William Shatner’s TNG documentary “Chaos on the Bridge” debuts online


William Shatner’s documentary about the tumultuous early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation goes straight to the web, and we’ve got the details.

As we reported last year,  the documentary focuses on the first three seasons of the show, and covers a great deal of the intrigue and infighting surrounding the creation and production of the series.  Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Rick Berman, and many others, both in front of and behind the camera, spoke to William Shatner at length about their experiences.

The documentary premiered on HBO Canada last August.  Shatner has decided to forgo traditional distribution in the U.S. and will make the documentary available for purchase on Vimeo.

Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive clip, where Stewart, Berman, and others describe the process Sir Patrick went through to be cast as Jean Luc Picard.  That can be viewed here.

The documentary is available in two formats: A 24-hour streaming option for $7.99, or a downloadable version for $12.99.

TrekMovie will have a review in the upcoming days.

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Sounds fascinating, but I am wary of Shatner’s motives here. Many people, especially Gene, not here anymore to defend themselves, and Bill gets the last laugh at Roddenberry maybe by tearing him down? What does Rod Roddenberry have to say? What would Majel have said?

Amazon and iTunes please. I don’t know wtf Vimeo is and not planning to find out.

I’ve seen it.


That would be paying $5.99 too much!

I think I’ll pass for now. I’m not really interested in learning about the allegedly nasty details of how Star Trek started. Maybe I’ll change my mind later.

People are so negative. I’ll check it out. Love TNG.

I’d be curious to see this but not for $13 or even $8. If it were available on the Netflix perhaps….

I’ll just wait until it comes to Netflix or Youtube.

Sounds like this has been adapted from some of the publications on TNG. You saw it, Harry – was there anything there that hasn’t been said before?

If it shows up on Netflix I’ll watch it. But that is too expensive.

I’m not a “behind the scenes” kind of guy usually, so I don’t really care who liked or disliked who, etc.

Good for The Shat for still working and his age and making a buck off of Trek!

One would hope that he finally watched an episode of TNG before doing this?

But I would not be shocked if he did not.

I’m all about the b-t-s stuff, but not to spend money to hear what I’ve probably already read in CONTINUING MISSION and some of the unauthorized books.

Ick to all this “behind the scenes” gossip and innuendo.

William Shatner – why did you go there? Not good. There is enough of this kind of garbage out there already. No need for anymore.

I’ll just keep watching TNG when I feel the desire. I have no need for anything else.

Thanks all the same!

Rose, some people actually do like to know how their sausage is made. I watched the clip, and this sounds like known information in a new package.

No worries, either way.


Here’s a clip. Doesn’t look mean-spirited at all. Don’t know what most of you are on about… I rather like the animated recreations…small humor, nice stuff! But yes, I too will wait for another distributor, Amazon or otherwise.

Just watched the trailer. What’s with the hillbilly, Bonnie-and-Clyde music?

What’s next, is Shatner going to do a Takei documentary? LOL…but yet, never say never.

I like the trailer, so I’m gonna buy it.

Saw this on HBO Canada. Meh. Nothing that hasn’t been told before. I think it might be available on dvd as well.

@Prodigal Son,

I think Shatner appeared in George Takei’s “Being Takei” doc. Haven’t seen it myself, though.

Not going to fault Shatner for keeping his toe in the Trek waters. If he wants to be in front of the camera, chronicler of the franchise is a good role for him, as his days as a action hero are well in the rear view mirror by now.

I’d buy it via Amazon, but not Vimeo. I have no clue who those guys are.

Phil – That’s true. Perhaps it is not as “nasty” as some seem to be saying that it is, like the comment that Shatner is running roughshod over Gene Roddenberry, now that both GR and Majel Barrett Roddenberry are both dead. I don’t like the sound of any of it.

I doubt I’ll get to see it anyway. I have not seen the “Captains” documentary, where Shatner interviewed all the actors who played the main captains of the Star Trek franchise.

I don’t know how much it took to make this present documentary, but I do wonder why some here appear to be so *cheap*. It comes across as wanting something for nothing.

NZ does not have Netflix yet – coming here circa August this year.

@ Keachick

I don’t think people are being cheap. I think it’s a value thing. Shatner had gone on record a few years back saying he never bothered to watch an episode of TNG. Yet now here he is marketing this documentary like he is some expert on it?

So I don’t think people think it’s of value to purchase this. I’m not paying for it — again, not because I can’t afford it, but because I don’t take it very seriously.

Will check it out.

@3 & 22: Vimeo is one of the most respected addresses among indie video makers. Buying videos there will let independent filmmakers keep 90 % of the revenue.

It’s kind of disingenuous to not even take the time to watch TNG episodes but now he’s capitalizing on it with this documentary. Also, who cares about the soap opera squabbles that happened behind the scenes on a show that ended more than 20 years ago?

not paying that much for a download,yeah if it was a DVD

I watched it last night and whilst it doesn’t really tell you anything we didn’t already know, it has a warm appreciation and fondness for Star Trek and all the people involved. It is most definitely not mean spirited. As a massive Star Trek and TNG fan, I really enjoyed it.

I’m certainly interested but the price is a bit high. Not sure if I’ll pay it or not.

Watched it a couple months ago on HBO Canada. I actually enjoyed it and thought it was interesting. I especially like some of the comic book-like art that was used. Bill talks to studio heads at the time and producers and writers. Roddenberry doesn’t come off well, but I think that’s to be expected (and his meddling in post TOS Trek has never produced much good).

I don’t know if I’d pay $8 for it, but I did enjoy it.

I remember reading (years ago) some mentions about Gene going borderline insane while in development of TNG, coming with all sorts of silly ideas like Troi having four breasts and stuff, which lead to Fontana and Gerrold essentially replacing him until Berman took the show over. Is there any truth to it?

Where can i find the DVD?

$7.99? WTF? Maybe a buck, but no way $8!

If Fontana and Gerrold could have replaced him it would have been much better (or bad in a more interesting way.) Instead, you have GR deferring to his attorney, and, by some accounts, Maurice Hurley playing drinking-buddy with GR to get the inside track, which accounts for his surviving 2 seasons as the main creative force. I give Hurley credit for Q WHO and hiring Melinda Snodgrass, but there’s not much else positive there (I’d’ve loved to see WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE’s script before he started rewriting it.)

Berman just made the trains run on time, his creative decisions early on were pretty much just blunting other people’s ideas (you should hear Probert’s account of things.)

One account I heard is that the s1 story drought owes to the show having alienated nearly every viable writing candidate in town with the way they were treating freelancers.A friend of mine knew Arthur Pierce very well, and Pierce was an oldtime zero budget writer-director guy, but was creative in SF kind of thinking (he made DIMENSION 5 with Jeffrey Hunter, which seems as likely an inspiration as Ellison’s stuff for TERMINATOR.) Seems they were practically abusive with him after he and his agent nagged for months to get a pitch session.

I was familiar with the TNG train-wreck from the very beginning when Roddenberry’s whacked attorney was trying to muscle his way into the creative end of the entertainment industry, alienating TOS veterans like David Gerrold and DC Fontana along the way…ultimately (and not for the better) driving them away from the project. Sadly, it all helped set the foundation that the series was built on…far removed from it’s namesake. Being already aware of the turmoil surrounding TNG, I’ll pass on this one, at least until it shows up on netflix or amazon.

i love the Shat and i read his books on the Shatnerverse.
“Dark Victory”,”Avenger”, “Preserver” etc. They´re highly entertaining.

That being said, in his books, he made the TNG crew look dumb and bureaucratic so he can look smart. Kirk criticizes Picard, punches him in the face, let his student female captain fire on Picard´s ship and other insults. He neutralized the Enterprise E and took off it´s chair, and made Picard thank him for saving his ship “WE saved the Enteprise, no..you saved..and i thank you”. He was in full “Emperor Tiberius” mode.

I never saw so much slow burning jealously.

SO, i don´t believe the Shat is the best person to talk about TNG. I´d prefer to watch the new BLU-RAYS

#32. Victor Hugo – July 2, 2015

Most of his novels are ghostwritten so its apples and oranges comparing the writing of that it to his documentary work.

His interview skills in RAW NERVE were critically acclaimed and people seemed happy with his THE CAPTAINS.

But I have to admit I’m probably more interesting in the making of WILLIAM SHATNER PRESENTS: CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE as I’m very curious how he approached creating it having never watched the series.

#39 Disinvited “…I’m very curious how he approached creating it having never watched the series.”

The seed was probably planted when he moderated TNG Q&A’s in the past few years with the TNG cast as well as conversation with Patrick Stewart.

Was fun to watch and Shatner compliments Gene at the end.

wtf is Vimeo? Wait… I don’t care.

No one is going to watch this unless it’s carried on Amazon Prime or some other reputable carrier. Guess maybe I’ll just pirate it…

pegg on quiting twitter, next mission impossable movie & star trek
sorce wired.co uk


21. @RedDeadRyan, Shatner does indeed appear in the beginning of Takei’s documentary and the first thing he says is “I don’t have a relationship with George Takei. I haven’t seen in many years. I knew him briefly and very casually about 50 years ago.”

@ Victor Hugo

“That being said, in his books, he made the TNG crew look dumb and bureaucratic so he can look smart. Kirk criticizes Picard, punches him in the face, let his student female captain fire on Picard´s ship and other insults. He neutralized the Enterprise E and took off it´s chair, and made Picard thank him for saving his ship “WE saved the Enteprise, no..you saved..and i thank you”. He was in full “Emperor Tiberius” mode. I never saw so much slow burning jealously.”

My, how sad and pathetic. :-(

I can’t wait for all the Roddenberry apologists to come out of the woodwork. “No, Gene was a great guy.” “Gene was a visionary.” “All that stuff is made up by people who were jealous.”


When you read multiple sources of behind-the-scenes stuff — authorized and not — what you become aware of very quickly is that we’re very lucky TNG wasn’t cancelled after 12 episodes because of Gene Roddenberry. He was boorish, ridiculous, and clearly believed his own press clippings. By 1986, his creative impulses were in decline, along with his health. That led to various decisions that caused turmoil, dissension, and ultimately, a less-than-stellar product on the screen.

Love them or hate them, it was really only when Rick Berman and Michael Piller came on board that the ship began to right itself and steer smoothly. Roddenberry might have been a brilliant producer-writer in his day, but it had long passed by the time TNG came around.

I can’t comment on the value of the price…. but the documentary itself which I watched here in Canada…. was an excellent little hour long distraction.

The bias of those being interviewed doesn’t matter…. it’s their perspective the way they felt about events in 1986/87.

It was an absolutely entertaining fast-moving “tribblet” into the first season of TNG. I welcomed finally hearing some new anecdotes. People want drama. That’s why we watch TV in the first place. So to hear “real drama” about my favorite “TV drama” was an A+++ experience. BRING IT ON!

Listen… some of us have gone to these conventions for years… and 95% of what that actors tell the crowd on-stage are tired little sanctioned stories with no beef (which I understand because they don’t want to be slanderous against their co-workers and producers).

So docs like these are a way to finally get around all the flaky “we all loved each other… it was a vision of the future…” non-sense being floated at cons for decades.

In fact, if you watch some of the music composer and writer-room docs on the TNG blu-ray discs, you finally get to hear about some of the drama and discontent.

Speaking of The Shat … I see his arch nemesis disgraced himself today. SHAME SHAME SHAME.

I *love* real “behind the scenes” stuff – like seeing how the props work, what the back of the set walls really look like, how costumes are constructed, etc.

But personalities? You can keep it.

32. JKPinHFX – July 2, 2015

Roddenberry doesn’t come off well, but I think that’s to be expected (and his meddling in post TOS Trek has never produced much good).

Though it’s true that GR’s evil lawyer (Leonard Maizlish) was calling way too many shots on-set (and facilitating GR’s dependence on prescription drugs), GR still made some great contributions to TNG, like re-writing the script for Who Watches the Watchers, a classic Season 3 episode that, perhaps more than any other TOS or TNG episode, sets for the Secular Humanist philosophy of Trek. It’s a fairly deep episode, and GR rewrote it without taking credit for it, according to his personal assistant and human Trek database, Richard Arnold. Who knows the extent of GR’s contributions to TNG?

Another misconception that David Gerrold has corrected the record on is that it was GR’s idea that none of the Enterprise crew should have any disagreements or conflict because they all lived in an idealized future. According to Gerrold (who wrote the TNG “Bible”), that bad idea was actually the product of GR’s evil lawyer, Maizlish.