Star Trek icon, William Shatner has been working as an actor, writer, director, and singer (!) for over fifty years. But he’s also charting a new course for himself as a documentary filmmaker. Previously, Shatner assembled his fellow Star Trek captains for The Captains documentary in 2011, and he took a wider view of Trek fandom in Get a Life!, which was released in 2012.
Shatner’s latest documentary, Chaos on the Bridge, examines the turbulent early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After the success of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986, Paramount was finally ready to revisit the franchise on television with a brand new television series. By the time that Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in 1987, there was more than enough behind-the-scenes drama to fill a documentary!
In Chaos on the Bridge, Shatner speaks with The Next Generation cast members Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Denise Crosby, and Gates McFadden as well as several of the writers and producers who shared very candid accounts of the series’ early days. In the video above, Stewart and Frakes recall Stewart’s displeasure at the antics of some of his co-stars when the cameras weren’t rolling.
For the second preview clip from Chaos on the Bridge, writers and producers Brannon Braga, Melinda Snodgrass, Ronald D. Moore, D.C. Fontana, and David Gerrold discuss the difficulties of writing stories for the first two seasons while attempting to follow Gene Roddenberry’s edict of no conflict among the crew of the Enterprise. Suffice to say, not everyone could work around those limitations.
Star Trek fans: could a Trek TV series ever survive in the long term without conflict? Are any episodes of the first two seasons among your favorites? Beam down to the comment section and let us know!