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Run time: 59 minutes
Director: William Shatner
Release date: 25 August 2014 (HBO)
Language: English
 Amazon Prime Video Netflix Vimeo
Run time: 59 minutes
Director: William Shatner
Release date: 1 July 2015 (Vimeo)
1 September 2015 (Amazon Prime, SD & HD versions)
September 201512 November 2015 (Netflix, Europe & USA respectively)
Language: English, Polish
Subtitles: French, English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Spanish
Reference: ASIN B01A7VA7CW (Amazon Prime)


DVD release
Series: Star Trek documentaries and specials
No. of discs: 1
Run time: 60 minutes (NTSC)
Director: William Shatner
Region free release date: 1 September 2015
Rating(s): MPAA - Parental Guidance Suggested
Language: English (DD Stereo)
Subtitles: English
Reference: ASIN B0117ASVHU

William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge is a 2014 documentary, running for 59 minutes, written, directed, co-produced and hosted by former Captain James T. Kirk actor William Shatner about the conception and creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It was first aired in Canada on the HBO channel on 25 August 2014, [1] and subsequently released as the digital rental "Video-on-Demand" (VoD) format as well as the retail digital download format on Vimeo on 1 July 2015. [2] In this format Prime Video has followed suit on 1 September 2015, as did Netflix in its worldwide rollout in the autumn of 2015, though it was removed from its library three years later. [3]

Three months after its digital release by Vimeo, the documentary was released to the general public in a physical home video format as a DVD, with "Vision Films" listed as producing studio.

The documentary explores the difficult rebirth of the Star Trek television franchise and the intense battles for creative control during the series' first two and a half seasons, through interviews with the production staffers directly involved. These staffers range from studio executives, through producers and writers, to primary cast members. Particular attention is given to how an ailing Executive Producer Gene Roddenberry struggled to retain creative control of the new series he had created (and to protecting his vision of Star Trek in general), only to have it effectively wrested from him, due to bad health, by producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller by the end of the second season, and altogether by the end of the third season. Attention is also given to the dubious role Roddenberry's attorney, Leonard Maizlish, played during season one of the new series. Intensely loathed (particularly by writers David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana), Maizlish was universally held responsible for the departure of all Original Series production staffers Roddenberry had brought in to work on the new series by the end of the first season.

The infighting among the writing staff during the second season, aggravated by the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, is also explored in detail, in which Writer/Producer Maurice Hurley played a pivotal role, not entirely perceived as beneficial by some of his then-colleagues. The resulting contentious relationships caused Hurley to refrain from making any public statement on his Star Trek involvement after he had left The Next Generation at the conclusion of the second season until 2014, when he agreed to be interviewed by Shatner for his documentary, relating his side of the events.


William Shatner, writer and director, takes on a journey of discovery into the creation of a television series. He speaks to virtually every major player, both in front of and behind the camera, who was involved with the production of The Next Generation. Traveling in both Canada and the United States, Shatner takes viewers to the back lot of Paramount Studios, a mission control room at NASA, the theatre stage and the largest Star Trek convention in the world to reveal the never-before-told story of Chaos on the Bridge.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


Background information

  • Wacky Doodle was the working title of this documentary during pre-production in 2013. Shatner was quoted as saying "It's about how crazy it was; how difficult it was to get it started and do it right." [4]
  • The documentary is enlivened throughout with animated graphic art by illustrators Dan Catalin Ianos and Daniela Troi to depict certain key events or (no longer living) persons. Aside from "Vision Film", no less than nine other production companies have been involved with the production and distribution of the documentary, of which one, "Wacky Doodle Productions", was formed for the occasion. The humorous name referred to Hurley's scoffing description of Roddenberry's optimistic vision of humanity's enlightened future, which Hurley, due to what he perceived as a lack of dramatic possibilities, found detrimental to storytelling.
  • Though not known for having a modest personality, William Shatner exhibited in his documentary considerable restraint in order not to upstage his interviewees, contrary to, for example, his 2011 documentary The Captains. Only twice, when specifically asked about it by performer Jonathan Frakes and writer Ira Steven Behr, does Shatner allow himself to delve somewhat into his own Star Trek experiences.
  • For Maurice Hurley, who had remained silent on his Next Generation contributions since 1990, the interview in which he related his side of the events turned out to be a timely one, as Hurley passed away less than a year after the documentary was released.
  • On 1 May 2015, the documentary was shown at the April 30 to May 7, 2015 New York City International Film Festival. [5] A red carpet affair, director/producer Shatner presented his documentary in person, which was followed by a special Star Trek Q&A session. [6]
  • Though the DVD was released in standard definition, retail seller has offered its clientèle an on-demand-only produced high definition version, if ordered at the company. It has also made the documentary in both versions available on the same date as the DVD release, in the digital Video-on-Demand rental, and retail download formats through its subsidiary Prime Video.

Content gallery

External links

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Star Trek 4-Movie Gift Set
Star Trek documentaries and specials
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Star Trek: The Original Series - The Complete Series
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Star Trek/Star Trek Into Darkness
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The Captains Close Up
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For the Love of Spock