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The debut date: March 7, 2002
The host: Bill Maher.

Finally breaking free from the ad-mad world he always hated, Bill Maher has brought his attitude to HBO … and it’s a good fit. Angry and sarcastic all over again — and finally able to use profanity — the former “Politically Incorrect” ringleader still has the government on his mind and now gets an extra half-hour to spout. Tucked away on late Friday nights, show benefits greatly from being a once-a-week endeavor rather than a daily undertaking but could do better with its panelists.

As opinionated as he is (and boy, is he), Maher is still a comfortable presence; as a host, he’s smooth and polished, without stumbles and without many “down” moments. The biggest drawback is his feisty personality; he doesn’t particularly care for people who don’t agree with him, and, let’s be honest, why should we listen to a comic when it comes to international relations?