"The Captains" is available on Netflix, EpixHD.com, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and DVD. It will screen on HBO Canada March 21.
Stardate 65630.8 (1 March 2012)
What made "Star Trek" the most "durable and profitable franchise" in entertainment history? In his documentary, writer-director-producer William Shatner makes a convincing argument that it was "The Captains" -- they set the tone and they brought the theatricality and Shakespearean linguistic grace to TV.
"The Captains," appeared in October, 2011, in Canada, had one-night screenings here and there across North America, and helped launch EpixHD.com. That all seems in keeping with Shatner's impressive role as a new-media barnstormer. No, he's not making political speeches, but he's on Google+ and Facebook, and he's traveling around North America promoting and preserving what may be his most lasting legacy, his role as Captain James T. Kirk. He's even returned to Broadway in a one-man show covering his career before, during and beyond "Star Trek." (Yes, "returned.")
In Hollywood, people joke about the William Shatner School of Acting. He's corny. He's melodramatic. And he has a sizable ego. But he's really not a bad actor. We forget that before "Star Trek," Shatner seemed destined to become a fine stage actor. He first made the trip to Broadway from his native Canada in 1956 with a small part in "Tamburlaine the Great" in 1956. The production had two Tony nominations. He scored the starring role in "The World of Suzie Wong," which ran for two years. Both he and the female lead won Theatre World Awards for their work. In 1962, he was one of the main performers in "A Shot in the Dark," for which Walter Matthau won a featured actor Tony. All that momentum got sidetracked when he went Hollywood.
At home, Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) has a business line and a personal line. You should know that because the FBI does, and so do his bosses at Archer Daniels Midland ("Supermarket To The World"™). Mark is pretty good at compartmentalizing his life, but the lines are about to get crossed a little bit.
Mark lives with his wife and kids in Decatur, IL, but he's been all over the world with ADM and he's proud of what they do, especially with corn. They make all kinds of stuff out of plain old corn, from high fructose corn syrup to lysine to ethanol -- all of which, you might say, are fuel additives, designed to juice up production of... whatever.
Celebrating ADM's miraculous line of alchemical products, Mark excitedly notes: "Corn goes in one end and profit comes out the other!" Vivid image, that. Kind of suggests Mark's chronic logorrhoea, the stream of partially digested thoughts that swirls around inside his head and occasionally gushes from his mouth. When he gets going his internal monologue (in voiceover) actually talks right over his lips and his tongue. He doesn't interrupt himself; his mouth and his brain just keep spilling over each other. I wouldn't be surprised if Damon's Mark Whitacre had a cousin named Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo.