Chaos on the Bridge is another excellent documentary from William Shatner. All done in a crisp style that never shies away from answering the questions; what actually happened during the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation? How did lightning actually strike twice? And finally, what was all the drama behind the scenes? The answers to these may surprise you and just how candid they really are is the kind of thing that will please most Star Trek fans.
Shatner the Interviewer
Shatner is actually a pretty good interviewer with an aggressive approach that’s great at eliciting a response from who ever he’s talking to, making the whole interaction seem fluid and natural. Chaos on the Bridge can be compared to Shatner’s other works, The Captains Up Close and the short lived show, Shatner’s Raw Nerve. Except with this newer interpretation he has refined his interview technique, leaving more room for the people he’s talking with to express themselves better, doing an even better job of coaxing their ideas out because of his improved technique. All in all, Shatner not only is a capable starship captain, but he’s a pretty good interviewer as well.
Production and Style
It’s not to say that Shatner does it all by himself. He’s helped by some excellent editing and great artistic style. All the bits and pieces of the interviews are put together in all the right places driving the over arching story that is The Next Generation, gluing all of these clips together in an excellent comic book style illustrating all of the behind the scenes drama. One scene in particular has Roddenberry sitting down with studio executives, to haggle about the show, has them drawn in a poker style card game where bluffing is the deciding factor. It sucks seeing the “Great Bird of the Galaxy” lose out to those executive sharks, but Star Trek the way it was meant to be eventually happened.
That’s what this documentary captures so well. It gives a small glimpse into what went into making one of the greatest shows of all time. It breaks down the miracle of lightning striking twice, making it a little less mystical, humanizing it. I love how it was quick to note that The Original Series fans were not all on-board for the show. TNG’s struggles as an show in the beginning matches many of the other failed shows but the producers and writers found a way to make something wonderful, nailing that hail marry pass. Sometimes with Roddenberry, sometimes in spite of him. This documentary is an excellent candid take on the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and is a must watch for any Star Trek fan. It first premiered on HBO but can be found on Netflix.