The top 10 Captain Kirk moments from “Star Trek”

William Shatner as James T. Kirk in Star Trek

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By Jordan Hoffman

When John F. Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon by the close of the 1960s, this is the man he had in mind. James T. Kirk is an adventurer, explorer, lover, fighter, diplomat, balance between reason and passion and the type of guy who jumps up off a wall to clobber a blue-skinned alien in a hallway fight (see episode 39, “Journey to Babel.”)

While William Shatner’s recent antics as a low-fare travel pitchman and factory for cheapo basic cable docs may have dulled some of his luster, we can never forget that it was his energy, enthusiasm and charisma the first boldly took us beyond the stars. As such, we opened a few bottles of Saurian brandy and tried to pin down Captain Kirk’s top ten moments. Your outraged comments concerning omissions can be sent to us care of Starfleet.

(Are you a Kirk fan or a Picard die-hard? As part of IFC’s “Trek Week” we’re pitting the two baddest Enterprise captains in town against each other. Chime in with your favorite at #TrekWars on Twitter.)

10.– “Risk is Our Business”

Shatner’s legendary dressing-down to Dr. McCoy in “Return to Tomorrow” (episode 49) pretty much sums up the Camelot-era optimism of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. A briefing room conference turns into a lecture about man’s inherent need to climb a mountain because it is there. Yes, there are dangers, but that comes with the territory. “The potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great! Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

Alas, he was discussing the transference of consciousness from glowing orbs onto some of the key players on the show, leading to some really dopey scenes with miserable acting. If only the rest of this episode were as great as this memorable speech.

9.– Intergalactic Ladykiller

There’s much talk about Kirk’s interplanetary dalliances. Some of this is more myth than truth, but the facts remain that Kirk could win over just about anyone (or any. . .thing?) with his smile.

Never is his swagger more present than in the (in my opinion) oft-overlooked episode “The Conscience of the King” (episode 13,) in which he woos a young actress to help determine if her father is, in fact, a long sought-after war criminal. “The Conscience of the King” isn’t just the first episode of Star Trek to feature a 23rd Century cocktail party (and, oh, man, the music that’s playing is fabulous!) but also shows that the Enterprise comes equipped with an observation deck perfectly suited for makin’ out. Alas, in this specific case the woman in question later tries to fry Kirk with a phaser at show’s end, but no one said romance is without danger.

8. Kirk vs. Spock

Much of what makes Kirk great is his relationship with his two best pals Mr. Spock and Bones McCoy. With these alternating angels and devils on his shoulders his true, great personality really shines through. There have been times, though, where his relationship has been challenged, and none so much as when he volunteered to take place in the koon-ut-kal-if-fee ritual when his first officer was in the midst of a Vulcan pon faar. (If these words mean nothing to you, just let them roll over you, it’s easier that way.)

Turns out the battle had to be to the death, and soon the two were fighting with some oddball weapons to arguably the greatest action music ever written for television. With the aid of Dr. McCoy, Kirk was able to survive while still honoring Vulcan tradition, but it was still a close call. This lack of foresight explains why this iconic moment (from “Amok Time,” episode 30) isn’t a little higher on the list.

7. The Gorn

There are still many moments of Kirk fisticuffs to celebrate. While the Internet often likes to joke that Shatner versus the giant lizard monster is an “epic fail,” they couldn’t be more wrong. “Arena” (episode 18) is a carnival of great thrills. It opens with a siege on a colony, followed by a high-warp chase, until both the good guys (Kirk) and the bad guys (the Gorn, a/k/a the lizard monsters) end up on the doorstep of some really high-strung pacifists. Now the two species’ leaders must duke it out in the sand using only their cunning as aid. Luckily, Kirk is able to construct a mini-bazooka out of a log, dirt and some Liz Taylor-sized gemstones to best his superior-in-strength foe. If you don’t cheer along with the Shat as he mixes up his homemade space gun powder, there is clearly something wrong with you.

6.– “What Does God Need With A Starship?”

What’s a top 10 list without some controversy? In the truly wretched film “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” (directed by William Shatner, in pretty much the only time anyone ever let him near a budget this big) there’s still a moment that ranks as one of Kirk’s best. Perhaps it is so great because it comes at the cost of mocking the rest of the film. Either way, when Spock’s evil half-brother puts the Enterprise in a trance and makes them travel to the Galactic Core to visit God (don’t ask), Kirk still has the sand to look the Almighty in the eye and say, “hey! I’ve got a question!”

Turns out this 1989 sci-fi flick didn’t have the answers to all of life’s mysteries, and the floating blue alien wasn’t God. But it took a little Kirk chutzpah to get that out there.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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