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"The Making of The Captains"
Sitting in a starship captain's chair is a big job. Making a documentary about the actors whose posteriors have occupied that hallowed space through four decades of "Star Trek" and its spin-offs takes a big man. Thank the Vulcan gods that William Shatner was available.
In "The Captains," which Mr. Shatner wrote and directed, he interviews the five performers who have succeeded him as "Star Trek" leaders, on starships or space stations: Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula and Chris Pine. The film will make its debut on Friday on the Epix premium-cable channel and epixhd . com as part of Shatnerpalooza, a conglomeration of television marathon, film screenings and live appearances.
A couple of observations: Mr. Shatner is pretty much always available. The Biography channel is now showing the second season of his interview show, "Aftermath With William Shatner." He has a new album, "Searching for Major Tom," due out later this year. He will accept your homage on Facebook (90,000 fans and counting) and let you know when he's coming to a convention near you.
And, as you might have guessed: "The Captains" turns out to be largely about William Shatner. That's not a criticism. Mr. Shatner's genial, relaxed self-absorption is a large part of his charm, along with his odd cadences and his unparalleled knack for blurring the line between pomposity and sincerity. He has a kind of reverse Midas effect: everything he touches should turn creepy, but somehow it doesn't.
Much of the fun of watching "The Captains" is waiting to see just how shameless a huckster and self-promoter Mr. Shatner can be. You don't have to wait long. He starts his journey by flying to England to visit Mr. Stewart, and on the tarmac he greets an executive of the aerospace company whose plane will carry him. It's a blatant product placement, but it's more than that: in the course of the conversation, it comes out that the man's career choice was inspired by "Star Trek." "He became an aeronautical engineer because of me!" Mr. Shatner says, with limpid satisfaction.
This two-for-one reciprocal endorsement is so good that it's brought up again near the end of the film, in a rather astounding monologue delivered to Mr. Stewart. Hearing the engineer's story, Mr. Shatner says, has cured him of his long-standing embarrassment about playing Capt. James T. Kirk. It's a lengthy anecdote that includes an ever so slightly bitter reference to the Emmy nominations Leonard Nimoy received for the original "Star Trek." Mr. Stewart can only nod, his face frozen in what looks like deep apprehension for what his supposed interviewer will say next.
"The Captains" has many more moments like that, which makes it pretty tolerable as vanity projects go. And it should be catnip for Trekkers and Trekkies, a number of whom are seen at a Las Vegas "Star Trek" convention reacting to Mr. Shatner's presence with appropriate reverence. ("Oh my God," a woman says. "I was this close.")
Striding among the booths, he encounters a series of actresses who are there to make money off their "Trek" connections -- Jeri Ryan, Sally Kellerman, Grace Lee Whitney (the ageless Yeoman Rand). Each time he turns to the camera and says, this was the most beautiful girl in the history of "Star Trek." And each time, you almost think he means it. -- The New York Times, July 21, 2011
Wonderful wonderful. Great wish he would do more on the crews really goodPublished 21 days ago by Marlena Kincaid
What an interesting set of interviews. This was a great idea. Quite an eye opener to the lives of The Captains on Earth.Published 25 days ago by Justine Case
It is a delightful documentary, and I was glad to see some of the well-known and well-loved faces again, as well as hear their backstories. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kausik Datta
If you're a "Trekie" then you'll probably enjoy this flick. William Shatner gets a bit overbearing after a while which is why I didn't give it 5 stars. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. Stempien
The show is mainly about William Shatner but you also get to see the other players.Published 2 months ago by Montana
A peek behind the Captain's chair into the before and after lives of the men and the woman who played the captain's job in the Star Trek universe. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. Vincent
I thought Shatner did a very nice job getting these actors to open up about their whole experience working on a TV set and "surviving" after potentially being typecast. Read morePublished 2 months ago by William L. Vincent