‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ Premiere: Review Roundup, Video Highlights

September 9, 2015

Stephen Colbert made his debut as host of ‘The Late Show’ on CBS, replacing David Letterman. And now that this much-anticipated premiere night has passed into television history see what the critics have to say in their reviews and check out some video highlights.

Stephen Colbert made his debut as as host of ‘The Late Show’ replacing its creator, David Letterman who, of course, retired earlier this year with much well-deserved fanfare. But he also made his late-night television debut as himself, rather than as his now-retired conservative faux-pundit character of ‘The Colbert Report’ whom we had come to know over the course of nine years.

And that’s where much of the curiosity was that drove up the viewership. The curiosity to see the “real” Stephen Colbert whom we have rarely seen. Yes, even when he testified before the U.S. Congress he did so in character. Those fleeting glimpses of the real man were just that, fleeting. We saw him shed a tear when Barack Obama was first elected President on that long-ago historic election night of 2008. And, most recently, we saw him give his fellow departing Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart a heartfelt tribute which famously moved Stewart to tears.

And, yes, that’s what Colbert launched right into in his opening monologue, saying that he was in search of “the real Stephen Colbert — I just hope I don’t find him on Ashley Madison.” Indeed!

And the guests, yes, there was George Clooney, famously on the show for not promoting anything and instead, plugging a fake trailer for a fake movie called ‘Decision Strike.’ And former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, hoping for the “Colbert Bump” to help his lagging Presidential bid. Thus we were treated with a few Donald Trump jokes, and we found out why the younger Bush was different from his older, former president brother.

It was a long night, and now lives on in video clips some of which will go viral, and, of course, in what the critics have to say. And what did they say? Here’s a roundup.

“….The amped-up, expansive premiere of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” was not so tightly focused. Befitting the difference between a niche cable half-hour and a network variety hour, it was not a rigidly composed plate but a groaning board, built less around a concept than around a vibe of smart fun and an urge to show off its host’s many skills….” — New York Times

“….There were a few small glitches and creaks, I will admit in the name of critical scrupulousness and credibility, but you don’t leave a great party complaining about a crack in the bowl the potato chips were in. It started strong, ended strong, and in between it was mostly…strong.”….” — L.A. Times

“….All the trappings were there Tuesday: host, theater, desk, audience, celebrity guest, band. But it also had Colbert and as the hour-plus went on it became increasingly apparent that the man who broke so much new ground on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” is going to take this new furniture and try to place it at some odd and entertaining angles…..” — Chicago Tribute

“….The first episode of the show reflected, more than anything, a productive sort of anxiety over bridging Colbert’s intelligence with the imperatives of network TV. Colbert brought a Grand Guignol commitment to his moaning over the favors he owed a spirit inhabiting a dark amulet in his studio; the principal favor was to promote a brand of snack food that had presumably paid CBS for the privilege…..” — Time

“….He’ll need to relax a bit: As you might expect, given the stakes and the hype, he seemed a bit over-caffeinated. But calm will almost certainly come with time. […] Opinions on how well [Jeb] Bush did will differ. But for Colbert, the interview was the night’s high point — and the best gauge, one suspects, of the type of host he’ll become once he settles down…..” — USA Today

“….To be sure, there was funny business. Colbert enlisted new rival Jimmy Fallon to make a cameo, made fun of Donald Trump while chomping on Oreos, and enlisted George Clooney to take part in a series of sketches about a fake movie. And a bit involving Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS Corp., moving a switch to toggle from Colbert to a repeat of “The Mentalist” when the host displeased him generated some laughs, and was perhaps one of the biggest signals of a new era. Letterman, who once used his “Late Show” perch to make fun of Moonves, would likely never have felt comfortable doing such a bit…..” Variety

Well, that was that, the beginning of the new era of ‘The Late Show’ on CBS, this time with the real Stephen Colbert making “television history” as he said in his monologue. Or at least, viewing for the curious. Check out the video highlights from the first episode below!

Pictures: PR Photos

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