The final frontier … again.

May 7, 2009

WILLIAM SHATNER

WILLIAM SHATNER

Judging from the reviews, I might see the new “Star Trek” film after having forsaken the Enterprise when the first television series ended. I don’t know why that happened, because the first series was must-see in our house. We wouldn’t schedule any activities away from home on “Star Trek” night.

Back in those days, I was driving by a theater here in Jersey and saw that William Shatner was going to appear there in “Period of Adjustment.” It seemed like an odd idea to me at first, but I learned later that Shatner had played stage comedy early in his career. Also, I realized after I had thought about it, his character on “Star Trek” often had comic overtones. I took the opportunity to interview Shatner for a preview of “Period of Adjustment.” It wasn’t a very satisfying experience. He answered as many questions as possible with single syllables. He was very good in the play.

WILLIAM SHATNER

WILLIAM SHATNER

Shatner appeared at the same theater a year or so later, and I interviewed him again. That time, he talked almost compulsively – in fact, at one point he came up for air and asked, “How the hell are you going to write this?” Several years later, I interviewed him yet again – by phone – for an advance on an appearance he was making at a local college. I mentioned to him that I he and I had spoken twice before, and he asked, “Have you learned anything since then?”

Some people don’t like Shatner’s acting – several have told me they find his syncopated speech contrived and annoying. I don’t agree; I like his acting, including that peculiarity in his speech.

WILLIAM SHATNER

WILLIAM SHATNER

I find his appearance a little unsettling. He looks like he’s full of cortisone.

One of my favorite examples of Shatner’s work is “The Andersonville Trial,” a 1970 television movie directed by George C. Scott, based on Saul Levitt’s play of about a decade before.  Shatner played Gen. N.P Chipman, who was judge advocate of the military court that tried Capt. Henry Wirz, who had been commandant of a prison camp for Confederate prisoners. Shatner was a perfect fit for the courtroom drama, whose cast included Richard Basehart, Buddy Ebsen, Jack Cassidy and Martin Sheen.

It’s available from Netflix and I wrote a review of it for this blog. The review is at THIS LINK.

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