John Oliver's new HBO show starts strong
April 28th, 2014
03:49 PM ET

John Oliver's new HBO show starts strong

John Oliver has jumped into his new late night comedy show with both feet.

The former "Daily Show" correspondent debuted on HBO Sunday with "Last Week Tonight," and while the opener has drawn the inevitable "Daily Show" comparisons most say Oliver's off to a running start. (It doesn't hurt that 1.1 million tuned in for the debut.)

Both Deadline and HitFix note that Oliver does rely on the "Daily Show" joke format his fans are used to, but also uses his new show to delve into topics that aren't covered by much of America's mainstream media, such as the election in India.

That segment in particular "felt very different from the typical 'Daily Show' news rundown," Entertainment Weekly observed. "Oliver seemed genuinely passionate about the issue, and passionate about the idea that people should care ... To generalize rampantly, 'The Daily Show' makes fun of how the media covers the things it covers. At its best, 'Last Week Tonight' seemed more focused on angrily criticizing the media for what it doesn’t cover." Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" may be "Last Week Tonight's" "spirit animal," but it also seemed "as if Oliver has spent his 'Daily Show' tutelage making a list of everything that works — and everything he wanted to do just a little bit differently."

Yet for other critics, there was no ignoring how similar Oliver's cadence and presentation was to his former cable TV home.

"Everything about 'Last Week Tonight' felt like another spin of the late night-satire wheel, with nary a new groove in it," said Variety, which wondered if Oliver was a little hasty in moving over to HBO from Comedy Central considering that Stephen Colbert's post-"Daily Show" time slot is now open. "Oliver is clearly a talent. But after a first taste of 'Last Week Tonight,' there’s a nagging sense he forfeited a promotion at Comedy Central to become a smaller fish in a much bigger pond. As for HBO, as the rich sometimes do, the channel snapped up a shiny bauble, without really having much need for it."

You can check out some of "Last Week Tonight's" best segments below, or watch the entire debut episode on YouTube.


Filed under: Late Night comedy • television

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