William Shatner Is A Shamelessly Hambone Actor, But He’s Funny
Another day, another new TV show starring William Shatner. This time its “S#*! My Dad Says“, a comedy based on Justin Halpern’s Twitter feed (!). Yeah, the late James Brown was “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business”, but Shatner is hustling for a “Honorary Mention”. Hustler. Hmm, that’s a good word for dear old Bill, isn’t it?
Judging William Shatner objectively is problematic for me even during the worst of times. I can’t casually dismiss him as a pompous fraud because, to be fair, he’s not. Not all the time, anyway.
Alright, as a dramatic actor, he’s shamelessly served up fat, greasy, overcooked ham sandwiches for years. What he does and how he does it isn’t a choice anymore; it’s genetic. Remember his cringe-inducing primal scream in The Wrath of Khan? (Shatner as James T. Kirk: “KHAAANNNNNN!!!”) Compounding his thespian follies, Shatner’s dramatic interpretation of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” should have been reported to Amnesty International as a war crime.
However, as a comic performer, I believe Shatner is seriously underrated.
The few episodes of “Star Trek” that stay fresh and timeless are the ones where Kirk gets to be funny, and-amazingly-he is. There’s nuance, timing, discipline, and suppleness. He’s relaxed; he’s not dialing it to “11″. In short, Shatner is everything that’s glaringly absent from his hambone performances.
When Shatner does drama, he’s a slab of Canadian Bacon. He’s selfish, and an out-of-control scenery-chewer who swallows his fellow actors. In comedies, he’s remarkably generous, invites everybody to the party, and buys the beer.
Watch Shatner’s past work with Spader and Lithgow. There’s a sly ease and camaraderie which you usually see only in the pairings of legendary comedy teams that have a history. When Shatner has the clown make-up on, he’s a team player. When he has Yorick’s plastic skull in his hand, he thinks he’s the team. As long as the producers of “S#*! My Dad Says” don’t confuse Mr. Bill’s two personas, Shatner is the comedic heavyweight that his new TV sitcom needs.
Let’s hope Shatner’s toupee isn’t funnier than the scripts.
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