It might confuse Canadian kids especially to learn that William Shatner is neither prime minister nor governor-general. In truth, when they were recently seeking a replacement for that nonsensical position, Shatner’s name was vouchsafed.
And why not? He’s been either virtually everything or too damn much, depending on your bias. My bias lies with the latter sensibility in my regard to the guy who personifies ham. But, maybe that’s unkind. After all, he is well over 100 now and has been around as an entertainer of sorts since I was a very young boy. Perhaps since before the Queen was potty trained.
And it’s been a long course of thespian events between Ranger Bob and Denny Crane. ‘Ranger Bob’, for the uninformed, was the Canuck version of Buffalo Bob on the Canadian version of the Howdy Doody Show in the 1950s. Actually, Shatner was only that for a single episode before being replaced by a guy called ‘Timber Tom’, a kind of Buffalo Bob Lite. But, as you can see by the photo, Ranger Bob was a little more debonair, nay even decadent, than his US counterpart. Witness the cigarette in his fingers and you don’t see the martini and bosomy blonde just outside the frame.
Denny Crane, for those eleven or so people that weren’t fans of the wonderful Boston Legal, was the perpetually priapic, alzheimerish once brilliant lawyer who once had an affair with Candace Bergen (who didn’t? No, that’s not true, but I liked the cheapshot line) and is kept on for sentimental reasons. His female company was a very teeny-tiny lady who was actually pretty mini-sexy in her own right.
I guess the question that arises for me is why has Shatner always been so popular and why does he always get jobs. Despite being trained in Shakespearian theatre, I’ve always found him to overact outrageously and I rarely find him believable, regardless of role.
Of course, one of the reasons for his perpetual popularity is the Kirk Factor. To have landed the role of Capt. James Kirk was a licence to dominate your TV screens forever more. I’d love to have been on the Enterprise’s flight deck set in the old days when you had two of the hugest egos in the business, Shatner and Leonard ‘Spock’ Nimoy. Purportedly the two actors hate each other’s guts. Don’t know if it’s so, but it makes for a good story.
So, with a half-baked version of a hack sci-fi show that barely made it through a season before it became a cult orgasm. Shatner was on his way. And in that you have to admire the guy for his perseverance at his craft. He did get a licence to print money somewhere along the way and does so effectively.
Does he make me proud to be a Canadian? Well, show biz folk rarely do that for me. Mind you, neither does anybody else much these day.
OK, Bill Shatner as a Canadian hero. Why not?