An immediate reaction upon watching an episode: Har-Har.
One TV executive to another: You know what? It seems like everyone likes The Daily Show. It gets all sorts of main stream press, especially about its lampooning of regular news shows. Let’s make a show that is just that. Kuh-Ching! [high-five]
Sounds like a good idea. Take Steve Colbert, probably The Daily Show’s best current news-anchor-parodizer (after Steve Carrell left) and give him his own show. Unfortunately, being that his gimmick (the whole fake newscaster thing) is just that, a gimmick, it means that it gets old and he’s stuck with a one dimensional show. During his interview with Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria on October 19, you could actually pick out the moment when Colbert struggled to decide whether to continue with “gimmick-based” questions (“So why should anyone care about the world?”) or turn towards a more serious, John Stewart-esque, seriousness-through-humor style. Walking this fence is the reason that the show will fail. Interviewing guests who are not comedians (Zakaria, as a prime example) only leads to more awkwardness. By now, everyone is familiar with The Daily Show style of news, and interviewees know not to give serious answers to the ridiculous questions. Unfortunately, these guests often aren’t particularly funny. Colbert is plenty funny though it’s undecided whether he’s a one joke pony (Strangers with Candy fans, chime in).
The Colbert Report receives 2 stars due to the obvious (upon viewing) cashing in on The Daily Show’s success. It has its moments, but stretching what would normally be 4-6 minute segments on The Daily Show to half-hour length makes those moments exceedingly fleeting. The show does deserve credit for its title (“Report” is pronounced as “Rapport”), and it moves faster than Keith Olberman’s (relatively) similar show on MSNBC. Unfortunately for Colbert, the talking heads of political news and commentary have already become parodies of themselves. Bill O’Reilly’s “talking points” section is so far over the top that if I want to laugh at it, I can simply watch that, not Colbert’s spin on it. Likewise, Michael Moore’s fame and/or notoriety have also moved toward self-parody. The “ambush interview” doesn’t need to be parodied when the original inspiration is as ridiculous as it is. Of course, the show gains points for attempting to start a joke-feud with gun control advocate, James Brady.