Star Trek VI, Shakespeare Par-Broiled!

DATELINE:  The Final Undiscovered Country

Butrick recalled Merritt Remembered!

Did we miss this gem the first time around in 1991? We are glad to re-discover The Undiscovered Country, the last original cast movie of the Star Trek series. It is elegantly listed as VI.

This film, directed by Nicholas Meyer, is Shakespearean satire. It is delicious to behold. The sixth in the movie franchise of the original series, perhaps we had run out of steam and avoided it, but the characters had not abandoned their mission.

Christopher Plummer as Chang, the Klingon villain, delivers famous lines and taunts that you have to read Shakespeare in the original Klingon.

The movie is loaded with delights. Spock quotes Sherlock Holmes and mentions he is a distant ancestor. Christian Slater, a devotee and fan of the show, has a cameo.

Merrit Butrick, who played Kirk’s son in two movies, but had died of HIV in 1989, appears as his son again in a photo—and in a major plot device. We think Butrick would have been thrilled.

The Undiscovered Country deserves to have an elevated spot in the canon of Star Trek. As the last entry, it is bittersweet and, so many years after its appearance, meets the end exactly as we might wish.

The movie is loaded with one-liners and the usual attack that leaves the Enterprise in shambles.

Leonard Nimoy came up with the idea for the last film, and he knows how to play off the two main characters and his chemistry with William Shatner.

If you have not discovered the last franchise dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, you are remiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Captains of Star Trek

DATELINE: No Vanity from Shatner!

man in box

When first we saw that William Shatner had produced, written, and directed a movie documentary about the five captains of the Star Trek franchise, we suspected vanity. He calls it The Captains, putting himself into a stew with the others.

How wrong we were about the ego of Captain Kirk’s acting creator. Shatner’s touching and delightful film shows what an erudite, generous, kind man he is. Each conversation with one of his successors in the Star Trek world is careful and insightful.

He talks to Scott Bakula, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, and Chris Pine.  He genuinely likes these actors and respects their opinions.

Also around are those who were part of the franchise like Jonathan Frakes (The Next Generation) and even his old friend Christopher Plummer (from The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek VI). Shatner understudied Plummer in Henry V on stage at the beginning of their careers! 

Obvious questions were on Shatner’s mind in a personal way, and he turned it around to find out if playing a Star Fleet captain had an impact on the personal life of the actors. It deals with divorce to mortality. Of course, it is big.

Shatner notes how he might have been embarrassed to leave serious classic acting to do Star Trek, and how often he was denigrated for his work. Yet, talking to the other stars, he becomes more aware of why playing a leader required an attitude.

In the meantime, he shows humor and expresses insight into his own career. There are even clips of him, as a blond in the mid-1950s playing Billy Budd on Canadian TV.

He learns that every star suffered 16-hour work days on the series and movies, and that it had a devastating toll on their personal lives and children.

Yet, this is not a downbeat story: Shatner has come to revel in his role as Captain Kirk, not always something he could claim. Each actor he speaks with shares personal feelings that elicit a growth in Shatner on the screen.

What a marvelous little film, even if you may not have seen some of the Star Trek oeuvre, there is much to savor here.

 

 

Ancient Aliens Bring Captain Kirk Aboard

DATELINE: Von Daniken Beamed UP 13.14

shat Shat Upon Sagan!

It was inevitable. As 2019 starts a new special, Ancient Aliens Season 13, episode 14, brings in the most ancient astronaut of TV fame: there is William Shatner giving advice to Giorgio and the crew.

You have to love it. This is a special edition for sure. Cross-pollination is one of History Channel’s favorite Venerable Bede compliments. There is no one from outer space more ancient than Shatner. Where has he been for a 100 other episodes?

The reason for his appearance is to honor Erich Von Daniken. In 1976 Shatner made a movie called Mysteries of the Gods, which adapted more or less from one of Daniken’s books. Hence, the honor from History Channel. Clips of young Shatner appear, but no mention comes of Leonard Nimoy’s series In Search of…, which History is also remaking with the new Spock, Zachary Quinto.

The two-hour special is meant to be homage to Von Daniken’s amazing career since the 1960s when he burst onto the scene with his outlandish theories. We read Chariots of the Gods in 1968, before most the guests on this special were born.

We recall being surprised and more than a little confused as to why no one else had seen what the author revealed. It was mind-boggling, but then again so was 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now, he has more credibility than Carl Sagan. Indeed, the special has a clip of Sagan looking pathetic, attacking the notion of Ancient Aliens. Today, if the astronomer were still alive, he’d be ripe to serve as Trump’s Acting Ambassador to Mars.

The show manages to catalogue all the movies, TV shows, and other documentaries that had direct influence from Von Daniken: they also admit that Arthur Clarke and Stanley Kubrick slightly preceded him.

Von Daniken reveals his Jesuit education that influenced him, and he also discusses how his background in hotel management ruined him with academics and their Ph.D.-union card prejudice.

As one with a doctorate, we feel as do some NASA people and Dr. Travis Taylor, that lack of degree means nothing when it comes to creative minds.

This latest entry seems a premature obit for Erich Von Daniken, or eulogy in anticipation. It does not detract from his remarkable veracity.

Weekend in Hub of the Universe

DATELINE:  Where Humor Comes on Its Own

while tom sleeps

This was the weekend to be in Boston. A comic book festival brought William Shatner to town.

For those old enough to remember, he was the original Captain Kirk. For others, he was the star of your grandparents’ favorite TV show.

Robust at 85, Shatner went to Fenway Park to throw out the first ball over the weekend. He looked a little paunchy up on the mound, and without a warm-up, his pitch went flying into the dirt before home-plate.

Most honored guests would run off the mound in darkest, humiliating shame. Not Shatner. A man accustomed to re-takes, he demanded a second pitch. This time he reached the plate with us strike to the approving roar of the crowd.

Around the same time former Red Sox superstar Jonathan Papelbon found himself released from the Washington Nationals. And he proposed that he would be very happy to return to one of his most glorious locales, with the The Red Sox.

Though he pitches about as well as Shatner nowadays, he is not 85; he is the former Cinco Ocho. He could still help when the pennant with Big Papi as they did 10 years ago.

A little south of Fenway Park, the splendid Gronk was holding his own comic fest. He entertained a large crowd of fans doing standup comic stuff on a folding chair.

He demonstrated how to spike a football ball and imitated Tom Brady.

So, for humorists being in Boston unnecessary. In the hub of the universe we have everything from Captain Kirk to spacemen relief pitchers to compleat Gronk.