Monday, May 31, 2010

Poll result.

In a recent post, we noted that in the S#@t My Dad Says pilot, Bill Shatner has an on-screen son who is bald - apparently Bill Shatner did not object to this piece of casting and the implications that go along with it. Coincidentally, our most recent poll examined this issue, albeit from a real-life perspective. Only 12% thought that if Bill Shatner had a bald son or sons, he'd try to make them wear toupees too, while only 3% of voters believed that bald sons might in some way cause Bill Shatner to give up the toup.

Thanks for voting!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Hound of the Baskervilles - a toupological analysis.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1972 TV movie (apparently a pilot for a proposed ABC TV series) and one of many adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes novel of the same name. This particular adaptation stars Stewart Granger as Holmes, Bernard Fox as Watson, with Bill Shatner in a relatively small role as George Stapelton.

Conan Doyle's novel tells the story of an apparent curse that has befallen numerous members of the Baskerville family living at Baskerville Hall in Dartmoor, Devon in England. Charles Baskerville has been found dead at the Hall, with evidence suggesting that he may have been killed by a ferocious hound. Sir Henry Baskerville is set to inherit the estate - will tragedy strike again? Sherlock Holmes is on the case...

The 1972 TV movie takes numerous, often odd, liberties with the original story - a review, which details some of these deviations can be read here.

But let's get to the point - this adaptation is pretty awful. The biggest issue is Stewart Granger as Holmes - it's a terrible, terrible piece of casting; the actor is woefully miscast: wooden, aloof and charmless. Screw that up and what do you have left? His chemistry with British actor Bernard Fox (Watson) is non-existent.

The script is expository, with characters just standing around talking for large segments of the film. Add to this production values that make Star Trek's third season look lavish - the moor, so central to the story, is essentially a cheaply decorated sound-stage - a kind of Star Trek-style planet set. When Trek had a budget, directors would shoot these sets carefully; when time and money was tight, the camera would hold back and basically shoot the action like a three-camera sitcom, merely zooming in for close-ups. And that is pretty much how The Hound of the Baskervilles is shot - like cheap, rushed TV.

The production was also filmed in the US, not England, and the strange mix of American actors with fake English accents and genuine English actors is distracting to say the least. The crummy Hollywood back-lot exteriors only underline this awkwardness. Nothing about this production suggests attention to detail, respect for the material or genuine creativity.

If we had to find a single thing to compliment, it would be a couple of fairly decent matte paintings, which, because of their quality, look dreadfully out of place in this production.

Bill Shatner, looking visibly depressed, plays Stapelton and really has nothing to do in the role other than make entrances and exits like he was in some amateur school theater production.

For those that are unfamiliar with the story, we won't give away too much about how his character fits in to the Baskerville mystery.

Moving to the hair... Shats also appears at the beginning of the movie in a flashback that takes place in the 18th century. He portrays the debaucherous Sir Hugo Baskerville, heavily disguised in a wig and beard. Shockingly, Bill Shatner's voice is dubbed over by another actor. How the hell can you dub over Shatner?!?!

There are a few subtle nods to the toup in the TV movie. At one point, Holmes scrapes a fake layer of painted skin off a portrait of Sir Hugo.

The likeness to Stapleton is suddenly clear...

In another scene, Holmes removes a wig:

As for Bill Shatner's toup - it's pretty bad, with a high hairline that is also just a little too thick at the front to be realistic.

The character meets an untimely fate at the end, with the toupee being the last to sink...

Watch here:

The Hound of the Baskervilles is unavailable commercially, but does air on TV from time to time. It can also be found on the Internet. A dreary, dull mess - really not worth watching at all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Toupruder film.

The Toupruder film is a brief home-movie filmed sometime around 1991-1992, which shows Bill Shatner performing a gentle slap on a bald man's head. For years, some have believed that there is far more to this sequence than originally meets the eye, arguing that it helps to prove that Bill Shatner does indeed wear a toupee. First, here's the full film:

Now, let's break it down:

Frame 102 - Bill Shatner, holding his then wife Marcy's hand to his right, isn't paying enough attention to the helium balloon that the pair are holding together...

Frame 174
- A gust of wind catches the balloon; it is now almost flying out of control...

Frame 199
- Almost instantly, a subconscious associational reaction causes Bill Shatner to temporarily see the shiny bald balloon as a kind of bald scalp. He panics, believing his toupee has come loose....

Frame 212
- To make matters worse, a bald man suddenly appears, raising his hand. Is Bill Shatner having some sort of nightmare...?

Frame 265
- There is surprise as the man moves towards the balloon...

Frame 284
- A relieved Bill Shatner stirs from his surreal toupee nightmare as the man jokingly taps the balloon into the air.

Frame 300
- Bill Shatner fully digests that it is a fellow bald man that tapped the balloon - perhaps he understood Bill Shatner's momentary toup freak-out. An apparent understanding develops between them as Bill Shatner moves his hand towards the man...

Frame 313 - Bill Shatner gently slaps the bald man on the head. Did the man know that this was coming from the king of toupee wearers, William Shatner himself? Was the slap some kind of sign? "I'm one of you!" Was Bill Shatner's hand providing some sort of energy to the man's head to perhaps also become inspired to wear a toupee?

During the late 1990s, the events and controversies suggested by this home movie led director Oliver Stone to make his famous opus, the three-hour long ToupFK, which also broke the above sequence down in great detail. Here's a clip from ToupFK:

So what do you think? Did the bald shiny balloon bring Bill Shatner to some kind of brief toupee-losing trip? Was there a secret sign between the unidentified bald man and Bill Shatner? So many unanswered questions. The mystery continues...

Note: The above materials are sourced from a video posted by YouTube user "Miiriani" and can be seen in full here. Naturally, we are referencing the famous Zapruder film of the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 as well as the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK which dissected the Zapruder film in a particularly memorable cinematic and stylistically iconic manner. We intend no disrespect to the memory of President Kennedy, the events surrounding his death nor to those who have researched his death and come to a particular conclusion as to how it occurred. If anyone has been upset or offended by the above post for whatever reason, we sincerely apologize.

Monday, May 24, 2010

We're back...

The William Shatner School of Toupological Studies' annual symposium has come to an end yielding several crucial developments, agreements and projects. The full report will soon be published by the WSSTS, but in the meantime, we thought we'd bring you at least a couple of pictorial highlights.

Here, several of our toupologists meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House (unfortunately, the photographer only managed to snap the image from behind):

And here, the head of the WSSTS meets with French President Nicolas Sarkozy (unfortunately, the photographer again framed the photo poorly):

On a related note, many of you would have heard that the US TV network CBS has picked up the @#$! My Dad Says pilot that Bill Shatner made not long ago. This likely means that, barring a ratings catastrophe, at least 13 shows of the series will be produced.

Over the last few weeks, the WSSSTS was deeply involved in negotiations with CBS over whether or not to pick up this series. Naturally, the toupee was at the very center of these discussions, with some parties at CBS wanting a new toup (despite the fact that the pilot contained the familiar "Denny Crane" look), others no toup, and others yet arguing that familiarity was the best way forward. Our mediation proved crucial, and though we favored and argued for something new, ultimately we realized that the only way the series would be made was with the current look.

However, and somewhat interestingly, Bill Shatner's character has a bald son in the show - does that mean that the dad wears a toupee?

As to whether the show will actually be funny (basing a show around one-liners might be tricky), entertaining and a ratings hit - only time will tell...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poll result - back in two weeks.

This was a question that our readers often debated in the comments sections, so we thought we'd put it to a poll. 61%, a filibuster-proof majority, voted the "Lost Years" toupee era to be the worst. Thanks for voting!

This week and next week, the staff of Shatner's Toupee (pictured at the center-left of the above picture) is taking part in the annual William Shatner School of Toupological Studies symposium. During this key conference, we will be meeting with global leaders in both the public and private sectors, offering up our latest inventions and discussing how the study of Bill Shatner's toupee can help move the world forward.

Among the numerous items on the agenda, the WSSTS will be offering up a plan to use toupee-like material to assist in the absorption of oil from the seawater in the Gulf of Mexico, following the ongoing spill in that region. Fingers crossed!

Thanks, as always, to our devoted readers; over the next fortnight, many of your toupological discoveries and observations will also be heard by the world's most influential and powerful leaders. Let's hope they take note...

Shatner's Toupee will be back in two weeks!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock Presents:"The Glass Eye" - a toupological analysis.

"The Glass Eye" is a 1957 episode of the famous Alfred Hitchcock Presents series that originally ran for ten seasons from 1955-65. The episode stars the legendary Jessica Tandy, with Bill Shatner serving as both co-star and narrator.

Jim Whitely (Shatner) and his wife Dorothy are cleaning out the apartment of the former's deceased sister Julia (Tandy). Julia lived a very lonely life, with one exception - a story that Whitely is reminded of as he rummages through her belongings and locates a glass eye.

Whitely proceeds to tell his wife how Julia fell for a famous ventriloquist called Max Collodi:

Enchanted by his performances, Julia decides to follow Collodi as he tours England.

She writes him letter after letter...

...until she finally receives a response.

A brief initial five-minute meeting is granted. Julia sets out to visit the reclusive artist.

Collodi, remaining partly in the shadows like some Blofeldian figure, expresses his gratitude for Julia's efforts - he too has lived a very lonely life.

Julia then casts abandon to the wind and spills out her joy at these two, apparently kindred souls, finding each other.

But wait...

That's where we'll leave it as we don't want to spoil the twist ending for you!

This really is a great little piece of drama - and snappy too, running at just a little over 25 mins. A simple punchy story coupled with strong performances, dynamic shot compositions, great lighting and the overall rich dramatic earnestness of a now bygone golden era of movies and television.

Bill Shatner's performance (one of two he did on this show) couldn't be more understated in this installment.

The actor's style of diction as narrator is so restrained and un-caricature-Shatner-like as to be hypnotic. Whether it's affected "leading-man" speak, an attempt at a British accent or whatever, it's certainly noteworthy and very interesting to listen to.

Let's move to the hair...

This is one of the last toup-less screen performances by Bill Shatner (another is here) - 1957 was a crucial year toupologically, a brief nexus of visible thinning and continued touplessness.

Bill Shatner's hair is already thinning, particularly at the back, but it is still thick enough to provide an illusion of relative plenty with some clever combing, spraying and other movie-magic techniques.

Nonetheless, evidence of fluffiness is particularly visible at the back and despite all efforts, there is a noticeable lack of volume to the hair.

The frontal hairline is still entirely in place, but the longer hair combed back underscores attempts to bulk up.

There's an interesting line of dialogue spoken by Bill Shatner in "The Glass Eye". As the actor holds the artificial eye - which forms the center of the story - in his hands, his character says:

"If ever a life was symbolized by any one single object, Julia's was."

Perhaps Bill Shatner already knew that he would soon be turning to the toupee. As the actor studies the glass eye, also an appliance that provides an illusion, the sheer import of how future toupee use might change his life was perhaps beginning to dawn on the actor.

"The Glass Eye" is available on the season 3 box-set of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; presently, it's also up on YouTube. A wonderful little piece of old-fashioned drama - well worth watching.