Star Trek Fans Come To William Shatner's Defense On His Over-The-Top Acting

It's a well-accepted fact that William Shatner chews scenery like a river full of Canadian piranhas stripping the flesh off a cow. The nonagenarian star of "Boston Legal" and "T.J. Hooker" has never been accused of underacting, and while you can't argue with the results — two Emmys, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and an indelible mark on the pop culture landscape — it's also impossible to argue with the fact that Shatner's brand of performance skews big. It's just so big.

But do you know what else it is? Beloved. Loudly, defensively, and almost with almost familial warmth, Shatner's fans adore his work, and they took to Reddit's r/StarTrek forum to circle their wagons around the 92-year-old actor who first brought Captain James T. Kirk to their screens in 1966. The prompt: An assertion by user u/BrgQun that the claim that "Star Trek" features bad acting is one of the most annoying misconceptions about the franchise. "This criticism goes all the way back to TOS," they explained, "and it's not accurate. Maybe Shatner was a little over the top at times (I'd argue still iconic, but ok.)"

Star Trek fans have been, and always shall be, William Shatner's friends

"When Shatner overdid it," wrote u/Sullanfield of the performer's work on "Star Trek," "it was virtually always because the script wasn't good and he was trying to at least squeeze something out of it. When the story and script are already solid, he's great and right on point." This prompted u/ChronoLegion2 to chip in with a high-art hypothesis. "Some have also suggested that the weird pauses were because he was speaking in meter," they suggested. u/Sea_Commercial5416 cottoned to this line of thinking in a big way, stating "Shatner's acting on [Star Trek] makes complete sense once you remember that he was a Shakespearean stage actor before he got into TV and movies. He reads every line in [the original series] like it's Shakespeare."

Love it or hate it, William Shatner's work as Captain Kirk was more than memorable. It was arguably the load-bearing performance across three seasons and seven movies, carrying the franchise charismatically across the threshold from "kooky space show" to "ubiquitous genre definer." Looking back on those original episodes of "Star Trek," it's hard to imagine the weirdness working with a less theatrically enormous actor in the spotlight.