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Ghost Canyon

'Comedy Central Roast: William Shatner Uncensored'
(William Shatner, Jason Alexander, et al / DVD / NR / (2006) 2007 / Paramount)

Overview: It's William Shatner's turn to step in to the celebrity hot seat for the latest installment of The Comedy Central Roast. A parade of Shatner's friends have gotten together to boldly go where no one has gone before: on William Shatner's sh*tlist. Tune in as some of Shatner's closest friends hang out, have a few drinks, listen to a live performance by one of the hottest bands around, and then spend ninety minutes ridiculing and insulting the man behind Captain Kirk. So sit back and enjoy the night of insults as Shatner's tries not to lose his cool - or his toupee!

DVD Verdict: I saw this uproarious roast of William Shatner several times when Comedy Central aired and re-aired it last August. After the wickedly funny Comedy Central verbal drubbing of Pamela Anderson last year (2005), I was wondering who they were gonna put next in the chair of humiliation.

Well, it turned out to be Captain James Tiberius Kirk himself. I thought the idea of the iconic and self-mocking William Shatner was a brilliant follow-up and a chance for the roasters to really outdo themselves. William Shatner must be blessed with towering self-esteem, along with a very keen sense of humor, to have withstood all the verbal onslaught and still come out intact and laughing; the roasters absolutely took no pity on him, and, yet, there Shatner was, chortling and seemingly having the time of his life.

George Takei and Nichelle Nichols represent the original Star Trek cast in person, while Leonard Nimoy opens the festivities with a video clip conversation with Shatner, even managing to get a dig in as he tries to talk his former shipmate out of doing the roast ("Why are you doing this? Is it for the food?"). Takei, by the way, comes in as a well-humored and thick-skinned dude and, for his own part, gleefully aims several well-honed, gut-busting zingers at his fellow roasters (poor Farrah Fawcett); having just come out of the closet in October 2005, in Frontiers magazine, he actually takes almost as many shots as Shatner.

However - and this just may be me being influenced by all the rumors of the animosity which Shatner's Star Trek co-actors held for him - I did sense a certain tension between Shatner and Takei (and, no, it's not sexual tension), when one was speaking of the other, and vice versa. And where was Walter Koenig? He's still alive, ain't he?

Actor/comedian/Cap'n Kirk-impersonator extraordinaire Kevin Pollak, the porcine and potty-mouthed Lisa Lampanelli, Greg Giraldo ("You overact more than Betty White's bladder") and perennial roaster Jeffrey Ross ("Look at you, have let yourself boldly go") perform their comedy shticks from the dais and generally made me laugh, while filmed "tributes" by Sandra Bullock, Ben Stiller, and the duo of Jimmy Kimmel and the fearless Sarah Silverman are hits or misses.

I was actually knocked for a loop when Betty White proved to be as raunchy and funny as she did ("It always makes me laugh when I see Artie Lange on stage - knowing I'm going to outlive him"; and did Betty and Shatner really do the nasty? Aarrgh!). Lastly, it's always a pleasant surprise when the roastee is able to give as good as he's got, and, make no mistake, Shatner hilariously tore a hole into his tormentors. Kudos to Cap'n, Kirk.

Now, the negatives: Roastmaster Jason Alexander does try his darndest, but he ends up being merely adequate in his hosting duties. The ever annoying Andy Dick yet again demonstrates that he is neither clever nor funny (this numbnut wastes television air time by mugging for the camera, being weird, and licking faces). And then there's Farrah Fawcett, who was on some odd kind of drugged-up or drunk bender when she horrifically attempted to perform her "bit." Her time on the screen was abysmally embarassing and so excruciating I had to turn the channel and only returned when I thought she had finished. Again, poor Farrah.

The only aspect of Shatner's multi-media career that wasn't brought up and gutted was his stint as a sci-fi author. Nothing else was too sacred or too personal for the irreverent roasters as they avidly demolish just about every fixture in the William Shatner mythos: the hammy acting, the weight, T.J. Hooker, Boston Legal, the toupee, [...], the spoken song career, and, of course, Captain Kirk. And, finally, for the last time, that poor Farrah Fawcett...! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Red Carpet Interviews
"Making of the Roast" Featurette