William Shatner is hilarious. We’ve known it for years, whether it was his super-serious attitude on the original “Star Trek” or his caricature of himself in those Priceline commercials — but you’ll gain a far greater appreciation for it with “Trek Stars Go West,” a collection of TV shows and films that starred “Star Trek” actors in Westerns before and during their time in fake space. Shatner as a peyote-smoking half-white, half-Comanche sociopath is probably the greatest thing you’ve ever seen the former Capt. Kirk do — you know, in a bad way.
That absurdity is just the kind of delight this Video Services Corp. release ($16.99 at Amazon) offers, with a focus on Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy) and James Doohan (Montgomery “Scotty” Scott). For “Trek” fans, it’s a silly expenditure — the production values aren’t great, there aren’t any special features and the black-and-white is frustratingly grainy. All those flaws withstanding, though, you’ll certainly laugh at Nimoy as a philosophical, violent Comanche warrior or at Kelley as a dazed East Coast-educated ranch-owner who gets saved by the Lone Ranger. Nerds, rejoice.
The set comes in two discs, with the first including a 1960 episode of Western TV show “Tate” featuring Nimoy, a 1960 episode of “Bonanza” also with Nimoy and two 1960 episodes of “Outlaws” starring Shatner; the second has a 1949 episode of “The Lone Ranger” with Kelley, a 1957 episode of “Last of the Mohicans” featuring Doohan, another 1960 episode of “Outlaws,” but this time with Nimoy, and the 1968 film “White Comanche,” starring Shatner in both lead roles. Some have aged better than others — the second episode of “Outlaws,” for instance, is miserable to watch — but it’s the episode of “Tate” and the “White Comanche” film that are must-sees.
The “Tate” episode, titled “Comanche Scalps,” gets the set started the right way with Nimoy in a scene-stealing role as a warrior bothering the residents of a pleasant white town. Good-guy gunslinger Tate (David McLean) and traveling companion Amos (Frank Overton) aren’t surprised when Nimoy’s character (named only “The Comanche”) shows up at the scene of a slaughter. In a silly headband and wig, Nimoy wonders, “How should I kill you? I shall dwell on it,” cementing his character as a calculating badass.
In “White Comanche,” Shatner plays good white guy Johnny Moon and bad guy Notah, a half-Comanche warrior who hates shirts but loves face paint. Shanter plays both half-brothers who despise each other, and his ability to ham it up as Notah (who says gems like “The pale eyes will die!”) keeps the film hilarious through its hour-and-a-half runtime. Camp has always been Shatner’s best quality, and in “White Comanche,” he oozes it — making “Trek Stars Go West” a totally necessary novelty.
Written by Express contributor Roxana Hadadi
Photos courtesy Video Service Corp.