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Shatner's finally found the role he was born to play in Boston Legal

Posted Sep 14 2008 4:52pm

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In the great Kirk vs Picard wars, I have always been a Picard woman. I have always always always hated Kirk. Not the orginal series itself, though. I admit it. I love Trek. I grew up on it. I had memorized all those original episodes by the time I was in jr. high. I wanted to be Uhura when I grew up, not the wimpy lovesick nurse or yeoman Rand. See? I know the nurse was played by Majel Barrett, Gene Roddenberry's wife in real life, but I never could really get behind that character. But I didn't dislike her the way I was repulsed by James T Kirk. The whole cocky, break every rule just because I can, womanizing, shallow swaggert did nothing for me. I feel guilty saying that when I adore Gene Roddenberry and know he wrote Kirk based on a fantasy he had of himself. Well, maybe I wouldn't have liked GR as much I would like to think if that character was the real Roddenberry. Shudder. I would have even been happier, I think, if Jeffrey Hunter had not been stupid and turned down the role of Kirk.

But my point is, when Next Generation came along, I didn't watch the whole first season because I felt I was being loyal to my beloved McCoy, Scotty, Spock, and Uhura. In that order. I admit I cried when DeForrest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) died. He seemed like a lovely man and he was always my favorite. But with Next Gen I got the captain of my dreams, someone who was not afraid to take a stand but didn't blaze through the galaxy throwing around his own values like everyone else was retarded. He actually showed respect for the wisdom behind the Prime Directive, not to mention a little personal dignity and self-control.

Next Generation was my generation's Star Trek and I adored it.

When they started the movies I was all for it. Hey, I've been a Ricardo Montalban fan since I was about 10. I've seen all of his old movies, the Esther Williams ones being my favorite. So they had my blessing with the Khan resurrection. Bring on the movies. Until they re-introduced Captain Kirk in Generations. Give me a &^%$ing break. That really pissed me off. Until I heard that Kirk dies. Hallelujah! I mean, that's so sad. Some people will miss him.

But you know, when I went to see Generations, Shatner was very good. I loved the way he played the aging Kirk coming to grips with himself. In the scene where Kirk died, I cried. Boy, that pissed me off. I should have been jubilant, but Shatner played him all those years later with a vulnerability he never did in the 60's. I suddenly was a Kirk fan. If this is like the young Elvis/fat Elvis debate, then give me old, fat Kirk any day. I loved him for every flaw because he was finally real to me, old and aged, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

When my husband,Gene, got hooked on watching Boston Legal and told me I really needed to watch it, I scoffed. Shatner? No thank you. When Candice Bergen came on board I got a little interested. When I finally sat down and watched an episode from beginning to end I was absolutely addicted. For Candice? No. For James? Well...yeah, he is a draw. But really, my heart belongs to Shatner. Denny Crane is his one great role of a lifetime. The character is mostly nutjob, shallow, narcissistic, kind of dumb to the really valuable things, and yet there is a vulnerability to him that Shatner plays perfectly. There is a sort of nice guy buried underneath the freak that is Denny Crane and Shatner plays him consumately well, only allowing that likable Denny out long enough for you to wonder exactly who he really is, and then Shatner pulls back to the shallow end of Dennie's character and has you laughing again. And not wanting to to miss an episode, or even go to the bathroom in fear you'll miss a scene.

The scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking scenes at the end? As good and memorable and true as any of the ending bridge moments on the Enterprise, only this time I like Shatner. I never thought I'd hear myself say that. I also never thought I'd hear myself say this: no one could ever play Denny better than Shatner. I'm a huge fan.

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