William Shatner’s Star Trek Documentary

William Shatner has remained a part of the pop culture zeitgeist for decades thanks to his iconic turn as Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek. Always working, the actor has kept himself busy and his name relevant with an amazing variety of roles over the years. From singer to talk show host, the Canadian actor is always full of surprises. Shout Factory issues The Captains Collection, a series of documentaries hosted by William Shatner that delve into Star Trek.

First styling himself as a talk show host on Biography Network back in the late 2000s, Shatner put together an ambitious documentary project in 2011 that sees him interview all the actors that have played captains on various Star Trek projects. The pop culture icon writes, directs and stars in The Captains. The feature-length documentary takes a deep dive into the common pressures faced by all actors carrying the title of Captain on Star Trek.

The Captains and The Captains Close-Up capture Shatner’s irrepressible charm even if he is a shameless ham with a huge ego

Intimate solo interviews between Shatner and actors Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Chris Pine and Scott Bakula form the basis of The Captains and his follow-up 2014 documentary, The Captains Close-up. These are interviews that begin with Shatner sharing his working memories and then leading to more and more personal questions. Shatner is fairly good at getting Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew to open up about their own lives.

Shatner probes each interview subject beyond surface matters, often asking how Star Trek impacted their personal lives. Kate Mulgrew candidly admits her children despised Star Trek because the show consumed so much of her time as they were growing up. Patrick Stewart discusses how he loves working but that it also makes him lonely at times.

Shatner shares more rapport with some subjects than others. The Chris Pine interview has its moments, like when Shatner challenges him to an arm-wrestling match. But the conversation quickly descends into ordinary actor talk any press outlet could have gotten from the movie star.

The included documentaries in Shout Factory’s The Captains Collection are engaging without relying on Star Trek minutiae, though devoted fans should be delighted as well. The Captains and The Captains Close-Up capture Shatner’s irrepressible charm even if he is a shameless ham with a huge ego.

Video

The primary interviews have all been shot in bright, clean HD video framed at 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080P resolution presentation has excellent clarity and razor-sharp definition. The Captains and the other included documentaries offer professionally filmed interviews.

Shout Factory doesn’t skimp on The Captains Collection, spreading the entire set over three BD-50s and a fourth BD-25. Each primary documentary gets its own disc. That affords a spacious AVC encode that perfectly captures the mix of talking head interviews, archival photographs, Star Trek clips, and related footage.

The documentaries maintain the 1.78:1 aspect ratio for all footage. The oldest footage, dating back to Shatner’s earliest working days, fares the worst. The movie clips use high-quality sources that look right at home on Blu-ray.

Audio

Two very similar audio options are offered for each and every included documentary in the set – 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA in stereo. There are few differences between the soundtrack choices. There is virtually no surround presence.

The Captains is a documentary almost entirely constructed around Shatner interviewing the other actors. There’s just not much to the sound design beyond simple dialogue. This is a serviceable recording that gets the job done. The interviews set inside interior locations have quieter background noise levels.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

The Captains Collection from Shout Factory is being made available in three separate editions. An exclusive fifth BD as part of the set’s special edition, containing additional bonus material, can only be ordered directly from Shout Factory’s own website. It’s limited to 2000 units. It should be noted that extra disc will set you back around $30 more than the normal four-disc retail edition.

For obsessive William Shatner fans, a third edition has the special edition and throws in a specially-pressed splatter vinyl for Shatner’s “Has Been” LP. The splatter edition is limited to 1000 units.

A slipcover is available for all editions. The discs are locked to Region A. Each disc receives its own set of related bonus material. Everything in the set is in HD quality.

While some of the shorter featurettes are one-time watches, Trek fans should lap up the longer Captains Close-up and Shatner’s uncut chat with Christopher Plummer.

Chaos On the Bridge is a fascinating peek behind the curtains at Gene Roddenberry’s struggles getting Star Trek: The Next Generation off the ground. Get A Life opens with Shatner’s infamous SNL sketch mocking Star Trek fans and then spirals into his appearance at a Vegas Star Trek convention. The Captains Close-Up has nearly two hours of new footage that didn’t make the original documentary.

The Captains (96:11 in HD)

The Making of The Captains (11:02 in HD)

The Captains Trailer (01:01 in HD)

The Captains Close-Up (148:19 in HD)

Still Kicking (47:03 in HD) – Shatner’s full piece with Christopher Plummer as the two men sit down at the Stratford Theatre in Ontario, Canada.

Shatner The Firefighter (01:15 in HD)

When The Wall Came Down (01:41 in HD)

“Ponder The Mystery” Music Video (03:37 in HD) – Shatner’s bizarre spoken-word song from the Has Been album.

The Captains Close-Up Trailer (01:16 in HD)

Still Kicking Trailer

Chaos On The Bridge (59:14 in HD)

Chaos On The Bridge Trailer (01:49 in HD)

Get A Life! (58:18 in HD)

Shatner & The Fans (03:03 in HD)

The Jue Family (04:34 in HD)

Conversation With Robert Walter (06:04 in HD)

Fannadicts Sizzle (05:05 in HD)

Peter And Charlotte (HD)

Dr. Scott Richards (HD)

Get A Life Trailer (00:56 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Captains Collection
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Star Trek lifers and casual fans should both enjoy this engaging documentary featuring William Shatner interviewing the other actors that have played Captains.

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