Clearly my Shatner love comes from watching James T. Kirk all these years. I can’t bring myself to watch “Boston Legal,” despite many well-meaning recommendations, because I have never gotten into the current Fat Elvis phase of Shatner’s career. (Also, “Boston Legal” has two strikes against it already because a) it is a lawyer show and b) I was over David E. Kelley by about 1999.)
As Kirk, Shatner was a great cheerleader for both “Star Trek” the show and Star Trek the way of life. It’s a cliché to say he made it look easy, but not only did he do that, he made it look fun. Kirk’s love for the Enterprise grew in large part out of its representation of his own youth, vigor, and station in life, and Shatner brought that love to life very naturally. Therefore, when Star Trek acknowledged its metafictional aspects in the Kirk-centered movies (including Star Trek Generations), Shatner let Kirk stand in for the fans in a way that the more “realistic” Modern Trek characters couldn’t. As Shatner grew old with Kirk, he made it okay for the fans to grow old with Kirk too.
Of course, that made his “get a life!” moments doubly effective, because here was the guy who had to look longingly at a blue screen and convince us was his beloved starship, telling the fans to grow the hell up. I can’t blame him, mind you; any actor so identified with a role must either really love it or really resent it after twenty years, and I’m glad Shatner found Denny Crane after years of just Kirk.
Still, I hope he’ll forgive me for my choosing to focus only on the one thing.
And at the risk of getting too geeky, with Leonard Nimoy’s 76th coming up on Monday, I wonder if there shouldn’t be a kind of President’s Day-esque amalgamated holiday….