I like a good comedy roast as much as anyone, and who better to roast than Captain James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner. Anyone who has watched the "Star Trek" DVDs has seen Shatner in interviews, wrapped up wholly and completely in his own Shatnerverse. There's also the ads for travel bidding service Priceline, where Shatner makes a fool of himself...while laughing all the way to the bank because Priceline was a great idea and he probably is making a fortune off it. Yeah.
Anyways, Comedy Central's "Roast of William Shatner" gathers together a bunch of regular roast comics (Andy Dick, Jeffrey Ross), some other odds (Betty White, Farrah Fawcett) and friends (George Takei, Nichelle Nichols). There's also a few video clips from roasters, including Sandra Bullock, Ben Stiller (funny...surprisingly) and the pairing of Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman (who half-heartedly tear into Priceline in a bit that could have been funnier had they given it some effort.)
The evening is hosted by Jason Alexander, whose performance here truly reminds the viewer that the true hero of "Seinfeld" really was...Larry David. As for Alexander's performance, it just manages to keep from being embarassing, as he's very rarely funny here. Speaking of Priceline, Alexander should have gone on the site to bid for some better jokes, as he stumbles during a couple of his own here.
The other roasters fare better, but their jokes pale in comparison to the magnificent hilarity that is a clip of Shatner performing Elton John's "Rocketman" with the kind of sincerity, intensity and laser-like focus that only Shatner can possibly pull together. He sings it like he's trying for an Oscar. I mean, what can one possibly say about that clip that's funnier than act of watching it? Shatner remains such a larger-than-life character that mere jokery just isn't enough to get past Shatner's Enterprise-like shield.
There are still some highlights here, though. Betty White proves that, once again, while "Golden Girls" had some great writers, she and the rest of that show's cast can be pretty funny on their own, as White smartly and sharply takes down not only Shatner, but the rest of the comedians on-stage. Jeffrey Ross offers up the funniest one-liner of the night, informing Shatner that he's "Boldly let himself go." Kevin Pollak, who is an utter genius at impersonations (see the "Aristocrats" DVD for Pollak's terrific Christopher Walken and Albert Brooks impersonations), manages to out-Shatner "Star Trek"-era Shatner.
While the train wreck of Pamela Anderson's roast was Courtney Love, here we get Farrah Fawcett, who honestly appears as if she's on something or had one too many. Helped to the podium by Alexander, she intially doesn't want to roast anyone (and it doesn't seem like she's kidding), then she gets coached (it's a losing team) by Alexander through a couple of weak jokes and stumbles back to her seat. Then there's Andy Dick, who creeps out everyone by randomly trying to lick the faces of as many people as he can in the room.
Overall, this is just a rather uneven roast, as while a few roasters manage a couple of decent zings at Shatner and others, some of the participants really can't seem to manage one inspired goof on Shatner. And again, the night's funniest bits come from Kirk himself, as Shatner's final words are funny and the clips they've dug up of his past performances are often hysterical.
The presentation is unrated, so the naughty words are back in.
VIDEO: The show is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Paramount. Video quality is just fine, with crisp detail and only a bit of minor shimmering. Colors appeared bright and bold, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The DVD presentation offers a crisp stereo soundtrack, with clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: We get additional red carpet interviews with the nervous-looking Jessi Klein, who looks and sounds here like a cross between Tina Fey and Janeane Garofalo. The roasters fumble through red carpet bits and then still appear to think they're powerfully funny. There's also a brief behind-the-scenes featurette and a short "making of", both of which run just a few minutes.
Final Thoughts: "Roast of William Shatner" is an uneven affair, as while Shatner is hilarious, the roasters are only infrequently funny. The DVD presentation offers very good audio/video quality and a few minor extras. A rental for Trekies and roast fans (Roasties?) only.