With the opening of Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show in its new time slot, it confirmed what we might have all been suspecting all along. Late night TV is in serious need of an overhaul. For someone who can recall the glory days of Dave Garroway, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson, like the old gray mare, late night TV just ain’t what it used to be. Kimmel’s show started off with an amusing “on the street” video of people caught on “Lie Witness News” gushing on about seeing things on TV they obviously had not watched. It is mildly funny to see people make utter fools out of themselves.
From there, the show disintegrated into slapstick poorly played by Jennifer Aniston as she demolished Kimmel’s set of observably worn out used furniture. Even the audience failed to respond to the contrived apologies of Aniston who said she thought that was old furniture and was only making way for the new stuff. Yeah, right. Too bad she didn’t demolish the two old filthy chairs on the set as well.
Then Kimmel and Aniston droned on with inside jokes that were as funny as watching paint dry. Jimmy Kimmel Live was more like Jimmy Kimmel dead. But it’s not Kimmel’s fault. He is actually very funny comedian. No, the problem is simply that the old formulas for late night TV have worn themselves out like the fake furniture on Kimmel’s opening show.
Late night TV reached its pinnacle with the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. His show was always amusing and put a lot of new comedians and singers on the map. And who can forget Johnny’s classic double takes as he allowed guests and Ed McMahan to make him the butt of their own jokes? The closest thing to that in recent late night fare is Leno’s use of American Idol rejects. Both he and Letterman have slipped into laughing at their own jokes. At least someone’s laughing. Conan O’Brien came as close as anyone to capturing the feel of the old Tonight Show, but we all know how ignominiously that came to a sudden end.
To be frank, TV in general is struggling right now. NBC’s Today Show has been totally eclipsed by ABC’s Good Morning America with a feel good factor that helps start the viewers’ day. Sit coms have become more inane trying to outdo one another in edgy content. The best two on the air now are Last Man Standing and Malibu Country.
The fact is, however, that while most of commercial TV badly needs an overhaul, nowhere is it more obvious than in late night TV fare. Come on, networks, Garroway, Allen, Paar, and Carson were trend setters in their day. Stop trying to duplicate old formulas and come up with something new that will make it worth viewer’s time to stay up late.