I have just finished watching last night's episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, and I am here to deliver to you the review you've been waiting for, broken down by segments.
The first episode introduced Seth Meyers as host, Fred Armisen as band leader, and a low-budget set to our televisions screens. Amy Poehler and Joe Biden joined Seth for his first night, Amy at times helping the show along more than Seth.
The second episode which airs in approximately 1/2 hours (11:35 CT 2/25/14), as of this posting, will showcase Kanye West and Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson.
Seth Meyer's first Late Night monologue was dry, slow, and weak. Dead air space plagued the set, and all laughter seemed a tad bit forced. The monologue jokes were... monologue jokes.
Every late show host has to overcome the stale jokes that monologue naturally brings with it. Seth does not have the rapport with and support of the audience that Conan O'Brian has built up over the years, he does not have the care-free attitude that Craig Ferguson has sulked into, and he does not have the fluidity of Jay Leno (but forget Jay Leno...). Those other late-night hosts have learned over a few years to roll with the punches of the monologue each in their own way.
Seth Meyers needs to find his own way to roll with the monologue punches, whatever that may be.
However, most of the pain associated with the first night's monologue boils down simply to the newness of the show (first-date jitters, if you will), and I expect it too flow more easily in a few weeks, especially when Fred Armisen eases into his other role as conversationist and is better able to fill in the gaps where Seth blanks or is not one hundred percent 'with it'.
The Late Night with Seth Meyers band features Fred Armisen on guitar, leading the punk/grunge rock group to relatively new territory in late-night music; first to pull on the weeds since the Roots teamed up with Jimmy Fallon.
The band fills the commercial transitions with grunge riffs and dead licks. I don't dislike the band's sound, but I also have no general opinion. However, the late night band's difference to those that have come before is greatly welcomed.
Fred Armisen seemed to hide behind the veil of his guitar for most of the show; perhaps this is what he wants, but the show desperately needs him to pull up and join Seth comedically.
The few exchanges of conversation between the two SNL-graduates seemed scripted and badly played out, yet I expect this to change with time.
Behind the Desk
Seth's usual, likable SNL self came back out as soon as he sat behind his desk. He conveyed a more relaxation to the viewers and retreaded from the monologue's middle-school-dance-nervousness.
The worked out segments were a bit lacking, and incredibly low-budget. Seth fled back to announcing the computer graphic jokes in his SNL style, his most comfortable part of the show... or so I thought.
When Seth Meyers put on his interview cape, he soared. Perhaps his confidence came the fact that he was interviewing a friend, Amy Poehler. Nonetheless, the conversation was fluid and incredibly entertaining; this is after all a talk show.
Joe Biden came on, a second chair appeared, and Amy stayed. The conversation flew down a ribbon of tarmac with a big smile on its face.
While Seth did well his first night, tonight's episode should prove to be miles more difficult on the interview front with Kanye West and an NFL Quarterback taking the passenger seats.
Late Night with Seth Meyers could do well to understand that it is a late night program and try out a few semi-outrageous live-action jokes, like when Conan hosted (those were the glory days). Seth Meyers also needs to take himself less seriously, especially during the monologue.
Of course this review is only based on the first night, and while I greatly enjoy Seth's interview skills (or what I think I saw), he and his writers will need to step up in a big way in order to follow in Jimmy Fallon's shoes. I do expect this show to become something to occasionally watch, but upsetting Craig Ferguson's regular viewers and holding on to Jimmy Fallon's old viewers will be a difficult task.
On a final note, I do believe that Seth Meyers was a good choice for the new Late Night host. I do wish him well.