Things we also know: that Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, genius as he may have been, was hardly the easiest person in the world to work with. Chaos on the Bridge deals with the specifics, delving into the nitty-gritty minutiae of the bickering which went on behind the scenes of The Next Generation. Even better, familiar faces such as Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Gates McFadden all show up to testify as to how difficult things were at the time. Favourite story to come out of Chaos on the Bridge: that before Roddenberry would even let Stewart read for the part of Captain Picard, he insisted he wear a wig – and that poor Stewart had to have the thing Fed-Ex'd over from England 'specially. How did Picard wind up bald, then? “Hair doesn't mean anything in the 25th Century.”
Other, more well-documented events covered include the hasty exit of Tasha Yar (Crosby revealing that the cast had to steal food from the set of Cheers, so penny-pinching was the production) and the replacement of Doctor Crusher with the less popular Doctor Pulaski (better actress, but no chemistry whatsoever with the crew). That everyone from the production team to the writers and cast seem to remember events slightly differently puts an interesting spin on things, even if there is a slightly bitchy tone to the documentary as a whole (from the production team, anyway – the likes of Stewart and Frakes are delightfully cheery and frank).
It's no surprise, then, that the first two series of The Next Generation wound up (and I say this with love, as a fan) a patchy affair, to put it mildly. Thankfully, from these first faltering steps did emerge one of sci-fi television's best series of all time and a worthy successor to Star Trek. And now, all these years after the fact, we've got a pretty good documentary out of it all too.
WILLIAM SHATNER PRESENTS: CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: WILLIAM SHATNER / STARRING: WILLIAM SHATNER, DENISE CROSBY, JOHN DE LANCIE, JONATHAN FRAKES, PATRICK STEWART / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW