued and flourished in spite of him more than because of him. But it's a great example of holding something too tightly -- he was getting older and trying to catch lightning in a bottle the second time. Nothing takes away from the Roddenberry legacy. The story of how Rick Berman became the driving force behind TNG was interesting to learn. I guess I best liked Patrick Stewart's behind-the-scenes recollections since, in many ways, he personifies TNG. There was more than enough new details and information to keep this life-long Trekkie involved.
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