Friday, July 11, 2008

Up Till Now

At the risk of having angry emails descend upon my head, I am going to tackle a very sensitive subject: Star Trek.
I love watching the original Star Trek shows (but not enough to wear the T-shirt, learn Klingon, or go to a convention), and the reason that I like them is that they are so cheesy they're fun. And one of the big cheese factors is William Shatner's performance as Captain James T. Kirk, who was always willing to discard his shirt, grab the girl, and ham it up.
Shatner's new autobiography, Up Till Now, is like that performance: a little over the top, but with such a sense of fun that it is totally endearing. Shatner doesn't devote himself entirely to Star Trek, since his acting career began about ten years earlier and has lived on since then in such popular television series as T.J. Hooker and Boston Legal. He has also appeared in his share of less-than-popular shows (does anyone remember Barbary Coast? Nope, me neither). He talks about his work as a director, star of commercials, Broadway actor and singer (selections from his 1969 album The Transformed Man are always popular fodder for The Annoying Music Show). He also talks about his relationships with other actors, which weren't always smooth.
The book is written in a rambling, informal style that attempts to make the reader feel as though you were just sitting down for a friendly chat with Shatner, and he constantly slides in plugs for his website and his souvenir products that are for sale. But it's still a fun book, and you have to give him credit for being honest about his hustle for a buck. Besides, it's somewhat refreshing to read an actor who doesn't take himself too seriously (and he shouldn't, really). This book is to literary biography what Star Trek was to dramatic television. And you can interpret that description any way you'd like.

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