Picks and Pans Review: Later with Bob Costas

updated 09/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Mondays-Thursdays, 1:30 a.m. ET)

B+

Wearing the kind of sweater Dan Rather would if he went skiing, sportscaster Bob Costas sits back in his superstuffed chair and relaxes. That, believe it or not, is high and rare praise. Hardly anybody relaxes on TV anymore. Most TV types are hyper and loud. Not Costas. He fits this sleepy late-night hour like an old robe. His style reminds me a little of one of TV's best interviewers, Greg (Signature) Jackson. Costas may not be as accomplished at interviewing, perhaps because he's used to asking dumb jocks why they did or did not catch some dumb ball. But like Jackson, Costas is calm; he is not an egomaniac trying to steal attention, affection and camera angles from his guests. In each half-hour show, Costas has one interviewee. In his premiere week, already aired, he started with a former occupant of this killer time slot, Linda Ellerbee. How wise to begin with someone who's outspoken, funny and already intimate with TV cameras. Later in the week came a tougher guest, Gary (Diff'rent Strokes) Coleman, who's now 20 and looking for publicity. It's sad to hear Coleman talk about how Arnold, his character on Strokes, should have been "godlike" to children. It's sadder to hear him tell all about feuds with his parents. Twice too often, a slightly uncomfortable Costas gropes for something to say and ends up telling Coleman how intelligent he is. I'm afraid that some guests may not be worth a whole half hour. But still, Later looks promising. I may not stay up to watch it every night (after the strike, I'm still not even back in shape to stay up for David Letterman). But I will look at the listings, check who's on and probably set my VCR.

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