[2 December 2008]
REASON TO WATCH: William Shatner gets down with his own interview/talk show.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Shatner does a talk show in which he plumbs other celebrities’ deep dark secrets about love, religion, alcohol, sex, addiction and family - with asides about his own deep, dark secrets.
Stranger shows have been conceived, though for the moment, I can’t think of any. BIO provided two episodes for review. The first features Valerie Bertinelli, who - one assumes - has a great deal to talk about, and, in fact, she does. Next up is Jimmy Kimmel (Dec. 9, 10:30 p.m.), who - one also assumes - is probably more reticent on intimate issues. (Hey! He’s a guy.) But one assumes wrong.
Shatner purrs and drawls and probes. His questions aren’t of the sharp, kick-in-the-shin variety of, say, Mike Wallace, but are more typically preceded by “umms” and “ahhs.” Future guests include Jon Voight, Leonard Nimoy and Judge Judy.
BOTTOM LINE: Of course, many of us remember “The Chris Farley Show” on “SNL,” where the host asked a disjointed, convoluted question, capped with the observation: “That was awesome.” You’ll be glad to know that “Shatner’s Raw Nerve” is nothing like that, although from the first moment that famous voice speaks (“She was fat, and now she isn’t”), you begin to wonder whether we are about to enter an even more grandiose exercise in self-parody. Honestly, it wouldn’t matter - we’d still love Shat.
What’s surprising is how serious this show is, and how grounded is its host. Shatner slumps in a love seat, and in the next seat over sits the guest. He almost effects a shrink-like stance.
It’s all very disarming and even charming, and maybe Kimmel is thinking, “Jeez, Captain Kirk is asking me about my sex life.” But it works. He gets sober, interesting stuff out of his subjects, and they seem to be enjoying the exercise in Shat’s non sequitur style.
Kimmel notes, for example, that “30 percent” of his guests come on drunk, and Shat counters with: “You ever made love to someone drunk?” Shatner has. And we’ll hear about it.