Although other late night satirical staples such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show might be gracefully bowing out of the television schedules, it seems the concept is still strong and healthy over at HBO.
HBO's answer to these above-mentioned shows, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, has just been renewed for two new seasons, taking the wry-eyed Brit all the way through to 2017. The official press release states:
HBO has renewed LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER for its third and fourth seasons, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. Consisting of 35 shows apiece, season three will run on HBO in 2016, to be followed by season four in 2017.
“We are incredibly proud to have John as part of the HBO family,” said Lombardo. “His unique ability to deliver socially significant commentary week after week, along with his innate comedic brilliance, puts John in a class by himself.”
Although similar to the satirical news format developed by Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver does do things slightly differently. Firstly, the show only airs once a week, as opposed to the multiple times a week schedule used by Colbert and Stewart. One of the main advantages of this format is that is allows the researchers much more time to develop longer form pieces of comic editorial content.
For example, John Oliver most recently delivered a well-versed and researched 18-minute tirade against major tobacco corporations and their bullying of smaller nations - something even dedicated and formal news programs are unlikely to do.
Secondly, Last Week Tonight is also known for tackling the lesser looked at issues on the agenda. The show is less concerned with domestic Republican vs. Democrat spats, but is more focused on international, global and less-mainstream domestic issues. Examples include the soccer world cup and FIFA corruption, pharmaceutical companies marketing to doctors, civil forfeiture laws, and the fate of translators used by the US military.
Lastly, the show has also embraced the internet, often uploading extended clips onto Youtube without all the usual location blocks and copyright infringement shenanigans you see with officially uploaded content. This has spread Last Week Tonight to a much larger audience, and it's now a rather common sight on my Facebook feed.
All of this is made possible by several clauses written into John Oliver's contract with HBO. According to Oliver, he has full creative control over the content and has been allowed free reign to criticize corporations and government figures. Indeed, he certainly doesn't seem overly concerned with taking on the big guys.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's second season is currently showing on Sundays on HBO.