Besides the “Friends” reunion and the new “Looney Tunes” cartoons, the thing that really got people excited when HBO Max announced their debut lineup was the news that Elmo was getting his own talk show. The concept is genius.
“The Not Too Late Show with Elmo” takes elements of today’s top talkers and gives it the G-rated, “Sesame Street” spin. I recently screened one of the episodes, with the Jonas Brothers joining Elmo on set. But a lot happens before the Jo-Bros appear. The episode begins with Elmo in his home. His parents are doing the dishes, and Elmo asks them if he can go host his talk show before heading to bed.
Soon, Elmo changes into his suit & tie and walks out on stage to an audience of real kids and puppet characters. Elmo’s got a band: “Mama Bear and the Monsters”. And his sidekick/announcer is Cookie Monster. Elmo gives Cookie a Hi-5 to start-off the show.
Now, don’t expect Elmo to be talkin’ COVID-19 or what the President’s up to. Instead (and truly for the better) on this particular episode, he performs a magic trick. And through this bit (and moments that surround it), there are legitimate punchlines in the dialogue that may fly over youngster’s heads, but trust me, adults will be entertained plenty.
The team behind “The Not Too Late Show” (which has one of the best titles of a TV show in years) could’ve decided to just make each episode be the on-air talk show. But they take us behind-the-scenes, with Bert & Ernie in the control room, in the midst of some sudden “live TV” shenanigans. It’s a little “Larry Sanders”-esque, with Abby & Rosita also appearing. I’m curious to see if we’ll go further over the entire season.
There’s a clear sense of freedom with Elmo’s talk show. Elmo has the Jonas Brothers do goofy faces and participate in a “Silly Freeze Dance” game. (Cookie’s the ref.) When that’s over, the Jonases step away for a bit, while Cookie gets a craft service sub sandwich delivery. And then, it’s time for the Brothers Jonas to sing a song… about brushing your teeth.
Elmo’s intro: “You love them! You just saw them! It’s the Jonas Brothers!” Elmo’s infectious laugh (not unlike those of other late night hosts) intensifies the pure joy of watching this show. And to close things out, he sings a jazzy, heartfelt “Elmo Loves You” tune.
The Count may disagree, but when it comes to a satisfying length of a successful talk show, 15 minutes is greater than 42.
“The Not Too Late Show with Elmo” debuts this Wednesday, May 27th, as part of the launch of HBO Max.