New on Netflix: “The Captains”

When I was in college, we would stop everything to watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Sure, most of the time they were episodes we’d already seen, but it was a community activity and it was something my friends and I enjoyed doing. I also watched both “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” as well as “Star Trek: Voyager” when they originally aired. I regret never having watched “Enterprise,” however, but will start watching that eventually. And it’s no secret that I loved the 2009 movie.

William Shatner has given us a gift with his documentary titled “The Captains.” He interviews all of the captains from the “Star Trek” series, from the original to the movie. He chats with Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula and Chris Pine and even gives us some insight into himself. But this isn’t a show about “Star Trek” per se, but about the character and personality of the people who led each crew of the series.

“Star Trek” is to Americans what “Doctor Who” is to the British. It’s a national treasure and probably one of the longest running shows in our country. It continues to be imagined and re-imagined and with a sequel to the 2009 movie in the works, it shows no signs of ever going away. It is a part of who, we, as American science fiction fans, are. And it’s a legacy we should be proud of. So much technology in our world today would not exist without it. It has sparked the imaginations of scientists and engineers all over the world. That’s a pretty huge legacy, don’t you think?

The documentary is very telling at times and probably the most honest you’ll ever see, when these actors are interviewed. Hearing Patrick Stewart state that if he were to die tomorrow that he would be happy being most well-known as Jean-Luc Picard literally put a tear in my eye. Hearing Shatner tell Stewart that the latter is the reason he finally came to terms with that very same thing is also a very emotional and raw moment between the two actors.

Stewart also discusses his failed marriages and how his work played a factor in it and cited that if he had any regrets, that was it. But he still stated that, for the record, he was happy.

When Mulgrew and Shatner start discussing how much more difficult it was for a woman taking on the captain’s chair, she speaks of all the time she spent away from her two children and how being a single mother and an actress was all but impossible for her to tackle. And yet, she does not speak of regretting a single moment on the set portraying the first female Captain in “Star Trek” history.

Shatner also discusses these personal matters with Scott Bakula, who, more or less, stated the same. These are actors who ended up loving what they did and the impact they had on “Star Trek” and the world. Avery Brooks, as well, talks about the time spent away from family, but again, you don’t feel that he regrets a moment of his time with “Deep Space Nine.”

My favorite moments, though? Those between William Shatner and Chris Pine. Because although Pine swears he did not base his performance for his version of Captain Kirk on Shatner, when the two of them are together, there are a lot of similarities. As Shatner states when he sits down to arm wrestle with Chris, “You’re me.”

If you have ever watched any version of “Star Trek” or even if you’re just interested in acting (as the actors do talk about the process of their work, as well), you must watch this. It is highly entertaining and a great insight into the world of science fiction television and film.

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