I think we can take William Shatner off the "Oprah Replacement" list, but that doesn't mean he isn't an acolyte. Although his show “Shatner’s Raw Nerve,” now entering its second season on the Biography Channel, obviously purports to be more intentionally confrontational than Winfrey ever has, Shatner takes more than a few cues from the master. He talks a lot about family, encourages his guests to examine their feelings, and is happy to share his own experience with whatever topic is currently on hand.
Most important, he uses the instant intimacy of his own celebrity to establish an initial bond with his guest. He may not be Oprah, but who doesn't know, and to some extent love, William Shatner? Just having him want to talk to you connects you somehow to an icon of popular culture. (Given the odd S-shaped conversation-chair he uses for his interviews, that connection is almost literal.)
But Shatner is a man who believes that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, a motto that served him well in "Boston Legal" but not so much here. His first interview of this season is with Rush Limbaugh, a man well known to raw nerves everywhere.
Yet the first half of his interview is spent breathlessly asking the controversial conservative radio host all about the work ethic of his daddy and granddaddy, which is so uninteresting you know it is just a way of easing into the inevitable. And indeed, halfway through, Shatner attempts to seize the issue by the lapels, asking a series of half-formed questions about Limbaugh's tendency toward vitriol and how precisely his image of a free and democratic America differs from that of the current administration.