This edition of ShatWatch reviews two of William Shatner’s latest endeavors, the DVD release of Invasion Iowa and the first issue of his new comic book based on TekWar and Shatner programming news. Let the Shatness begin!
Invasion Iowa DVD
Originally shown on SpikeTV during March and April of 2005, the reality show Invasion Iowa has been released on DVD, in part because this year is the 25th Anniversary of TrekFest in the town of Riverside, Iowa. Riverside has long claimed to be the future birthplace of Captain Kirk. The new Star Trek feature film shows Riverside as Kirk’s childhood home and the birthplace of the new USS Enterprise. Each year, the citizens of Riverside have a kind of "convention meets small town fair" event called TrekFest (see TrekMovie preview of TrekFest 2009).
The premise of Invasion Iowa is that Shatner comes to the real town of Riverside to film a science fiction film written by him and pal Leonard Nimoy (who does not appear in the show). During the filming, Shatner asks for the town’s help in front of and behind the camera. He becomes increasingly bizarre in his behavior, from asking people to wear "Shats" (hats he has designed) to having fights with the crew. Plus the actors he brings with him are also strange characters. For example, one of the film’s actresses tests out her new children’s book (featuring an incredibly inappropriate topic) on the town’s population.
Riverside townspeople wearing ‘shats’
What the town doesn’t know is that there is no film. They are really being filmed as part of a practical joke and reality show prank to show their reaction to crazy Hollywood behavior.
Invasion Iowa has its moments. The business with the Shats and the reading of the inappropriate book are very funny. There are great impressions from Tom Kane (who now plays Yoda in the Clone Wars television show) of famous celebrities. Yet, watching Invasion Iowa and laughing along with it is as surreal as the premise of the show itself. On the one hand, pranking an entire town and then buying them off with $100,000 seems distasteful. It takes some real crassness to prank a priest, yet the show does. The citizens of Riverside (on the show and from my own real life visits and interactions there) are really great people. The townspeople, while diverse and varied, are friendly and kind. It is arguably mean and improper to essential take advantage of their kindness as the show does.
Spike TV preview for Invasion Iowa
On the other hand, Shatner and the other actors make much more fun of themselves than the townspeople. Shatner mocks himself quite often with self deprecating irony, from making fun of his commercialism to his purported ego. To its credit, the show recognizes that what it is doing sounded like a good idea on paper, but once they met and interacted with the people of Riverside, the crew and Shatner had more and more doubts. Shatner does have a genuine affection for the town, and his emotional struggles provide a kind of heart to Invasion Iowa along with the kindness of the town. If you visit the real Riverside, many of the citizens (although not all) in the town seemed to enjoy the joke.
Shatner fights with light sabers in a scene from the fake movie he was directing in "Invasion Iowa"
The DVD has all 10 30-minute episodes and features a commentary by Shatner on two of the episodes (8 and 9). Shatner reiterates some of these ideas, especially his affection for the town and his feelings about the show in the commentary.
If you enjoy shows like Punk’d, then Invasion Iowa is for you. Whether Invasion Iowa is good or not is, like the Shat hat, a matter of personal taste.
The Invasion Iowa DVDis available now.
TekWar Chronicles #1 Comic Book
The TekWar Chronicles by BlueWater Comics is written by William Shatner and Scott Davis, based on Shatner’s TekWar books of the 1990s. TekWar has been something of a cottage industry over the years, from TV movies, to weekly show, to comic book, to trading cards. In fact, TekWar was arguably one of the first cyberpunk television shows.
The new comic book takes the ideas of TekWar and reboots them for a modern age. The basic narrative is the same. Jake Cardigan is a tragic hero, a police officer whose addiction to ‘Tek’ gets him in serious trouble. The comic begins with his surprise parole and subsequent readjustments. He is trying to learn what has happened to his family while getting offers from Walter Bascom to work for him as a kind of sci-fi private eye (in the comic, Bascom looks like Shatner, which is appropriate as the character was played by Shatner on the television show).
Cardigan talks to Bascom in TekWar Chronicles
The comic is much grittier than the television show, and the mood is a good mixture of film noir detective movies and science fiction. The art by Erich Owens effectively renders mood and colorist Michelle Davies deserves special mention because the "clean" world of Bascom is nicely rendered in bright white colors while Jake’s world of despair are muted. TekWar’s premise is even better today mostly because the integration of computers more and more into our daily experiences makes the themes of TekWar (the merger of human with Tek and with technology) more intriguing.
The comic features a tragic and sad conclusion that does indeed make the reader want to engage the second issue. TekWar is recommended for fans of both the original show or books, or those who enjoy science fiction featuring a completely realized future world.
Covers for TekWar Chronicles #1
The first issue of the ongoing monthly series TekWar Chronicles comes out June 24th. You can pre-order the first three issues now from TFAW (including an exclusive version cover version of issue 1).
MORE SHAT NEWS: On Tonight Show TONIGHT + Gonzo Update
Shatner isn’t just the king of DVDs and comic books, he also commands the worlds of television, too. The Shat (the person, not the hat) will be on the new Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien tonight (11:35PM EST).
Can’t wait to watch Shatner with Conan? Then be sure to check out his Youtube channel "The Shatner Project." Today there is a new video with Bill giving an update on Gonzo Ballet.
Tenuto at TrekFest 2009
On the topic of Riverside Iowa, this year’s TrekFest is June 26-27 in Riverside. George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig will be there and there are many great family and Trek events planned. Visit www.trekfest.com to learn more about the event. (In my role as sociologist and college professor, I will be at the Riverside "Voyage Home" History Center and Museum on Friday at 7PM to talk about the history of Star Trek and on Saturday I am the MC for George, Nichelle, and Walter’s talk, as well as showing pictures from the Nicholas Meyer Collection from the University of Iowa with the director’s permission).
Gotta love the Shat!
1 – I know I do.
I bet he say’s he still hasen’t seen the new movie on The Tonight Show.
He also claimed in the “Captain’s Roundtable” Blu-Ray that he had never seen an episode of TNG. Must have been hard to “write” all those TNG era novels having never seen the show. Could it be he didn’t really write them?
Say it ain’t so Shat!
Still my childhood idol and I want him in the next movie in some fashion.
I love the shat and no one wanted him in this new movie as much as i did. however, i sometimes wonder if this series ‘invasion iowa’ was another attempt by him to bury his links with star trek. He famously said get a life to fans, agreed to kill off the character in Trek 7 (generations) and now also ridiculed the one town which proclaimed the future birthplace birthplace of james T Kirk. I dont think the Iowa series was in good taste and i can understand it if some in the town didnt ike being duped.
why would you do that?
I do love the bloke but this does make me wonder about his actions.
I saw this show when it was on Spike, but, like the reviewer, I found myself a bit uncomfortable with some of the stunts that were pulled on these folks. I also felt embarrassed for Shatner and the crew when, after the hoax was revealed, some of the townspeople were righteously pissed and walked off the show. They were eventually soothed, and convinced that they were not the one’s that were being made fools of, returning good-naturedly to the show for the wrap-up, but still, the hurt and anger that they felt was painful to watch.
Granted, there were some very amusing moments, ( and the local girl hired as a lead performer’s relief that the film they were making was a fake, and never going to be released as a theatrical film is pretty funny ). But, I’m the type of person who gets embarrased for people when watching something like this, and I have no desire to squirm through it again.
And still to this day Shat has not bothered to see the new movie. Noe I know what the lower cast of TOS meant when they said EGO TRIP
What I want to know is when is he going to give up the sour grapes and pride and go see JJ’s Trek?!
This whole…”I’ll see it someday” thing is ridiculous.
There’s no reason to act like he does.
I’m one of Shatner’s biggest fans — but please Bill…grow up and quit acting like a big titty baby!
Now, I don’t see his Gonzo Ballet or Invasion Iowa as any kind of “ego trip”…he’s a creative and energetic guy — he obviously likes to have a lot of things going on creatively.
That, I can appreciate and respect.
Like Greg on number 4, I too don’t know what to make of Shat’s seemingly hot and cold, enthusiastic/apathetic relationship to TOS and with Trekkies. He (understandably) dislikes overzealous, obsessive fans but if he can make a product and therefore a dime from Trek, he gladly embraces it. I’ll paraphrase Jimmy Doohan on Shatner/Kirk- I love and admire Captain Kirk but I’m not too keen on the man who plays him.
I could not give a SHAT about the SH*T anymore…
Missy and I loved Invasion Iowa so much on TV that I preordered it on Amazon. It arrived last month and we watched all 10 eps in one sitting!
I LOVE THE SHAT
I have always received inspiration from the character of James T. Kirk. As I get older, I learn new and more profound reasons to admire him.
At the same time, as I get to know him better over time, I continue to see evidence that William Shatner, by contrast, is not someone to admire or get inspiration from.
@11 I agree with you on that…
I like the character he plays and leave at that. I do not want to see him in the proposed sequel in 2011. I think he only wants to be in it because he is obsessed with doing what Nimoy does. Nimoy directs then I must direct (STV). Nimoy gets so many lines then I must have so many lines. Nimoy gets to be in the new star trek film, than I must be in the new star trek.
He is a funny guy, he has been great in all of the TV series he has been involved in, he was great as kirk back in the day.
But, please BIll, no more Star Trek movies please. Gives us another great character on TV.
Yes, everyone should hate Shatner because he is such a rotten, evil b@st@rd! The devil incarnate!
SOUND FX: Alarm rings.
Oh, excuse me a moment. It’s time for my meds.
SOUND FX: Footsteps walking into distance, fading. Lid of pill bottle popping open. Rattle of pills emptying from bottle. Swallowing sound. Slurping of water. More swallowing and gurgling. Footsteps growing louder, signaling a return approach.
There, that’s better. I just LOOOOOVE the Shat-man! He’s given me and so many people so many hours of great entertainment! Tears and laughter. And the guy has such a heck of a sense of humor sometimes. All of us fans could learn something from that!
Phew! It’s amazing what a difference the right prescription at the right time can make!
If only I had a little love and joy in my heart on my own, I wouldn’t need these damn pills! And I wouldn’t be so concerned with how other people run their lives — even the rich and famous — since I can barely manage running my own.
And that’s my two pills … er … cents for this thread.
The cover of the DVD seems poorly CGI’d to me. Shatner’s head doesn’t seem to fit on his shoulders. (No jokes about Big Giant Head, please.)
OMG, Shatner on Conan’s Tonight Show……not sure if it was freakin’ hilarious or embarassing!
Saw Shat tonight. Love him but don’t feel he needs to be in the second movie now. I didn’t feel Nimoy needed to be in the first one.
Have to admit…I’d like to see that ballet. I enjoy the album it’s based on.
Not one mention of the movie on the Tonight Show. I hope JJ crosses Bill’s name off the consideration list for the second movie.
I haven’t seen the Conan bit yet, but why would he mention a movie he was invited to be part of? Leave that to the actors who were actually in the film.
Funny how people like to say Mr. Shatner has disrepect for ST fans because of the “Get a life” skit on SNL years ago. Yet no one seems to mind Mr. Nimoy calling ST fans “d***heads” on the comedy show.
Let’s be fair.
Yes, I know Mr. Nimoy was joking, but so was Mr. Shatner.
I think no. 14 is on to something about those pills that calm down the Shatner-obsessing Trekkie. How hasn’t that medication not been peddled to Merck yet?
Maybe we could get a Trekmovie therapy group together where we work out our conflicted, Shat-related feelings?
– Yes, I know Mr. Nimoy was joking, but so was Mr. Shatner. –
Exactly – but if you don’t wanna get it, you don’t get it. Nothin’ doin’.
It’s sad that people took such offence at the SNL skit. It was funny, but too many Church of Trek types have an undeveloped sense of humour!
As for William Shatner watching ST09, maybe he finds the experience of seeing a Trek movie he’s not involved in too emotional. A lot of his life has been dominated by the three years he spent on that TV show over 40 years ago and they just made a movie about his character as a young man wearing the old 1960s costumes and Shatner’s not in it.
Shatner’s nearly 80, and it’s probably tough seeing a young person playing the role, especially since he clearly deeply regrets killing off that character in such a crappy way. I suspect I’ll find it difficult when I get old seeing someone young doing the sort of work I once did but can’t do anymore. So just consider for a moment that not everything is about ego. Sometimes it’s about the sadness that comes with aging.
Rofl Shatner couldn’t do the Vulcan sign so he gave Conan the finger instead! hahahaha
Definately, definately no more Trek for this old fool.
Shatner with a LIGHT SABER ?!!!!
(…That old gag.)
Well, said #23, Dom.
I see the Shatner hating brigade is out in full voice today. Talk about needing a life…..
….had the pleasure of dueling Trek movies on HBO and Cimemax last night – Khan and Generations, so I flicked back and forth, having seen them both 400 times….
Shatner will always be my Kirk.
His personality is as flawed as anyone’s. Hey, I love Don Johnson’s Crockett from Miami Vice, but the guy is pretty much a tool in real life…
Actors are just flawed, regular people, under a microscope.
21 – LOL!!
20 – Hi Iowagirl! Glad you got a chuckle. Always enjoy your posts.
27 – Hi Krikzil! Where’ve you been? Always enjoy your posts, too.
23 Very excellent points. I admire your ability to empathize.
To think there was a time before Bill Shatner. What did the world do?
About the Shatner “Get A Life” skit from SNL….
It would of been funny if at the time he didn’t treat real fans that way, problem is he did treat fans that way around the time that he did that skit on SNL….
He was very dismissive to fans back in the day….
This was before he started making fun of himself of course and changing his tune when it comes to the fans, without whom he’d be nothing.
It can’t be just me, but Shatner looked REALLY out of it on Conan last night. My first guess is that he was just drunk, cause his face was bright red, but his eyes were glowing like Christmas lights too, so who knows. It was pretty funny, though.
31 – it waited for him. And much longer than the 25 years that Nero waited for Spock. ;-)
I am a die-hard fan of “The Shat”, but I’m of the feeling that it’s time to move on in the new Trek universe without him, knowing that THIS new Kirk may have a slightly different outcome, especially thanks to Spock Prime’s mind meld with him. Cheating death is a Kirk trait and now he knows what sort of circumstances to watch out for. lol
Besides that, last night kinda proved that his time as Captain Kirk is past…giving Conan the birdie instead of the Vulcan salute, my wife commenting: “My, he’s gotten fat!”
Remember, I LOVE the man and the character he created, but all good things…… He was my idol as a kid, for crying out loud!!!!!
CAn’t wait to neflix Invasion Iowa. I love these “Candid Camera” type of stunts. What real people will do for a taste of Hollywood! lol
Like Andy Kaufman, who got a huge kick out of watching the general public try to figure him out, no doubt the Shat-man gets a hearty chuckle from humor-less, clueless fans who just don’t get the schtick he’s dishing out. But I get it and enjoy the hell out of watching him play the fans likea fiddle. Rock on William!
And yeah, Shatner always needs to be in the next movie!
I loved Invasion Iowa & would highly reccomend it to any Shatner fans out there – but you’ll most likely have to order it online. I’ve yet to see it carried in any brick and mortar store.
“27 – Hi Krikzil! Where’ve you been? Always enjoy your posts, too.”
Hello there. I had a death in the family and it has kinda taken the wind out of my sails. But I have been dropping by to read stuff cause I would need my Trek news on my own death bed. Glad you enjoy my ramblings tho. I’ve got one now about the Shat….
I will say I find it odd that some above comment that Shatner treated fans badly. I have been in fandom since I was 13 — more than 30 years now — and have had many chances to observe Mr. Shatner up close and in person. I’ve gone to at least 1 convention a year, sometimes many more, and have seen him almost yearly. He has been nothing but nice, polite and incredibly patient answering the same questions over and over. I have also attended some of his fan club events and Horse Shows and he was extremely nice to us. And the most telling of all, I was on both the ST3 and TJ Hookers sets, just a fan watching the action, and he had no reason to acknowledge us and yet he did and was very nice too.
thanks – glad you agree. I just wish that the shat would get on board a bit more about the rebirth of these heroic characters they created. Not only that but it heralds the relaunch of Trek in general.
The Invasion Iowa thing was a poor choice of programme making in my opinion. making fools out of the very people who idolise you isnt an endearing quality.
38 – Sorry to hear about your loss. Glad to have you back. Thank you for your comments about Shatner in your post. Hopefully it might humanize the man a little for those that go so far out of their way to dislike him.
You know, my comment and the one or two others expressing dissatisfaction with the Shat were hardly “hating” or out of control. People’s comments about needing meds because we don’t care for the Shat’s behavior, or how we have no sense of humor, seems more in the spirit of hate and intolerance.
19 – You do have a point. Looking back, it would seem odd to acknowledge someone ease’s movie when hes there for other reasons.
A lot of us just have a natural curiosity, why he apparently has yet to see (and comment on) the latest movie from the franchise which has shared so much history with him for so long. This could easily have been done on his own youtube site.
As far as the next film, the overall goal should be quality, whether hes in it or not. It could be fun to see him – maybe even played for humor – but only if done with respect for the character and the audience.
… and NO time travel!
And 41 has a good point too.
41 – My post post was meant to be humorous. You’ve never met me. Please don’t assume I’m hating anything. And take a chill pill, for crying out loud.
What I will never understand is — if you know you dislike the man — why you bother to click on a thread about him. And then feel the need to let the rest of us know you dislike him, his actions, what he did, didn’t do, how much he weighs, the fact that he’d old (i.e., I guess that he hasn’t died already???), talks about the movie, doens’t talk about the movie, can’t do the Vulcan greeting, and on and on …….
And then feign indignance when someone calls you on it.
He physically can’t do the vulcan salute! Didn’t any of you watch the STIII extras? They had to tie his fingers together with fishing line. I’m sure the finger gag was worked out ahead of time.Most “spontaneous” moments on these talk shows are pre-planned.
44 – Krikzil – Excellent, LOL, and right on the money! ‘Nuff said.