I don’t usually get misty when a television show ends. Most TV shows either die too soon or live on long after Fonzie jumped that shark. It’s a rare thing for a show to end at just the right time.
It wasn’t time for “The Colbert Report” to end. Sure, nine years is a respectable run and it’s not like the show was canceled. Stephen Colbert is ending The Report to take over David Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS. It’s a bigger network, a wider audience, no doubt much more money.
But it’s such the wrong thing to do.
Stephen Colbert, faux-conservative firebrand, egomaniac and lovable dunderhead was something rare and wonderful on television — a unique character on a show that made you laugh and made you think. Stephen Colbert, talk show host, is probably not going to be that different from Jimmy Fallon or any of the other late-night talk show hosts. Oh sure, he’ll come up with some funny bits and viral videos but who’s going to warn us about the dangers of bears, help us better know congressional districts, explain super-pacs, warn us about the people and movies that are destroying America, and give us The Word?
Of course, I shouldn’t sell Colbert short. I didn’t think The Report would work either when it was first announced. Stephen was arguably the funniest fake journalist on “The Daily Show,” but giving him a half-hour each night to pretend to be a fake conservative blowhard? How long could that last? And don’t we have enough real conservative blowhards? Do we really need a fake one? Do conservatives even get satire?
But I was wrong. “The Colbert Report” was consistently entertaining for nine years, often outperforming the show it sprang from. Oh, the finale was mostly lame — aside from the massive singalong — but few great shows have great finales. Remember “Seinfeld?”
So, farewell Stephen. Enjoy your break. Since I’m one of the few old souls who still watches Letterman, I’ll be there when you come back.
Prove me wrong again.