Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Chaos on the Bridge title card.png


 Vimeo Netflix icon
Run time: 59 minutes
Director: William Shatner
Release date: 25 August 2014 (HBO)
1 July 2015 (Vimeo)
Language: English
Chaos on the Bridge poster.jpg


DVD release
No. of discs: 1
Run time: 60 minutes
Director: William Shatner
Region free release date: 1 September 2015
Rating(s): MPAA PG
Reference: ASIN B0117ASVHU

William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge is a 2014 documentary, running for 59 minutes, written, directed, co-produced and hosted by former Captain James T. Kirk actor William Shatner about the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was first aired in Canada on the HBO channel on 25 August 2014, [1] and released for sale or rent to a wider audience through Vimeo on 1 July 2015. [2] Three months after its digital release on Vimeo, the documentary was released to the general public in a home media format as a DVD, with "Vision Films" listed as producing studio.

The documentary explores the difficult rebirth of the Star Trek television franchise and the intense battles for creative control during the series' first two and a half seasons, through interviews with the production staffers directly involved. These staffers range from studio executives, through producers and writers, to primary cast members. Particular attention was given on how an ailing Executive Producer Gene Roddenberry struggled to retain creative control of the new series he had created (and on protecting his vision of Star Trek in general), only to have it wrestled from him effectively, due to bad health, by producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller by the end of the second season, and altogether by the end of the third season. An inordinate amount of attention was given to the dubious role Roddenberry's attorney, Leonard Maizlish, played during season one of the new series. Intensely loathed (particularly by writers David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana), Maizlish was universally held responsible for the departure of all Original Series production staffers Roddenberry had brought in to work on the new series by the end of the first season.

The infighting among the writing staff during the second season, aggravated by the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, is also explored in detail, and in which Writer/Producer Maurice Hurley played a pivotal role, not entirely perceived as beneficial by some of his then-colleagues. The resulting contentious relationships caused Hurley to refrain from making any public statement on his Star Trek involvement after he had left The Next Generation at the conclusion of the second season until 2014, when he agreed to be interviewed by Shatner for his documentary, relating his side of the events.


William Shatner, writer and director, takes on a journey of discovery into the creation of a television series. He speaks to virtually every major player, both in front of and behind the camera, who was involved with the production of The Next Generation. Traveling in both Canada and the United States, Shatner takes viewers to the back lot of Paramount Studios, a mission control room at NASA, the theatre stage and the largest Star Trek convention in the world to reveal the never-before-told story of Chaos on the Bridge.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


Background information Edit

  • Wacky Doodle was the working title of this documentary during pre-production in 2013. Shatner was quoted as saying "It's about how crazy it was; how difficult it was to get it started and do it right." [3]
  • The documentary is enlivened throughout with (animated) graphic art by illustrators Dan Catalin Ianos and Daniela Troi to depict certain key events or (no longer living) persons. Aside from "Vision Film", no less than nine other production companies have been involved with the production and distribution of the documentary, of which one, "Wacky Doodle Productions", was formed for the occasion. The humorous name referred to Hurley's scoffing description of Roddenberry's optimistic vision on humanity's enlightened future, which he, due to his perceived lack of dramatic possibilities, found detrimental to storytelling.
  • Not particularly well-known for being endowed with a modest personality, William Shatner exhibited in his documentary considerable restraint in order not to upstage his interviewees, contrary to, for example, his 2011 documentary The Captains. Only twice, when specifically asked about it by performer Jonathan Frakes and writer Ira Steven Behr, does Shatner allow himself to delve somewhat into his own Star Trek experiences.
  • For Maurice Hurley, who had remained silent on his Next Generation contributions since 1990, the interview in which he related his side of the events, turned out to be a timely one, as Hurley passed away less than a year later after the documentary was released.
  • Though the DVD was released in standard definition, retail seller has offered its clientèle an on-demand-only produced high definition version, if ordered at the company.

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