Thursday, August 27, 2015

What a tangled web we weave...

Almost daily, the Mars exploration rover known as Curiosity sends back pictures and scientific data from the Red Planet.

But imagine if one day, rather than yet another image resembling the above, the Rover sent back something like this:

It would be game over, right? You could pretty much forget about carbon isotopes and gas chromatographs and particle induced X-ray emissions, or the host of other complex experiments that seek out trace signatures of potential life-sustaining processes. Suddenly that would all be rendered meaningless. A minor detail. The big picture would be screaming out at humanity from across the Solar System. 

About a year ago, a reader alerted us to this 2009 publicity picture of Bill Shatner (credit: ""). It was an image that threatened to become a proverbial cactus on Mars. Sub-toupular particles were irrelevant. For this, even a touposcope would temporarily prove unnecessary (unbelievable though it seems - though, of course, still useful for closer examination). 

All that was required was to zoom in, and observe with one's own eyes...


Upon examining this image, the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies decided upon an extremely rare step. It convened a full sitting of its Grand Toupular Assembly (GTA), attended by the heads of all 2,143 departments at our research facility.

The major find was announced: what appeared to be an extremely rare malfunction of the usually extremely reliable "Denny Katz" toupee.

After basic examinations were complete, our toupologists finally fired up their touposcopes:

Somehow, the Denny Katz toup had failed. A thinned-out patch had emerged revealing the base netting attached to the head.

The pattern was unmistakable. A classic mesh. Oddly uniform for a toupee that prides itself on looking so natural.

Indeed, the toup also appeared to be moulting profusely.

Was Ed Katz letting standards slip? Or was this a rare defective toup? Or had Bill Shatner simply kept the thing on for too long? Even odder is that this image is from the controlled environment of a publicity shoot - the place where you'd least expect a toup malfunction to find its way out.

But, then again, this isn't the first time that such a lapse has occurred:

Back cover of the 1995 Bill Shatner book Ashes of Eden

How could a professionally created publicity photo feature a shirt littered with toup-particles (note the harsh cut edges on either side, unlike the more tapered look of natural hair), and even more shockingly a bare patch in the Denny Katz toup?

Toup-particle on shirt.

Perhaps even more curious is that this publicity image is still being used to this day - for example to publicize the upcoming January 2017 Star Trek Cruise, at which Bill Shatner is the star guest:

Of course, from a distance the picture can actually look quite natural - imperfections such as the visibility of the scalp and lack of follicular uniformity serving to make the toupee look more realistic.

But up close - yikes!!!


A reader sent in some up-close pics they managed to take of the lifts inside Bill Shatner's costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. On a related note, the book Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is available for purchase here. We're happy to give it a plug...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Who is Number One?


What happens when Airport (1970) becomes Airplane! (1980)? When Blofeld becomes Dr. Evil, and James Bond becomes Austin Powers?

Where do you go after deconstruction? Is there a way back?

In the very last episode of the iconic 1960s TV series The Prisoner, "Fall Out", Number Six earns the right to be an individual. For he has so incessantly and relentlessly resisted all the efforts to have him settle into the Village, that the powers-that-be are left with no choice: have the chair yourself. You win...

Only Bill Shatner has the privilege of seeing his unmasked bald self...

Václav Havel. Nelson Mandela. William Shatner?

Post deconstruction. Post parody...

William Shatner in a 1976 appearance in the game show Storybook Squares  (thanks to a reader for the tip).

A return to the now impervious original...

There's no two ways about it anymore, William Shatner has earned the right to say whatever he wants about his hair, their hair, your hair. Anyone's hair. And he has earned the right, after years of uncompromising battles, to have us believe his hair is real, too. It really is "Shatner's World: We Just Live in It"...

Witness two recent example of this Brave New World:

 A May interview with Vanity Fair to promote Bill Shatner's new TV series William Shatner's Brown Bag Wine Tasting.

(Interviewer) Jessica Pilot: I love wine. I only really drink white wine.

William Shatner: There you are. So, if you like the wine and we engage in a conversation about the wine, we ease our way into why your hair is as beautiful and long as it is; and let’s talk about your hair as well as the wine
. And now we’re into something personal and hopefully get some human information about you that you and everybody else doesn’t know about. [emphasis ours]

Jessica Pilot: I wanted to ask you about comedy. Are you interested in it?

Jessica Pilot

Pilot knows. Bill Shatner knows. We know. For he can "ease" his way into talking about someone else's hair all he likes. He can "hopefully get some human information about you that you and everybody else doesn’t know about". Those are the rules. All we can do in return is: "ask you about comedy". That's what happens when you've finally won. 

Need more proof?

News came out at the end of May that William Shatner would be playing writer Mark Twain in an episode of Canadian detective series Murdoch Mysteries.  Mark Twain!

This Mark Twain:

In on-screen versions, he can be made to look pretty much like the real thing, as in an exceptional performance by actor Jerry Hardin in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Image via

But Bill Shatner - because he can - won't be removing his "Denny Katz" toup for anyone:

And he can even mention that fact to CBC reporters:

"Twain was tall and slim with white hair, at least when he got older, so I am playing my version of it."

What else can we do but offer a Jessica Pilot-style non-follow-up akin to: "I wanted to ask you about comedy. Are you interested in it?"

After almost 60 years of toupee-wearing, the 84-year-old has elevated himself and his toupee-wearing beyond parody, beyond deconstruction. And the mystery of Patrick McGoohan's controversial, surreal ending to his iconic TV show may at last be solved...

Did Patrick McGoohan predict that Bill Shatner's toupee would survive "intact and secure"

To quote the character of The President in the final episode of The Prisoner:

"He has revolted. Resisted. Fought. Held fast. Maintained. Destroyed resistance. Overcome coercion. The right to be a Person, Someone, or Individual. We applaud his private war and concede that despite materialistic efforts he has survived intact and secure. All that remains is recognition of a Man."


We wanted to remind our readers that on Tuesday, July 14, the New Horizons probe will be flying its closest approach past the dwarf planet Pluto, yielding some amazing photographs. Of the old Solar System count of nine planets, this is the last one we have yet to photograph up close. So it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 This Hubble image was the best we had...

Naturally, given our huge experience of studying images of William Shatner's scalp for potential bald spots, lace lines and other phenomena, the WSSTS has been working very, very closely with the New Horizons team since the start of the project, including adapting our ultra-powerful touposcopes for use in outer space.

Plutoup? A never-before-seen surface!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Toupological roundup


We're absolutely drowning in toupees at the moment - with many great tips provided by our valued readers - so we thought the best thing to do was to publish a bumper roundup and clear the decks.

There's a 70s era pic apparently from 1972:

Once again Bill Shatner stakes a claim to be the true fifth Beatle. 

A striking style, but we'd say not necessarily the worst of 70s toupological excesses.

Then we have a gallery of characters from Bill Shatner's short-lived "master of disguise" series Barbary Coast via Getty Images.

Thie first, rather rarely from the 1970s, employs the "lace front" forehead attachment method we know and love from the "Jim Kirk lace": 

After that, things just get plain silly...

We've also had much talk about BIll Shatner possibly finally saying "what the hell" - or "sod it" in British parlance - with regards to keeping his toup in prime form. Why not, right? At age 84, the actor has become a global icon, Twitter fanatic (seriously!), and can get away with pretty much anything (even weird - but typically bold - irrigation ideas)...

If there's just a little less time for the toup, so be it...

But let's at least agree...

...that we don't want matters to get too out of hand. After all, we know from our pets that quality of fur is a strong indicator of all-round health. So routine is important...

As a celebrity, Bill Shatner remains in the glare of the limelight...

Anyone know what this is from?

For more on how spectroscopy can be used to determine chemical properties see here.

Now let's go back to 1979s Star Trek: The Motion Picture...

And an image via the good folks at My Star Trek Scrapbook. Clint Eastwood visiting the set with his family.

But why is Bill Shatner apparently not wearing his "TJ Curly"? Was there still a personal-use toup at this point, which differed from the "public appearance toup"? Does this picture show a coveted patch? Astronomers study Hubble Telescope images for amazing pictures like this:

Ever wondered how the staff at the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies reacts when they appear to stumble upon something?

Even if to the untrained eye, the contours may appear less-than-clear...

Our staff cherish and celebrate each potential find...

There is often much to squeeze into our busy schedules...

Occasionally, that can lead to pressure...

And even some tension and fraying around the edges...

But we are soon reminded that with each toupee comes new potential for discovery and exploration.

"A fresh batch of toupees arrives for me by courier on the first of every month. It is always a time of great anticipation, awe and excitement." - William Shatner (didn't say)

Let's end with a clip from a very rare 1990s TV documentary about the work of the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies. Staff assess an "impact site" (area subjected to extensive touposcopic examination), and are amazed by the results:


Thanks for the tips. Have we missed anything?