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September 9, 2015

TV Review: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

I've reviewed quite a few TV shows on this site over the years, but talk shows aren't something I'd ever think to write up. I probably should have after the debut of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, because I absolutely love the replacement for The Colbert Report. In fact, it's the first late night show I've watched regularly after dropping off from its predecessors. I didn't drift from The Daily Show and Report for any reason other than being busy with other things. With the advent of Netflix and Hulu, appointment television isn't a thing for me anymore. I only remembered that this debut was happening because of a Facebook post. Normally, I'd catch these things a day or two later.

That being said, I was interested to see what Colbert was going to do with Letterman's old spot. The Late Show debuted when I was in high school, and I watched it almost every night for several years. Letterman always did his own thing, and I knew Colbert would carry that torch in a great way. Through a slightly awkward start, he definitely did.

The Ed Sullivan theater is vastly different from its previous look. It's bright with pillars and staircases and hosts two video screens that Colbert can have fun with. In one moment, he flipped channels on one screen and turned on The Tonight Show to have a conversation with Jimmy Fallon. The two easily squashed any possibility of an expected Leno/Letterman style rivalry. Kimmel wasn't on the show, but I won't be surprised if it happens eventually.

Colbert wasn't the stoic persona that he was on his old show. He did address the Nation, but you could see the nerves peeking through once or twice. It's understandable considering he's taking on quite a legacy. He opened with a great montage singing the national anthem, which featured Jon Stewart, who also happens to be a producer on the show. Colbert and George Clooney promoted a movie that didn't exist, Jeb Bush was handled with non-partisan grace, and the first musical guest was the show's band leader, Jon Batiste, with his band and a huge collection of musical guest stars. Batiste was great, and the first band leader to my knowledge to rock a melodica.

If you're a talk show fan, you're in for a good time. I even stuck around to watch a bit of James Corden on The Late Late Show, and I think the two are a good pair. If silly is your thing, I think the new CBS lineup is for you. It's just plain fun.

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