Thursday, July 19, 2007

When The Shatner Hits The Fan

Ah, another day, another new William Shatner commercial. Yeah, James Brown was "The Hardest Working Man In Show Business", but Shatner is hustling for a "Honorary Mention". Hustler. Hmm, that's a good word for dear old Bill, isn't it?

Judging William Shatner objectively is problematic for me even during the worst of times. I can't casually dismiss his as a pompous fraud because, to be fair, he's not.

Alright, as a dramatic actor, he's shamelessly served up fat, greasy, overcooked ham sandwiches for years. What he does and how he does it isn't a choice anymore, it's imbeded in his DNA. However, as a comic performer, I believe Shatner is seriously underrated. The few episodes of Trek that stay fresh and timeless are the ones where Kirk gets to be funny, and--amazingly--he is. There's nuance, timing, discipline, and suppleness. He's relaxed; he's not dialing it to "11". In other words, Shatner is everything that's glaringly absent from his hambone performances.

When Shatner does drama, he's a slab of Canadian Bacon. He's selfish, and an out-of-control scenery-chewer who swallows his fellow actors. In comedies, he's remarkably generous, invites everybody to the party, and buys the beer. Watch Shatner's past work with Spader and Lithgow. There's a sly ease and camaraderie which you usually see only in the pairings of legendary comedy teams that have a history. When Shatner has the clown make-up on, he's a team player. When he has Yorick's plastic skull in his hand, he thinks he's the team.

Shatner is a good actor. He deserves his second act.

But he shouldn't sing anymore, please dear God. The only thing Shatner should do with a microphone is ignore it.

Let's not mention the hair.