Picks and Pans Review: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

updated 03/07/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/07/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (weeknights, 12:35 a.m.)

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Maybe it's the way he sidles onstage at the top of the show, smiling rather sheepishly and waving like a first-time political candidate who doesn't want to appear too pushy. Maybe it's the way he says "Big props to my homey Mos Def" in that charming Scottish accent. Whatever the reason, I've been liking Craig Ferguson more and more since he took over the post-David Letterman hour in early January.

Ferguson, a former BBC comedian who played the boss on The Drew Carey Show, has a quick wit and an attentive ear that serve him well in interviews. He confessed an urge to sneeze as Joe Mantegna was talking about Joan of Arcadia, and the conversation turned amusingly toward how to handle an everyday awkward moment. When American Idol judge Randy Jackson spoke of Clay Aiken's "good pipes," the host flashed on the shocking idea that the clean-cut singer could be smoking something funny. Ferguson's opening monologue is too generic—jokes about the L.A. Lakers aren't a good fit for him—and the pretaped comedy bits have been uneven. It's fair to say Late Night with Conan O'Brien is more creative, but CBS offers an engaging alternative.

TALK SHOW/COMEDY

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