Captains Close Up, The (DVD Review)24 Aug, 2013 By: John Latchem
Featuring William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, Scott Bakula, Chris Pine.
While William Shatner’s 2011 documentary The Captains was ostensibly set up as a study of the quality of actor it takes to portray a commanding officer on one of the “Star Trek” spinoffs, the end result came off more than a little as a self-indulgent tribute to himself.
Fortunately, Shatner’s interactions with the other captains inspired him to make this follow-up, a series of half-hour episodes that profiles each of the franchise headliners. Being a five-part series, of course, the first episode is devoted to Shatner himself and how he came to star as Capt. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” series, but the Shat also spends quality time with Chris Pine, who portrays a younger Capt. Kirk in the recent “Star Trek” reboot films, and the pair take turns interviewing each other about what makes them tick.
Once the immortalizing Shatner portion of the agenda is out of the way, the rest of the episodes fare better since each of the other actors is given their chance to shine. As with The Captains, Shatner infuses each profile with archive photos from the actors’ careers, as well as supplemental interviews with various “Star Trek” producers and co-stars.
The episodes about Patrick Stewart (Capt. Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and Scott Bakula (Capt. Archer on “Star Trek: Enterprise”) are entertaining enough, though little more than extended versions of their segments from The Captains.
Most interesting are the segments about Kate Mulgrew (Capt. Janeway on “Star Trek: Voyager”) who opens up about her career regrets, and Avery Brooks (Capt. Sisko on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), whose eccentricities might make some viewers think he’s insane.
The Mulgrew stuff is especially riveting because of how heartfelt she is about her early career mistakes (she wishes she had spent more time in the theater before coming to Hollywood), and what it cost her in her personal life (though she isn’t unhappy about doing “Star Trek”).
Such poetic waxing about “Voyager” had the strange effect of making me nostalgic about it, a condition I quickly cured myself of by actually re-watching an episode to remind me how substandard it was.