Documentary Review: Shatner In Space

Remember when William Shatner became the oldest man to go into space?

It’s okay if you’ve forgotten.  It happened way back in 2021 and that was like — well, it feels like it was about 30 years ago.  Add to that, Shatner went up in space as a part of Jeff Bezos’s space program and Bezos’s attempts to conquer space have pretty much been replaced by Elon Musk’s attempts to conquer space in the national consciousness.

That said, it was a really big deal when it happened.  I think there were a lot of people who were concerned that, at the age of 90, Shatner wasn’t really physically fit to go into space and that it would be really depressing if Shatner didn’t make it back to Earth.  There were others who pointed out that Jeff Bezos’s Blue Orbit may have gone high up in the sky but that it didn’t quite break through the atmosphere.  The people on the ship, including Shatner, experienced weightlessness and got to see what the Earth looked like from space without actually literally going into space.  George Takei had to be a whiny little child about it because that’s pretty much the way Takei reacts to anything positive happening to William Shatner.  And, of course, many people said that Jeff Bezos should have been spending his money on fixing the Earth instead of trying to escape it.  Those were the same people who, later that year, wrote positive reviews of Don’t Look Up.

That said, it was all just really cool.  Star Trek may bore me to tears but even I was still moved by the thought of William Shatner going into space, even if it was just for a few minutes.  It was a moment to spark the imagination and to inspire optimism.  I think those are two things that the professional naysayers are incapable of possessing or understanding.  But it’s imagination and optimism that will make the world a better place.

Anyway, there’s a 50-minute documentary about Shatner’s voyage into space, one that I just watched.  It’s on Prime and, quite appropriately, it’s called Shatner In Space.  In all honesty, Shatner In Space is largely a commercial for Jeff Bezos.  There’s not point in denying that.  The first half of the documentary features perhaps a bit too much footage of Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, trying to present himself as just being a humble sci-fi nerd who grew up on a ranch.  Brilliant businessman that he is, Bezos is not the most charismatic person in the world and that’s especially obvious when he’s sharing scenes with William Shatner.  There’s undoubtedly a lot that you can say about William Shatner but no one can deny that, even at 90, the man knows how to work a scene.

But, fortunately, Shatner himself seems to be so sincerely excited about the prospect of going into space that it even makes Bezos tolerable.  The documentary doesn’t include as many scenes as one might hope of William Shatner training for his mission.  Personally, I would be curious to know what type of precautions were taken before sending a 90 year-old person into space because, who knows …. I might be 90 before I get the chance to try it for myself!  I did notice that, of the crew, Shatner was the only one not to really indulge in the weightless aspect of the trip.  While everyone else floated around the capsule, Shatner seemed content to stay in his seat and look at the Earth below.  The fact that Shatner, who has pretty much made a late-in-life career out of parodying his reputation for being a bit pompous, seems to be, at that moment, at a loss for words is actually rather touching.

Anyway, as I said, this is basically a commercial for Jeff Bezos but it’s hard not to enjoy watching Shatner go into space.