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Old November 29 2012, 04:46 AM   #1
Melakon
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Thoughts on Shatner

Star Trek premiered when I was 15. I'd already been a fan of The Twilight Zone, Fireball XL5, Alcoa Presents/One Step Beyond, The Outer Limits, Way Out, Thriller, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The first Star Trek episode I caught a glimpse of was "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" I tuned in around the half hour break.

The first scene I saw was some guy running around in a cave (Kirk, though I didn't know it yet). It was the worst looking cave I'd ever seen (having been in real ones), with completely flat floors and fake looking rocks everywhere. Then this big ugly guy showed up (Ruk), apparently looking for the first guy. I thought the big ugly guy looked pretty cool, so I decided to watch a few minutes. Then the first guy pries loose a stalactite from the ceiling, holding this phallic looking piece of styrofoam rock at waist level. And then the big ugly guy calls out "Captain Kirk! Where are you?" in a woman's voice! WTF is this, I thought, and it took another week or two before I gave the show another chance, and got hooked.

I don't remember any of my classmates talking about the show. I liked the character of Kirk, but Spock as an alien looked phony to me-- probably because I was spoiled by some of the fantastic makeups on Outer Limits 2 years earlier. Oddly, at the time I liked Leonard Nimoy better as an actor, and thought William Shatner was too over the top.

About twenty years later, I bought my first VCR so I could tape the show off the air. Then Paramount began releasing the entire series, 10 episodes at a time. My video store must have loved me, because I had a standing order of buying all 10 of each set as they were released, dropping about $150 every time.

Somewhere during all that, I started gaining an appreciation for Shatner's performance. It seemed that yes, he was still quite a ham. But sometimes it seemed like perhaps a director would rein him in a bit, and he could be very good, very believable. One of my favorite Shatner performances is in "Obsession", where Kirk is determined to destroy the cloud creature. Spock and McCoy become so concerned they threaten to relieve him. I think it's some of Shatner's best work in the series.
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