Monday, August 25, 2014


All of us die-hard fans know the story about how in 1987 – almost 20 years after the Original Series ended –  Paramount brought Star Trek back to television with Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was a huge hit and everyone instantly loved it and Next Gen became the biggest standard-bearer of the Star Trek franchise and made it's stars household names.

Well, the last part is certainly true. But as for the "huge hit " and "everybody loved it" part, well, that's open for debate. As Trek and BSG writer Ronald D. Moore says, “The first and second seasons of The Next Generation are almost unwatchable." Personally, I'd dump the "almost". It's my opinion that they were TOTALLY unwatchable! Is there a worse hour of Star Trek than "Code of Honor"? At least I can laugh during "Spock's Brain".
William Shatner and TNG writer Melinda Snodgrass
And that is the very subject that director William Shatner takes on with his new documentary about Next Gen's first two seasons, "Panic on the Bridge", which debuted tonight on HBO Canada. This is, as they say, a "warts and all" look at Next Gen's beginnings. I don't know if there's any real surprises to the initiated, but the casual Next Gen watcher would definitely find some nuggets.

The hour-long documentary features Shatner talking with just about everyone who was involved with getting TNG off the ground. The official news release says:

"In WILLIAM SHATNER PRESENTS: CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE, William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk, takes an intimate look at the recreation of an iconic television series, through the eyes of the writers, producers, actors, and executives who were involved, many of whom have never before told their story on film. Directed by William Shatner, (who also conducts the interviews), what emerges is a tale of power struggles, ego clashes, and most importantly, the legacy of the man behind the legend: Gene Roddenberry."

Shatner himself describes the concept of the film, then known as ‘Wacky Doodle’ (say what??), to Larry King in the video below.

So at the center of the story will no doubt be Gene Roddenberry, The Great Bird himself and, of course, creator of Next Gen.

Greg David of TV, eh? got a sneak preview and had this to say;

It’s a kick to see Shatner strutting around Paramount Studios’ cavernous Stage 8 where the Enterprise bridge once sat, painting the picture of Roddenberry as a man in failing health who was clinging to hold onto his beloved creation. Roddenberry is depicted as an enigma, a man who was–depending on who you talked to–a visionary, stubborn, supportive, deceitful and decent. After years of failed television pilots and relegated to being a consultant on the various Trek feature films, he ended up in the captain’s chair of a new series. It wasn’t smooth sailing, as former Paramount executives recount Roddenberry’s lawyer and the Trek creator’s own health as major hurdles to jump on the way to getting cameras rolling on The Next Generation.

Those revelations, along with interviews with such cast members as Denise Crosby, Jonathan Frakes, Stewart and John de Lancie, paint an incredible picture. The cast weren’t sure they should even be doing an updated Trek series, much less whether or not it would be a hit with die-hard fans who were upset it didn’t focus on Kirk, McCoy and Spock. The briskly-paced one-hour doc covers every facet of the process that followed–from failed network pitches to a ludicrous suggestion that TNG be a miniseries–until the final product hit the air.

Read his full review here.

No word yet as to when US audiences will get to see the documentary. Sounds like something worth checking out.



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