Monday, November 14, 2011

Star Trek and Star Shatner

I just finished reading William Shatner’s autobiography, Up Till Now. I enjoyed it, although I most enjoyed the sections where he talked about Star Trek. It wasn’t as good as his books, Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories, but those were all about “Trek” so that’s probably why I liked them so much. I’m a Trekker, Trekkie, Trekophile. Take your pick.

Of course, Shatner worked with other authors on these books so I don’t know how much was specifically him and how much his co-writer. But all three books had a great deal of humor in them, and they certainly humanized our Captain Kirk. Shatner went so far as to clearly acknowledge that a number of other cast members, such as Scotty, Chekov, and Uhuru, did not and do not like him, and he admitted that he might have some blame coming his way. He admits that he probably stepped on their lines at times or took them for himself, but he argues that he intended it to be for the good of the show. He does seem to have become a close friend of Leonard Nimoy. (That’s Spock for some of you non-Trekkers.)

If you’re a Star Trek fan, I’d highly recommend Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories. Up till Now is more for the “Shatner” fan, and I think I’ve gradually become one over the years. He kind of grows on you.

What about you? Trek fan? Shatner fan? Anti-Trek? Anti-Shatner? Don’t worry about expressing your opinions. My phaser is on stun only.


Chris said...

I've never liked Shatner, which is probably why I never really got into Star Trek. I think about giving it another try, though. I enjoyed some of the TNG episodes, and DS9, etc. And I do like a couple of the movies as well. So who knows . . . maybe if I gave it some time I'd come to enjoy it. I like the idea of sexy women with green skin.

Deka Black said...

Well... is not i don't like Star Trek. Is that i like other kind of science fiction. Like Doctor Who , for example. Or Star Wars. a more adventuros one.

But i must say this: I watched in my childhood the original series (was broadcasted here, but at the time it was a rerun) and Star trek have a thing i really like: Klingons.

Angie said...

I'm a Trek fan, and have been since I watched the first-run Trek Classic shows when I was little. I like Kirk's character, and I think Trek Classic is still my favorite of all the shows, although I do like some of the others too.

With the caveat that I don't know any of these people, and that I only have what I've heard through various media sources and from the actors themselves to go by, I have to say I have a less than great image of Shatner himself. I don't hate him or anything, but I had to sort of eyeroll when he was all "Who, me?" when word first started to come out about some of his co-workers disliking him.

I watched a show a couple of years ago that was basically a conversation between him and Nimoy, and he acknowledged that the others seemed to dislike him, but at the time he claimed he had no idea why. The way Shatner presents himself, I could almost believe that he really didn't get it, but that's not really coming down on his side, because it assumes he's pretty darned clueless. [sigh]

If it were only one person, I'd figure it was just a chemistry thing, or it might be more the other person than him. But when three people who knew him for so long all come out and say he was a jerk to work with, there's probably something to it, because the one common factor in all three relationships was him. I'll buy that he didn't mean to be a jerk, but as an excuse that doesn't go very far.


nephite blood spartan heart said...

One of my first jobs was night dishwasher/pizza cook. Whatever time it was when I got off work and got home the reruns would come on our local station.

I watched them all with enthusiasm. I'd say I'm a Shatner fan. Even with his serious roles, he makes me laugh with whatever he does, it helps to have a sense of humor about yourself. And I have no doubt he enjoys himself.

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris, I liked TNG a lot too, but kind of got out of the habit of watching after that. Shatner's fame outside of Trek may make it hard to bring new fans to the original series. We didn't have that problem when I was first watching it.

Deka, I like the Klingons a lot too. The one SF show I never go into a lot was actually Dr. Who.

Angie, I imagine he was probably a jerk and probably conscious of at least some of it when he was in the original series. Maybe he's learned something since then, or at least learned to say the right things. Who knows for sure.

David J., that's one thing about Shatner, he definitely seems to enjoy what he does. I also thing he does a good job of portraying a friend on screen, even if he might not be that good of a one in real life.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like Shatner and dig Star Trek. (Yes, even been to a Star Trek Convention.) That the dude is almost eighty and still going strong amazes me.

Angie said...

Charles -- have you tried the new Doctor Who? I could never get into the old ones either, and I was going to conventions during its heyday, when you couldn't kick a coke can down a hallway at an SF con without having it bonk off of at least half a dozen people in long striped scarves. :) Lots of my friends were into it, but I tried watching and it never grabbed me.

The new one is great, though, and so is Torchwood. I highly recommend giving it a shot, starting with the first new season, when Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor.


Erik Donald France said...

Shatner is great! (I like all of the chracters and actors, from what I know). His interview show is interesting. He's pretty funny, too.

Star Trek has had a big influence of how I frame things. A lot of really interesting ideas put out there, still interesting. Much prefer the original serees to the others, probably because they got to me first, and in school, would discuss with friends for days. (I have barely seen the other spinoffs, to be frank).

p.s. I'm not really a fan of Star Wars.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, he's got the energy, that's for sure. I bet he sleeps exhausted every night.

Angie, I've thought about trying the new one but as of late I've had no time at all to watch TV. I've only been watching "The WAlking Dead" and I've even missed some of those.

Erik, I used to use Star Trek lessons in all my classes but it's gotten a little old for that now. It illustrated so many great principles though.

Tom Doolan said...

I love Trek, and I love Shatner. I also love all of the other cast members. Hell, I also love all of the other shows (well, maybe not Enterprise...but I never watched it).

@#$% My Dad Says was hilarious. Shatner is highly talented.

David Cranmer said...

I like Trek and bios and may give this a spin at some point. I'm reading the Lee Server bio on Mitchum and recommend that as well.

Travis Cody said...

I'm a Trek fan. I have not always been a Shatner fan. But you're right, he sort of grows on you. And he doesn't seem to take himself seriously these days, which I appreciate.

I'm a huge fan of the Star Trek novels. In fact, this post reminds me that I have many more still to read.

laughingwolf said...

shatner's training: schooled in montreal, mcgill university, stage actor in shakespearean stuff, hence a lot of his 'over acting'...

as for being a jerk, some 'actors' are more so than others, but then, gotta have an ego to get into acting, especially a canadian in the good ol u.s. of a... not that we did not contribute fine actors to hollyweird who were not jerks! :O lol

my fave of the tv series: ds9

Charles Gramlich said...

Tom, I started watching a few of the Enterprise episodes in reruns and actually thought they were OK.

David, most of the bios I've read have been musicians, writers, or actors associated with Star Trek.

Travis Cody, I just started an old Star Trek Novel by Gordon Eklund called The Starless World. Not too bad.

Laughingwolf, Shatner didn't talk a lot about his upbringing in Canada but he did discuss it some. Intersting stuff.

Cloudia said...

part of our culture and growing up!

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >


eric1313 said...

I am a Trekkie, though not to the same extent that I am a Star Wars fanatic.

Shatner himself is OK by me, his personality is grating, though I am a bit of a fan of the stop-start overly dramatic delivery of lines. I have always been an unabashed supporter of Captain Kirk in the great Kirk vs Picard debate. Kirk vs Riker would be a better match up, to be a real dork about it. Picard was just not the warlord either of those guys were, by my humble estimation.

eric1313 said...

The Wrath of Khan is one of my all-time favorite movies, just thought I'd throw that one in there. It's not quite Empire Strikes Back, but it has a special place being one of the first movies I remember seeing in a theater, way back down in Tennessee.

Snowbrush said...

Anti-Shatner, both for what I've heard about him running over people, and for the fact that I didn't like Captain Kirk who was forever getting emotional and needing people to help calm him down. Shatner did better on Boston Legal, I thought.

Drizel said...

I have never been a Star trek fan, no reason not to be. I just don't seem to get into it.
Shatner.....guess he is ok, have no opinion on him.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

More Trek than Shatner fan. Unusual as it may seem, the two defining aspects of STAR TREK for me were the music score, as the credits rolled, and the screen presence of Mr. Spock without whom... I have never watched Shatner in any of the TV series he appeared in and liked him even less in MISS CONGENIALITY. But, I believe, he writes well. Does he? I also liked the early version of STAR TREK, so to speak, FIREBALL XL5. We kids were hooked on to it in the 1970s when there was little else to watch on state-controlled television in India.

Angie said...

LW -- you can't blame the Shakespearean background, though. [wry smile] Patrick Stewart was also a Shakespearean and he's a fine actor; you might point to the way he digs into the dramatic scenes as signs of his background, but he's not over-the-top about it, nowhere near Shatner. Heck, Henry Winkler did Shakespeare in his early days (before Happy Days) and although Fonzie was over the top at times -- as is fitting for a sitcom character -- if you watch some other things he's done, he's a very good actor as well, not someone whose knob is stuck on 12. Heck, even Fonzie wasn't as chewing-the-scenery OTT as Shatner tends to play his characters.

And there are plenty of actors working in Hollywood who are from Canada originally, and they don't all have attitudes because of it, so you can't really blame that either.

I agree that you have to have a certain amount of ego to be an actor -- or to try for a profession in any of the arts, including writing. But letting that ego get away from you to the point of being a major jerk is something that's particular to each individual.


sage said...

I always enjoyed the old TV shows more than the newer ones, but probably not enough to read bios of the cast.

Neat the way you have embedded the Amazon links.

pattinase (abbott) said...

He's hard to like because you always hear about his ego on the show. At that point in his career, he hadn't earned the right to step on toes either. I like Star Trek a lot, (especially TNG) so I might give it a look.

BernardL said...

Shatner was terrific in the roll, and I'm definitely a Trek fan. I also like the new direction they went on the present day Star Trek movie. It's only human nature in Hollywood to have flare-ups between cast members, but without Shatner, all those unhappy campers in the cast would have been twiddling their thumbs over the years. The three you mentioned had no career without Star Trek and its movie sequels.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, absolutely.

eric1313, Wrath of Khan is definitely my favorite Trek movie and I’d have to put it above Empire. But both are good. And I think there’s room in the world for both our views. :)

Snowbrush , I suppose I’ll forgive you. :)

Drizel, it may well be an age thing in part. Star Trek was different for those of us coming up in the 70s.

Prashant C. Trikannad, I agree. I’m more a Trek than a Shatner fan. I’ve enjoyed the two novels about Trek he wrote, although he had a cowriter so I don’t know how much was him. They were both good. Ashes of Eden and the other one I can’t think of the title right now

Angie, yeah, Shatner doesn’t do subtle, that’s for sure.

Sage, I joined Amazon associates so that I can embed those links. If folks buy through those links I’m supposed to get a penny here and there as a kick back but so far that’s never happened.

pattinase (abbott), It would be interesting to read some of the stuff by other Trek actors about him.

BernardL, that’s true, of the Star Trek cast members, only Shatner and Nimoy did pretty well for themselves in other rolls. Deforest Kelly a little bit, but more before Trek than after.

Snowbrush said...

"Snowbrush , I suppose I’ll forgive you. :)"

You have more than just me to forgive. I'm not surprised that so many people don't care for Shatner, but am a little surprised that they would say so on the blog of a fan of his. The nerve of such people!

jodi said...

Charles-Never a Trekkie, however, I did think Shatner was hot there for awhile..

Steve Malley said...

Haha, glad to hear you finished that one. You were just starting it when we had that dinner. :)

GREAT meeting you in person, and tell Lana I'm sad I missed her. Have to make it happen next time. :D

Richard Prosch said...

Since I don't personally know Shatner, my opinion would only be a guess. I've heard first hand stories in person from people who have worked with him and it's been a pretty even mix of good and bad. But nobody beats that young Captain Kirk. And even T.J. Hooker has his mark me down as a fan.

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, the folks who read my blog seem to be independent thinkers. I've tried to beat that out of them but no success so far.

Jodi, As a young actor I think he had that kind of appeal to quite a few women.

Steve Malley, I've had such little time to read of late. Will do. Good to see you as well. Cool, man.

Richard, I watched Hooker a fair amount back in the day. Wouldn't mind seeing some reruns.

G. B. Miller said...

I think William Shatner is a truly fascinating individual. While at times his acting was a bit over the top, he managed to poke fun at his character and at himself that most celebs wouldn't dare dream of doing.

I think he managed to have the most fun though experimenting with different mediums, be it t.v. (Star Trek, Twilight Zone and various talk shows), movies, and music (not countin his solo album, how many of you out there remember back in the late 90's he did a couple of songs with Ben Folds?).

Writing though is a different animal. I actually read a few of the Tek series, but it was really hard to tell what was him and what was his collaborator.

Charles Gramlich said...

G., I know what you mean about the writing. I have read most of the Trek tie-in novels he's written, or cowritten, and generally enjoyed them. Hard to know how much is him, though

Randy Johnson said...

I've read the two Memories books. Might have to get this one sometime. TOS is my favorite of all of them, i having been there from the beginning, watching the first run broadcast of the THE MAN TRAP. Yes, I'm that old.

Unknown said...

I am a Trek fan. Seen way too many episodes too many times. But I am more of a Nimoy fan. Still I appreciate the tips on the books. Haven't read any of them.

Live long and prosper.

Ty said...

I've read Memories and Movie Memories, and found both of them quite entertaining. I'll have to check out the new one.

I think part of Shatner's problem was when he was younger he took himself way to seriously, and thought of himself as some great actor. As he aged, I've gotten the impression he has mellowed and has had fun with his own place in the broader culture and within Trek culture.

I still love him from Boston Legal, where he was funny as hell.

Charles Gramlich said...

Randy, you and me both, brother.

Carole, I liked all three of the big characters a lot. Spock and Kirk most, though.

Ty, I think you're right about him taking himself to seriously at an earlier age. I feel about him about as you do.

Lana Gramlich said...

Yeah! Trek, baby!

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