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Seth Meyers Has Solid 'Late Night' Debut, Ronan Farrow Misfires on MSNBC -- Critics Weigh In

Television
by Beth Hanna
February 25, 2014 2:19 PM
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Ronan Farrow

Two entertainment shows debuted this week with high-profile hosts. Seth Meyers took the reins from Jimmy Fallon as the new "Late Night" host, while Ronan Farrow kicked off his daytime news show on MSNBC, "Ronan Farrow Daily." Meyers has fared generally fine with reviewers, if some have the same criticism for him as they did new "Tonight Show" heir Fallon -- he's playing it too safe. But Farrow's getting less praise.

Actually, he's getting panned. Entertainment Weekly, in a C- review, decided the show as it currently stands deserves the hashtag #Zero. Of course, the debut comes with the Woody Allen scandal, which 26-year-old Farrow helped to reignite with his Golden Globes tweet, as the inevitable backdrop. Farrow made no mention of the Allen ordeal on "Daily," but that didn't seem to much help the show's impression on critics. (Variety was more positive than other outlets, while harsher on Meyers.)

Below, some review excerpts for both Meyers and Farrow, plus clips from "Late Night."

Reviews of "Late Night" with Seth Meyers:

New York Daily News:

If you liked Seth Meyers in “Saturday Night Live,” you probably liked his debut early Tuesday morning on NBC’s “Late Night.” In fact, if it weren’t for a couple of cool guests, you would hardly have been able to tell the difference. Meyers essentially transferred his persona and repertoire from “SNL” to a late-night talk format. It worked, too, by the way. Meyers still has a learning curve ahead in delivering the monologue, but he’s got the “talk” part down cold, almost like he’d been talking all his life.

Variety:

Other than cementing the Lorne Michaels/”Saturday Night Live” takeover of latenight at NBC, Seth Meyers has essentially been an afterthought in the whole equation, as the network has gone about the task of trying to give Jimmy Fallon the splashiest possible launch. Meyers’ show also comes across as something of an afterthought, offering the former “Weekend Update” host in an expanded but highly familiar package. “I’m gonna shake stuff up and open this thing with a monologue,” Meyers quipped at the outset, and the line was telling,since virtually nothing about this latest “Late Night” exhibited a whiff of freshness or originality.

Entertainment Weekly:

For a long time now, Fallon has looked like the future of late night: Plugged in, hyper-digital, shareable. Kimmel is a different kind of host, but he arguably invented that model with the “I’m F—ing [Star of Good Will Hunting]” duology. Could it be that Meyers wants to find a different way: That he will be proudly analog in late night’s digital era? The good bits of his Late Night premiere offer some hope: The flat-tire story, the Poehler interview, the fact that he managed to wring some funny blood-from-the-stone jokes out of NBC’s mandate that all late-night hosts must make a million jokes about the Olympics. Late Night with Seth Meyers feels like a work in progress. But at times, it also feels like progress.

The Verge:

In his first show, Meyers, a 13-year veteran of Saturday Night Live and co-host of "Weekend Update," plays to his strengths of deadpan one-liners, his eyes focused intently to the camera and his feet planted firmly in place. Unsurprisingly, the monologue feels like a five-minute version of "Weekend Update."

Reviews of "Ronan Farrow Daily":

Caryn James, Indiewire:

Farrow was smooth and the conversation shallow, as if we were watching a likable Teaching Assistant in PoliSci 101… [He] offered "the Cliff's notes version" of who's in charge of Ukraine now"; he might have called it the Listicle version just as accurately.

Other supposedly youth-oriented features are surprisingly stale already. He'll have a daily Twitter battle, beginning with "Who has been stronger on Ukraine, Obama or Putin?" Viewers were asked to Tweet  #rfdObama or #rfdPutin. By the end of the hour, Obama had edged ahead with 56 per cent, but 56 per cent of what? And so what?

Entertainment Weekly:

Right now, though, this feels dangerously like a vanity project: Baby’s First Talk Show. When he talked about Dunham, Farrow concluded that she is “comfortable with her own body, but also grateful for a little airbrushing. And aren’t we all?” Ronan Farrow Daily is all airbrushing, no body. Or, to sum up this whole review on the show’s own terms: #Zero

The Guardian:

Ronan Farrow Daily debuted Monday on MSNBC, and while the host bravely projected enthusiasm right through to the end, it was clear from the start that something was really wrong. It was like seeing the neighbor’s cute kid pushed into a talent recital for which he was not quite prepared. A lot of people are clapping, but the audience support makes the spectacle onstage even worse.

Variety:

Even so, his show stands out. The foreign-affairs segment felt more akin to something one might see on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” than MSNBC.  A future segment teased on Monday’s program has the host visiting Kenya, suggesting more travels with Farrow are on tap for the days ahead.

What Farrow studiously avoided was chatter about his family or his connections. Indeed, any time he could have made a personal aside, he instead turned his audience toward Twitter. Farrow is likely to keep the spotlight on the issues and his audience, rather than himself.

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