The Captains DVD Review: William Shatner Logs Interviews with Peers

William Shatner has written and directed this compilation of interviews and brief glimpses into the lives of the six actors, of which he is one, who have served as captains in their own franchise of Star Trek. The list includes Shatner from the original series, Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Avery Brooks from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Kate Mulgrew from Star Trek: Voyager, Scott Bakula from Star Trek: Enterprise, and Chris Pine from the most recent motion picture. As the documentary ends, one can’t help but realize that the line between an incomplete piece and simply leaving the audience wanting more is quite thin.

Shatner is rightfully an icon in the world of Star Trek and he knows his fan base well. His efforts to give said Trekkies/Trekkers what they want are obvious. Unfortunately, a good interviewer knows that the process is not about him, and Shatner doesn’t possess the skills to take the conversations to the depth they deserve, nor the restraint to focus on the subject. What Shatner does posses is awkward likability that has allowed him to grow upon even the most fervent of critics over the years.

By intertwining segments of himself interacting with the most loyal of fans at a convention between the substance-lacking interviews, Shatner manages to reel in the fans. Though finding Shatner enjoyable, the non Trekkers/Trekkies will certainly find the endeavor self-serving.

There are few surprises in the interviews as the ageless Stewart remains the consummate professional and clearly the class in this class. Shatner is left to keep up during the conversation as he clearly longs to be the actor that Stewart is.

The conversation with Mulgrew is limited by Shatner as his attempts at investigative journalism come off as abrupt and abrasive. The obvious questions that exist for the only female in the group go unasked, as too much time is spent on her career prior to Star Trek.

Shatner and Bakula clearly enjoy each other, and thus the audience will enjoy their time together, but here again, the questions relating to Star Trek simply don’t go deep enough. In one segment, Bakula seems to indicate that Enterprise was limited by the chemistry of the cast. Most fans would say it was the writing that grounded the project.

With Chris Pine having only one motion picture under his belt, representing a different generation, and taking over the role of James Tiberius Kirk, Shatner seems the most unprepared in this interview, failing to touch on what most would see as obvious questions. Pine is pleasant as he does his best to be part of the team.

Either from the position of entertainment or the perverse inclination that causes one to stare at an auto accident, it is the interview with Brooks that keeps the audience focused on the screen. The combination of two eccentric souls sitting at a piano is both comical and disturbing as they perform a duet while neither is singing the same song or reading from the same proverbial page. While Shatner makes an effort to interview Brooks, he is easily drawn into the competition of proving who can truly go where no man has gone before, or where no man ever should.

The bonus material includes a trailer and “The Making of” which succeeds in pointing out the obvious facts gleaned from viewing the feature. Yes, this would have been a superior documentary had Shatner turned the interviewing over to a professional, and the editing choices would seem to reflect his inexperienced involvement, but, Shatner started it all, and this is clearly still his world that many are dressing up for and longing to be a part of.

Recommendation: A must-have for any fan. There is more than enough material here for the converted, but for those on the fence, this is likely to have them signing off.

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