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James Corden Takes Over ‘The Late Late Show’ – How Did He Do?

Christopher Falcioni ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

James Corden hosting The Late Late Show with James Corden. Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.
James Corden hosting The Late Late Show with James Corden. Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

It’s a new era in late-night television. With NBC’s new youthful evening lineup of Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, CBS is battling to come out on top, ousting it’s older hosts in favor of young blood. With Stephen Colbert replacing David Letterman on September 8th, the second half of the programing block, The Late Late Show, needed an overhaul too. So gone are evenings filled with talking robotic gay skeleton Geoff, Secretariat the horse (whose backside was portrayed by Ryan McGowan, an Emerson alum), and the awkward pauses that often ended conversations between A-list stars and wily Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson… and in with the new.

James Corden, popular in the UK from his work on television and well-known in America from his star turn in the broadway play One Man, Two Guvnors and the recent film adaptation of Into The Woods, is the new host: He’s a natural. He takes a decidedly more straightforward approach than the low-budget puppetry and off-kilter humor of Ferguson’s show, and the angle might be unsurprising, it works really well.

His set’s got all the staples of a classic Late Show, complete with a live band, an infectious studio audience, and even an LA skyline model in the background. And indeed, after a heartfelt opening monologue introducing himself to the audience he goes for conventions and rolls a star-stuffed clip with dozens of rejected Late Late show hopefuls, a slew of A-List stars, CBS executives, his predecessor Jay Leno, Oompa-Loompas, and even Meryl Streep, all come to christen his new show.

James Corden hosting The Late Late Show with James Corden. Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.
James Corden hosting The Late Late Show with James Corden. Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

But as much as there is familiarity about his show, there is definitely something about James Corden that makes him stand out from the other Late Night hosts. Perhaps it’s because he’s an actor himself he’s able to have a rapport with his guests that reads as mostly genuine – He seems to know how to get people excited about what they’re talking about. He creates a conversation with the guests rather than a stilted first-date questioning that comes from many other late-night hosts.

Another interesting thing he does is introduce both guests at the same time, having them sit together during the entirety of the taping, seemingly to spur interesting conversation. While it helps that his first guests are Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks, it’ll be interesting when a day comes that puts somebody like Taylor Swift into a seat next to a Vin Diesel or other unlikely combinations. Another interesting thing is that Corden sits in front of his desk, inspiring honesty and a relationship between guest and host that isn’t usually there in most talk shows. His conversation didn’t seem like it favored one guest more than another, but in the future it might be interesting to see how star ego makes this particular set up less than idea.

James Corden, Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.
James Corden, Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

There’s also something refreshing in the almost classic entertainment value that the show has: The guests are introduced in their dressing rooms as they get ready for the show, velvet curtains are pulled back to reveal guests, and there is an emphasis on music, in clear contrast with Ferguson’s show that broke nearly every rule in the Late Night book. The sketch that made it into the show, featuring Tom Hanks, was high-energy and well rehearsed, something that hopefully will become a given with Corden’s pieces. He smartly avoided lists, current events, and other tired Late Show shticks and gave something new and exciting to his segments. Somehow, he is able to find new ways to show us our favorite celebrities, from a rapid-fire listing of Tom Hanks’ most popular films to the nerdy, domestic side of Mila Kunis that might otherwise get overshadowed with other hosts.

That isn’t to say there aren’t kinks to work out. Yes, there is very heavy-handed Bud Light product placement, and certain planted running jokes that need a few more runs before they become natural (the band leader asks a nightly non sequitur question to one of the visiting celebrities), but overall the show feels like a well-needed return to the era of wide-eyed, old-fashioned entertainment free of a jaded tilt.

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