Friday, September 11, 2015

1537 The Colber’ Repor’

Or more accurately, the report on Colbert, successor to retired Late Show host David Letterman.

For now, at least, it looks like CBS made the right choice in the late night TV department and its decades- long fight to dethrone NBC’s Tonight Show.

What do we look for in bedtime television?  A little irreverence, a little music and a few laughs, mostly about the political-celebrity class.

There’s a reason NBC has dominated the time slot since the first day Steve Allen sat down at the piano.  Then came Drama King Jack Paar followed by Johnny Carson and then Jay Leno.

What did all these guys have in common?  A kind of -- well, low key is not exactly right -- maybe a “medium key” pace and delivery.

The current Here’s Johnny wannabe, Jimmy Fallon has to be the least funny guy to face a camera since TV stations signed off with the Sermonette.

A loud, self-involved song and dance man, Fallon is harder to watch than best-of reruns from the Shopping Channel.

Across the dial at CBS, Letterman kept that medium key thing going.  Not well enough to topple Leno.  But well enough to win a big chunk of the audience.

Now that he’s retired, we get Stephen Colbert.  Bright, young, articulate, funny.  But like Fallon, too high energy.  

These shows are taped in the late afternoon.  But they’re watched at 11:30 (or 11:35 or 11:36.)  When we’ve just seen half an hour of the local doom and gloom news, the last thing we need is a marching band or cheering squad in our bedrooms.

If Colbert calms down a bit, his burst of good ratings from viewers who sample will turn into something more durable.

Colbert is funny, topical, a little edgy, though not nearly as much as he was on the original Comedy Central Colber’ Repor’.  And the potential for success is there.

The debut was a ratings monolith, 6.6 million viewers, almost twice Fallon’s score for the night and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel was left in even deeper dust.

That’s not a sustainable lead.  A lot of it was people who were just curious and (according to Nielsen) people who don’t ordinarily have their sets on as midnight approaches.

To Stephen:  Good luck, keep it up and calm down.

Shrapnel:

--Jeb! was completely unfunny on Colbert’s opening show.  They should have called the segment “Bush unplugged.” But that would have been redundant.

--Last night, Biden wasn’t funny, either. But he was candid when he said he didn’t know whether he could fully commit to the duties of President what with the recent death of his son. And he added, that “110% commitment…” is what the office needs.

--The second republican presidential debate will have eleven candidates on stage at the Reagan Library in California this coming Wednesday.  Former reject Carly Fiorina is in. The rest of the debate-1 rejects are still rejected: Jindal, Perry, Graham and Sanatorium. This is the only story of its kind this week you’ll read without a mention of you-know-who.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2015

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