The stated goal of William Shatner's new talk show, Shatner's Raw Nerve, is to dig below the celebrity sheen that keeps interview subjects' real life at a safe distance and get down to the sometimes cringe-worthy truth about the people underneath. Shatner succeeds, and it's awesome.

The stated goal of William Shatner's new talk show, Shatner's Raw Nerve, is to dig below the celebrity sheen that keeps interview subjects' real life at a safe distance and get down to the sometimes cringe-worthy truth about the people underneath.

Shatner succeeds, and it's awesome.

Captain Kirk throws no softballs, forcing his guests - Jimmy Kimmel, Kelsey Grammer and Jenna Jameson among them - to take ownership of their platitudes. He grills Valerie Bertinelli about sin and atonement and gets Judge Judy to admit she fears cellulite and covets the attention of men on the street.

Shatner is a good host. At age 77 - holy crap! - he's an adept schmoozer, so his invasive questioning comes in waves between conciliatory gestures and peacemaking chuckles. He's not afraid to raise the tension, but he never stoops to Bill O'Reilly levels of confrontation, even when locking horns with Jon Voight over the Iraq war.

The guests deserve credit for their candor, too. This show wouldn't work without stars that are willing to let Shatner get under their skin. Kimmel even makes a crack about coming back at the same time next week for more therapy.

There's room in the world for many sorts of interview shows, but it'd be fun to see Kimmel and his late-night counterparts try this approach sometime. In the meantime, kudos to Shatner for going places even Charlie Rose and James Lipton might not tread.