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TV Review: 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

Stephen Colbert, taking over for David Letterman, made his debut as host of The Late Show Tuesday. With George Clooney and Jeb Bush as guests, and a spot from Sabra Hummus, Colbert looked to established himself outside of The Colbert Report. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

"Facing almost impossibly high expectations, Stephen Colbert seemingly raced through a checklist of agenda-setting moments in his mostly terrific The Late Show debut. Cameo by Jon Stewart. Check. Work in CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. Check. Earnestly pay tribute to David Letterman. Check. And perhaps most pleasantly, throw in a nod to late-night rival Jimmy Fallon, proving this won’t be a bitter Letterman-Jay Leno-type rivalry."
—Brian Lowry, Variety

"But as overstuffed and messy as this new Late Show could be, big is a refreshing goal at a time when late-night shows have been redefined as content creators for your phone. It is maybe the biggest slight and highest compliment to say that none of the episode’s best bits seemed especially viral."
—James Poniewozik, New York Times

"All of this attention to 'realness' rings a little false, though, since most of us already know the real Colbert. We’ve seen him breaking character on screen. It’s clear that his curiosity and enthusiasm about his guests usually comes from an authentic place — a welcome change from Letterman, who sometimes seemed bored by the people sitting on the couch."
—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

"There were a few small glitches and creaks, I will admit in the name of critical scrupulousness and credibility, but you don't leave a great party complaining about a crack in the bowl the potato chips were in. It started strong, ended strong, and in between it was mostly ... strong."
—Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

"In their conversation, Colbert used his remarkable control and poise not for comedy, but rather to honestly engage the former governor on issues of bipartisanship and education. The only sign of confusion between these differing sides of his personality and his show was the faint laughter inspired by a non-kidding aside—'or what passes for governing now'—during one of his questions."
—Erik Adams, A.V. Club