CHICAGO - When asked to predict the result of William Shatner going to space, who among us would have said, "We’ll all get to watch a surprisingly moving video of the guy who played Captain Kirk brought to tears by the enormity of space — nay, of existence"?
Yet, here we are. The 90-year-old Hollywood legend became the oldest person ever to travel to space Wednesday when he and three others lifted off from West Texas on board a Blue Origin suborbital spaceflight. Shatner’s response is a must-see.
"What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine," Shatner told Jeff Bezos after landing back on Earth, no longer able to hold back tears. "It’s an honor. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just, it’s extraordinary, extraordinary."
Shatner said space travel is something everyone in the world needs to do. Weightlessness was to be expected, but he spoke at length about the dissipation of blue once he left the Earth’s atmosphere.
"The covering of blue — this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have on Earth — we say, ‘Oh, our blue sky.’ And you’re looking into blackness, into black, ugliness. And you look down — there’s the blue down there and the black up there and it’s just, there is mother Earth and comfort. And there is — is there death? I don’t know. Is that death? Is that the way death is? And it’s gone. Jesus," Shatner said, burying his face into his hands.
To celebrate Shatner’s experience — one he called "so moving" and "unbelievable" — we’ve compiled a list of (free) movies and TV shows that star the actor or prominently feature "this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue." Put up your feet, lean back and let your imagination head straight for the stars with these titles, all streaming now for free on Tubi.
(And just for fun, there are some Shatner-filled spooky season titles, too):
Boldly go where William Shatner has gone before with these free flicks
The Truth is in the Stars (2007): This tight documentary (it clocks in at just under 90 minutes, or around 9 Blue Origin missions) sees William Shatner enter into conversation with scientists and artists alike on the subject of "how the imaginative optimism of ‘Star Trek’ influenced multiple generations." Rated TV-14. 86 minutes. Dir: J. Craig Thompson. Featuring: William Shatner, Stephen Hawking, Ben Stiller, Gene Rodenberry, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The Captains (2011) and The Captains Close Up (2013): In William Shatner’s documentary and TV docuseries, the actor behind the original Captain James T. Kirk interviews his fellow Trek Captains and cohorts, including Chris Pine, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Jonathan Frakes, Scott Bakula and others. Film: 96 minutes, rated TV-OG. Series: five episodes. Dir: William Shatner.
William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale (1999): Shatner spins wild stories for a group of impressionable kids in this genre-bending series, which includes episodes about ghosts, time travel, wizards, and more ghosts alongside everyday terrors like starting life in a new town — with ghosts. Rated TV-PG. 15 episodes. Dir: Declan Eames. Featuring William Shatner, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Emily Barclay, Claudia Black, Alistair Browning.
Devil’s Revenge (2019): Okay, raise your hand if you don’t want to watch an archaeologist (William Shatner) who is "plagued by visions of a bird-like creature" discover a portal to actual Hell in a cave. Rated TV-14. 98 minutes. Dir: Jared Cohn. Featuring William Shatner, Jeri Ryan, Jason Brooks.
William Shatner’s Halloween Frightnight! (1995-2017): You’ve got options with this horror-comedy series. Shrunken heads? Check. A mad scientist who summons a tiny Dracula? Check. A torture chamber with a permanent guest hidden inside a fancy Italian villa? Check. Aliens vs. cowboys? Check. Enjoy. Ratings vary.
Elvis from Outer Space (2020): The title speaks for itself. Rated TV-14. 91 minutes. Dir: Marv Z Silverman and Tracy Wuischpard. Featuring George Thomas, David Heavener, Barry Ratcliffe, Diane Yang Kirk.
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About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jordan Smith contributed to this report.