Colbert is on his quest to find his authentic self. Thankfully, so far it's fun to watch. Can it be what America needs, to process the day's events? Late Show now, officially, feels like a real option.
Overall, this was a good start.... The show was rushed, the commercialism troubling, the interviews a mixed bag. But no one looks for perfection the first night--just signs, and they were mostly positive Tuesday.
Colbert’s first episode generally stuck to late-night conventions--the monologue, banter from behind a desk, interviews, and band were all present and accounted for--but it tweaked and teased them in heartening ways, especially for a debut. The show looked and felt like late night, but a more wild, antic, theatrical version, especially once Colbert got off his feet and got behind that desk.
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.... Colbert's chat with Clooney felt oddly stilted, with uncertain transitions from serious topics to prearranged comedy. He actually seemed more at ease with his second guest, Governor Bush.
The monologue had some fairly tired jokes about being at CBS (even the bit where Les Moonves kept switching the telecast over to "Mentalist" scenes evoked Conan O'Brien's old "Walker Texas Ranger" Lever gag), both Colbert and George Clooney struggled to feign interest in their interview, and even the livelier conversation with Jeb Bush suffered from being so heavily edited.... His take on the format wasn't boring--the opening credits, which made Manhattan look like the world's largest dollhouse, and the music of Jon Batiste and Stay Human, were both marvelous--but nor was it exciting enough to make me set a season pass for the kind of show I long since lost interest in.