Think Tank Express: Colbert makes his CBS debut

stephen-colbert-late-showStephen Colbert – yes, the real Stephen Colbert – finally made his long-awaited hosting debut last night on The Late Show, only the third time a comedian has hosted under this title. Colbert is no longer chained to his “Stephen Colbert” character he played on his Comedy Central show. While judging a program by one episode doesn’t do it justice, Colbert has a lot of work to do to catch up to his rivals, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

The opening titles were really cool; had great artwork. Colbert did kind of an abbreviated monologue, with CBS head honcho Les Moonves in the audience ready to switch to The Mentalist, just in case Colbert bombs. Noting this is The Church Of Tisch we’re dealing with, Moonves could’ve easily summoned Pat Sajak to take over (for those not familiar on why I call CBS “The Church Of Tisch”, click here.)

Skits included Colbert being possessed by a container of Hummus and of course, Donald Trump and Oreos, which were kind of lame. Of course, the more Oreos Colbert ate, the more Trump clips we saw (do we want that?) Fallon, who fronts a competing show on another network made a friendly cameo, noting this won’t be a Jay Leno/David Letterman thing.

Another cameo featuring in the opening sequence was Jon Stewart, who was named executive producer of the show (so that’s what he’s doing in “retirement”…)

Interviews with George Clooney and presidential candidate Jeb Bush were way too short, with much of the latter heavily edited and winding up on Colbert’s website – ridiculous,  given the extended time Colbert’s premiere received (running 69 minutes.)

What saved the show was the marvelous performance of bandleader Jonathan Batiste and special guest Mavis Staples, who performed “Everyday People”.

Still, the opening show could have been better – but at least it wasn’t worse…no Alan Thicke antics or Chevy Chase crap-out here. Colbert will have time to iron out the kinks and settle down, just like Conan O’Brien and Colbert’s predecessor, David Letterman did. Yours truly is a big Colbert fan, and would like to see this succeed.

Grade: B-


The Late Show With Stephen Colbert got off to a flying start Tuesday night, with a 56-market metered household rating/share of 4.9/13, according to Nielsen. However, the number was down from Jimmy Fallon’s premiere on February 17, 2014, which had the advantage of being promoted throughout the Winter Olympics.

Colbert’s highest household rating/share came from CBS owned-and-operated WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, with a 12.4/29, with CBS O&O WWJ-TV Detroit coming in next with a 9.7/23. Here in Chicago, WBBM delivered a 8.5/17 for Colbert, easily winning its time slot. In Milwaukee, Weigel-owned CBS affiliate WDJT came in with a 7.3.

In the nation’s two largest markets, Colbert delivered a 6.8/15 for WCBS-TV in New York, while earning a 5.0/15 for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

In national numbers, Colbert’s premiere drew 6.6 million viewers, with a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49.