Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Tonight Show: Changing of the Guard

This Friday, Jay Leno will have his last show as host of The Tonight Show.

I say this is a good thing. I have always found Leno’s style to be stiff and unfunny. I rarely watched The Tonight Show as it bored me to tears. I never recorded it, either, unlike Late Night With Conan O’Brien, which I used to record frequently. Honestly, I don’t have the time any more for late night TV.

But Leno will still be in our faces in the fall – that is, if you want him to be. As NBC is planning on airing Leno five nights a week in the 10 PM time slot, Leno really won’t be going too far away from his Tonight Show time. What is concerning is that NBC is going to be using mediocre comedian to prop up its prime time 10:00 PM slot. Let’s be honest, NBC hasn’t been able to pull off a new show in that time slot for years. OK, let's be brutal - they haven't pulled off a sustainable hit in prime time at all. Frankly, NBC has done little to promote the shows it has in the 10 PM time slot now, like Law & Order and Law & Order SVU. If it weren’t for fans who keep the L&O franchise alive by sharing every little tidbit of information they can glean from other non-NBC sources, the L&O franchise would have tanked a long time ago.

But now, NBC seems to have run out of ideas for new dramas, and has decided to throw caution, and their network, to the wind by airing Jay Leno at 10:00 PM against shows like CSI Miami and CSI New York, which have been cleaning NBC’s clock for quite some time now. My opinion is that Leno is too bland to be able to consistently draw viewers to the 10 PM slot. I suspect that some may tune in initially just to see what it is like – but only if there is nothing better on the other networks. (Good luck with that, NBC.)

I suspect that Conan O’Brien will have a much better time in his new slot, unless he won’t be able to deliver his usual “unusual” comedy at the slightly earlier hour. I am thrilled that Conan is finally getting into a slot that will get him more exposure.

But, if/when Leno fails at the 10:00 PM time slot, what then for NBC? Is there anyone else or anything else waiting in the wings to replace Leno? I seriously doubt it. I sense NBC is a little too confident about Leno in this new time slot to even be thinking that the show could flop.

I haven’t decided yet if I am going to bother to watch. I think I may wait for the reports to come in for a few weeks to see if it is even worth my time. If I heard good press, I will be happy to give it a look. And if I like it, I will certainly eat my words and admit I was wrong. I don’t suspect the latter will be happening, though.

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1 comment:

Sara said...

I am a huge Jay Leno fan. Before he took over Tonight Show duties, he was the only reason I watched Johnny Carson. He's so atypical for this industry: genuinely nice guy, married to the same woman for over 20 years, never been fodder for the tabloids and Jay's stand-up routines are equal to none.

It remains to be seen, but it looks like Leno may have made a serious mistake in deciding to accommodate NBC and stay on at 10:00 p.m. Honestly, he should have gone over to ABC or Fox where he would have beaten the pants off Conan and Letterman. Jay doesn't play hardball like that though and it makes him loyal to a fault. Hope his NBC contract is short.

Conan's brand of late night humor may not work at 11:30. But I do predict that Jay Leno will eventually beat out CSI Miami unless CBS infuses some new writing and directing into that show.

On Monday night, June 1, ABC's Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live will be my new late night home, at least until September.

Go Cavaliers!