Tech Even with Barack Obama as a first guest, David Letterman is getting lukewarm reviews for his 'lackluster' new Netflix talk show

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Critics are lukewarm on the first episode of David Letterman's new Netflix talk show, which features Barack Obama.

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(Netflix)

  • Critics are lukewarm on the first episode of David Letterman's new Netflix talk show, which features Barack Obama.
  • The show currently sits at a rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Critics are responding to the premiere episode of David Letterman's new monthly Netflix talk show with generally lukewarm reviews.

"My Next Guest With Needs No Introduction with David Letterman" currently sits at a 74% rating on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, after its debut, Barack Obama-featuring episode premiered Friday on the streaming service.

Around 40 minutes of the 56-minute-long episode are dedicated to an intimate and meandering conversation with the former president in a stripped-down, studio audience setting.

The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert described Letterman's talk with Obama as "a frustrating exercise in talking a lot but, ultimately, saying very little." Other critics had praise for the more personal anecdotes Obama shared, including a bit about helping his daughter move into Harvard.

The remainder of the show consists of a solemn field segment with Letterman and Congressman John Lewis in Selma, Alabama. The two walk and converse on the bridge where Lewis endured a police beating in 1965, during a legendary Civil Rights march.

In contrast to Letterman's previous 22 years of hosting comedy-centric, late-night shows (NBC's "Late Night" and CBS's "The Late Show"), the first episode of his Netflix series features a more thoughtful and laid-back approach to the talk-show genre.

Netflix made a previous run at a talk-show series with Chelsea Handler's "Chelsea," which it canceled in October after two seasons that failed to move the needle in a crowded landscape. In contrast to Letterman's monthly series, "Chelsea" initially aired three times a week before scaling back to weekly episodes in its second season.

While USA Today's Kelly Lawler called Letterman's premiere "a bit lackluster" and "halfhearted," others saw potential in the show's structure. Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz wrote, "The looser and more structurally inventive things get here, the more fascinating the results could be."

The remaining guests on the show's first season include Jay-Z, Malala Yousafzai, Tina Fey, George Clooney, and Howard Stern.

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