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It was like a literal continuation of his going away show. Star studded cameos, long musical interludes, a few light jokes about seriously meaty subjects. I prefer Oliver's overly critical breakdowns with a few bizarre non sequiters than a serious takedown of Donald Trump that lasts 5 minutes and ends up being almost entirely self effacing.
I mean, I get it, Colbert is not shy about the variety(which is to say musical interludes) in his variety hour, but I didn't come for the big band. I almost think he was too nervous. But the "I'm a narcissist, just not a conservative narcissist anymore" fell flat for me. It was almost a 15 minute colbert report wrapped up in a hour long SNL package.
I don't know what the prescription is, but like the Report he's got about a month to get his sea legs (which he really shouldn't need, as he again joked, "I had 9 months to do a 1 hour show").
Television died some time ago.
I mean Colbert is replacing the Johnny Carson's True Heir....that's a very hard shadow to step out of. Give him a chance.
The thing is that, as others have pointed out, this isn't Colbert's new show really. He is the next person after someone who casts a very long shadow and he is fully aware of it.
Honestly, it was much better than the Nightly Show. At least Colbert talking about more than one topic.
The people who need to tune in are the great hoards of dumb, fat Americans who don't read The Stranger. These are the people who were still laughing while Leno delivered Clinton blowjob jokes in 2005.
So the first episode-- prove to CBS that Colbert won't enrage conservatives. Put Jeb Bush on the first show and treat him well. Slow-pitch the jokes. Point out his conservative family in the audience. Bring out Clooney, a name that even people with Alzheimer’s will recognize.
If he succeeds doing this and gets a sizable share, he might be able to get away with more dangerous comedy by the second year.
Incidentally, there are two bits that were cut from the show that are on the web. One of them is actually the funniest moment, where Colbert gets Jeb Bush to read stuff from the prompter as if he were Trump. To his credit, Bush went along with the joke, and did it well.