FUN FRIDAY: Talk like Shatner

Everyone on the Solid Signal Blog staff knows I’m a big Star Trek fan. And, despite the cardboard sets and outdated social mores, my Trek of choice is The Original Series. Like others of my age group, it was my first exposure to Star Trek, since at the time it was the only Star Trek available. The adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the whole crew may have only lasted 79 episodes, but I have probably seen each one 50 times.

I’m… losing… command…

William Shatner is well known for his scenery-chewing monologues. This one is a classic:

Certainly it’s inspired decades of imitations and jokes, but you have to remember that Mr. Shatner, a trained stage actor, was pumping huge amounts of emotion into his speeches for a reason. TV back then was a 19″ picture in the corner of the room. You had to scream to be heard. And so, when Mr. Shatner was asked to bring it, he brought it.

Still, the charge of “overacting” has followed him throughout his years. Even though he’s done many other more nuanced roles, popular culture remember him first and foremost as the outwardly boisterous captain with… a… tendency… to change the speed of his delivery.

This strange video

I’m not sure why this video exists. I know it came out a month ago. Vanity Fair magazine produced a video where Mr. Shatner, now a 90-year-old crotchety old man, reviews video of people imitating him over the years.

Some of these imitations are better than Mr. Shatner gives them credit for. Some aren’t. I think that every Trek fan has a Shatner imitation, and some just aren’t that good.  Still it’s funny to see Mr. Shatner, the real William Shatner, reviewing other people and seemingly failing to recognize that he still sounds like that.

My take

I happened to see William Shatner’s one-person show several years ago. He was an incredibly good sport about the way he’s been portrayed in popular culture, and surprisingly candid about people he does not like and who don’t like him. I couldn’t fault him for painting a picture where he was right more often than he was wrong, although he certainly did do that.

I think in the end, here’s a guy who maybe was a better actor than most and found a way to become a pop-culture icon. He’s a guy who you have to have a sense of humor about. I mean, if you have Spotify, check out his “music.”  There are very few performers where I can say, “I could do that just as well” but let’s be honest here.

And sadly, as has most of the cast of The Original Series, he will one day pass from this planet. Will we all feel bad for persistently mocking his… slow… speech… patterns? I doubt it. Because he, among all others, knows the truth. That’s what’s made him the beloved figure he is.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.