The Captains Collection (Blu-ray Review)

William Shatner’s relationship with Star Trek has been pretty well chronicled and quite a journey for 54 years now. From his contentious relationship with fellow castmates, not understanding the deep Star Trek fan devotion to reconciling and figuring it out and embracing it in his life. He’s also made some films to reflect on his journey and the mentality and study of the series as a pop culture staple. Shout! Factory is putting together these film as a set. It includes The Captains in its film form and extended episodic one. Shatner’s tale of Star Trek: The Next Generation getting off the ground in Chaos On The Bridge. Finally, his tribute to the fandom of the series, his own version of Trekkies, called Get A Life! These will all feature some bonus material and be coming out on October 20th. This is a very nice little set for any Trek fan to have as a bonus to all the episodes and films they likely already have in their collection and the second such Trek documentary item Shout! Factory has put out in the past year.


In The Captains, Shatner sits down for five insightful interviews with the franchise’s captains — Sir Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula and his own Kirk counterpart, Chris Pine. Its pretty interesting to see the type of personality that comes with who was cast to be a captain in the Star Trek lore. While each individually has their own unique ideals, techniques and backgrounds, there IS a throughline between them. Pine may stand out because he’s the youngest, but you can see the early genius brewing inside. They may not all be living on a different plane of existence as Avery Brooks or Kate Mulgrew (And I say that as a compliment), but they still all have very proper takes. Very fine, elegant approaches to their acting. And each of them is rich and deep in philosophy and in tune with nature and the spiritual world in such an freeing, relaxing and inspiring way.  And The Captains Close Up really shines even bigger a spotlight on them as the interviews are expanded and each Captain gets an episode to focus on just them.

Chaos on the Bridge provides a fun tale from cast and crew of how The Next Generation got off the ground and survived production on its first season. Many big names of the cast and crew are here, and its funny how Shatner not only directs but hosts. There is a lot about the struggles working with Gene Roddenberry and then those of casting, like how tough it was to just get Patrick Stewart okay’d by everyone involved. They also touch upon exactly why Denise Crosby left the show and how regretful everyone involved was about it. But on this one, for the first time (In documentary form) they really clearly lay it out and give you an understanding of why she left the show. Its interesting to see how pessimistic everyone was about this show working out now in hindsight, but they thought the plug would surely be pulled once a writer’s strike occurred.

Finally, Get a Life is named after one of the most famous Saturday Night Live sketches that poked fun at Shatner and his relationship with Trekkies. Instead of poke fun (There is some there), Shatner chooses to show how endearing the fan base is, how inspiring they are, and how Star Trek has had a positive influence on their lives and those around them. This is the perfect update to the old documentary Trekkies, but one with much more dramatic flare, a personal touch and deeper philosophies as Shatner sits down and talks with the president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation to reflect those ideals onto the Star Trek fanbase.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/DetailThe Captains Collection arrives on Blu-ray for the first time with a pretty vivid digital picture. It doesn’t feel of a radiant HD image, but nonetheless looks quite good and well enough. There are strong details on a sharp picture that is quite bright and has plenty of solid color work.  There are clips from shows and vintage material from a variety of sources, but those actually look pretty impressive and really all the best that they can do.

Depth:  Solid depth of field. It feels a limitation of the source that it isn’t even more pushed back and spacious. Nonetheless, movements are natural and smooth. No issues with distortions that are of any concern.

Black Levels:  Blacks have that little bit of lighter quality to them that comes with the digital source. No real problematic issues happen with information being lost. No major crushing concerns noted.

Color Reproduction:  Colors have a natural palette but are very bright in their appearance. Out in exteriors, greens really look lovely (Especially when visiting Patrick Stewart). Once the modern conventions happy, you get a bit more of colors that pop better.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the films (Not counting the archived footage). Facial features and textures are clear as day and can be made out from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

DynamicsThe Captains Collection includes a 5.1 track and a stereo track for this release. The stereo track is more than enough to fulfill the experience of these documentaries. As with most documentaries, the 5.1 is nice, but really doesn’t enhance the content much. There are some playful moments and is sounds a little freer with the mix, but there isn’t anything here that the stereo track doesn’t do well enough to get across.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  A lot of the thud from the subwoofer comes with music and when they show more action/effects oriented clips from one of the shows.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Up front is plenty accurate to screen and being interviews and such, that’s a simple accomplishment. The rear channels don’t add much but they do bring some good ambiance and a few fun moments here an there.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp with really good diction captured.


The Captains Collection is a 4-disc set.

Disc 1

The Making Of The Captains (HD, 11:02) – Behind the scenes folks and Shatner basically talking about what the film is about with a little bit of “how it all came together” insight.

Trailer (HD, 1:01)

Disc 2

Still Kicking (HD, 47:03) – This is like the “Close Up” episodes, but with the Christopher Plummer interview.

Shatner The Firefighter (HD, 1:15) – Shatner tells a story of how he put the fire out on a set while shooting both a movie and trying to return to TJ Hooker.

When The Wall Came Down (HD, 1:41) – This has Shatner talking with someone about Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball tore down a studio on a lot following a divorce.

“Ponder The Mystery” Music Vide0 (HD, 3:37)

Captains Close-Up Trailer (HD, 1:16)

Still Kicking Trailer (HD, :56)

Disc 3

Trailer (HD, 1:49)

Disc 4

Shatner & The Fans (HD, 3:03) – A montage of moments of Shatner with fans at conventions doing signings and wandering the halls.

The Jue Family (HD, 4:34) – The full interview session with the family featured in the film.

Conversation With Robert Walter (HD, 6:04) – More with the Joseph Campbell Foundation President featured in the film.

Fanaddicts Sizzle (HD, 5:05) – An reel that showcases the challenges of the people who put on the convention and their challenges.

Peter and Charlotte (HD, 1:31) – A disabled fan and his mother are interviewed at the 45th anniversary convention.

Dr. Scott Richards (HD, 3:03) – A psychiatrist talks about fandom, contentment and fulfillment and being part of community.

Trailer (HD, 1:25)


The Captains Collection is William Shatner’s personal journey, but it winds up being one for all the Captains as well as us watching it, learning and finding a new appreciation for the world of Star Trek and its 54 year history. Shout! Factory has a nice little collection here of Shatner’s film exploration of the series that gave him is celebrity legacy. The image and sound both are more than adequate and the bonus features are decent enough. This is a pick up for the Star Trek collector, others curious may just want to find the docs to watch somewhere and move on.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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