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Tony Grist

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In Defence Of James Kirk [Oct. 4th, 2011|10:16 am]
Tony Grist
TV executives in the 60s had yet to discover you could arc a storyline over several seasons. Every episode of a show was a stand alone drama. It needed a touch of romance, but the romance had to be done and dusted within forty minutes. James Kirk wasn't so much a Lothario, as the  victim of a TV trope. He loved all those women truly and sincerely and was devastated when circumstances beyond his control forced him to leave them behind. Then between episodes someone pushed the reset button and he forgot all about them. He wasn't unique in this. Every TV hero had a similarly bumpy love life.  What happened in an episode stayed within an episode.  Our heroes had their hearts broken, underwent trauma, did things that would scar any normal human being for life,  then popped up again next week as innocent as ever.  TV cowboys got caught up in more gunfights and killed more people than Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickcock and Billy the Kid combined yet never lost their deep-rooted aversion to violence. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-10-04 09:48 am (UTC)
Those last two sentences are most appropriate in this case. Gene Roddenberry began doing TV westerns. His great innovation was translating his horse operas into space operas.

I have mixed feelings about James Tiberius Kirk. On the whole, I much prefer Picard, cold and bloodless as he was. Much more realistic portrayal of a ship's captain, I think.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-04 10:04 am (UTC)
I always preferred Spock, but Kirk was OK. I think Shatner deserves enormous credit for taking a run-of-the mill, two-fisted, all American hero and making him interesting.

Patrick Stewart is a great actor. It shows.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2011-10-04 12:52 pm (UTC)
Shatner thinks he deserves enormous credit, and is more than willing to give it to himself. Ad nauseum.

I liked Scott Bakula on Enterprise, and I liked Patrick Stewart. And you're wrong, there was more than one 'continued next week' ep of Star Trek, TOS.

"For the Earth is a Hollow Place, and I have touched the sky."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-04 01:03 pm (UTC)
I'd forgotten about the two-part episodes, but I think my point about long story arcs remains valid.

The world would be poorer without the unique phenomenon that is William Shatner. :)
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-10-05 12:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that: I thought I was the only one that liked Bakula.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2011-10-05 12:44 pm (UTC)
my mom liked him too. That was a good show, and if the networks hadn't moved it around so much perhaps it would still be running.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-10-06 11:59 am (UTC)
Agreed. I felt it had just got its legs under it when they pulled the plug.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-10-05 12:07 pm (UTC)
I will credit Shatner, but grudgingly, and I still found his death scene satisfying.

Also, I think this graphic sums up Kirk's character rather nicely, for good and ill.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2011-10-04 12:31 pm (UTC)
I must admit i do prefer the Picard years to the Shatner version. Being a bit of a trekkie i also enjoyed the Benjamin years (DS9) and Captain Janeway. I was less sure about the Enterpise franchise.It did not feel quite the same.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2011-10-04 12:55 pm (UTC)
I very much enjoyed Enterprise, and had it been allowed to continue, was settling down into something pretty cool. I liked Captain Janeway, but that series never quite knew what to do with Chacotay. And of course, after awhile it became all about Seven of Nine. I found the characters on DS9 interesting, especially Doctor Basheer (but then, I am female and he is gorgeous...) I can't imagine that Gene Roddenberry had any idea he was founding a dynasty with TOS.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-04 01:04 pm (UTC)
DS9 is under-rated. It had some lovely characters. Voyager I liked less and Enterprise not at all.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2011-10-05 07:10 am (UTC)
I actually think DS9 was the best of the franchise. It was so character based.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-05 08:50 am (UTC)
I loved Quark and Odo and Major Kira. These were people you came to care about.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-10-05 12:08 pm (UTC)
Really? I like Enterprise and never could get into Voyager.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-05 12:18 pm (UTC)
I found Enterprise dreary. Voyager had a lot of characters who were dull (Ensign Kim) and one that was toe-curlingly annoying (Neelix)
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-10-06 11:57 am (UTC)
I'm an odd one. I rather liked the dreariness. It seemed more realistic than the flying office building that was ST:TNG.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2011-10-04 01:11 pm (UTC)
We are re-watching TOS, so this is timely!

What strikes me most is that Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley were much better actors than I remember them being. Shatner in particular; we mock his mannerisms, but he was charming, in-character and threw himself into the role. He really is Kirk.

I am reminded of a friend in acting school who had an assignment to record some people's voices and then learn to mimic them, and then give a monologue to the class in that voice. She asked to do my voice, and told me later that afterwards no one in class--professor included--believed that anyone could talk that way. So she played them the tape and they said, "Wow, you were spot-on. How weird."

Some people really... DO! Talk... that way! And Kirk is completely believable to me. :)

Also, the chemistry between those three actors... picture-perfect.

It was a much underrated show, acting-wise.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-04 03:19 pm (UTC)
Shatner had the toughest job on the show. Spock and McCoy are juicy character parts- a gift to any actor- but Kirk is just the hero and heroes are bland. There's nothing in the writing to distinguish Kirk from all the other the two-fisted TV hunks, but Shatner with his quirks and hamminess succeeded in making him not only interesting, but iconic.
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[User Picture]From: humphreycobbler
2011-10-04 01:20 pm (UTC)
I think the original Kirk was a womanizer because he was emotionally needy, always looking for a human being that could return the unconditional love he gave the Enterprise. The new one in the movie is just a player and is really too self-absorbed for a command.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-04 03:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's right. Thanks to Shatner the original Kirk is a fully rounded character.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2011-10-04 01:21 pm (UTC)
I would agrre here with the Shatner Years. I found McCoy, Scottie and Spock a wonderful springboard for Kirk.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-10-04 03:26 pm (UTC)
Those actors sparked off one another. They were a great ensemble.
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