TV Review: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Series Premiere

Written by Allison Lips

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There are no surprises with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It’s The Daily Show in different clothing, which works for and against it. Last Week Tonight works best when you consider it a spin-off that ended up on HBO.

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Everything you expect from The Daily Show is here: witty analysis, commentary on the state of American news media, and an interview at the end. The only thing it’s missing is “Your Moment of Zen.” As a result, Last Week is funny, familiar, and can be deemed completely unnecessary for everyone, except the most diehard John Oliver fans. Do you really want to wait until Sunday for analysis of last week’s news? Probably not when The Daily Show and The Colbert Report air four nights a week, enabling them to be timelier.

Despite his show being a little too similar to The Daily Show, John Oliver is a perfectly capable host and interviewer, who’s not afraid of calling people and companies out. In the first episode, he interviewed the former head of the NSA. Oliver points out that many people with that much access to information will abuse it to spy on people they know. The interviewee said they would be removed. Oliver joked that they would be promoted. Not groundbreaking stuff, but Oliver had the balls to say it to the guy’s face; for that alone, Oliver should get a medal.

If Last Week Tonight aired Fridays on Comedy Central in The Daily Show’s time slot, it would be a nice wrap up of the week. Instead, John Oliver and his writers are playing catch-up. The show is also one of the few that would benefit from a commercial break, which is expected since the show is basically The Daily Show with a different host and it would allow viewers to digest the jokes they just heard.

Once Last Week Tonight finishes with the normal growing pains, it still won’t become DVR material. However, those who find themselves up at 11pm on a Sunday night should watch this show. It’s intelligent and funny. Besides, what else is there to watch on a Sunday night?

Photo Credit: Eric Liebowitz/HBO
Photo Credit:
Eric Liebowitz/HBO

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