Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Late Shift

A lot of folks out there are weighing in on what's going on over at NBC between the suits and the late night show runners. For those of you not near the internet for the last few months, or near network television for just as long, you need to know that Jay Leno no longer hosts the Tonight show. Since the beginning of the fall season, he's had an hour long talk show in prime-time; at 10:00, just before the late local news. For some reason, the NBC suits thought this would be a brilliant idea.

Conan O'Brien moved from his Late Night show and took over Tonight when Jay vacated the desk. From what I understand, his ratings haven't been great. I'm not saying that as a knock on Conan. I like Conan. I'm just not a late night TV watcher. If I happen to be awake during those hours, I'm generally watching a movie or some kind of familiar DVD. I find it to be a soothing lullaby to help me drift off to sleep. I've caught Conan's Tonight once or twice and was not displeased. I think he does a pretty good job with what he does.

As for the Jay Leno Show, I've pretty much refused to watch it. I didn't see the point. If I want to watch the Tonight show, I'll stay up to watch it. Why should I watch what is basically the same thing an hour and a half earlier, when I could be watching a far more interesting dramatic series on another network? From what I understand, a lot of people felt the same way. Jay's ratings have been pretty bad as well.

Jay's bad ratings led to local affiliates' bad ratings for their 11 o'clock news programs. Local affiliates' bad ratings led to Conan's bad ratings. And NBC's well thought out house of cards has come tumbling down.

What am I saying? Well thought out? Did the suits just get together and decide that they didn't want to shell out money for new ideas and new pilots for TV series? Instead, let's just move Leno to 10! Smooth move NBC. You just introduced the world to the dumbest move in the history of television.

Since that little experiment has failed, NBC wants to move Leno back to 11:30. They want to keep Conan on Tonight, but move him to 12:00. Needless to say, this upsets Conan. And he has a point, if you have a show at midnight, it's technically not Tonight anymore. It's Tomorrow. I know that Conan has the red hair, but he is not little orphan Annie.

So after only a few short months, Conan's dream job (hosting the Tonight show) is coming to an end. And it's looking like NBC will reinstall Leno behind the desk that he already sat behind for, what, 20 years? Almost 20?

I feel bad for Conan. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a smart enough and talented enough guy to be able to land on his feet when all of this blows over. But NBC has basically just screwed him over. And therein lies my problem. Leno had his chance with late night. He had a pretty decent run. But now it's someone else's turn. He and NBC failed at whatever it was they were trying to accomplish at 10. Time for him to move on to something else. Something that might just work. You can't just bring Superman in to kiss Lois Lane and have the last few months just not exist anymore.

If there's to be a boycott of late night NBC talk shows, I'll back that up. I'd be behind a boycott of the entire network if it weren't for The Office and 30 Rock. Oh, and Chuck. Everything else I can do without.

By the way, the Superman reference is from Superman II. Did my fellow geeks out there follow that one?

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