Sunday's Last Week Tonight premiere is living proof of the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The late night HBO talk show hosted by comedian John Oliver, who is known for his work as a correspondant on The Daily Show, landed himself a hosting gig on his own show...which is pretty much exactly like The Daily Show. And that is in no way an insult as The Daily Show is one of the smartest and funniest series on television. Though Last Week Tonight matched its predecessor/forefather in tone, topic (including making fun of Fox News almost constantly), and structure, it does manage to have one thing that is deeply original about it — the host, John Oliver.
HBO has done itself a great service by adjusting The Daily Show formula for premium cable. Not only does it mean the host has more liberties (read: cursing) , it means the network has very little work to do in terms of sourcing an audience. Last Week Tonight doesn't compete with the Comedy Central satirical news line-up of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report since it only airs on Sundays. Rather than fighting for audiences, HBO and Comedy Central are sharing. Consider it the Netflix-ification of late night comedy, "If you like The Daily Show, then you will like Last Week Tonight."
Truth be told, I did like Last Week Tonight. There's just the right mix of bizzar-o world news and pressing political issues with funny original content. During Sunday's premiere, Lisa Loeb starred in a mock music video that parodied Oregon's failed healthcare website and "violently adorable" campaigns. It's hard not to love a show where the host refers to Oregon as a place where, "everywhere you go you hear the sound of f--king ukulele."
What's most worthy of tuning in is indeed the star, Mr. John Oliver. Unlike The Daily Show, there are no other correspondants, just Oliver and his desk. Which is undoubtedly watchable.