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The Captain meets the Captains...and ultimately finds himself.
on April 20, 2015
This is an amusing, entertain,g revealing, honest, and slightly wacky documentary, in which Bill Shatner, the iconic figure of the "Star Trek" franchise, tries to do two things, and pretty much succeeds.
The first thing he tries to do is interview all the actors who have played commanding officers in the franchise to get their take on playing the role of captains of the Enterprise (or CO of Deep Space Nine or USS Voyager, to get technical), and their thoughts and feelings on the subject. What he winds up with are some memorable discussions and hilarious encounters...horseback riding with Scott Bakula, arm-wrestling with Chris Pine, piano-playing with Avery Brooks, and sitting in a box, waiting for Kate Mulgrew.
He also gets some serious discussion with Patrick Stewart about fame, Chris Pine about working with his father Bob Pine, Kate Mulgrew on the differences between stage and classical acting and TV and movies, Avery Brooks about philosophy. Shatner also reflects on the life of a young actor trying to make it in the theater in the 1950s.
The other half of the documentary is his appearance at a "Star Trek" convention, interacting with the world's craziest people, obsessive "Star Trek" fans. Now, I'm a huge fan of the original series, a good one of "TNG," but haven't seen enough of the "Voyager," "Deep Space Nine," or "Enterprise," to judge them. But I never wear "Spock ears." If I ever see a "Star Trek" movie, I wear the ballcap from the carrier.
So much for full disclosure.
But "Star Trek" fans are a devoted and wacky crew, with their obsessions over people in redshirts all getting killed, how Khan could have met Chekov if he wasn't on "Enterprise" at the time of that episode, and so on. I can understand why Shatner had trouble figuring out why his role in a show that only lasted three years and did poorly in the ratings would define him for life. After that stage set was struck, he had to go on earning a buck ("Barbary Coast," "T.J. Hooker," "Rescue 911"). He had trouble being seen everywhere as Captain James T. Kirk, born in Iowa, working in outer space, bopping green aliens. In real life, he was Bill Shatner, Jewish kid from Montreal, classical actor, father of two, horse and Doberman Pinscher breeder. Very separate lives.
In the documentary, as he talks with fans between talking with the captains, we can see how he begins to realize that being permanently identified as the "Captain of the Enterprise" is not such a bad thing in the long run. He goes from being the "Get A Life" punchline of the "Saturday Night Live" parody to being a genial father figure to an army of fans. It's a fascinating and warm transformation.
I would heartily recommend this to any "Star Trek" fan.