William Shatner turns 82 today. It seems as good a time as any to admit something that has bothered me as a Geek my entire life. The first time I watched an episode of Star Trek, I said to myself, “Wow, the captain of the Enterprise is TJ Hooker!”
See, I’m more of the Star Wars generation than the Star Trek one. To be honest, Star Trek never meant that much to me until Patrick Stewart came along. And yet, as he ages, I find myself drawn to Shatner not only because he’s hilarious, but because he has come to signify a certain way of looking at the world.
One of the most interesting things about that original Star Trek cast is how they’ve gone on to do some pretty fascinating things. George Takei re-invented himself in his 70s as the king of social media and gay advocacy. Leonard Nimoy’s music, poetry, photography, and directing, not to mention his slightly strange documentary series In Search of…, would make a fine career had he never played one of the most iconic characters in television history. Shatner, in addition to countless hit series, books, and Emmys, happens to be, to my mind, the greatest talk show host ever with his Raw Nerve.
Star Trek, the series and its cast, seems to embody the spirit of boldly going where no one has gone before. From the first interracial kiss on TV to George Takei being part of the first same-sex couple on The Newlywed Game, they keep finding ways to surprise us. He’s 82 and it just wouldn’t surprise me to read tomorrow that William Shatner was going to lead the Mars mission in 2025. You’ve just got love him.
Plus, William Shatner is the only person I know who could sell a kidney stone for $25,000.
Incidentally, this seems very fitting, because astronauts are at high risk of developing kidney stones in space or shortly after returning. Their bone density lowers due to the lack of gravity. Then the calcium enters their blood streams and urine, and soon you’ve got a kidney stone. Shatner must have really gotten into his role.
With all due respect to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, I defy you to find the cast of any iconic sci-fi franchise with so many folks who made contributions outside of their original field, much less could sell their discarded, gross, and unwanted body parts.
Heck, Shatner even found a way to one-up Star Wars when he was asked to honor George Lucas for the American Film Insitute:
It seems like a great time with Shatner celebrating a birthday to take a moment and talk about the guy who means more, perhaps, than any other man in Geekdom. Let’s celebrate some of our favorite Star Trek episodes or Shatner moments. Let’s debate some of the age old questions: What was better, the original series or the Next Generation? Who would win in a fight, Kirk or Picard? Which was worse, Star Trek IV or Star Trek V? Bring you own favorite moments and questions, and answer these below.
Oh, and you didn’t think I could forget possibly the most iconic moment in Shatner’s career did you? Nope I saved it for last. For everyone who wants to relive it, or for the few who somehow missed it, here is Rocket Man:
@Dave, @Curt: Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I used to watch the original Star Trek episodes as a kid with my Mom & Dad. Dad and I would often act out our favorite scenes. I SO wanted grow up to work on the Starship Enterprise.
I remember the day we got our first color TV and my colorblind Dad tried to calibrate the colors. I got to see some pretty exciting variations of colors for people and scenery until my Mom stepped in to help him out.
Curtis - Back in that day I lived in the high mountain desert of New Mexico. My father was a search and rescue, or recovery, diver. Love the old diving gear head with his wet suite he glued together by himself and the tanks were scary and the regulator was a trip. Of course as a young lad he used to take me with him. I spent many a dark and dreary morning on the beach with the corpse, still have nightmares about that stuff. What was he thinking? Live long and prospered in an attempt to keep the Star Trek theme going.
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