Over the course of over fifty-five years of television viewing I have become jaded and much of what I once felt was entertaining has lost its thrill. For instance, as a young kid I was convinced that “The Twilight Zone” was not only great acting and entertainment but also intellectually dazzling. I thought that “Flipper” was top-notch adventure and “Lost in Space” was cutting edge science fiction. Ah, youth.
But one thing has remained constant from the early sixties to the present day. And that is the Shatner. From my first sighting of him on the Twilight Zone as the panicked lunatic on “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” to his every close-up on the original “Star Trek” TV series to his every career iteration he has distinguished himself as the World’s Greatest Bad Actor. No one can compare.
And along the way I’ve cheered him on. I thrilled to the scene where he agonized about “losing command” when the transporter separated him into “Good Kirk and Bad Kirk” and he knew that “Bad Kirk” was muy macho and he, “Good Kirk,” was a wimp. I was transfixed as marooned Kirk shouted up to the sky, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!” And I fought back the nausea listening to his riveting rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” It’s been a wild ride.
But his greatest role is one that few have seen or remarked on. In 1984 he starred in a made for tv movie called “Secrets of a Married Man.” In it he is an engineer who is going through a mid-life crisis. His job is on the line due to a difficult project. He’s stressed out and his wife is busy with the kids. He starts having sex with hookers. There are a number of hilarious Shatner overacting scenes that turn what are supposed to be serious problems into over the top comedy. In one scene he’s in the shower and looks down and starts spazzing out and choking out the words “Oh my God!” In the next scene his doctor is telling him he just has a rash on his genitals and he shouldn’t worry. Another gem is Shatner driving down the main street with his wife in the car next to him and all the hookers are calling out greetings to him by his first name (Chris) and him claiming that it’s some kind of standard hooker greeting. Ah, if only the Oscar went to the deserving.
But time is running out. Shatner was born March 22, 1931. In a few days he’ll be 87. One day soon the world will wake up to the news that the Shat is no more. And on that day, I will mourn. But in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that in this world of relativism and revisionist propaganda the gold standard for something has stood the test of time and will be there immortalized in all its tacky splendor, the life work of William Shatner. Well done Shatner, well done.