Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner (Paramount/Comedy Central, $19.99) brings us another in a series of roasts that Comedy Central has done over the last several years. These roasts have in the past featured such individuals as Chevy Chase and Denis Leary - this installment is a roast of TV icon William Shatner, best known to most as playing James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek series, and who currently plays Denny Crane on the hit ABC comedic drama Boston Legal.
For those reading this that has had the pleasure to see the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, you know how this SHOULD be done. A group of people, most of whom know the person to be roasted, get together and thoroughly embarrass and humiliate their friend, and all have a good time. Well, the Comedy Central roasts are a lot like that. There is a group of people, and they do their best – at least in theory – to humiliate the person. There is a key difference here, which has especially become apparent in the more recent roasts (Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, etc). Most of the roasters don't even personally know the person they're roasting; they only know them from having at best having played Janitor #3 in an episode of a TV show the other appeared in eons ago. Most – not all- but most of the roasters at these things are simply B and C-list "comedians" who Comedy Central brings in for these things due to HBO no longer returning their phone calls. Why is Andy Dick here?
Admittedly, this roast does have more people that know Shatner than I originally expected, which is a relief. You have Betty White, currently working with Bill on Boston Legal, who is as funny as ever. You have filmed "tributes" from folks like Sandra Bullock and Ben Stiller. Jason Alexander is your roastmaster, and does fairly well – though this wasn't evident in the original version. In addition, most of the living original Star Trek cast was here, including George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. Between Takei’s jokes himself, and jokes directed at him, there is certainly no shortage of gay jokes in this one.
Leonard Nimoy appeared in a pre-taped bit...except it is not here. Either Mr. Nimoy didn’t clear his appearance for DVD initially, or revoked it after seeing what kind of show the rest of the roast turned out to be, or something else happened, but the bit with Leonard is gone. Further slapping the face of the concept of releasing material uncut, several of the musical pieces are gone, as has become the standard for Paramount releases lately.
As far as the technical side, things are dull and expected. Black case with the Shat-man on the front. Video quality is fine, and audio – aside from the music replacement issue – sounds fine. Technically, the only fault with the set is the replacements. There are a couple of features – a quick "Making of the Roast" segment that goes nowhere and does nothing, behind the scenes footage, and red carpet interviews. Also included are three short segments from Reno 911, Drawn Together, and The Colbert Report – easily funnier than 90% of the DVD content.
Folks, I am a huge fan of William Shatner, a huge fan of Boston Legal, a huge fan of Star Trek, and a huge fan of the "roasting" concept – and I honestly had trouble sitting through this. While funny in places, a lot of the show was just painful. If you're THAT much of a fan that you need to own everything Bill has ever done, then by all means buy the set. If you want to see it that badly, rent it. Between the overall quality of the roast itself, and the deletions – one of which is to the severe detriment of the set, the score of the set is simply dragged down. From a technical standpoint the set is fine, but the material is just not that good. There are a few moments, which might warrant a rental, but that is about it. Strong recommendation to avoid.
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
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