Chaos on the Bridge

“The Pensky Podcast”, my show that is currently running through all 178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, continues! In a little bit of a side track, Clay and I watched “Chaos on the Bridge”, the William Shatner produced documentary that explores the first three years of the TNG era.

It’s an interesting, if scattershot, documentary that examines all of the tumult and interpersonal conflicts that plagued the show in its early years. We get a lot of conflicting stories, polite insults, and a few inner thoughts of people that existed on the fringe of popular culture for about 75 hour long television episodes.

In the video above, we breakdown what we think about the documentary, including our favorite writers, best stories, and which bit of juicy gossip got us the most excited! In all seriousness, the documentary is a worthwhile purchase (on Vimeo) that will probably have a few bits of information that even the most dedicated Trekkie might know.

Highly recommended!


Creep is a 2014 indie… horror… uh… comedy… um…


It’s something, that’s for certain.

Written by and starring Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass (of FX’s The League), Creep is a low budget film that combines horror and comedy into a completely unique package that will leave you in fits of both screaming and laughing.

Brice plays Aaron, a videographer who responds to an ad on Craigslist that promises $1,000 for a day of work filming an individual out in the wilderness. That individual turns out to be Josef (Duplass), a man stricken with terminal cancer. Aaron is told that he’s been hired to film Josef’s final farewell. Josef has only months to live and he wishes to leave the video tape behind for his unborn child as a memorial.

A few twists and turns carry the rest of the narrative, which involves an ax, a wolf mask, and a horrific yet hilarious story heard only through audio.

Creep is a clever take on the found footage genre. However, instead of subverting the idea of found footage, Creep instead subverts the idea of what is scary about that style of narrative. Fans of the genre are well accustomed to the jump scares that clutter up every found footage story. Whenever a character is wandering through the woods or an empty house, meekly calling out someone else’s name, you can rest assured that a jump scare is imminent. The scare might not be a legitimate threat. It might just be a cat knocking over something, or the wind gusting through a window.

Creep cleverly manipulates this trope of the genre. Josef is a disturbed individual, but the scares in the movie come from his inopportune sense of playfulness, not really a true sense of terror. The movie builds to a hilarious final scare, which is played as a sort of meta joke/scare that details the entire theme.

The movie is genuinely frightening, as most of the jump scares are well done (and demonstrate that 90% of a jump scare is the audio mixing). As the story develops, the meta aspect begins to break through, leaving the third act a very dark comedy that still leaves you unsettled.

By the end, the story has wrapped up and one character begins to question why certain events unfolded like they did. To us in the audience, it’s a clever coda to a well done joke. To the character asking the question, it becomes a raison d’etre.

And a wonderful addition to his collection.

My Perestroika

“Perestroika” literally means restructuring in Russian, and it was also the term used to define the political and social changes that followed the collapse of the USSR. This documentary, “My Perestroika”, captures the ideology and feelings of a small group of Russians who are of the right age to remember the zeitgeist of Russia both before and after the wall fell. Incredible archival footage shows the society that the Communist Party was trying to build, and it is wonderfully inter cut with the directors modern footage to build the case that Russia is Russia, and it seems like it will always be that way, regardless of who is running the show. The cast of characters who are interviewed are intelligent, well spoken, and well read; this despite their various backgrounds and current situations that are all over the map (Despite the horrors of certain aspects of communism, I think this says something about the quality of the education in that system). Their opinions about the old guard and their new, more Western society are diverse, with some seeming pleased with the recent changes and others pining, ever so slightly, for the stability that the USSR offered. One last point: after watching this film, I found it impossible to ignore how similar the USSR and the USA were during the Cold War. For all of the teachings we’ve been given about how the evil empire was trying to conquer the world and it was up to the inherent purity of the US to stand against this threat, Russian children were being told the exact same thing. Hearing the kids say such in the archival footage is chilling. It makes you wonder if paranoia is the foundation for a lot of global issues.


30: Minutes or Less

In 2003, a pizza delivery man named Brian Douglas Wells was apprehended by police for robbing a local bank. In a strange twist, Wells revealed to the police that he had a bomb strapped to him. Wells told them that he was an unwilling participant in the robbery; he had been kidnapped, and told by his kidnappers that unless he completed the robbery within a certain time limit, the bomb would explode. A bomb squad was called by the police. Less than 15 minutes later, before the bomb squad could arrive, the bomb exploded, killing Wells.

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Cancer is one of those things you’re not supposed to joke about. Even stand up comedians tend to shy away from the topic, unsure of who in the audience might be personally affected. True, there is isn’t much humor to be found in the subject beyond the standard comic fodder of shaved heads, but every once in a while you manage to find something in the awfulness of the disease that makes for a great story.

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