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The Captains report to the bridge for a Shat attack

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IT sounds like a particularly wack-daddy episode of The Big Bang Theory, but it isn’t.

Watching The Captains, a feature-length documentary in which William Shatner interviews the actors who’ve played commanders on Star Trek in its various guises and incarnations over the years, it’s hard not to fantasize what the outtakes might have looked like.

Did Patrick Stewart, for example, wax poetic about his Royal Shakespeare Company days? Did Chris Pine wonder aloud what it would have been like working in TV in the mid-1960s, when a (relatively) young Shatner first introduced the world to the phenomenon that would become Capt. James T. Kirk? Who would win a game of three-dimensional chess between the Shat and Sir Patrick?

Shatner wrote and directed The Captains, in addition to hosting.

Even at age 80, he’s nothing if not a multitasker.

The idea, Shatner has said, was to explore the unique acting style and perspective each actor — and actress — brought to the Star Trek universe, from Pine’s take on a young, brash Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 prequel feature film and Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard in Next Generation to Avery Brooks’ Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine, Scott Bakula’s Jonathan Archer in Enterprise, and Kate Mulgrew’s Kathryn Janeway in Voyager.

Including the Shat, The Captains makes six.

Jeffrey Hunter, who originated the role of Capt. Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode in 1965, appears in The Captains in spirit, if not in body: Hunter died in 1969, at age 42, of a sudden stroke. Without The Cage, written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and featuring eventual Star Trek regulars Leonard Nimoy and Majel Barrett — but not Shatner — there would have been no Star Trek.

The Captains, though, is virtually all Shat, all the time. He’s one of the all-time, all-world screen hogs and — let’s face it — it’s all about him.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The Shat is affable, chatty and not one to stand on ceremony. Or royal titles. He is charm personified, and there’s something quite disarming about Shatner as interviewer. He has James Lipton’s knack for asking an insider an inside question, then turning the spotlight back to himself. Where it belongs.

The Shat is the Donald Trump of the Star Trek universe. There’s something both goofy and oddly endearing about a film that purports to be about other Star Trek actors, and yet shows Shatner walking among the masses at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, where the fans genuflect with appropriate reverence, even as Star Trek actresses who are also present — Jeri Ryan, Grace Lee Whitney from the original series, etc. — try to bask in a piece of the blinding glow cast by the Great Man.

The Captains ain’t art but it sure is fun. (Movie Central, check listings for times.)

— Postmedia News

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