What: William Shatner: Kirk, Crane & Beyond
Where: Civic last night
From the title of this show, it was the "beyond" bit that turned out to be the best part of this show, effectively a live memoir from the now 80 year-old William Shatner. Sure, there were discussions about his days as Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. And of his latter-day resurgence as America's favourite curmudgeon, Denny Crane of Boston Legal.
But the "beyond" extended to his life of four wives, a rollercoaster post-Star Trek career and his much-mocked musical excursions which started back in the Summer of Love on the album Transformed Man where he turned Lucy and the Sky with Diamonds and other hits into a near-Shakespearean soliloquy - something Peter Sellers had thought was a good laugh a few years earlier but Shatner did in earnest.
And here he was after a couple of hours chatting to Mike Hosking, adding another talk-tune to his setlist. But first he intoned Keri Hulme's Silence ... on another Marae. Soon he was joined by singer Whirimako Black - and then a few moments later by Dave Dobbyn for the singer-songwriter's Welcome Home which had Shatner's speaking voice rumbling the words beneath his backers' high singing.
It sounded terrific and was proof that Shatner sure knew how to win over a local crowd.
Teasing Hosking throughout about his local popularity helped too. And the broadcaster was an apt choice of chatshow host-cum-prompt to the evening, possessing both the natural bonhomie of Spock and some of the hauteur of Crane's Boston Legal offsider Alan Shore.
Their live chatshow had the occasional video interlude and questions from the audience, a mix of Boston Legal fans and older Trekkies who thought it best to leave their Klingon costumes at home.
If was all a bit cosy and some of his anecdotes had been worn smooth in the retelling, it didn't really matter in the end. Some about his current and past marriages were in fact, frank and affecting and some were just plain designed to bring the house down. Which they did.
The lasting affection for Shatner is partly because he's been smart enough to make a fool out of himself (but not in a Charlie Sheen way though given the Trek connections maybe this show should be called the "Photon Torpedo of Truth").
Shatner did that again last night in Auckland and we came away liking him even more for it.By Russell Baillie @RBaillieNZH Email Russell