Friday, March 31, 2006

What To Watch: Living In TVLand: "William Shatner In Concert"

I've only recently begun to watch the TV show Boston Legal (which, despite my best efforts, I still wind up calling Boston Public 90% of the time), and I've been absolutely fascinated by William Shatner's performance as Denny Crane. I think he does a tremendous job on the show and I'm just riveted when he's on screen.

For this reason, I decided to TiVo the first episode of TV Land's new television series, Living In TV Land, which chronicles the real lives of, shall we say, older TV stars. In upcoming weeks, the show will focus on Sherman Hemsley, Davy Jones and Barry Williams, among others, but the inaugural episode was entitled "William Shatner In Concert."

I had no idea what to expect, but imagined the show would be rather cheesy and gimmick-y like other shows focusing on these types of stars (The Surreal Life, My Fair Brady, etc). What can I say...I was dead wrong. Instead, what I found was a documentary that was interesting, well crafted and well edited, and, most importantly, honest.

"William Shatner In Concert" documents some daily (well, maybe not-so-daily) events in Shatner's life and interperses those with footage from a concert he did recently, featuring the amazing Ben Folds and Joe Jackson. The songs performed were from Shatner's album Has Been, which is actually a terrific piece of work. I was going to say that it's better than it has any right to be, but honestly, it's better than that. Shatner's speaking all the songs, but the lyrics are funny, topical, poignant - if you don't have it, pick it up. But I digress.

Anyway, we see this concert footage along with footage of Shatner at a Star Trek Convention; on a private jet with Leonard Nimoy; riding in a horse show; awaiting the birth of his grandchild; receiving his Emmy for his work on Boston Legal. There's a lot of nuance in the show, in the type of person Shatner is - or at least how he portrays himself - but I'll let you find all of that out on your own. If nothing else, you get to hear a bit of Joe Jackson's kick-ass performance on "Common People," one of the best songs on Has Been.

I can't imagine that all the other episodes will be as good, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

Repeat listings and a preview at Living In TV Land (TV
William Shatner: Has Been (Official Website)


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