Chaos on the Bridge (2014): A Documentary Exploring the Conflict Behind Starting “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

Chaos on the Bridge poster

    I’m not the biggest fan of William Shatner. The stories of how he treated the cast, and his pet project film of “The Final Frontier” was just awful as it was all about Kirk and he even had the crew of the “Enterprise” turn against him just so he could be the center of attention…so yeah, I’m not the biggest fan. This is a decent documentary though and I really liked seeing him explore other egos and the mess that was the first 2 season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

      Shatner directed the film and it aired on HBO.

      The story involves the drama behind the creation of and initial failure of “Star Trek: The Next Generations” through interviews to give the different sides of the story in the conflicts that took place on getting the new “Star Trek” off the ground.

The Pros: Roddenberry’s Story – Roddenberry’s story is sad as you have a man who lost his art since it was owned by Paramount and the studio didn’t give him anything until the films. This lead to him being very selfish both during “The Original Series” and his attempt to micromanage “The Next Generation,” which made the early stories suck as he could change his mind at any point and had surrounded himself with “yes” men. It wasn’t until he left that the show was really able to find it’s footing, though he gave us some great ideas like the Holodeck and of course “Star Trek” which made “The Next Generation” and my favorite of the Treks, “Deep Space Nine” possible.

Interviews with the Actors – The interviews with the actors and team are a lot of fun as you get an idea of how the personalities clashed and it gives a taste of how close so many of them were. Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) and Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker) were great examples of this, as was Denise Crosby who sadly got shafted (like McFadden did by Hurley).

Patrick Stewart – Patrick Stewart being cast as the Captain is a really cool story as he was wearing a wig at first but was accepted by Rodenberry after he took it off and he convinced everyone that in the future hair doesn’t matter. It was a cool moment! Later Stewart got in a fight when he thought what he was doing was being mocked but was able to resolve it with one of the Producers.

The Turn Around – After Maurice Hurley leaves and Roddenberry leaves the show gets back on task. Hurley gave us the Borg, which was a great idea but he held to closely to Roddenberry’s vision of human perfection so there was no character conflict….this was a big reason the first 2 season sucked. Our characters were just bland and didn’t have characterization.

William Shatner – Shatner showed class in this. He was sad at not being asked to be involved with starting “The Next Generation” but he moved on and he clearly had a lot of respect for the people he was interviewing. It truly felt that he did this project out of a genuine care for Trek and curiosity of what came after him.

The Cons: The Animation – The animation looks like a comic book and clashes with drama that unfolded. Which is a shame since the animation isn’t bad, it just tonally felt very jarring.

The Soundtrack – It is very jokey and clashed with the Rodenberry story and a new creation finding it’s footing.

This was a good short documentary that I’d recommend. Shatner’s ego doesn’t really come out and he comes off as genuine and sincere throughout the entire project, so he’s clearly grown at least somewhat from the past. The animation and soundtrack detract from it but learning about the drama and the interviews really carry it and made it an enjoyable watch.

Final Score: 7 / 10

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Gargoyles Pilot – Season 1, Episodes 1-5 – “Awakening” – A Matter of Trust

Gargoyles-AwakeningPartTwo40

“Gargoyles” was a show that I loved when I watched it in College, at least the first 2 seasons. I couldn’t get through season 3 because of the animation but may try again later. For this though, I’m going to be reviewing Season 1 and starting with the 5 Part Pilot of “Awakening.” Suffice to say I was impressed.

Part of the reason I loved this show were all the guest stars from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that really got a chance to shine. Folks from one of my favorite sci. fi. shows in one of my favorite fantasy shows. It was a win win.

The story was written by Eric Luke and Michael Reaves and directed by Kazuo Terada and Saburo Hashimoto.

The story of “Gargoyles” begins in the past in Scotland. Gargoyles lead by Goliath protect the Scots from viking attacks, but one day they are betrayed by a man they consider a friend which leads to the vikings exterminating most of the gargoyles and enslaving the Scots. When the survivors free the Scots the Princess goes missing and they are blamed and turned to stone until the castle is above the skies. Goliath decides to join them and 1000 years pass and they brought to the present by Xanatos who puts their castle on top of his building. The story than unfolds as they deal with trusting humans, a reveal from the past and Goliath’s budding relationship with Detective Maza.

Demona

Here is the assessment of the episodes:

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is fantastic! Who would have thought making gargoyles living creatures who experience prejudice in all time periods would work so well. Them being outsiders and outside of time is part of what makes it so strong as they adapt to the future and finding their way. Having magic in this world works too by the very existence of the gargoyles on the scene. It establishes the fantastic early.

The Gargoyles – They can glide, live in clans and turn into stone by the light of the sun. They are powerful but have limitations which make them so amazing! They also have reason to distrust humans which makes for an interesting drama from the get go.

The characters: Goliath – The leader and first named of the gargoyles since the Gargoyles don’t have names except the ones humans give them, and Goliath was named so because of how large he was, and the fear related to him. He is a great character who is moral and fights for his people. He does not believe in killing and only does revenge as a last resort, because of his experience with the Princess and her Sorceress realizing they were wrong, he is able to trust again in the future.

Demona – Marina Sirtis from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is Goliath’s mate and takes the name because of how she hates being betrayed time and again by humans. She is the Magneto to Goliath’s Xavier and you can see where she’s coming from. The only thing I hated was when she targets the Gargoyles when they don’t stay loyal to Xanatos, this struck me as out of character…since she is the one trying to protect them in the long term. That was why she made the deal with the captain in the hopes that Goliath would take all the gargoyles to go and hunt down the Vikings.

Detective Maza – She is the one who shows Goliath that not all people are bad and risks her life countless times for him. She is an awesome protagonist and the main human perspective we get outside of Xanatos. She is the anti-Xanatos as she sees beyond herself and truly cares about the gargoyles. Salli Richardson does a good job.

E&Gargs

The Support Characters – Brooklyn (the beaked gargoyle), Hudson (the oldest and the mentor), Lexington (the techie), Broadway (the biggest one) and Bronx (the dog) are all amazing. You see why they care as they experienced kindness from a child and you see why they are the ones who survived, they were the outcasts of the outcasts and punished because they were strange by gargoyle standards and wanted to interact with people. They are the best support characters.

The Princess and the Sorcerer – These two are selfish distrusting folks who eventually feel guilt after the gargoyles sacrifice to save them and promise to protect the gargoyles hatchlings. Probably the weakest but that isn’t there fault as much as a time issue. The episode could have explored them both more, but they achieve their purpose for future episode arcs and showing Goliath not all humans are bad.

Xanatos

Xanatos – This guy has had a trope named after him because he is so intelligent and manipulative. Everything he does is a gambit and he has plans within plans or something to hold over the gargoyles head so that he’ll survive another day. Jonathan Frakes owned this role and he is one of my favorite complicated villains. His motivations work because he feels human even if he Lex Luthory at times. One of the best animated villains and the ultimate chess master. This episode he still has the gargoyles to manipulate at the end and he has nothing to hold over his head. He loses nothing at the episodes end even with the reveal of him trying to kill the gargoyles and only using them for himself.

The Message – There are reasons to trust and not trust people, but differences should not be a factor as there are good people in any group. It’s very X-Meny, but because their gargoyles it adds even more. The gargoyles look nothing like us and are like aliens and are different and good. It is sad every time people react towards fear towards them and seeing Demona consumed by hatred to the point she is no longer the person she was before.

I got to say I highly recommend this Pilot and can’t wait to review the rest of the season. It’s solid and gives a lot of room to explore all the characters. This episode has a wonderful larger point, tells a beautiful story and creates an interesting species of creatures while keeping a dark tone intermixed with hope. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Final Score is 10 / 10. One of the best pilots of any show.