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Sep 10 2015

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Space Cadet)

So what did I think?  It will probably get better.

It doesn’t appear in many of the accounts but last night was kind of a production fiasco.  They had to do most of it twice which meant the taping was 2 hours for an hour and a bit long show.  I thought the production pieces were a little lengthy over funny and neither of the interview segments struck me as particularly compelling.

I’m not alone in that opinion.  As Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker put it-

Colbert’s more admirable skill-and the thing that one expects will be a highlight of the show in the future-is his ability to do energetic, probing interviews. Yet Colbert’s sit-down with Jeb Bush was a strange one. Mostly, Bush got to spout off talking points, branding himself as a benign presence, who was, unlike Trump, a small-government conservative interested in “fiscal restraint.” The two men joked about logos. It was aggressively collegial, a kick in the shins to anyone who worried that Colbert would be some liberal muckraker. Colbert did one gentle ambush, which involved a staged interaction with his own brother, designed to elicit a genuine answer from Jeb: Could he name a policy difference between himself and his brother George? In response, Jeb simply emphasized, once again, that, unlike George, he was a small-government conservative who favored “fiscal restraint.” No one brought up the war. Colbert is smart. But the toothlessness was unnerving. Jeb Bush was Sabra hummus, plugging itself.

The George Clooney segment was far more low-energy, with the two men satirizing the faux-chumminess of such interviews-a familiar shtick, post-Letterman. There was talk about Clooney’s work in Darfur, followed, somewhat abruptly, by gags about Clooney’s marriage having turned him into “arm candy” (“just be shiny and pretty”), and then a fake-clips routine. It doesn’t have to be this way, and I’m betting that it won’t be, in the near future. If there’s got to be another man sitting behind another desk that is carved from a whole desk, I’d certainly rather have it be a smart guy like Colbert.

He did deliver the numbers, 6.6 million in the overnight.  For comparison Letterman rolled up 15.2 in his debut.  As an indicator of the current state of play in the target demographic (18 – 49 year olds) Colbert scored 1.4 million while the Jimmys, Fallon and Kimmel had 900 and 400 K respectively.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to adjust your expectations of the impact of Broadcast Network Television.

I also find the special Rovian math that John Kolbin of The Times uses to insist that 1.4 million is somehow smaller than Fallon’s Olympics assisted 1.3 million somewhat speculative, but the Gray Lady is not what it once was either.

What I expect going forward is that the show will continue to improve and eventually settle at the #2 spot in late night.  CBS still has the same institutional problems that prevented David from crushing all comers like a bug despite the clear superiority of his product.

Some highlights-

Stephen’s guests tonight are Scarlett Johansson, Elon Musk, and Kendrick Lamar.

The New Continuity

Hillary Clinton Audio Email Theater

Let’s talk about white religious bigots instead

Tonightly Larry’s special guest is Buzz Aldrin, slightly wacky second man on the moon.  Those two points are probably unrelated.  His panel is Jordan Carlos, Natasha Rothwell, and Bill Gardell.

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