William Shatner …. Himself
Jason Alexander …. Himself – Roastmaster
Nichelle Nichols …. Herself – Roaster
George Takei …. Himself – Roaster
Betty White …. Herself – Roaster
Fred Willard …. Himself – Roaster
Andy Dick …. Himself – Roaster
Farrah Fawcett …. Herself – Roaster
Greg Giraldo …. Himself – Roaster
Lisa Lampanelli …. Herself – Roaster
Artie Lange …. Himself – Roaster
Patton Oswalt …. Himself – Roaster
Kevin Pollak …. Himself – Roaster
Jeffrey Ross …. Himself – Roaster
Ben Stiller …. Himself/Filmed roaster
Sandra Bullock …. Herself/Filmed roaster
Clint Howard …. Balok
Comedy Central presents The Roast of William Shatner. Produced by Joel Gallen and Michelle Wilker. Running time: 80 minutes. Unrated. Released on DVD: March 20, 2007. Available at Amazon.com.
Is there anyone in Hollywood who gets mocked and jokingly ribbed more than William Shatner? He’s fueled the careers of countless stand-up comedians and impersonators. But there is no doubt that each and every person who makes a joke at his expense respects the man. So it’s a shame that Comedy Central couldn’t get a single one of them to make an appearance here, at perhaps their least entertaining Roast to date.
It’s Bill Shatner, the guy has given us several decades of material, how can they not go after him with so many easy targets? This is a man who filmed and entire movie in Esperanto, and they can’t get a single person to ridicule him about that? The only person closely making reference to that movie is Roastmaster Jason Alexander. Who does a wonderful job at keeping the show going, along with an opening speech that is, sadly, one of the few highlights of the roast.
None of Shatner’s former co-stars, outside of Takei and Nichols, are here. Even his TJ Hooker and Boston Legal colleagues didn’t bother to show up. Instead they’ve been replaced by Comedy Central’s farm team of misfit comics, and Andy Dick. I’m not joking either, this panel is packed with a group of D-list comedians that only drunk college kids will recognize.
This show feels like a group of friends poking fun at one another and then throw out a random pun about what a bad actor Shatner was and then take their seats. In fact, Andy Dick, Lisa Lampanelli and George Takei seem to be made fun of more than the guest of honor. The speakers mock and ridicule one another but hardly skim the surface of what could be said about Captain James T. Kirk himself, making the title of this special very questionable. They try so hard to one-up the roaster before them that they forget why they’re there in the first place and will then make one or two obvious pot shots at Shatner’s acting and then shower him with praise. Most of the time it just feels like they’re roasting William Shatner the legend and not the man.
There are, however, still some highlights to be found here, people like George Takei, Bettie White, Ben Stiller and Kevin Pollack give the kind of roasts that all of the panelists should be aiming for. These four roasts alone save the show from being a complete letdown. They’re able to keep it all on Shatner while also finding room to rib the other roasters and still keep it all in the context of making Bill the center of their speech.
This DVD features the extended and uncut version that isn’t all that different from the showing that was on cable a few months back, aside from a few four letter words not being bleeped out. For instance, Fred Willard and Nichelle Nichols’ roasts are both still cut way too short like in the original broadcast. Which is a shame, because most of the veterans who know the man and know how to do a proper roast are short changed so that people like Farrah Fawcett and her train wreck of a segment could be seen in it’s complete form.
The Comedy Central Roasts have now had three straight shows in a row where they feel pointless and unnecessary, almost reaching such lows as the Friar’s Club Roast for Chevy Chase back in 2002. None of the Friars Club charm is here, and their only good Roast to date has been for Dennis Leary. Because that show was centered around a group of friends poking fun at another friend, while still remembering who the night was all about.
That’s what a Roast stands for, and the complete opposite of what we got here – there should be at least a handful of people that know Bill and can share some funny old stories that others will find entertaining, but there aren’t any. I love Bill Shatner, but even this isn’t worth the price of a rental. Instead, you’d be better off watching the film Free Enterprise to get a better sense of Shatner poking fun at himself.
(Presented in 1.33:1 Fullscreen)
Looking slightly better than when it was broadcasted on basic cable a few months back, the features looks about the same. There is certainly more definition and colors are pitch perfect, but the image could have been sharper. That small complaint aside, the roast looks as good as can be on this DVD.
(English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
I don’t know what to say here other than the basic fact that this is the kind of audio we have all come to expect from a standard two channel presentation. The show stays in the front, naturally, and is clearly audible throughout the show with no noticeable problems.
Red Carpet Interviews (8:57) – Jessi Klein, one of the most underutilized female comedians working today, talks with all of the people planning on ripping Shatner a new one. It’s mostly all of the comedians warming up by making cracks about the other people who will be there tonight. However, Patton Oswalt steals the feature with his bit on Mel Gibson. This also features a wrap-up of sorts and everyone appears to be quite liquored up. Overall, this is a very entertaining featurette, almost more entertaining than the roast itself
Behind the Scenes (4:09) – Mostly more interview footage is included here, but we do get to see some of the planing that went in to setting up the roast.
Making the Roast (2:30) – Perhaps the most interesting of the three special features is this one. Here we see Shatner himself and the production team planning the show. From the song that would play while he rode a horse to the stage, to explaining why Farrah Fawcett was there. It’s a shame they couldn’t expand this to 10-15 minutes.
Also on the DVD are the obligatory Comedy Central Quickies (for The Colbert Report, Drawn Together, and Reno: 911!) and Previews for The Roast of Pamela Anderson, South Park: The Complete Ninth Season, Reno 911! Reno’s Most Wanted, and Mind of Mencia: Season 2.