Saturday, January 07, 2017

Chaos on the Bridge (2014)

Before Epinions had stopped accepting new submissions, I was maybe a dozen reviews away from having covered all the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I had noted that a good number of the episodes from the first two seasons weren’t that good, and I don’t think I was alone in that assessment.  It took a while for the series to find it’s footing.  It turns out that there was a reason for that.  William Shatner directed and hosted this documentary on the show’s early years.

The Original Series ran from 1966-1969, having gone off the air after three seasons.  When Star Wars and other space-related movies came out, a planned revival of the series was turned into a movie franchise.  It wasn’t until almost 30 years later that Gene Roddenberry would get his chance to bring the Star Trek universe back to TV.  Roddenberry could be difficult to work with.

He had a vision of the future that he wanted to stick to, but there were other people that were vying for control.  Paramount, for instance, objected to casting Patrick Stewart; they didn’t want a bald captain.  Paramount was also the one that insisted on a two-hour pilot, despite Roddenberry insisting on a one-hour pilot.  This led to the writers having to come up with a lot more material in a short amount of time.

The documentary interviews several people involved in the original show and the early years of The Next Generation, such as  D.C. Fontana and Denise Crosby.  Each person shared their take on what happened.  For instance, Patrick Stewart threatened to walk out several times during the early part of the show.  He was so convinced that the show wouldn’t work that he didn’t unpack right away.

The documentary doesn’t give any major revelations, at least not for the hardcore fans.  I generally knew most of the stuff coming in.  For me, it was a matter of seeing the extent of everything.  I didn’t know how dissatisfied Stewart was with the show.   I also didn’t know many of the troubles involved in getting the show back on the air.  I was 11 when The Next Generation premiered.  I didn’t really think much of it at the time. I had seen The Original Series and had some idea of what was going on with the continuity, but I didn’t care that much for the stuff behind the scenes.

One thing I took notice of was that it only deals with the first two seasons.  It would be interesting to see how things progressed over the seasons.  Around the third season, things seemed to get better for the show.  I don’t know if the someone backed off entirely or if it was simply everyone learning to work together.

For someone who watches Star Trek casually, the documentary will probably hold some interest.  It’s an entertaining way to spend an hour.  The interviews are held together by animation with narration explaining certain aspects of the show’s history.  The animation was a little off, but not so much that I was distracted by it.  I think most people will be able to enjoy the documentary.

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