Absent, or maybe just ignored, among all the words committed to The Tonight Show plan for succession has been a discussion about what will happen to The Late Show with David Letterman and its lead-out The Late Late Show. Like Jay Leno, Dave has been at this game a long, long time. Unlike Jay, Dave seems to not care about ratings (possibly because he knows he’s likely to lose), does not appear to be that concerned with being well-liked (which has worked to his advantage, and has paradoxically made him more revered) and is not in any imminent danger of being forced out by the network brass, basically been given carte blanche by CBS to stay as long as he wants and, essentially, to do what he wants. When one jump-starts a late night franchise from scratch, we guess he’s granted some amount of immunity. But, unlike Jay, Dave doesn’t have a younger, hipper, potential replacement nipping at his heels, which makes the future of The Late Show even murkier.
While Craig Ferguson has built up a small but very loyal, impassioned following, and has received rave reviews for years from critics, we don’t have the sense that he’s long for his job, or at least eying the 11:35pm slot. In that small studio (we’ve been there) in CBS Television City, without a house band or announcer, Ferguson can deliver long, meandering monologues (verging on soliloquies) straight to camera, as if the audience and the viewing public wasn’t there, and engage in extended, intimate irreverent conversations with a diverse pool of guests. The Late Late Show interviews occupy that space between the celebrity shilling meant for the masses that one can observe on most late night talk shows and the quiet, introspective, one-on-one interviews conducted without a studio audience on past programs like Tom Synder’s Late Late Show. Sometimes it feels like The Late Late Show is performed for the studio audience, and then broadcast to millions of homes as an afterthought. Which isn’t to say that Ferguson couldn’t do a more traditional, more accessible late night show if he were bumped up to the main slot, we’re just not sure he wants to. Signed through 2014, when Letterman’s current contract runs through, it feels in some ways like he’s only there as long as Dave is, his relaxed, low-key, mischievous Scottish wit a complement Dave’s acerbic bitterness.
There’s never a day of Today that goes by without something interesting (or absurd) happening, and not a day goes by without a drink or two. Apparently, they’ve now exhausted more palatable Tuesday Boozeday options and have turned to petroleum. And it quickly goes to Hoda’s head, as she has a real hard time paying attention to Kathie Lee’s riveting childhood tale.
Ladies, you should know by now that the quickest way to get on The Soup is to ask not to be on The Soup.
Also, seems like Hoda’s been taking her cues from Survivor: One World’s Kat:
We’ve admittedly, regrettably, been remiss with our recaps and analysis of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. There was a time when we provided weekly thoughts on ‘The Office’ (luckily our neglect kicked in just around the time when Friday morning post-mortems on that show would have been unbearable) and periodic temperature checks on ‘Parks and Recreation.’ With the season already complete for half of these shows, and the other two concluding their runs this week, we thought it was high time that we put aside some real estate to check in on these programs, starting today with a discussion about ‘Community’ (whose season (and notseries) finale airs Thursday night (preceded by two other new episodes and the ’30 Rock’ closer).
NBC announced their Fall 2012 pick ups last week and, despite lots of rumors and hand-wringing, Community will return for a fourth season. That much wasn’t quite a surprise to us. Could NBC have axed the criminally low-rated comedy? Sure, and they would have the cold, emotionless Nielsen numbers to back it up. But, at the same time, they know what they’re getting with Community. Will it ever break out into a Friends or even These Friends of Mine sized hit? Unlikely at this point. But does it have a devoted, die-hard fan base? Absolutely. Attractive cast? You bet. A smart, discerning, relatively affluent audience? We guess. Close to reaching enough episodes for lucrative syndication? Definitely. So the renewal, especially for the 13-episode order it received, is not all that shocking to us. What was unexpected, however, was the announcement at the NBC Upfronts that come this fall Community will be found on Fridays, as the lead-in to…Grimm?
Serial misanthrope Greg Kelly of Good Day New York struck again this morning, refusing to grant Rosanna’s request that he flash Spock’s “live long and prosper” hand sign in honor of George Takei’s upcoming visit later in the show. Lighten up, Greg! Just because it’s not Sulu’s trademark gesture doesn’t mean you can’t patronize Rosanna for one measly second. Also, we didn’t realize you were such a Trekkie (Trekker?). Somebody loves Star Trek!
We’re dying to know what Greg said after “So…” as they went into the commercial break. DYING.
In addition, it dawned on us that Greg an Rosanna are like our grandparents (well, we guess more accurately these days they’re like our parents), constantly trying – and failing – to explain to us something that we already know far more about. It would be like us trying to explain relativity to Einstein, or drunken hookups to Snooki (take that, Snooks!). But God bless Greg and Rosanna for always giving it their best shot.
Unbelievably, we’re about to enter our third calendar year in existence. It seems like just yesterday we were scrambling to put together our best of the decade lists (which makes sense, because we didn’t actually post one of those until this week). In 2011 we hope to be even more timely, on-point and just plain better. Until then, let’s try to end 2010 on a high note with our not-at-all anticipated Best Shows of the Year:
1. Community: This was an absolute no-brainer. Far and away Community was the most original, ambitious, rewarding, warm, funny, creative, fearless show of 2010. It was just a little over a year ago when the show delivered its holiday episode, “Comparative Religion” (featuring mustachio’d Anthony Michael Hall), and we began to feel then that the show was truly building towards something special. When Community returned in January of this year it began what should be considered one of the greatest runs of any comedy series in television history, playing “can you top that?” with itself from week to week. Solid episodes like “Investigative Journalism” with Jack Black, “Physical Education” with a nearly naked Joel McHale, and the truly superb Goodfellas tribute “Contemporary American Poultry” culminated in the single best episode of 2010 across the board, the paintball-splattered, action movie homage masterpiece “Modern Warfare” (we know that we’ve already proclaimed the greatness of this episode, but it’s worth doing over and over again).
Yesterday Joel McHale visited Live! with Regis and Kelly (who themselves are visiting Las Vegas this week), pitting McHale against the source of much of the material shown on The Soup (or, as Regis calls it, simply Soup). But, much like his recent appearance on Today‘s interminable fourth hour, McHale demonstrated that he has no reservations about biting the hand that feeds him, as he deftly inserted a Regis-is-as-old-as-the-Wright-Brothers crack within the first minute, and continued to harass the irascible Philbin for the entirety of the segment.
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This is something we’ve come to adore about McHale (add it to the list), that he doesn’t make nice with objects of his scorn when he appears on their shows. Instead, he continues to call them out for their incompetence or insidipity, but still being careful to show appreciation for their existence, as they are the reason he’s able to feed his children (at least until Community came along). And despite his snark, we can tell that McHale does respect Regis and many of the people he mocks, and I think they in turn admire him for being genuine, sarcastic yet gracious (although, with Regis, it’s hard to tell if he even realizes he’s being derided. Or that he’s on TV. ZING!). So cheers to McHale for being an inveterate smug prick, whether in the comfy confines of The Soup studio or behind enemy lines.