I've always had reservations about Bill Maher...Politically Incorrect always seemed to degenerate into shrill shouting matches that taint almost all politcally oriented talk shows. I thought ABC's firing him was lame, because it was CYA rather than quality related. Moving to commercial-free, unbleeped HBO was an improvement, but the writing was never really up to par, more bark than bite. But discontent provides fertile ground for intelligent comedians, so now Real Time is relevant again.
Bill still leads with his chin in the opening monologue -- weak, overreaching bits that he follows up with sheepish grins that reveal he knows just how lame the jokes are. But the other scripted bits, like New Rules and Reading the News to George, have real venom and wit. And Bill finally is learning to actually moderate discussions, keeping his guests on point some of the time (but you could start a Seconds-to-Saddam drinking game, waiting for the first bizarre linking of any random issue to Iraq; this week it took 4 minutes to compare Martha Stewart to our favorite deposed dictator).
This week's panelists included a thoroughly scandalized (by Bill's potty mouth)Carol Mosely Braun and Rob Scheider fer crissakes, and I actually watched it twice. He even makes Michael Moore and Andrew Sullivan palatable, though Ann Coulter is still beyond redemption.
Most importantly, he actually uses his faux-libertarian schtick to bring the funny, and not just to pose as hipper-than-thou:
"If everyone was wrong about WMD, somebody has to say "my bad!". For some reason, the two words this president just can't seem to say are sorry and nuclear.Something is terribly wrong when the only person who's been fired over terrorism is me."
And re: Asian Bird Flu..."Mysterious asian diseases don't just come knocking on your door...unless you're Neil Bush."
Edited by snaxx, Feb 14, 2004 @ 11:31 AM.