William Shatner, Bernhard Goetz make for squirrelly TV
Amnesia doesn't strike so often in primetime dramas and melodramas anymore. But the act of forgetting remains a big part of TV news. We're fascinated by an inescapable story until we're not and then we move on to the next scandal/tragedy/obsession/shark attack as if the previous one never happened.
"Aftermath with William Shatner" (9 p.m., BIO) revisits some forgotten stories, and the personalities behind them sit down with the actor to recall their side of the story. Among the stories he will disinter during the show's first season are the Iraq saga of Jessica Lynch, the victims of the D.C. sniper and the tale of the Unabomber.
Shatner's first guest is Bernhard Goetz. Goetz may have looked like a wimp and a victim, but one night in 1984, four potential muggers surrounded him on a New York City subway car and demanded money. He replied with a revolver and the rest is tabloid history.
Headlines proclaimed him a vigilante hero, and a jury refused to convict him on anything but a minor weapons charge. But the spotlight would soon shed too much light on Goetz.
As he reveals in this weird interview with Shatner, Goetz never learned that cowboys should let their six-shooters do the talking. He rattles on at length, just as he did in taped confessions in 1985, evidence that would later be used in a successful civil suit against him. Shatner, never known for his reticence, lets Goetz hang himself while staring at him with a combination of sympathy and the growing horror that he displayed in the gremlins episode of "The Twilight Zone."
Goetz gets creepier with each passing statement, showing off his shooting stance and revealing that the greatest emotional connection of his life was with his pet squirrel.
You don't have to be a news junkie to enjoy these peculiar follow-ups. Interviews don't come much stranger. At the same time, it would be more interesting if Shatner projected some point of view besides the unstated, "I'm not as weird as you, dude." After all, if Goetz is as paranoid and disturbed as he seems, what does it say about the media culture that turned him into a hero?
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