DVD Review: THE CAPTAINS written & directed by William Shatner

I just watched William Shatner’s THE CAPTAINS. Oh My God!

It is jaw dropping unbelievable. It’s like a god damn train wreck. Avery Brooks either has dementia or is on a different dimension (and I say that with no joy, being a huge Avery Brooks fan, but yeah his portions are cringe inducing), Shatner is attacking and trying to make Kate Mulgrew and Patrick Stewart cry. He’s openly jealous and arm wrestling Chris Pine. The only one he kinda gets along with is Scott Bakula, and mostly because Bakula feeds into his ego, and the rest of the episode is William Shatner going down memory lane and shamelessly looking for compliments at every turn.

It really is painful to watch at times, and I say that, also being a huge fan of William Shatner. That said, when Shatner’s ego and showmanship gets out of the way, it’s good viewing. The convention riff at the end is a lot of fun. And there is some good moments between Stewart and Shatner. And good revelations between Mulgrew and Shatner.

All in all, train-wreck moments aside, it’s incredibly important what Shatner has written and directed here. The cringe worthy moments accepted, endured, fast forwarded… at the end of the day, we’re all better for Shatner having immortalized these reminisces. In many ways it’s William Shatner’s last word on the iconic character he created.

Shatner a man perhaps feeling distinctly his mortality, making a concrete capper to his career and his life. Much of this is a vanity project, an auto-biography of self, window dressed as an interview with others. William Shatner utilizes the other actors to tell his story.

William Shatner trying to immortalize his place in this enduring mythology called Star trek, to not be lost in this new Christopher Pine age. So on that level, THE CAPTAINS is at heart a very selfish vanity project.

However, that said, Shatner does his homework, and does allow actors to come to terms and discuss arguably the most iconic role of their respective careers. And it does, by weight of just the actors involved, become a bit of cinematic history, as none of the actors are getting any younger and this film is arguably the last time all six of the actors who played the role of Captain will ever share a film together.

And to have William Shatner helm such a meeting, well… all things said… who has more right to do so.

It deserves at least a rental, and for those who count themselves as fans, possibly a purchase. It’s worth a look and has by its very nature become something that will, its relative quality issues aside, stand the test of time. Forty years from now when only Chris Pine, and the captains that follow him remain, people will dig out this film, to find out who Shatner and Stewart and Brooks and Mulgrew and Bakula were.

And if that is Shatner’s gift to himself and his family, at the end of the day, it’s also a gift to us, a gift to posterity. There are worse gifts to get.

STAR TREK CAPTAIN’S LOG Disk #5 Enterprise

“Character is Destiny.”

William Shatner says that in disc one of the 5 disk STAR TREK CAPTAIN’S LOG Box Set, and that philosophy, edict, belief sums up what separates the best trek, Star Trek, DS9, Next Generation from the shows I had no affinity for, Voyager and Enterprise.

These later shows suffer from an unfocused premise, lackluster, and oft uninteresting or irritating characters, and poor writing, which translates into poor direction and performances.

ENTERPRISE starring Scott Bakula is a particular disappointment. A more uninteresting bunch of actors you would have a hard time finding, They all appear to be constipated all the time and having no joy or fun. The Marcus guy, every-time you put the camera on him, looks like he wants to cry and the other actors are just boring.

Bakula who was great in Quantum Leap, and I was happy when I initially heard of his casting, thinking he would bring that range to his role, is very one-note and constipated in this series. And all the actors are as much fun or interest as a root canal.

The supposed fan selected ‘best’ episodes just highlights the weakness of the later trek series. But luckily the first three disks… rock, and are worth the price of admission.

Recommended Holiday Gift #1: STAR TREK CAPTAIN’S LOG dvd!

I received in the mail today, STAR TREK CAPTAIN’S LOG FAN COLLECTIVE box set. The latest in a recent line of Paramount Releases that repackages select/popular episodes of the long running and beloved phenomena that is Star Trek. The Fan Collective Box Sets, claim to fame, being the binding of episodes together based on themes.

There being a Klingon Set, A Borg Set, A Time Travel set, to name the most well known ones. However the one that got my money was THE CAPTAIN’S LOG box set, which was the first set to offer special features, in this case commentaries/introductions by all five of the actors that helmed the Captain’s Chair in all five different incarnations of the Star Trek legacy.

Particularly having the first three actors to sit in the big chair, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and Avery Brooks, offering commentary and introducing their favorite episodes made this set a must have. Most of the FAN COLLECTIVE box sets, are bare bones, and I think can be seen rightly as a bit of quadruple dipping, and superfluous fluff, but with CAPTAIN’S LOG the additional material, definitely makes it worth your while.

The first DVD visits the flagship series, and William Shatner is quite…effecting, self effacing, and profound. Plus him and Joan Collins discussing their episode CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, is worth the price of the DVD by itself. It’s a rambling bit of fluff, but what strikes you is the great chemistry they have 4 decades after the filming of that episode, and William Shatner, at his age is still the mac, as he puts subtle moves on Joan, and Joan is still sensual, flirtatious woman of yore, our bodies age, but not our hearts, and it made me feel hopeful and young to watch them.

And the actual selections themselves, are brilliant. It’s been a good couple years since revisiting the original series, and it is so much fun. It really does hold up as just great, tense, but ultimately feel good tv. It’s a reason an enduring dynasty rose up around this relatively short lived series, it really is television that is forever relatable to all times, while being always still timeless. Looking to the future, while being a beautiful time capsule of a nostalgic past of mini skirts, and go-go boots, and women as women, and men as men, and somehow solid values of our past, writ large in our future.

I have not even gotten to the other 4 DVDs, but this first one, is clearly worth the price by itself. I’ll bring you updates on the other discs as I work my way through them, but my quick assessment… An essential and recommended purchase to any fan of the Original Series.