By nature it is erratic but while that can be a weakness it is actually, along with the adult delivery and format, a real strength
Music on television is a strange thing. The majority of music is aimed at a young audience and this is even truer about the television programmes that tend to dominate. MTV, Top of the Pops, CD:UK, call it what you want, they all tend to be aimed at teenage (or thereabout) girls and boys. Therefore the pressure is on to provide a product rather than a piece of music and any visual presentation of this music must fall nicely within specific tick-boxes hence lots of GQ male ballads or lots of ass-shaking depending on the type of music. However for the last decade "Later" has at least tried to be a bit more adult and more about the music, aiming for a different audience section.
This is not to say it is somehow better than "popular" music and turns its nose up at anything that sells, but rather than it takes a wider view generally. So we will get the artists from the singles charts as well as new bands, established artists as well as genres of music that MTV etc just don't have any time for or interest in. Not all of it is great and by definition not every viewer will like all the artists performing on any one show but at least it is interesting and grownup about the whole thing. The presentation makes it all feel a lot more intimate because it is a small audience, the bands are within an open, circular area and the mood is relaxing; it is refreshingly free of the feel of gloss and, although the music at times will still be like this, most people will be tuning in for the music and the vibe rather than as a way of staring at a black woman's backside (which, lets be honest, is why MTV Base has a big male viewing base).
Jools himself matches and sets the mood as he genuinely seems excited about the music and the format. The artists selected range from the well-known to the unknown (to me anyway) but they are mostly interesting and allow you to experience different things rather than only getting music from one genre (although there have been special shows that do this). I normally would tape it so that I can fast-forward anything I really don't like but more often than not I have got into an artist thanks to hearing a couple of tracks from them on Later.
Overall this is a solid music show that, although not perfect, is certainly better than pop shows and music video channels for showcasing music and providing interest. Many viewers will prefer to stick with videos and the nice safe formats where you know what you are getting but Later will always get my vote as somewhere where I expect more.
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