Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek turns 50, with all the episodes from all the series now available on Netflix, as well as William Shatner's documentary, Chaos on the Bridge.

Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek turns 50 years old today, marking half a century of boldly beaming viewers up to a science fiction television and film odyssey that continues to show what a better future for mankind could look like.

Sadly there's no Star Trek special pop-up channel from MultiChoice and M-Net on DStv like last year's Star Wars channel.

Such a DStv channel from MultiChoice would have been wonderful, given that South African and African viewers haven't yet seen the recently remastered in high definition (HD) episodes of Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise (that was filmed in HD but broadcast before the M-Net Series channel went HD) on TV.

A Star Trek pop-up channel in HD would have been able to fill two months worth of airtime, given all of the remastered in HD movies, and the multiple seasons and long episodes lists stretching from the original Star Trek's first episode "The Cage" to when Captain Janeway finally got her crew home at the end of Star Trek: Voyager.

Luckily there's Netflix, with all of the Star Trek series and their episodes - and in the new remastered HD where it exists - that's now available on Netflix South Africa.

Also included and available on Netflix for South Africa and Africa for the first time to watch is the recent documentary film by William Shater, Chaos on the Bridge, that's a definite must-see for any Star Trek fan.

The hour-long documentary from 2014 has William Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk in the original series, as host and narrator, looking at the tumultuous behind-the-scenes drama during the start and first two seasons of the second series, Star Trek: The Next Generation as he interviews the cast, Paramount Studios executives, crew and writers.

Chaos on the Bridge reveals a lot of fascinating secrets about Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation:

1.Denise Crosby who played Tasha Yar: "We didn't have a lot of perks. I used to go and steal food from the craft table of Cheers. It made you feel like the illegitimate bastard in the backlot."

2.Patrick Stewart who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard: "I thought there was a lack of concentration and focus on the set."

3.Patrick Stewart said the problem with Star Trek is there isn't enough "effing and effing" - "fighting and fornicating".

4.According to John Pike, president of Paramount Network Television Patrick Stewart almost left the show because he said he was "creatively unsatisfied". John Pike with a poker face set up a meeting in the cafeteria and lied, saying "just bear with us for a few more weeks, we've already set up the script to write your character out. One thing I don't want is my lead actor unhappy". Patrick stayed.

5.According to Maurice Hurley, co-executive producer, ego's kicked in, like cast members refusing to say certain lines. So he suggested that they fire them all, blow up the Enterprise in the story and start anew with a story of finding a new crew.

6.Michael Okuda, scenic art supervisor: "This is a low-budget television show and it had enormous expectations. Star Trek has always been a low-budget production. And has always had enormous expectations."

7.It would have been a one-hour pilot episode, but the studio wanted a 2-hour pilot episode. Gene Roddenberry didn't want to do a 2-hour episode. DC Fontana wrote the original script for "Encounter at Farpoint". Gene then added the character of Q, fleshed out that addition to the story, and then said it's his script, put his name on it and got residuals as writer for the episode.

8.Ronald D. Moore, writer: "If we had not shifted from plot to character in the third season, the show would have continued. But I don't think it would have broken through the way it did. It would have been that other series they did of Star Trek. There would not have been a DS9 or Voyager."

9.Rick Berman, producer: "Most science fiction that we experience today has a relatively dismal view of what the future is going to be like. Gene Roddenberry was obsessed with the idea that the future was going to be better."

The latest Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery will start in January on Netflix worldwide.