TV Review: ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’

The Late Late Show with James

So David Letterman’s new lead-out? He learned everything he knows about hosting a talkshow from (drumroll, please) … Jay Leno? That was part of the amusing taped piece that kicked off CBS’ “Late Late Show With James Corden,” a slightly uneven premiere with moments of inspired lunacy and some clear areas for the newbie host to work on. Relatively unknown to a U.S. audience and a baby-faced 36, Corden oozed sincerity during his opening – he even teared up introducing his parents – and certainly looks eager to please. That said, he appeared more comfortable during planned bits than interacting with guests.

CBS deserves credit for taking a flyer on a promising if unorthodox choice for a timeslot that provides the latitude for doing just that. (The network even cashed in with an on-set Bud Light sponsorship, although someone should have perhaps consulted Jimmy Kimmel about the potential pitfalls of an in-studio bar.)

Not surprisingly, the front-loaded taped piece – a luxury in the early going, when producers have enjoyed the time to prepare – teemed with star cameos. That included not just Leno, but Corden’s “Into the Woods” co-star Meryl Streep, Arnold Schwarzenegger and of course CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who passed out a Willie Wonka-style golden ticket that Corden snagged (from Chelsea Handler) to earn the improbable job.

So far, so good. But the handling of the initial guests, Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis, left a good deal to be desired, starting with the awkward gauntlet they had to run through the audience to reach the stage. And while having the two performers come out together is an interesting idea and something of a throwback, even night one suggested it’s going to be a hit-miss affair given how programmed most actors are to plug their particular project, tell a couple of anecdotes and get off the couch.

As it was, there was a lot of talk with Kunis about parenthood, while Corden cackled a little too loudly at his own jokes. Fortunately, that gave way to the night’s cleverest sequence, with Corden and Hanks frantically rifling through a medley of scenes from Hanks’ lengthy film career, all set against a green screen. More than anything, it felt like a touch of old-fashioned variety, in a good way.

Unlike Letterman (and to a degree Craig Ferguson, who was content to simply be goofy much of the time), Corden comes across as natural and likable, including the self-effacing little song with which he closed the show. Over time, though, a latenight host needs a pretty formidable bag of tricks to weather those nights when the guests aren’t at the marquee level the bookers were able to deliver for this first week.

Corden is clearly multitalented and exhibited bright flashes, and CBS will surely be patient with him, especially with Letterman’s signoff and the launch of Stephen Colbert occupying its time in the months to come.

Still, having landed that golden ticket is one thing; possessing the imagination to make it last is going to require not just good fortune, but based on first impressions, some ongoing tinkering with the assembly line.

TV Review: 'The Late Late Show With James Corden'

(Series; CBS, Weekdays, 12:37 a.m.)


Produced by CBS Prods.


Executive producers, Ben Winston, Rob Crabbe; bandleader, Reggie Watts. 60 MIN.


Host: James Corden

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  1. John Lane says:

    Most of the Corden comments were on the early days of the show. Now in 2016 I’ve seen many episodes and can see that the guy is talented and unique. He’s spontaneous, and not afraid to try new things. (E.g.,Remote bits where he takes over a job from a waiter, salesman, etc.) He has surprising talents: singing, dancing, acting. Also good in drawing in the audience. I like his practice of bringing out all the guests at once which leads to convivial interviews. It seems his audiences always seem to have a good time. They are made part of the action.

  2. Ron says:

    I personally liked Craig Ferguson much better and as far as being to white I don’t that as an issue. I do believe they are averaging 13 to 14% so that’s representative of a fair weighted average after all your viewing audience is 80% white? The show blackish is not balanced with Hispanic, Asian Native American representation. Da da do do oh ho hum what’s one to do such troubles!!!!

  3. Max Baxter says:

    Awful just awful the whole show stinks he’s awful the way they bring out the guests is stupid. I’ve given the show multiple chances thought maybe he’d get better. I just watched as much of the 9/26/15 show as I could stand and somehow it’s gotten worse. TOTAL FAIL

  4. Leslie Moonves says:

    Well I tried and I tried to give Corden a shot but this show is a complete failure! Please CBS replace the host ASAP.

  5. Tina McDermott says:

    watching James Corden tonight 8/21/15 he needs the next size larger suit, the suit he has on is much too small. His jacket is pulling in front where he buttons it and the arms are also pulling tight. James kept pulling his jacket down when he was standing up ~ like he’s uncomfortable wearing it.

  6. Andrew says:

    Ian McKellen is right. 50 is enough. Time for James to take a tranquilizer and resurrect Gavin and Stacey

  7. john adams says:

    Another British Invasion I see with James Corden, Craig Ferguson etc.. I wonder why they keep popping up. The Brits!
    Maybe the British should have won the Revolutionary War (1775–1783),
    They seemed to have maintained a better sense of decency.

  8. mike says:

    Are we gonna go all the way back to the daze Ozzie & Harriett? It sure looks like it.
    Again, last night’s episode was without racial diversity other than James Corden’s monolog in which he enjoed making fun of Hip Hop, Jay-Z, Beyonce etc.
    Look, if you can not speak to us personally on the program (regularly and not as a token) then do not speak about us AT ALL! That would be more fitting to your true convictions.

    :) With Love
    Get Well

  9. Mike says:

    May 7, 2015 and another late late night with James Corden (without diversity). Its like watching TV in the 1960’s and ’50s.

    :) I love it!

  10. john in pdx says:

    This may be the worst late night show ever produced. Oh wait, I forgot about the shows hosted by Chevy Chase, Magic Johnson and Arsenio Hall, but I digress. Corden, likable? Perhaps. As a talk show host? Not on your life. Is it just me, or does this seem like a poor man’s version of the Graham Norton Show (which is infinitely superior, and without the myriad inanities of Late, Late)?

  11. Henery says:

    Your program is too white. What’s up, only white folks on your show. Poor direction for our country. What is going on. White folks last stand? Just go away! Goodby#your days are finished never to come back. Get used to it! . It’s stupid of you to purposely show your racist bigoted white face while James makes comments of being raised in a ghetto and having street credit. #so fake

  12. Nick Mitchell says:

    wow, what a bummer – this show is too painful to watch. I can’t stand his giggle (almost like a little girl) and he can’t interview worth a dam

  13. Mike says:

    I enjoy the host James but the program is without diversity. It seems there is a consorted effort to entertain us with white personalities only. #so out dated, boring and offensive. While James and guests make so many references to non-white entertainers and personalities, non white faces are lacking on the program. Boooo!

  14. Larry Belk says:

    When you bring out all guests at once, you lose the one on one in depth conversations. And I believe sitting behind the desk seems more professional. However, I do like James Corden.

  15. Pam M says:

    Ok this show has been on how long now and it appears they have only taped a few shows. They continue to loop them around. I wish we could see more of a variety unless CBS has already decided they made a mistake. For the record I am not impressed with Seth Meyers (NBC) but at least he has New shows for the most part.

  16. Liz says:

    I love this show, I think James is adorable! He’s sincere and honest. Like the visit before in the dressing rooms, like the 3 celeb chat fest, like Reggie but they could use him more often, live the skits. Things I don’t like, the bar, guests walking thru the audience & James could sharpen up his interviewing skills a bit.

  17. A says:

    Try as I may, I just can’t like this show. I realize CBS had their hands full with having to replace Ferguson after 10 yrs., but James Corden, despite his efforts, just doesn’t execute. Perhaps he’s trying too hard, but I find myself more and more fast forwarding through all of the shows to date. IMO bringing out all the guests has failed – unlike with the Graham Norton Show. Personally I prefer to concentrate on individual guests rather than their interactions. I think it would serve the producers to drop the “big production” glitz and focus on what’s really funny and interesting.

  18. Linda says:

    I think that Mr. Corden is a great replacement. I adorded Craig Ferguson but this guy is a good fit. He makes me giggle. Best of luck to him!

  19. Rob says:

    Sorry but I think he’s about as funny as a train wreck. I still don’t understand why Ferguson left? Was that really his decision? Ferguson was no Letterman or John Stewart, yet he clearly demonstrated quick extemoraneo wit. Corden just sems not ready for prime time although I suspect he could perform early morning movie reviews at the CBS affiliate in Duluth! Please pull the plug sooner rather later

  20. jgarbuz says:

    Late night TV has been decimated, nay annihilated by the very poorl low brow selection of very mediocre (to be generous) late night hosts, i.e., Fallon, Myers, and now Corden and those who will be replacing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Ii’ old enough the early greats such as Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and to a lesser degree Letterman. My only hope for the future is that Stephen Colbert will pan out when he takes over Letterman’s seat. If that doesn’t pan out I’ll just have to learn to get bed before midnight.

  21. parker says:

    personally after a few shows….he is still very dry and boring…..but its your bucks cbs….at least craig has a sense of humor and a few new thoughts….this guy is just lame

  22. MollyScot says:

    I find it frustrating and quite sad that CBS had the chance to follow on from Craig with another unique, intelligent and unpredictable host yet, instead, chose to follow the growing trend of dumbed down TV for the attention deficit, celebrity obsessed, “don’t ask me to think” audience.

    We have more than enough of this formulaic dross already. Frenzied audience, whooping and hollering with evangelical hysteria for no apparent reason. Check. Embarrassingly unfunny opening monologue. Check. Pointless house band. Check. Pre-recorded sketches with celebrities doing “hilarious” stuff to show us they are oh so self-effacing and down to earth (pre-approved by their publicists and lawyers of course). Check. The host fawning over the guests du jour with sycophantic waffle “I just loved your new movie/book/album”, “You are a legend/my hero/EVERYBODY loves you” and my personal favourite “Just listen to them..” (wide camera shot of brain dead audience on their feet clapping,chanting, whooping, …) Check.

    This latest offering is just more of the same; produced, packaged and tied in a neat little bow. Late night Fallon, Kimmel, Leno, Letterman and yes, I’m looking at you too, Ellen. There is enough day time and evening dumbed downed fluff to fill a pillow the size of the Atlantic. Could late night TV not at least try to be a haven for some sort of integrity? What are the advertisers afraid of? Do they think their particular brand of insomniac medicine dulls the senses that much? Corden, at least, takes proctology to new heights; with each and every star utterance he either guffaws like a demented banshee or gazes open mouthed like a teenager in love.

    It is as pointless to compare this to Craig Ferguson’s show as it is to compare “Twelve Angry Men” to “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I am, however, reminded of one scene from the former LLS. The opening sequence, Craig and Secretariat, their faces mere inches from the camera, both just staring wide eyed. Seconds pass. Nothing happens. Finally Craig says “We’re seeing who blinks first”. Pointless, infantile, laugh out loud genius. Groucho Marx would have loved it. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the networks blinks first.

  23. Rita says:

    oops sorry everyone I hadn’t read all the comments and just repeated what some of you said!!

    • jgarbuz says:

      Kudos. Couldn’t have been better said. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Stephen Colbert might still salvage light night fare, or I finally learn to go to bed before midnight.

  24. Rita says:

    Bringing out all the guests together is one of the things I LOVE about Graham Norton and have always thought how interesting it would be if they did the same thing on one of our talk shows. Yes Graham is more experienced but give James some time, it is the first show…

  25. Craig Ferguson is almost irreplaceable as host of the Late Late Show. However, the absolutely brilliant Wayne Brady, with his lightning fast mind, astonishing improv skills and expertise in satire, would have been the most intelligent choice to be the new host. He proved this capability superbly as a guest host for for one week, after Craig left. So, unless he was not available because of current contractual or other reasons, CBS has failed to make the right choice. Nothing against James, who can be amusing, but the “new” show is sterile, plastic, too “safe” and is now just another commercial talk show clone, all image and no substance. No cutting edge humor, no great satire, no real comedic energy and disappointing so far. Hopefully it will evolve and get better, but it is not off to a good start.

  26. Kathy Somerfield says:

    I really loved the show. I liked James’ wholesomeness and his “real” quality. I also like the idea of having the guests coming and hanging out at the same time. I’ve often wished they do this ala Johnny Carson-style. I find that format so much more interesting because of the spontaneity ]that happens when the guests play off each other. I’ve set my Tivo to record the series. One more thing, I wonder where they got that set. Is it recycled from a past show? It has “The Broadway Hollywood” as part of the skyline. :-)

  27. thedemko says:

    I think the chat format (obviously inspired by Norton) might be the best thing to ever happen to the late night talk show landscape. And while it’s only been one episode so far, Corden is easily the most natural host I’ve seen so far. Seriously, most talk shows, you can tell that every part of the conversation has been pre-planned to death… but for some reason Corden’s interview style just felt very off-the-cuff and much more personal. Fallon does a decent job personalizing his interviews, but still somehow comes off as a bit fake during those times when he’s out there with someone he’s clearly never met before and/or isn’t friends with..

    James Corden is VERY earnest in his interview style. I also felt like bringing all the guests out at the same time added another neat level of interaction between them. Just a fun show so far…

  28. Paul says:

    Thought he did well for his first show. In terms of bringing on all of the guests at the same time: take a look at the Graham Norton Show on BBC America and see how much the stars enjoy that and really open up (and yes..the drink does help)

  29. Jean says:

    The show last night was really funny. I enjoyed it and I don’t usually watch late night talk shows. I remember Corden from my two favorite Doctor Who episodes; “The Lodger” and “Closing Time”. I loved the set too.

  30. David M Lowe says:

    Are they really going to have the time to prepare all those highly produced pieces with guests every day. I doubt the guest are going to have the time or willingness to spend the day doing pieces for the show every night. They had months to prepare for this one show. Let’s see how the staff and Cordan perform when it becomes day in and day out with less than headline stars to share the space on that tacky blue couch that I can’t decide if it comes from the 50’s or future space….perhaps it (the couch) may be indicative of the problems this show is going to face.

  31. BobC says:

    “A slap to Worldwide Pants”? Oh Christ The negativity and the desperat fault finding begin. Unkystan, you are right. Cordon deserves more credit than complaint. It WAS his first show and he did fine. Yes, there were problems. All the great late night hosts (Leno and Letterman included) had them, until they found their footing. I like the set — no desk. It’s more casual and intimate, without the desk it didn’t appear to be a JOB interview or a talk with the principal. Good luck to James!

  32. William Conroy says:

    I thought the taped piece was brilliant and well-executed. Corden is likable.

  33. unkystan says:

    Before all the haters start, remember…it was the first show. A work in progress. That said, there was a lot to like here. Corden not doing topical jokes (ala Ferguson) is refreshing. The main thing I did not like was the design of the set. I attended Craig’s show many times and it was an intimate comfortable feeling but the audience all over the place and the guests having to endure the high-fiving as they enter made an uncomfortable watch. The bar and the Bud Light plug is obnoxious. As you can tell, my only beefs are cosmetic. I’ll be watching and see where it goes.

  34. Ken says:

    Corden seems to have adopted the cozy, chatty format from Graham Norton. That’s fine. He was understandably a tad nervous at the outset…but the show got better as it went along…and his final send-off song was cute. I thought the inclusion of Jay Leno was pretty awful, though…something of a slap to Worldwide Pants. Liked the Tom Hanks filmography shtick. The new LATE NIGHT is certainly warmer and less in-your-face than Ferguson. I look forward to seeing how this evolves. Corden is quite talented.

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