Who doesn't love documentaries? Who doesn't love William Shatner? So why not put them together! Bill tends to do docs about Star Trek, never really moving on from his defining role, that of James T. Kirk. This doc, Chaos on the Bridge, is largely about Gene Roddenberry and how he got Star Trek the Next Generation off the ground.
It seems that a lot of people differ on what kind of man he was. Some loved him and some hate him. It seems that the network tried to move forward with a new series without him, seeing as he was blamed for the failure of the first movie but he wouldn't let them move forward with out his consent. After all, he owned the property.
Gene had a lawyer who he used as his bad guy. He used him to force the network to play ball the way he felt it should be played. He got a great deal of money in order for the show to go forward. It gave Paramount the power to make the show but Gene got to pick the team he worked with in order to make the show. It was a great deal for him.
The fans threw a fit, it seems they didn't like doing a show without Jim, Bones and Spoke. They said there could be no Star Trek without them. Little did they know what was to come.
Gene became a humanist. He believed that Humans were evolving into the peek of what we can become. Transcending what we are and what we have been in the past.
Star Trek The Next Generation was the first sci-fi show that was sold as a 1st run syndication. Giving them less money but more freedom when making their show. The first real fight was over how long the first episode was going to be. One or two hours. They told Gene if he didn't agree to a 2-hour pilot they would kick him off the show. Something they couldn't do because it would doom them from the start. He bought their bluff and agreed to it.
People disagree on wither Gene deserves credit for writing the pilot or not. Some say that he wrote half and others say he forced his rewrite on the episode in order to get his name on it. Gene fought for Patrick Steward to be the captain of the ship. He was the perfect fit for the role.
The executives loved the first episode and the show moved forward. Gene's health is getting worse and worse and the show is falling apart. People were being fired left and right and no one in the writing room had any faith in the show. Gene saw the future as a world where mankind had evolved past all of our pettiness and we become enlightened. The problem with this is that in order to make a show you need drama and Gene took that out of the show. How do you make a show without drama? The first season had a turnover of about 30 writers. That is insane.
Maurice Hurley was promoted to show runner and people were not happy about it. He had never written sci-fi before only cop shows and he was relatively new to the show over people who have been there since the start. The second season got a big late start due to the writers strike. Coming into the second season they fired the actress playing the doctor because she was too vocal. The new doctor wasn't liked as well and it became awkward for everyone involved.
By the end of the second season Hurley had all but given up wanting to do anything. He kept getting into it with Gene and he had enough. They didn't ask him back for season 3. Michael Piller took over, a man who had never run a show before. This was the year that Ronald D. Moore joined the show. The man that would shake things up and give us Battlestar Galactica 2.0 years later. Sadly it also saw the death of Gene, the man who gave us Star Trek to begin with.
This was a fun walk down memory lane, giving us tons of tidbits about a beloved show that helped to change Sci-Fi forever.
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