Two weeks after the host said Real Time with Bill Maher was going dark indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis, the long running HBO talk show was back tonight with some big and small changes.
“Please sit, and welcome to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom,” a partially shaded Maher opened in his LA backyard to canned laughs and old footage of swells at some high-falutin event from the 1930s.
However, the opening interview with Eric Garcetti was no laughing matter in a city that “is trying to do our best to save as many lives as possible,” to quote the LA Mayor. “I hope we can get out of the cave ...we should expect it to be a couple of months,” the top civic pol added of a city under safer-at-home orders and a county that has 4566 confirmed cases of the incredibly contagious coronavirus and 89 deaths as of today.
“This is really about that discipline of a couple of weeks and reminding people that when you move you could kill yourself and you certainly could kill someone else,” Garcetti also noted of how traditionally non-conformist Angelenos are taking the orders to keep in their homes and maintain social distancing to help flatten the curve of the disease. “So, unless its necessary, unless you are a critical worker, stay at home,” he told Maher and the national audience.
“I would say it was a solid B right now,” Garcetti conceded as you can see in the video above of how well the citizens of the City of Angels are heeding the warnings from local and state officials to not use this occasion to wander about, go to California's beaches and the parks and trails of LA. “We got an A actually from one of these groups that grades our cellphone moves, if people are sneaking out they are at least keeping their cellphones at home.”
In the last week, Garcetti and the county brass have severely restricted Angelenos with the closing of the beaches, the parks, and threatening to pull the plug on non-essential businesses that are staying open despite repeated warnings.
Of course, Maher couldn't help himself but point out how stay-at-home orders have cramped his style.
“Is this really what it's going to come to, that I am shot on an iPhone?” an audience lacking but still suited and booted host said in his opening monologue, which certainly had a much more natural look and feel than usual, to put it mildly. “I feel like an entrée at the Cheesecake Factory,” Maher added.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The clock starts on a new episode of #RealTime tonight at 10 – straight outta @BillMaher's backyard! pic.twitter.com/OHMyrz18RG
Filmed in Maher's house on Thursday, the show also lacked its usual panel, as each guest had their own one-on-one remote sit down. With some minor audios glitches, Friday's show featuring Garcetti, the great Willie Nelson World War Z author and “favorite panelist” Max Brooks, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, and an irate Senator Bernie Sanders, who is still running for the Democrats' Presidential nomination even though the math is not in his favor
Garcetti may have swerved away from Maher’s attempts to get him to attack Trump, but, with swipes at Fox News' Judge Jeanine Pirro and Charlie Sheen from the host, Presidential politics in this era of pandemic was certainly the topic de jure – and I’m not just talking about the New Rules segment.
“Thank you, Jesus, I have no symptoms, unless you count shitting my pants every time Trump talks,” Maher said in his opening what would be the first of many swings at the former Celebrity Apprentice host and his administration's disastrous handling of the heh emergency. “If Trump played Celebrity Jeopardy, cancer would go bankrupt.,” he noted, laughing at his own one liner.
Preceded on the premium cabler by a glossy PSA featuring Surgeon General Dr, Jerome Adams, federal response coordinator Dr. Deborah Brix and the increasingly sought out NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House Rose Garden on the importance of social distancing and physical separation for “young people” during the COVID-19 pandemic, tonight's stock footage using Real Time was the first time in the show's 18 season history not live.