Live Long and Fester

Boldly going where no man should ever go again, producers of UPN’s Star Trek:Enterprise are beaming up William Shatner to reprise his role as Capt. James T. Kirk in an apparent effort to aggravate their writing staff. The challenge they face is shoe-horning the septuagenarian actor into a show that is a PREQUEL to the original Star Trek, which aired when he was a spry 34. Expect a patch like “Kirk, there’s been a rip in the space-time continuum ? the only hope you have of returning to your own era is to impregnate someone in the present and become your own grandfather in the future.” Seen it.

Shatner’s portrayal of the swaggering Capt. Kirk has endured countless potshots through the years (the ubiquity of Shatner/Kirk impersonations has only recently given way to the deluge of Christopher Walken impressions), but even detractors must concede the role and the man represent something of a mind-meld. Shatner’s other culturual contributions, including a spoken-word rendition of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (voted “worst Beatles cover ever” in a Music Choice poll last year), and the cult horror film Incubus (which remains the only feature film to have its dialogue performed entirely in the ill-fated “international” language of Esperanto), however, have not fared as well. Incidentally, nor did Capt. Kirk’s predecessor, Capt. Christopher Pike who appeared in Star Trek’s 1965 pilot episode in lieu of the Kirk character. Forever banished to the realm of Trekker trivia, erstwhile actor Jeffrey Hunter is said to have turned down an option to continue his role in the lucrative franchise, opting instead to star in the long-forgotten Dimension 5 as a secret agent trying to foil a plan by Chinese operatives to build an A-bomb in Los Angeles. Choose one: royalty check or reality check? Hmm.

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