Director: William Shatner*
Cast: William Shatner, D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Maurice Hurley, Rick Berman
Have I Seen it Before: Yes, but I’ve been tearing through (for reasons) what I affectionately call “Showrunner Porn” so here I am again.
Did I Like It: It’s got some stylistic choices I can’t quite wrap my head around, for a relatively short treatment of the subject, it is refreshingly honest about the lurching creation/slow march to near-perfection of one of the greatest television series in history.
Is Gene Roddenberry the pop philosopher of a bright future for humanity? Was he a kinder, gentler L. Ron Hubbard without the dogma and membership fees? The Great Bird of The Galaxy?
Or was he a drunk, drugged out louse who left a series of burned and bitter people in his wake, only in pursuit of a writing body of work that is best when he is the least directly involved?
At the risk of Trekkie apostasy, I tend to believe the latter. This film—fairly, I will admit—posits the idea that he was both the Saint and the False Prophet. It presents an unusually honest picture of what the production of Trek, and Roddenberry himself, was actually like. There’ve been plenty of books on the subject and at that level of honesty—very few of them authorized by Paramount, mind you—but it is rare to get many of the players themselves being so honest about the process on camera.
Speaking of players, that yields an opportunity to dwell upon my only qualm about the film. It is shot and scored not like a film about the inner workings of television, but like the b-roll of a poker broadcast. It’s such a thin, tenuous connection, tying to a rather genius bluff that the studio president won against Roddenberry, but I suppose it’s not entirely besides the point. It’s such an odd, pervasive choice. It doesn’t remove the virtues of the film, but it does distract and muddy the waters.
*Shatner is credited as director, and the DGA doesn’t exactly faff around, but I have a hard time believing that the man who would be Kirk has ever been that interested in The Next Generation, but it is certainly clear that he hosts the movie.