Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shatner's toupee takes center stage.


Bill Shatner's occasional hyper-sensitivity with regards to being outshone by his fellow co-stars has been well documented. But who would have thought Shats could ever have the limelight stolen from him by his own toupee? This occurred - and then some - in his guest appearance in the 1971 Mission: Impossible episode "Encore". On the surface, the episode is based around the fascinating premise of tricking somebody into believing that they are in the past in order to have them reveal some important information. Basically, Shatner's character is drugged, then surgically altered; when he wakes up, looking younger, he finds himself in 1937 - in actuality, an artificial Truman Show-type environment. Click here for a more detailed plot summary.

But never mind all that - the subtext is where Shatner's toupee delivers its tour de force:

At the center of this episode is not Bill Shatner the man, but Bill Shatner's toupee. This episode would really have been impossible to make without it. Is this Shatner's Da Vinci Code? Are there hidden messages conveyed from Bill Shatner to us about his toupee experiences? Have we unearthed The Shatner Code, a powerful allegory about Bill Shatner's own toupee usage? Judge for yourselves.

The first time we see Shatner in the episode, it's in the form of a mannequin wearing a now defunct "Jim Kirk style" wig...


The real Bill Shatner then appears proudly stroking his hair ("his" meaning a very big and thick grey wig)...


And yet more stroking...


He then visits a barber shop and strokes his hair again, just to underline how thick this particular wig is...


He then combs through his hair...


Then the other side...


And to underline the point yet further, Shats runs his fingers along his famous frontal swoosh. Aah, the memories...


The barber finally sits Bill Shatner down and prepares him for a trim...


"I'm going to miss this thick head of hair," thinks Bill Shatner's character (mobster Thomas Kroll)...


But Kroll is drugged instead...


A team of doctors then performs surgery on him, altering his appearance...


Look! It's a new younger-looking toupee. Notice the comb and scissors. But don't worry, the camera-angle hides the fact that no real or artificial hair is actually being cut...


The surgeons are happy. This is a much better toupee...


They then escort Shatner's character to another barber shop, decorated to look like it is 1937...


"What's happened to my toupee?" thinks Kroll (Shatner).


"This isn't the same toupee I had before!" he shouts, threatening the barbershop staff...


...with a shaving knife. Is he threatening to cut off his toupee unless they tell him what is going on?


Shatner (alias Kroll), having been arrested for the above incident, realizes that he is suddenly wearing a Superman-esque curl...


"Could I be Superman? Could this toupee be giving me super strength and other superpowers?"


Later that day, and now freed from prison, Shatner (alias Kroll) again studies the toupee...


He then grabs a woman passerby and tells her "Look at my toupee, damn it! This isn't the same piece I had on when I woke up this morning. Yes, it feels great, but I still want to know what is going on! Nobody but me and a select group of very close friends and family and trusted surgeons and hair stylists messes with my toupee!"


Meanwhile, somewhere else a scientist works on a wig...


But he is arrested for some reason...


Back to Shatner. His supertoup powers are beginning to wear off. The toupee is reverting to its original form...


"Noooo!!! My Hair!"


It's all over. The youthenized toupee has lost its powers...

And that is pretty much where the episode ends, leaving the viewer to ponder the true meaning of the toupee. Its power, its strength - all were mere impermanent illusions or even delusions. And in that there is a very strong message somewhere.

To be honest, it's difficult not to feel humbled or even ashamed after watching such a powerful toupee story. Thank you, Bill Shatner!

The full episode is available as part of the Mission: Impossible season six DVD set - see here. The episode can also be watched at this website (you have to sign up, though - thanks to a reader for pointing it out a while back).

7 comments:

  1. HAHAHAHAA! Hail the toupee!! This is hilarious!!

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  2. A Tale of Two Toupees...?

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  3. Toupee: Impossible

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  4. Harold Livingston was the writer of this episode. Could he have been hired to work on Star Trek The Motion Picture because he displayed such a deep understanding of Shatner's toupee on Mission Impossible?

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  5. The first time we see Shatner in the episode, it's in the form of a mannequin wearing a now defunct "Jim Kirk style" wig...

    THAT IS NOT SHATNER....That is the guy who plays his partner!!! I just watched that episode.

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  6. Well, re-watch it!!! You obviously didn't understand it the first time.

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  7. Shatner was also the guest star bad guy in the Season 7 episode Cocaine. It's a decent episode. You might enjoy seeing Shatner's character shoot someone in cold blood.

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