There's another one – another new entry in the late-night arena.
Monday marks the debut of The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS, CTV Two, 12:35 a.m.) and, while the audience for shows airing after midnight is small, there is a vast public interest in the late-night circus. So let's assess.
This is James Corden introducing himself to assembled TV critics in mid-January: "Hello. It's lovely to be here, an honour to be taking over such a wonderful TV show, and it's not lost on us how precious it is and how much we have to look after it. And we've been working on the show for exactly four days and we have a staff of, I think, six. So if you're asking questions, we'd love them to be more suggestions as to things you might want to see on the show, because we have almost no ideas. …"
Charming man, Corden. Actor (Tony Award-winner, the movie Into the Woods and others), song-and-dance man too. English. Very English, actually. He takes over from Craig Ferguson who was Scottish and only occasionally very Scottish.
By now, one imagines, he and his team have some ideas and are ready to implement them, charming audiences far and wide. According to the publicity material Corden will have a house band (which Ferguson didn't have) and a studio bar staffed by a barman named Ian. This sounds cute. Will everybody get tipsy? Will it mean lunacy? If so, bring it on.
One interesting part of the pre-publicity is an assertion that "the show's producers [are] throwing the traditional late-night blueprint to the wind." Now this sounds unlikely. The late-night template is set in stone. It's an American TV invention and while it can be tweaked, the blueprint is what viewers like – the monologue, the band, the guests on a couch, occasional out-of-studio funny bits and a musical or stand-up comedy performance. It sends people to bed in good humour.
Still, if Corden can get away with blowing up the template and creating something more chaotic, more power to him. This year will see Jon Stewart leave The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert take over from David Letterman. If ever there was a time for risk, it's now.
Back in January, Corden was asked about those who influenced him in terms of television performance. He said, "My influences are, you know, Graham Norton, Chris Evans, Jonathan Ross, Michael Parkinson. My influences, purely by location of where I grew up, are not Johnny Carson or [Dick] Cavett, Letterman, [Jay] Leno. I never grew up with those guys every night. So I hope that I could bring a flavour of the people who I love and admire from home."
Possibly that idea has been drummed out of him by now. (His first guest tonight is Tom Hanks.) But late-night TV in this part of the world could do with more Graham Norton and less devotion to Johnny Carson. That would be cool. Everybody gets tipsy, a little rowdy and too sarcastic. That would be excellent. Something to look forward to – so, yes, make it happen.
Also airing tonight
Chasing Shadows (CBC, 9 p.m.) is a new, not brilliant, British cop show. It will certainly please devoted followers of the genre, but it wears a bit thin after a while. A curious concoction, it manages to add humour to grim material. That is, it is not of the miserabilist school. At the same time, the hero is a tad too familiar. He's DS Sean Stone (Reece Shearsmith), a brilliant cop who might be autistic or might have some other medical condition. He's certainly as rude and brusque as he is brilliant. In that, there's a memory of the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes and others, such as the female detective in both the original and U.S. versions of The Bridge.
Things start with Stone being abruptly transferred from homicide to a missing persons bureau because he was too honest about police failings. In his new job, his mission is to find missing people before they become murder victims. His sidekick is Ruth Hattersley (Alex Kingston), who spends a great deal of time being amazed at Stone's bizarre manner. When they first meet, he snaps, "Do you have a husband?" A considerable time later he explains, "When I asked about your husband, I didn't mean I found you attractive. I don't." Shearsmith is excellent as Stone but the material tends to let him down. It's a good drama, but not groundbreaking.
All times ET. Check local listings.