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Did he, or didn't he? Two pop-culture icons sit down for an unprecedented, no-holds-barred discussion of their professional and personal lives -- that form the center of the worldwide "Star Trek" phenom -- and all anyone REALLY wants to know is if William Shatner fired an audible photon torpedo at the Klingons around Uranus. Did Captain Kirk fart? Not at all exactly the sort of fanfare these class acts were expecting around the release of Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime (2001, 74 minutes). In fact, the morning-zoo buzz is quickly rivaling the adolescent tittering spawned by Girls Gone Wild. More on that later.
We join Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at the home of the actor best known for his character's stoic demeanor and pointed ears. There in the lush backyard, Bill quips, "This is a beautiful setting reflecting the beauty that is in you and your wife. Mostly your wife." Ta-da-dum! From that bonmot the two friends and colleagues begin talking with an easy familiarity that always feels genuine. Shatner tends to steer the conversation, encouraging Nimoy to open up about his early struggles as a working actor, his inner-turmoil about the legitimacy of playing a space alien day in and day out, and his eventual recovery from alcoholism. While Shatner joins in by confessing that after his first divorce, "There was always someone around who had needs to be fulfilled and needs to fulfill. So, that romance, lust and passion all played a part in my life -- for years. I just wanted, and still do, to taste as much of life as possible." He also grapples with the disdain other Trek castmembers harbored against him saying, "I never fully understood it. Maybe THAT'S the reason they resented me. I never fully comprehended what it was that was bothering them." But even in the heavier parts of this conversation, there's a warmth and comradery there that's rife with good humor. Like when the 70-year-old space cadets wander from their lawn chairs into Nimoy's study filled with Trek memorabilia and Shatner lifts a framed piece of the wall in a pantomime of theft. Nimoy just shrugs, smiles, and says, "Go on, take it. It's yours." Bill's ever the elder brother (by three days) teasing his sibling -- who doesn't seem to mind.
OK, fart fans, you can start paying attention again. Not since the Zapruder film has a stretch of footage been more scrutinized. Cap'n Kirk is yammering about why the crew hates his stinky guts when at along about timecode 52:47 the offending audio manifests. It's by far the more pronounced of what some theorists have speculated to be as many as seven gassy releases (52:40, 55:37, 59:38, 1:04:44, 1:05:03 and 1:06:12). These are possibly due to a change in the crooning pitchman's dietary intake. Word from official channels at WilliamShatner.com (also the exclusive distributor of the video) is that the audio anomalies are due to a squeaking "jib" -- an overhead microphone crane. And according to the credits the operator was a fella by the name of Greg Acosta (a.k.a. The Funniest Man Alive). But if the eruptions were actually human in origin, why assume the good captain is guilty? I'll bet you three Tribbles and a Horta that Vulcan knows more than he's telling.
Audio/Video: Exceedingly crisp and colorful widescreen (1.85:1) image. The scene is relatively simple -- two men sitting in chairs -- but there's nice movement between cameras and the archival photos interjected throughout are also well captured. The Dolby Digital audio is even and free of the annoyances typical of outdoor sound recordings (cars, airplanes, kiddos).
Extras: The 5-minute "Behind the Scenes" reel is a bit misleading as billed. Actually, it's more of a promo trailer with clips and ordering info. There's a graphical bug in the Bios section that fails to highlight menu selections making navigation tricky. Static menus without audio. No printed insert or liner notes.
Final thought: Those lured in by the sophomoric frenzy surrounding this disc will likely be surprised. It's tough to avoid feeling like a bit of a voyeur while listening to these legendary stars dishing so candidly like the grand ol' pals they seem to be. Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.