Late Night in Capable Hands With Seth Meyers
Critics don't find anything amazing about show, but he did just fine
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2014 6:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Seth Meyers debuted as the newest Late Night host last night, and critics seem to agree: He did a fine job. There was no huge "wow" moment, but neither did he embarrass himself, and the franchise appears to be in capable hands. Some of the things reviewers are talking about:

  • It was very low-key. Meyers had, arguably, the least stressful launch of anyone who's ever taken over a late night show, as Tim Goodman points out in the Hollywood Reporter. And he kept things very down-tempo, with none of the razzle-dazzle that marked Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show debut, writes Meredith Blake in the Los Angeles Times. Most agree Meyers' transition into the slot was smooth.
  • It had an old-fashioned feeling. None of the jokes or comedy bits were very original, writes Brian Lowry in Variety. But there was also a throwback tone that some reviewers appreciated: Meyers "constantly held up pictures—real pictures, printed out," writes Darren Franich for Entertainment Weekly. "I don’t think he said the words 'Twitter' or 'Facebook' once in the whole hour."

  • It also felt familiar. Numerous reviewers note that "Late Night Meyers"—particularly during his monologue—was essentially identical to "SNL 'Weekend Update' Meyers." He's "still yelling like a fake newscaster, not talking like a real host," Franich writes. His monologue was "full of rapid-fire one-liners about the day's headlines," Blake writes, while Goodman found it "staccato and hit and miss." In the New York Daily News, David Hinckley agrees that the delivery was "stiff," but "the jokes themselves were pretty good." And in USA Today, Robert Bianco writes, "You get a lot of jokes per minute from Meyers, and on Monday at least, most of them worked."
  • He chose good guests. Critics unanimously agree: Meyers has undeniable rapport with his first guest (and former "Weekend Update" co-host), Amy Poehler—and both she and Meyers were also great at riffing with bandleader and fellow SNL alum Fred Armisen. Meyers' chemistry with Poehler put him at ease, and when second guest Joe Biden came on, Poehler practically acted as "co-host," Lowry writes. Biden is "also no stranger to tossing off quips without nerves," Goodman writes, and he knows Poehler from his guest bit on Parks and Recreation—so the three of them had a fun, "freewheeling" talk, Franich writes. It "seemed to be an actual conversation," rather than a scripted one, Bianco writes.
  • But what is up with those chairs? Lowry thinks Meyers intends to "slavishly replicate ... the late night template ... only with less comfortable chairs." And Goodman points them out too, noting that they appear to be "both ugly and uncomfortable," and Meyers should really get a couch for his guests instead. Blake thinks the show was just going for a "consciously understated" look.
  • One highlight? A story. More than one critic cited a tangential story Meyers told about getting a flat tire with his wife on Valentine's Day and having to hold the couple's 7-pound Italian greyhound while another man fixed the flat ("It was very hard to feel macho when you're holding a tiny dog while another man changes your wife's tire"). "Something you never knew from 'Update:' Meyers is a great storyteller," Franich writes.
  • The other bits? Just OK. One segment, "Venn Diagrams," looked to discover the common ground between two apparently unrelated things, like snow and toilet paper ("Things You Won't Find in Sochi"). Another, "Costas Vision," presented the Olympics as seen by the pinkeye-infected eyes of Bob Costas. Indeed, quite a few of the jokes centered on the now-over Olympics, which felt rather stale at times, most critics agree.
  • What Meyers needs: To create his own unique thing, whatever that is. "Meyers will have to come up with something that suits him and works as an identifier—like Fallon did with his emphasis on music," Goodman writes. "Could it be that Meyers wants to find a different way," Franich wonders, "that he will be proudly analog in late night’s digital era?"