David Letterman is back with more of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which has a very unpredictable scheduling history. Netflix seems to add new episodes at random intervals. These two new hours find the 77-year-old late night legend working too hard through a surprisingly dull chat with singer Miley Cyrus, then relax and bang golf balls and gags around with Charles Barkley.

Cyrus is an electric entertainer and has never looked more elegant, but Dave’s conversation with her while she was in makeup was arch and icky. I heard some sports commentators reflecting on Tigers Woods attempts to participate in major golf events when he no longer plays more than once a month. Once the iron man of late night, Letterman too seemed rusty opposite Cyrus. Awkwardness used to be his go-to ice-breaker, but it seemed less effective in his bearded seventies.

The episode is more fun when Cyrus performs an intimate, invitation-only set at the famed Chateau Marmont in the heart of Beverly Hills. It is clear that Letterman is a fan. In the interview segments, however, Dave, seems powerless to ask smart questions. Most of the softballs lead to Cyrus explaining her self and her growth and her relationship with her parents growing up without really telling us very much. One longed for the old/young Letterman who would coddle less and deconstruct more. I kind of wished his former Late Show bandleader Paul Shaffer had conducted this interview.

With Barkley, there is a night and day difference. The two sit on stage in Brooklyn and engage in plenty of jock talk. Barkley is irresistable, the best sports talk show guest there is now. Did you catch the NBA Hall of Famer drop the F-bomb at the Cup final game in Florida Monday while being interviewed by Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas? Freakin’ amazing, just like Bukakaus’s hair.

With Letterman, Barkley is perhaps slightly less relaxed (or refreshed) yet equally charismatic, whether reminiscing about his basketball rivals or trying to dribble around Trump in a little political talk. Letterman knows he can go there and Barkley will just talk from the gut. It is fun and at times tender and even sweet. There is even some slapstick energy to their goofy golf game, with both taking the micky out of each other.

Score it Barkley 1, Cyrus 0.


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