blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Chaos on the Bridge (2014, William Shatner)

According to William Shatner, in his capacity of host–in addition to hosting Chaos on the Bridge, he also conducts interviews, wrote and directed the documentary–he wants to know about the first few years of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” because he’d always heard they were crazy.

And they were. He brings out a bunch of great interviewees and gives them the opportunity to confront one another’s allegations. Well, Patrick Stewart at least gets to respond to someone else. There’s one guy who’s got a totally different recollection and Shatner mostly uses him for sensationalism. The Chaos in the title refers, basically, to the situation of having Gene Roddenberry run the show.

For a while, Shatner cares about his thesis. He wants to show all these problems are about power as it relates to show business, television power. He shows himself asking leading questions but confirming. Whether Shatner actually cares or not, he sure looked like he did in the first half of Chaos. But then all the stories dry up. Shatner gets some great moments with interviewees Gates McFadden and Diana Muldaur regarding getting fired and hired, but it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s amusing. Answers to questions don’t lead to more questions, which is a shame.

Chaos on the Bridge is okay for a cursory examination, especially one hosted by a dynamic personality like Shatner–plus the strangeness of Captain Kirk doing a Next Generation documentary–but he mostly just proves there’s more to the story than he can tell. And he doesn’t acknowledge that inability. Instead, he pretends he never had a thesis and closes it down.

Likably, of course.

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