Daily Archives: 2010/01/12

Conan: Barbarian or Adventurer?

Conan the Barbarian I wasn’t going to write anything about the statement heard ’round the world because a) I posted a late night-related article yeserday and b) I figured I’d leave decoding Conan O’Brien’s missive and surmising his potential options to the real experts.  But after spending most of the afternoon on Twitter reading snap judgments and their linked to in-depth analysis, I decided to put finger to keyboard.

As we all know by now, Conan fired off a carefully worded, thoughtful, fuck you to NBC.  But while it was certainly surprising to read things like “It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule” (this actually seemed a little bit of a low blow.  While NBC might have bungled all of this, it’s not fair to criticize the shows and talent who are working hard to do their best from 8-10pm (mostly just the Thursday night comedies and recently Chuck)), but what struck me the most was how Conan spoke about Johnny Carson, and his longtime ambition to host The Tonight Show.  And this is where it shows how Conan might have been mistaken for quite sometime, and that perhaps this was bound to go off the rails at some point.

Conan (can I call you Conan?) writes that “Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me.”  And much like David Letterman, Conan respected and revered both Carson and the show, which really were one and the same. The Tonight Show might have had a handful of hosts during its run, but really it’s still synonymous with Johnny Carson, and it turns out while The Jay Leno Show just premiered last fall, it’s really been on for the last 18 years.  The Tonight Show is the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was and is the Jay Leno Show, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien is, well, Conan.  Had Letterman taken over The Tonight Show like Carson wanted, as Letterman was groomed to do, then perhaps the same Carson spirit might have transferred to Dave and then to Conan.  But, really, the show that Conan wanted to lead into the next decade has already been gone for two.  If he takes a step back and thinks about it now, to follow in Carson’s footsteps might have been to not so literally follow in his footsteps.  Maybe it would be more Carson-like to create his own legacy, not try to extend or recreate an existing one.

So what now?

Read on: Fox? ABC? Or, just maybe, CBS? Plus: Steve Jobs!

6 Comments

Filed under Analysis, Talkies, Who's the Boss?

In Defense Of: Jimmy Fallon

I was planning to write this post a couple weeks ago, before the tornado of Leno-Conan-Local Affiliates-gate threw the entire late night landscape into a tumult (and what of George Lopez?), but this takes on even greater significance now.  At this very moment, with the future of NBC’s late night schedule hanging in the balance, possibly the future of television as we know it, possibly the future of the world, someone has to step up and say it:

Jimmy Fallon has been doing a pretty okay job.

And it would be a shame if NBC’s disregard for their local affiliates followed by their overwhelming compassion for their local affiliates affected Fallon’s momentum.

Now Fallon has gone on record as saying he doesn’t mind if he’s shifted back a half hour, since most of his viewers watch the show on DVR or online, and I believe him.  He seems to so genuinely enjoy hosting the show that he probably would do it at 1am or 3am or 3pm (of course, it’ll still be taped in the late afternoon so it’s not like it’ll make any real difference for his schedule).  But if Jimmy won’t say it, I will.  We’ve asserted many times here that Jimmy got off to a rough start.  That’s well documented and it’s no secret.  And while he’s still a work in progress behind the interview desk, he’s excelling in just about every other area.  And, well, that should be acknowledged.

Keep Reading: Examples! Charades! Joy Behar! Drag! Sweaters! Arli$$

2 Comments

Filed under Good Humor, In defense of:, Muppets, Saturday Night Live, Saved by the Bell, Talkies