Author: Jean

The Vulcan in the Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Vulcan in the Star Trek: The Next Generation

George Takei calls William Shatner ‘cantankerous old man’ in response to actor’s ‘bitter’ claim that ‘I was one of the first people to discover that my son had a terminal illness’ Read

If you grew up in the 1980s, you were probably taught to be wary of William Shatner. The actor, in his pomp, was a man with a reputation for arrogance and a short fuse.

In later years, he mellowed in his career, but in the 1980s, he was just plain rude. The character of Mr Shatner on the sci-fi television series TOS was a constant source of irritation to his fans — even though, ironically, he played the role with a straight face, even though, ironically, he was far less self-assured than John Denver was in that period.

After all, Shatner did not have the same flair for improvisation as he did when playing Vulcan in Star Trek or Spock in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was not as playful as Leonard Nimoy, who would, for all intents and purposes abandon his Vulcan alter ego on occasion.

Still, in the eyes of many of Shatner’s old fans, he was simply less interesting than his onscreen counterparts. Like Denver, Shatner was often at his best when he was on his best. But since he’s a television character, his onscreen persona is always in the foreground.

So, for example, in the opening scene of TNG’s “The Big One,” where we meet Mr Spock, he is, as he has been through all of history, portrayed by Shatner in a way that is not far removed from his old self. He’s got his shaggy hair, he’s got his glasses sitting on his nose, and he’s in the uniform of the U.S.S. Enterprise, all in the opening credits.

In the movie version, he is a little less charming. He’s a little less jocular, and his shtick is a little less lighthearted. But still, he’s always in character. Shatner’s Spock was not merely a Vulcan in a human body; he was also the Vulcan with whom Spock (and, for just that reason, the TNG crew) could share a connection.

In other words, Shatner’s Spock was not to be confused with Shatner himself

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