A tribute to Captain Kirk

By Cathy Thurber 

William Shatner turned 80 years old yesterday.  I can’t believe Captain James T. Kirk is that old!

The man is an icon in the science fiction genre of TV.  His stumbling, bumbling fight scenes (one is actually ranked the worst fight scene of all time) and his stilted deliverance of lines have made him a legend.  I remember when I was young, watching Star Trek reruns and thinking to myself, “this man is the worst actor ever.”  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that the man is nearly a comedic genius.  His straight face while he pauses and then delivers his line is just one facet of the actor that continues to make an impression on TV viewers today.  So, I started thinking….in my eyes, what are some of his most memorable moments and/or shows?  We’ll go with my Top 8 (since 10 is so predictable):

8. Priceline Negotiator (I can’t even write it without hearing the jingle).  It’s only a few commercials and yet I laugh at nearly every one.  He’s so campy, pretending to be an overblown version of himself.

7.Sarah Palin’s tweets.    Politics aside, Shatner’s erratic delivery of Palin’s tweets – and later excerpts from her autobiography – were hilarious.  The dramatic pauses that he’s so well known for and the seriousness with which he read the “poetry” made it a huge hit.

6. T.J. Hooker.  Some may ask how I can bring up this bad, 80’s hair TV series.  But as a child of that time period, it was one of the shows to watch.  And I know my husband remembers Heather Locklear from that show, and not Melrose Place.

5. Boston Legal.  Denny Crane made me laugh harder than any other lawyer could on TV at that time.  It’s no wonder the man won an Emmy and a Golden Globe in that role.

4. Ozzie in Over the Hedge.  Okay, if you didn’t have younger kids in 2006, you probably don’t know that Shatner played the voice of Ozzie, the opossum father in this Dreamworks’ film.  His opossum portrayal of Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire while trying to help the other animals is probably one of the most memorable parts of the movie.  When he clutched his little paw to his chest, cried “Rosebud!” and then dropped dead, I nearly spit my pop out of my mouth.

3. “Rocket Man”.  If you haven’t seen this, you must Google it.  Shatner performed a reading of the Elton John song way back in the 70’s but it’s still a cult classic.  It’s so good that Stewie from Family Guy even parodied it.  

2.  Did you know that Shatner recorded a wake-up call for the crew of Discovery earlier this month?  How cool would that have been, to wake up to the theme of Star Trek and hearing Captain James T. Kirk speak the introduction, “Space, the final frontier…”  Sweeeeet.

1.  “Khaaaaan!!”  If you’re a Trekkie, you know that’s from the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Actually, you don’t need to be a Trekkie to know that yell.  It’s the best pissed-off yell I’ve ever heard in a movie.

I know there are a ton of things that he’s done, other than these items above, that many other people love.  He even made up a Star Wars song for George Lucas, which he performed while held at gunpoint by Stormtroopers.  I have got to show my son that one, since he’s such a huge Star Wars fan.  So, perhaps I’ll take some time tonight and see if I can YouTube some of Shatner’s classics – just to see my kids laugh.  

Happy Birthday, Captain Kirk!  May you live long and prosper.

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