Big on substance, small on spark.
The reviews are in for Alec Baldwin's debut as a weekly talk show host on MSNBC, and they're solid, if not exactly sizzling.
The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley called him "friendly and informed, inquisitive and, for a while at least, self-effacing," as he sat in an ersatz diner booth Friday night pseudo-casually chatting in a "long and not always sparkling exchange" with his debut guest, NYC mayoral candidate Democrat Bill de Blasio.
Her characterization of Baldwin's earnest Up Late performance? "Charlie Rose," "a school librarian."
Though he looked his typical self, "a little impish — a few spikes of hair above his forehead were twisted with gel into tiny devils' horns — ... his tone was respectful."
That impressive coif proved one of the show's more noteworthy talking points.Deadline said his "serious side" was "offset only by his jauntily moussed hair."
The New York Daily News called the overall tone "somewhat sleepy."
The New Republic was less kind. "A very strange hour of television ... so self-serious that it played like performance art, as if Baldwin had set out to subvert everything we expected about what an Alec Baldwin talk show might look like."
"It seemed that at any moment Baldwin might swivel toward the camera and yell, 'Live from New York—' " wrote Laura Bennett. "But instead the scene wore on."
She has "higher hopes" for the future of the show, if only its host would "just learn to loosen up" and reveal a bit of the smug, slick guy we love to hate (or hate to love).