Alec Baldwin is having some friends over to chat, and he’d like you to join.
Between playing President Trump on Saturday Night Live and hosting ABC’s Match Game, the actor has a new talk show, Sunday Nights with Alec Baldwin. And it’s a more slapdash affair.
The show, based on Baldwin’s WYNC podcast Here’s the Thing, is low key almost to a fault. Introducing a hastily scheduled “sneak preview” episode, Baldwin admits it wasn’t planned for a post-Oscars slot that meant starting it at nearly 12:30 a.m. ET. (ABC has ordered eight more episodes, promised later this year.)
The hourlong premiere featured interviews with comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kate McKinnon, both pals of Baldwin’s and easy subjects for his conversations. . Baldwin, who had a short-lived talk show on MSNBC in 2013, is a decent interviewer, but the talk never gets too deep or reveals new insights about his subjects. A decent portion of his discussion with Seinfeld rehashes his recent Netflix special.
The segments feel more like podcasts than a talk show. There’s no studio audience to emphasize the jokes (although you can hear occasional soft laughter from what seems to be the crew) and no natural place for commercial breaks. Oddly, Baldwin doesn’t introduce either guest – at one point the Seinfeld conversation cuts to commercial and when it returns, McKinnon is sitting in the chair instead. Later, Seinfeld is back (to praise Baldwin’s performance in Glengarry Glen Ross) with no explanation.
It’s a bit uncomfortable to see him and Seinfeld debate the merits of the Me Too movement, and wonder why companies haven’t ferreted out sexual abusers, or why alleged abusers – several of whom, like Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., they know personally – do what they are accused of doing. They talk in circles without taking a stance on much of anything.
The chat with McKinnon is more lively and dynamic. She shares an amusing anecdote about her childhood obsession with the “Long Island Lolita” case. But Baldwin focuses too much attention on his own relationship with the SNL star, cornering her into calling him her best scene partner and rehashing their time playing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the sketch show during the 2016 election. McKinnon’s enthusiasm helps liven up the show when she squeals about loving Justin Bieber.
Baldwin tries his level best, but the show is too slight to really click. It just might not be his (Sunday) night.
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