First Look At Images From Shatner’s Star Trek TNG Doc ‘Chaos on the Bridge’


William Shatner has another Star Trek documentary coming soon, this time the focus is on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Titled "Chaos on the Bridge" the doc premieres August 25th in Canada. And HBO Canada has provided TrekMovie with a first look at some stills from the doc. Check it out below.

Shatner Doc Focuses on Star Trek: TNG

In the last few years William Shatner has produced and directed a number of documentaries related to Star Trek. In 2011 he delivered "The Captains," focusing on the actors who have sat in Star Trek’s captain’s chair. In 2012 came "Get a Life!" focusing on Trek fans, and for 2013 he had "The Captains Close Up," with even more detailed interviews with the Star Trek ‘captain’ actors.

William Shatner and actress Gates McFadden in “Chaos on the Bridge”

For 2014 Shatner turns his gaze onto Star Trek: The Next Generation with "William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge." As the title suggests, the doc will pay special attention to the development and tumultuous early seasons of the show.

Here is the official description:

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.

William Shatner and writer Melissa Snodgrass in “Chaos on the Bridge”

"William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge" premieres Monday, Aug. 25 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.

The production company behind the doc is currently working on US distribution for the doc and TrekMovie will update when more details are available. We are also working on getting the video shown at the Las Vegas Star Trek Con last weekend.

William Shatner and writer/producer Ira Steven Behr in “Chaos on the Bridge”

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I’m looking forward to this. The “official story” has always been that TNG was the Great Bird of the Galaxy’s triumphant return and that its success was all because of him, when the truth is that Gene Roddenberry’s faculties, both mental and physical, were starting to decline quite noticeably by the mid-80s, and this was a big reason why the show was such a nightmare behind the scenes for the first two years. I’ll be interested to see what Shatner’s take on this is like.

Shatner seems to finding his niche as franchise historian. It’s a good role for him, actually, hopefully it’ll afford him the opportunity to make his peace with surviving TOS cast members….

Sounds great, looking forward to it.

Shatner’s seems very emotional about Star Trek and certainly has a unique perspective. I enjoyed The Captains and was impressed by Shatners direction. He even managed to deal with a clearly “issued” Avery Brooks quite appropriately.

Id like to know more about the early development of TNG though. Are there any good books on the subject? (Im thinking a These Are The Voyages type in depth analysis).

Lots to learn… if we get the straight story.

I love Shat, but “The Captains” turned into one of his introspective ME-a-thons. So, I’ll have to see.

Hopefully we can learn something new. I hope it doesn’t turn into a fluff piece. I would love to learn particularly about the “ego clashing.” As much as fans worship Gene Roddenberry, the man was full of flaws and questionable characteristics. I would love to see how the studio’s influenced them or how the writers felt about modifications to the script… or how the cast members really felt about each other… I hope its intriguing.

I have yet to see the “Captains’ Documentary”. Perhaps it might be available through, although I am wary of ordering DVDs from overseas sources. I am not sure it would bother me if the film is a bit of a Shatner me-a-thon. I have not seen or heard much from him and sorely missed on hearing and seeing the Shatner behind the James Kirk when I was growing up. For me, it may well mean catch-up time…:)

This new documentary looks very interesting as well. Hopefully, one day, I will get to see that as well.

Really looking forward to seeing what Snodgrass has to say. I think Piller’s biggest goof was alienating her (along with utterly destroying the original premise of THE HIGH GROUND), and the way Berman dismissed her legitimate complaints has helped define the low regard I’ve held for him lo these many years.

Looking forward to this documentary. I hope it’s not a fluff piece. I’m sure there’s some meaty stuff there…

I’m not sure if I want or need to know the cast felt about each other. It will either be “glowing” or a bitch fest. A cast member will get on with one and not so well with another. That is just how it is. At the end of the day, they still had to get on and make a weekly episode and that is exactly what they did. Bravo!

Fluff or no fluff? Itl’ll be interesting to see if he interviews David Gerrold or DC Fontana….legendary original Trek writers who left TNG early on because of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

Wasn’t there something about Gates McFadden being sexually harassed by one of the directors? If they go into that subject, I’ll be impressed.

Hopefully Diana Muldaur (Dr. Pulaski) will be interviewd as well. Would love to know her side of the story surrounding season 2 and why she left again.

Is “The Captains Close Up” just extended interviews from “The Captains?”

Wish i could meet the TNG cast! As for Marina Sirtis, she’s half Greek, i could speak to her using my native language! he,he!!


Yes agreed… that Avery Brooks segment could have been so much more awkward if anyone other than Shat was conducting the interview but he handled it very well.

There’s some good insight on this doc in his visit to Adam Carolla’s podcast this week too if you’re interested, I know Carolla is a polarizing podcaster but it’s a solid 1 on 1 with Shatner and he opens up quite a bit.

I, too, am happy anytime Shatner expresses even a fraction of the appreciation for Trek that Sir Patrick, etc normally does, so I fully embrace his desire to give the fans more Trek in any form.

Very cool. Sometimes, watching season one of TNG, it’s hard to believe it’s the same show we were watching 5 years later. It’s always been a fascinating period, and seeing it chronicled in more depth sounds fantastic.

It would be quite difficult for Shatner to make this one all about him… somehow though, he’s going to pull it off!

I was a devoted TNG fan during it’s run, mainly because of TOS and I was a sci-fi buff.It hasn’t aged too well IMO but I still catch some eps on Netflix. But yeah, I hope cast and crew are honest about the overall damage Roddenberry did to the show, and how many felt they were lucky to get renewed for a second season. And don’t get me started on Rick Berman. You want to see a science fiction show done right, by the right people, just watch Battlestar Galactica.

Now, that it’s being hosted here, go back through the archives and listen to Mission Log’s interview with David Gerrold. He gives his take on the creation of TNG

Im not sure i’d describe the Captains as a Shatner Me-athon. It was as expected, taken from Shatner’s perspective. A lot of documentaries where the film-maker is the central character does this and in many of those cases, the film maker is a nobody.

It was also called The Captains so it wasnt just about everyone but Kirk, it was about all of them. In a way, it was like a look at the Captains of Star Trek through the eyes of Captain Kirk. Shatner was certainly trying to find common ground between his view points and experiences and those of the other Captains. That was the connection I think, It became very emotional when he interviewed Patrick Stewart and that might be where the “me-athon” talk comes in because Shatner quite clearly has a revelation about his acceptance of the type-cast when Stewart explains his pride at being Picard.

Reading These Are The Voyagers, I am actually quite surprised by how respected Shatner was as an actor prior to TOS. it was a huge coup to get him for that show and he was a massive rising star. One could certainly not fault Shatner if he felt a sense of bruised ego at the jokes at his expense after taking on the iconic role as a very respected actor. Im glad for him that he had the Denny Crane role and all the accolades that went with it. He deserves it.

The Captains is worth seeing if only for that moment between him and Stewart. But its also worth seeing on all other levels, not least of which is how messed up Brooks was.

Just watch THE INTRUDER and you’lll see why early Shat merited the accolades. That was a role utilizing all his talents, and later he seemed to want to do that on roles that didn’t call for all that juice.

I guess Shatner milked as much as he could out of his old ‘TOS’ shows and movies and now he’s moved onto ‘TNG’. I find it very interesting though that when ‘TNG’ came out, reporters always asked him what he’d thought of the show, and he would say ‘I haven’t seen it’. That was his reply for years as if he wants nothing to do with it. Now he’s doing a document on ‘TNG’.

Absolutely that was Shatners reaction early on in TNG. I remember there being a story about one of the TOS movies filming on the same stage or lot as TNG and there was bad blood or something. I dont blame the TOS actors really. They were being territorial. When you end up type cast and the best role you can get is the franchise you helped create, I can imagine it being off-putting to have them trying to “replace” you while also milking you one last time.

Shatner got over it.

I always found Shatner to be in-line with how Nick Meyer described him – as a very good actor that needed really good directing to get peak performances out of him. I’d suspect that comes with playing the same role for so long. I would suspect Shatner felt he knew the role and played it the way he wanted. A lesser director might allow that or be intimidated. Meyer knew how to get great peformances out of Shatner.

When Bill directed himself, you could see some limitations to his performance but you also saw the emotional depth that he clearly understood about Kirk.

Playing different roles, like Denny Crane, its clear he approached it differently than Kirk.

ive also heard that actors who come from a stage background have a tendancy to over-act a bit because thats the norm in a large stage setting.

Another thing I found really interesting from These Are The Voyages was directors commenting on how Shatner was the leader from Day One and was incredibly professional but also able to turn on Kirk at a moment’s notice and when the scene was over, he was “Bill” again, disarming everyone with his humour.

The first episode of Boston Legal I watched was the one that used the footage of Shatner from the 60’s (was it The Defenders?). I had watched The Practice and Boston Public but just hadnt got into Boston Legal until that episode. It was astounding and incredibly clever. And they didnt seem to have any issue with how 75 year old Shatner looked a lot different than 28 (or whatever) Shatner.

Shatner was always able to be “funny” but my favourite scenes on Boston Legal were when he played it serious. Sometimes just a look he’d give when doing the balcony scenes.

I find it very disingenuous for Shatner to produce a documentary of a show that he didn’t even watch. I notice all the Roddenberry bashers are in attendance here. LOL. BTW, I’d love to have a psychologist examine the folks who claim to love Trek but disparage it’s creator at every opportunity. That would be, as Spock would say, fascinating.

@26 “Roddenberry bashers?”

Okay, help me here – I can’t fathom anyone who claims to be a Trek fan or even a student of TV history that has studied Trek and *not* be aware of Roddenberry’s strengths *and weaknesses*. Not “bashing” to cite both. Surely being a fan does not require one to put on blinders to the good and the bad. Roddenberry was Trek’s creative inspiration, but to suggest or pretend he didn’t have his own flaws – just like the rest of us – is ironically disingenuous. Many times, Roddenberry was Trek’s worst enemy – and I think the many, many expositions of his problematic involvement over the years quite clearly, and honestly, bears that out.

Are the Roddenberry bashers using Roddenberry’s personal life to berate him? Sometimes that is how it seems to me. Using the personal life of a creator/producer of a TV or film series is out of bounds in my book. All that is important is what Roddenberry did as the show’s creator, writer, producer. Nothing else.

I guess it is a good thing that HItler didn’t produce I LOVE LUCY, huh?

You can’t really separate these issues and keep them separate. A lot of GR’s personality and how he embraced the cult of persona in the convention era and beyond affected the product he was trying to (re)create … often negatively. If he had kept his head on straight, they wouldn’t have tried to do a new trek series w/o him in that period just before TNG. Not all of the blame for TMP falls on his shoulders alone, but a good part of it, and a good part of what kept him and Par from cashing in on Trek BEFORE Lucas came in and did it himself.

So if I love Star Trek, I have to love Gene forever no matter what he did or his creative failings at adapting Trek to a modern world? *face palm*

There are many people that I admire greatly. Musicians, writers, political activists, etc.
They are not perfect, they are flawed, as is, human beings.
That’s what makes (for me) their accomplishments worthy or praise and admiration.

Shatner is not shy about tackling anything.

Not sure if anyone will view this thread now. But I watched this last night. It was terrific. I was surprised by how it really sort of morphed into an anti-Gene documentary but I guess that was a major issue behind the scenes of TNG.

It was well produced and very engrossing. No Spiner which is too bad as I always find him highly entertaining.

This is the side of TNG that fandom and the people who worked on the show have shied away from discussing – at least in terms of what *really* went on. I have not seen the doc, but one of the biggest culprits behind the early season discord wast Gene’s lawyer Leonard Mazlish. David Gerrold discussed the lawyer situation in a (now open) letter he wrote a long time ago to a Roddenberry biographer. The basics of the situation was that the lawyer convinced Gene that everyone who he had been close to on Trek (Gerrold, Fontana, etc) was out to get him. And allegedly this lawyer was *also* making creative and personnel decisions. It reached the point when someone high up within Paramount had Mazlish removed from the Paramount lot, but the damage had already been done.

In effect, giving Roddenberry free reign on TNG (which the studio did, initially) was both a blessing and a curse.

Some of this subject (not Mazlish specifically) was touched on Rod Roddenberry’s doc about Trek fandom.

On an aside, after David Gerrold left TNG, he went to the writers guild and claimed that he did substantial work on TNG’s “bible”. He ended up settling with Paramount for an “undisclosed sum” (likely in the millions).