Shat Trek part 1

I recently watched Wrath of Khan, and it’s probably the best movie ever made.  I swear to god, don’t even try to rationally address that.  You’ll just come off as annoying and it won’t change the fact that you’re wrong.

Now, any time I watch Wrath of Khan, I’m struck by the fact that Shatner and Ricardo Montalban are never on screen at the same time.  Ostensibly the entire movie could have been shot in two separate studios and nobody would have been the wiser.  I guess what makes the movie so great for me, is that Ricardo Montalban is so damn good, and William Shatner is, well, so damn Shat.

It’s well known that Shatner is basically a pretentious, self-centered jerk, who has somehow managed to have this great career despite the mounds of well-documented evidence that he is a terrible actor.  So terrible in fact, that the story of his rise to theatrical prominence is not only overwhelmingly pathetic, but laced with an irony so repulsive that it could not be written by the hand of man.  It is almost as if the universe stumbled through a grotesque, stilited, improvasitory monalogue while forgetting half the rules of the game.

As the story goes, Shatner was cast as the understudy for the title role of a production of King Lear.  Unfortunately for the audience, the lead got sick one night and Shatner had to step in.  Now if we extrapolate the “pretty good” Shatner of today back through his career to early Star Trek, we can clearly see a certain trajectory of his talent and acting abilities.  Namely, it is a near vertical spike of sucking.  Stop and realize that this unfilmed production of King Lear predates Star Trek by quite a few years, which leads me to believe, based on the established trend of the data at hand, that he must have sucked on a level which was several orders of magnitude beyond his earliest documented work.  As inconceivable as this may sound, eye-witness accounts to the evening of Shakespeare in question bear out this assumption.

Apparently the evening went from awkward to downright embarassing.  Shatner not only fumbled his stage locations but began botching the dialogue left and right.  His memory was so bad, that he stuttered his way through most of the script like a child’s music box which is missing several of the important tines.  By the end of the night, he was lucky to get off stage with his life.  However, in what was either an unbelievable stroke of good luck for Shatner or an earthshatteringly bad piece of luck for Elton John’s body of work, the premier critic in the audience…

gave him a glowing review for his artistic pauses and dramatic breaks in the dialogue.

No joke.

Best thing he’d seen in years, and a truly original talent according to some guy who writes for a major newspaper.  That’s why Shatner used that style throughout the rest of his career.  Some ignorant moron can’t tell when an actor is completely hopeless, and gives Shatner license to make it his thing in the future.  I guess we can argue that it worked, because it’s bought him more quality hair pieces that he has brain cells.

So where’s the irony, you ask?  Well, the original King Lear in that production, was none other than one Christopher Plummer.  Heard of him?  Of course you have.  He was in The Sound of Music, um, that other one we saw, and, oh yeah, the one with Russel Crowe when he was blond, right?

Sure.  He also spent a huge amount of time doing Shakespeare, because Christopher Plummer is a Shakespearean actor of the first order.  He is a real, honest-to-god acting talent who has the capacity to create just about any character you can dream up.  Don’t believe me?  Why, I bet he could even play a Klingon commander in a certain final film of a certain space franchise.  Oh {s-t}, that’s right.

Christopher Plummer was General Chang in Star Trek 6.  How.  Sick.  Is.  That.  Forty years after Shatner gets his big break because Christopher Plummer comes down with a cold and Shatner barely sucks his way through a classical stage drama by the foremost playwright in the history of the world, Christopher Plummer finally gets a hanger-on part in Shatner’s legacy playing a {f-king} Klingon who, ironically, spends the entire movie…

quoting Shakespeare.

That’s just horrible.  And do you know what the last thing General Chang says before Shatner orders the firing of the torpedo that blows him off of the movie set for good?

“To be, or not to be.”   Boom.  They didn’t even use a new explosion.  The bogarted the Bird of Prey shot from Star Trek IV.

I would say Jesus Christ, but nothing about that indicates there is a god.

Ben Tomkins
Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

6 Responses to “Shat Trek part 1” Subscribe

  1. John August 26, 2011 at 5:16 am #

    You spent all that time talking about Shatner, and never once used the word ‘preening.’


    • Ben Tomkins August 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

      Don’t worry, wait for installment 2. and 3. and 4. Really, this can go on forever. The man is an endless fountain of undeserved ego. Part 2 is will concern “How I single-handedly fought off a fire on the set of Star Trek 3 and saved the entire film” according to Bill Shatner, also known as “William Shatner sprayed a garden hose on some smoke until fire fighters arrived and didn’t even care if anyone else was inside because he needed to get to another shoot” according to everybody else.

  2. Jack September 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    When you say ‘Shat Trek’ you must be referring to our stop motion parody of classic Star Trek we made earlier this year and put on youtube. Am I right? It’s a 4 min “slice of life” moment starring our beloved crew and just you wait and see our first episode entitled “To All The Gorn I’ve Loved Before” – it’s gonna be more fun than a bunch of Tribbles shoved up your Jefferies Tube!

    • Ben Tomkins September 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm #
      Ben Tomkins

      Ha! Actually, I’ve been calling Star Trek “Shat Trek” for years, but I’m not surprised it’s occurred to someone else.

  3. Jack September 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Dear Ben,

    I’ve come back here a couple times recently because for some strange reason i’m interested in reading more of your article… so, when are you gonna put the hotdog down and start tickling the keyboard so we can all read part 2? …i’m just wonderin’ -thanks!

    • Ben Tomkins September 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm #
      Ben Tomkins

      OK, I put a rush job on part 2 just for you. Enjoy!

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