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Shatner is the New Black.

As I begin typing this, the androgynous lead of Placebo is singing the lyrics things are not what they seem but I assure you, the heading of this post is no lie: William Shatner is the New Black.

I don't know when this happened, but apparently it was recently. I'm a mix of being a bit young and a bit uncaring to know and get caught up in the Shatner of the Star Trek years, so I haven't spent much time with whatever happened there. I'm vaguely aware of his Get A Life line--though it may indeed be something different--and the agonising horror of having had to listen to him speak Trek dialogue in whatever Trek film is the one with the whales. I don't know why, but whenever I ended up in front of the box as during High School and one of the Star Trek films was on, it was always the one that had Leonard Nimoy swimming in some vaguely animal erotic moment with a whale or three. I'd always wait for the moment when Nimoy would be eaten and the whales would orgasm in response, but I guess that was cut for the TV or in the director's cut or something cause I didn't see it. Still, all up, I never much got caught up in Early Shatner (though I guess you'd call that film Mid-Shatner--well, I wasn't caught up in that, either).

I am, however, finding myself caught up in Late Shatner. The Shatner in his 70's is proving himself to be fascinating. The first release of this was the album, Has Been, made with Ben Folds, but proving to be funny and honest and more raw that countless albums released by musicians in their teens and up to forties who pumping out whatever dry echo of tragedy that their easy lives have allowed them to come into contact with. It's hard to listen to a song about the loss of love these days and feel a thing, but when Shatner gives that haunting whispered performance in 'What Have You Done', there's no doubting the pain it in. It's real. And when it comes to doing covers you can groove along to and have that post modern mix of retro kitsch and cool, I don't think you can find a better example than the Shatner and Jo Jackson cover of Pulp's 'Common People'.

And last night, I caught the first episode of Boston Legal, a show that appears to be about good looking, rich lawyers who supposedly give a damn about the little people. Just writing that makes me want to puke, really, and I would if it wasn't for Shatner and a pudgy faced James Spader, bringing some ugliness to the show, and basically running around and being gleefully bad. Hiring hookers to seduce opposing clients and photograph them snorting cocaine of said hooker's breasts and then using those photographs for blackmail was Spader's crowning moment of the episode, but it's Shatner's portrayal of the living legend Denny Crane, nearing the end of his run and knowing that a legend can't fade away, and wanting to go out in a big, flashy way that is the show. You find yourself hoping that Shatner and Crane get to go out together in one big explosive way, perhaps in a orgy of beautiful actors and dynamite, but who could say.

I can't express to you how out of place Shatner and Spader are in Boston Legal, but since they're the centre of the show, you end up thinking that all the plastic pretty people around them are, in fact, out of place. You could replace every single actor on the show with naked mannequins and you'd have, firstly, a more interesting cast, but still the same attraction, which is that Shatner and Spader being bad.


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Jun. 8th, 2005 02:41 am (UTC)
I'll have to try and catch some of that this summer. I've always had a soft spot for Spader and Shatner. Well, except when Shatner was doing TJ Hooker. But it was a paycheck, I suspect.
Jun. 8th, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
wow, i'd forgotten about tj hooker. i never saw an episode, mind you, so i suppose that isn't too hard. but anyhow--it's worth checking. by all accounts, shatner won himself an emmy for the show, and over here, the commercials are saying things like, 'find out why shatner is the king of cool' and then shatner says, 'who's your daddy?'
(no subject) - bodhichitta0 - Jun. 8th, 2005 11:38 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 8th, 2005 03:04 am (UTC)
The guy who played Odo on Deep Space Nine is on Boston Legal, too. It's where Star Trek actors go to die!
Jun. 8th, 2005 04:15 am (UTC)
i don't even know who that is. is it a blond guy?
(no subject) - angriest - Jun. 8th, 2005 04:26 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 8th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC)
I was reasonably pleased with Boston Legal, I am still afraid to get my hopes up about anything on tv as it usually leads to disappointment and heartbreak. I'm hoping the characters that Shatner and Spader play will work without those in The Practice, who tended to be high moral ground types, to bounce off.
Jun. 8th, 2005 06:14 am (UTC)
i suspect that everyone around shatner and spader will be high moral ground characters. you can already see it, i reckon.
Jun. 8th, 2005 05:13 am (UTC)
Although, it *is* missing Rebecca deMorney.
Jun. 8th, 2005 06:14 am (UTC)
no show needs a rebecca demorney ;)
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Jun. 8th, 2005 09:36 am (UTC)
He *is* the new black!!

I've never paid much attention to either Star Trek or Shatner himself, but my interest was definitely piqued by his cover of 'Common People'. He also does some fabulously kooky ads for All-Bran over here.

And, just recently, I purchased this!
Jun. 8th, 2005 10:00 am (UTC)
oh, man, that is going to be so crap :) legend has it that shatner's transformed man is absolutely awful--still, i find myself slightly envious that you bought that. i want one.

but i will wait.
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Jun. 8th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
i've seen the ballad of bilbo baggins, the nimoy song, btw. it's really bad. heh. you should see the film clip though--it has these girls jumping around behind nimoy with elf ears or hobbit ears on or something. it's just awe inspiring in that badness way.
Jun. 8th, 2005 01:51 pm (UTC)
Perhaps one of the reasons he manages to get real emotion into his rendition of "What have You Done" where the younger generations of yawnometers have failed is that they haven't come home one day to find their wives face down dead in the swimming pool, like he did. Real life has a way of investing depth like that.

Jun. 8th, 2005 10:44 pm (UTC)
yeah, i knew that.

it's the kind of performance you can only do once, though. i mean, if shatner was to release a third album, what would it be like? if it was more of the same as HAS BEEN would i be in for it so much? it's hard to say, i think.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
hey, thanks a bunch :) glad you liked it.
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