Documentaries about Star Trek are nothing new. Denise Crosby brought us Trekkies and Trekkies 2 which were each unique looks at the Star Trek fan base. The Captains is a documentary produced and hosted by William Shatner, the original Captain James T. Kirk, in which he sits down with Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard), Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathrine Janeway), Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer) and Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek.) If you’ve ever sat and watched William Shatner’s Raw Nerve show then The Captains will be very familiar to you. The Captains is a series of sit down interviews between Shatner and all the actors who have played Star Trek Captains for the series or the most recent film. He discusses how they started acting, their life, histories, and how the roles have affected them personally. It really is a great and enjoyable look that I don’t think Star Trek fans have been able to experience before without having having ever attended a convention.
You learn a great deal about the long 12-18 hour days of shooting they encountered and how most of them have gone through divorce because of it. Kate Mulgrew expresses how her children have never watched Voyager and disdain Star Trek because it kept her from them when they were young. Think about that for a second. 12-18 hour days, 5 days a week, for 7 years. Shatner and Bakula discuss their similar circumstances of having kids while filming hit shows, Star Trek and Quantum Leap, and how they never saw their kids as much as they would’ve liked. Patrick Stewart says he once overheard a staff member from The Next Generation say that his family always comes first and in his head Stewart disagreed saying his life is his work. The Captains gives you a look into how these roles have not just changed the lives of the fans that watch the show, but the actors who played them as well.
I received my copy of The Captain from Elliott Serrano (@GeekToMe on Twitter, follow him!) after I explained my love of the character Captain (formerly Commander) Benjamin Sisko, portrayed by Avery Brooks. I have never once seen an interview with Avery in which he discusses his time on Deep Space Nine and, to be honest, after watching The Captains I still haven’t. Shatner, Bakula and Brooks all discuss how music is a huge part of their life and throughout The Captains Brooks sits in front of a piano and plays jazz as he essentially talks philosophy with Shatner. I know nothing more of his experiences on the show then when I started and I was somewhat disappointed with that. At the same time however one of the greatest pieces of the entire documentary is you can see the raw emotion all these actors have for their roles, life and more. Tears often well up in their eyes as they discuss their lives and open up in conversation with Shatner.
The Captains has so many moments that make you smile and even some that will bring you down. Every Star Trek fan must see The Captains. It’s that plain and simple, to not do so would be a travesty. Going into the film I was hesitant, knowing that Shatner has a dominating personality and can often over shadow conversations by trying to get the people he interviews to admit to what he thinks they feel or felt. There’s even a great moment when Kate Mulgrew tells Shatner he’s completely wrong when they discuss her time at college. As much as it’s an overview of all the actors that have portrayed Captains in the Star Trek franchise, the film itself is really about Shatner and his growing acceptance of his role as Captain Kirk. As much as his personality tends to dominate the others at time, his charm and lovableness welcome fans in for what really turns out to be a treat for Star Trek fans who have followed the franchise.
PETER continues to love Star Trek and has an ever greater appreciation for the actors and the franchise after his view of The Captains. Special Thanks to Elliott for the copy of the DVD!