Review Roundup: ‘Up Late with Alec Baldwin’

By Alex Weprin 

On Friday, MSNBC debuted “Up Late with Alec Baldwin,” its weekly talk show hosted by the former “30 Rock” actor. You can read Gail Shister‘s review for TVNewser here, but we also wanted to see what some of the other critics are saying.

The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove called the debut episode a “snooze,” and was confused as to why the first guest was New York City mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio:

Baldwin’s debut as a TV talk show host didn’t do him or his audience any favors. The choice to launch a much-hyped national program by devoting a full hour to a candidate for local office—in the midst of a titanic struggle in Washington, no less—was eccentric to say the least, even if you believe (as I do) that New York is the greatest city on earth.

The New Republic‘s Laura Bennett says his podcast has shown what he is capable of, even if the first episode didn’t quite live up to some of his better interviews:

But it’s reasonable to have higher hopes for “Up Late” because Baldwin is not just an appealing presence and a smart, informed person but also a skillful host. He’s proven it on his WNYC podcast, “Here’s The Thing,” for which he has interviewed bigwigs like David Letterman, Chris Rock, and David Simon, always with easy charisma and an ear for propelling the story. Despite his habit of finishing his guests’ sentences, his style is casual and engaging without being ingratiating. And unsurprisingly, his interviews with conservatives have made for some of his most interesting shows.

Time‘s James Poniewozik generally likes the format, particularly its focus on longform interviews:

Baldwin’s a talented talker, though, so I’m hoping he can find that balance—and, maybe, encourage other cable shows to experiment with dialing down their metabolism and letting a conversation run for a while. Whatever’s in those coffee cups, I wouldn’t mind slipping it into a few other cable hosts’ mugs.

(h/t Johnny $)