Saturday, January 9, 2010

NBC Tonight Show Debacle

By now, you've probably heard about the situation with Jay Leno's time slot. If not, you probably know that last year, there were speculations of Jay Leno retiring since his contract with NBC was up and Conan O'Brien would take over his spot. As it turned out, Jay Leno did not retire and NBC took a bold step to create a 10:00 time slot for him, saving money from what used to air at the time, drama shows such as Law & Order. Conan took over the 11:35 slot and Jimmy Fallon started a show in Conan's old spot, at 12:35. Before all of these moves, Leno was the #1 late night talk show host in ratings.

Since the move, however, Conan's ratings are almost half as high as Leno's used to be. And Leno's ratings in his new time slot are about the same, not nearly as high as previous 10:00 shows. This caused complaints from NBC-affiliated programs, particularly 11:00 news programs who saw a drop in viewers apparently due to a weak lead-in by Leno.

So news dropped this past week that Leno may move back to his old 11:35 slot and speculations are that it would be cut to a half-hour, moving Conan to 12:05 and Jimmy Fallon to 1:05. Naturally, and rightly so, stories are empathizing for Conan. He has a contract with NBC but rumors are circulating that he could change networks, possibly to Fox. Amidst all of this, I haven't heard anything about the effect this has on Jimmy Fallon.

Which brings me to my opinion on this matter...

Jay Leno is not funny. I can't understand America's obsession with him. Sure, I've watched him occasionally, more times than not for the guests on his show. Ironically, I've probably watched more of him at the 10:00 slot because I hardly ever watched him at 11:35. However, his writing is weak, most of his segments are lame and Kevin Eubanks is probably the worst of all tonight show/late night accompanying musicians (and Craig Ferguson doesn't even have one). I've heard his group play the same stuff over and over, including a horrible rendition of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody."

Conan, on the other hand, is funny. However, he was much funnier in his previous time and place. I'm glad that Andy Richter returned, but Conan's writers are also often weak and some of his new segments are just annoying. That said, he doesn't deserve to be jerked around like this because ultimately, he's funnier than Leno and ratings don't disprove that.

Which brings me to Jimmy Fallon. I was a little skeptical when he was announced as Conan's replacement and watching his nerves get the best of him his first week on air worried me a little bit. However, he's quickly become my favorite of all of the talk shows. His writing is actually good and even when it's subpar, he finds a way to deliver it well. He interacts really well with all of his guests and you can tell that he's just a genuinely nice guy. He's developed some great segments such as "Lick it for 10," "The Real Housewives of Late Night," and "Wheel of Carpet Samples." He plays beer pong and board games with his guests such as charades and taboo. He interacts with the crowd, getting them involved in games and other segments. Plus, he books quality musical acts, a lot of whom are indie groups and celebrities that you don't see on the other shows. And oh yea...his band is the freakin' Roots!

Point being...Jimmy Fallon needs to get a little more respect amidst all of this time shift controversy. He's already topped Conan's average viewers at that time slot multiple times and I'd watch him over Leno every day of the week. Our country needs to improve its average taste for entertainment.

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