In case you hadn’t heard, a new late night talk show had premiered last week. I’m here to tell you that I liked it.
The morning after the first episode of CONAN had aired I had read a lot of reviews that seemed to all say the same thing: New show, same stuff. I’m not exactly sure why so many critics would sit there and think that upon his return CONAN would do something to shake up the late night talk show landscape. Granted the show LOPEZ TONIGHT which gracefully stepped aside to let CONAN in does already with its departure from the use of the curtain and desk and replacing it with its auditorium performance feel. JIMMY KIMMEL tried to break the LATE NIGHT mold by not doing a standing monologue, abandoning the tie for an open collar with visible t-shirt and he discovered that it just doesn’t work. There’s an old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
We are all very aware of the fact that the departure of CONAN from NBC’s THE TONIGHT SHOW was awkward, uncomfortable and I’m thinking it’s a safe bet to say it was also a major blow to CONAN’s ego. He was playing the game, he was doing the dance, and he was still being chucked out to accommodate the guy that the network had previously thought they were willing to let go in order to keep CONAN. After something like this happens you really have only three choices: re-invent yourself and do something new, fade into obscurity, or find a place to do what you were doing and do it well. Thankfully TBS was willing to let CONAN do the latter. On his first show I thought he did everything just the way he should since leaving NBC and becoming a Twitter and Internet phenomenon: He let the audience adore him, he poked fun at his previously employer, he jabbed a little at his new employer to show the kids he is still hip and cool (that is what kid’s say, right?) and then he brought the talk. Yes you could tell he was frenetic and he was nervous, but after everything that he has been through I think that the show (and the remainder of the week’s shows that followed) were exactly what CONAN needed to do. It was part safety net, part ego, and after the ratings came out it was also part revenge.
I know that after the entire week played out you may say that the ratings weren’t great when compared to THE TONIGHT SHOW or THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN. If, however, you factor in the fact that CONAN isn’t on one of the four major networks his numbers being over one million are actually pretty stellar. Last week he did very well compared to THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT and he’s doing it all while being able to show the world that you don’t have to be on a major network to get the job done. I only hope that the ratings stay consistent into this second week as the short attention span of the world may let its fickle mind drift to something else. I’d also like to apologize to JIMMY KIMMEL since I feel that with last week’s viewings of CONAN I kind of cheated on him a little. It’s not you JIMMY, it’s me. I’ve only got so many hours of TV I can watch. I’m sorry.
THE WALKING DEAD: TELL IT TO THE FROGS (read at your own risk, mild spoilers below)
Since I last wrote about THE WALKING DEAD I did something I didn’t expect to do. The pilot episode of the show was so good that I just had to get caught up on the entire comic series that inspired the show. It wasn’t my original intent since there were 78 issues to date, but after reading the first 12 I had no choice but to press on. Reading through them all was the upside of having at least two hours a day where I sit on a commuter train.
I bring up this literarry marathon that I put myself on becuase last night’s episode of THE WALKING DEAD titled TELL IT TO THE FROGS payed homage to the source material once again while still maintaining its originality. In this third installment we see RICK GRIMES finally reunited with his wife LORI and son CARL, both of whom had believed RICK to be dead. The scene played out wonderfully both few panels of a comic book and all of the actors involved really made me feel the impact of this moment.
There are many times when reading THE WALKING DEAD you will find that RICK GRIMES gets himself out of the frying pan and is more than willing to drop himself into the fire. Last week’s episode, GUTS, had the small group of survivors that RICK accidentally forced into being trapped in ATLANTA had to leave behind MICHAEL ROOKER’s character of MERLE DIXON. Not even 24 hours after reuniting with his family RICK wants to go back to attempt to rescue MERLE from his dire situation while also wanting to go back for the big bag of guns and ammunition that he left behind after being de-horsed in teh show’s pilot. RICK’s willingness to endanger himself and the travelling back to ATLANTA for guns both are lifted right out of the comic, but the addition of MERLE being stuck on a roof made the reason for going back into the precarious situation they had just left make a bit more sense for me. The attempt to save someone from dying in an extremely inhumane way is a bit more compelling and makes the going back for the guns feel more like it’s just the icing on the cake.
Another item that really troubled me in last week’s episode GUTS was the way that the relationship between SHANE and LORI was depicted. It wasn’t the intimacy that was shown so much as what seemed like the willingness for LORI to already be moving on after such short a time. Tonight, however, we discover that her reason for doing so were because SHANE flat out told her that RICK was dead. The implications of what has transpired since he told her this and the subtext of the motivation behind why he told her this lead the writers to represent a realistic rage that LORI unleashed upon SHANE near the end of the episode. In that short two minutes my ill feelings towards LORI’s actions last week were completely dispelled and I’m anxious once again to see the character more on the show.
COMMUNITY: Cooperative Calligraphy (or why I love this show so damn much)
The NBC sitcom COMMUNITY has never apologized for being pop-culture self-aware and in the most recent episode, COOPERATIVE CALLIGRAPHY, the show clearly compensates for the bigger budget episodes by producing a “bottle episode” where the entire thing is shot in one location to save costs. Before this episode I was never even aware of the term bottle episode so I appreciate them educating me, however this isn’t why I’m so appreciative of this show.
What transpired during this episode was good character development, an interesting exploration into the study groups dynamic, but it was also subtle genius. In the episode ANNIE discovers that her purple pen has gone missing. Everyone in the group becomes a suspect. By the episode’s end we find out who took the pen. It’s a clever reveal when it happens, something that in an ordinary episode of television we would see, laugh and take the answer we were given. COMMUNITY however doesn’t want us to just accept their answer like a spoon-fed child. In this most recent episode, just as TROY makes the disturbing statement at the sight of a puppy, “Ahhhh… I want to lick it” you can actually see the pen being taken by the guilty party. It is subtle, it is fast, but considering who took the pen it is just amazing and brilliant (and you can see it here. For the record this is also something I would not have been aware of if it weren’t for the fine people of the Internet showing me that this happened.
A similar example of the writers subtle genius is in the episode “The Psychology of Letting Go” and it is something once again I would have been completely unaware of if not for the fine people of the Internet. ABED has an entire story line in the episode but it is played out in the background. If you are watching what goes on in the foreground, much the same way I was, you miss ABED befriending a pregnant girl and even helping her deliver the child. Don’t believe me? See it here.
As you can see from these two simple examples the show’s creative team is really putting out some top notch stuff. If you haven’t watched COMMUNITY before I implore you to jump on in and bask in its wonder.
Now that we’ve gotten that bit out of the way let’s see what this week holds for our viewing (dis)pleasure.
NBC - 8:00 PM: CHUCK is back tonight and he’s INTERSECT-less and goes through extreme counseling to try to get it back. Although I’m a big CHUCK fan I have to admit that this plot twist is a bit contrived as is the ham handed way they will be resolving with what was seen near the end of the last episode.
CBS - 8:00 PM: There’s only one thing better than knowing it’s a new episode of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER tonight is knowing that BARNEY finds a tape of the children’s show featuring the beginning of ROBIN SPARKLES.
FOX - 8:00 PM: Smallpox seems to rock the HOUSE tonight but we all know that it’s just going to be something else. At least we get to see them use those cool hazmat suits.
CBS - 9:00 PM: No I’m not really recommending an episode of TWO AND A HALF MEN but I’d actually watch it if they had CHARLIE SHEEN’s character do even half of the things he did in real life.
FOX - 8:00 PM: First she was on the CMA’s and now QWYNETH PALTROW fill’s in when MR. SCHUSTER gets on tonight’s GLEE. At this point we just need to know when her CD drops, right?
ABC - 8:00 PM: Isn’t it a bit soon for JIM to be trying to take on a mobster on NO ORDINARY FAMILY? I thought you had to have a set arch-nemesis before you could go after the mob.
FOX - 9:30 PM: I guess it doesn’t speak well to RUNNING WILDE fans that its slot is filled with a repeat of RAISING HOPE.
TBS - 10:00 PM: So the director of VAN WILDER is one of the creators of GLORY DAZE about a group of college friends trying to get into an anything goes fraternity back in 1986. Ah, a historical period piece! CONAN must be excited about the lead in.
FOX - 8:00 PM: Tonight marks the return of HUMAN TARGET and there’s lots of buzz over CHUCK alumn MATT MILLER taking over as show runner. Having seen the premiere episode I like the new feel of the show and new cast members.
CBS - 8:00 PM: One of the tribes comes back to camp to discover it’s been consumed by fire on tonight’s SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA. Someone didn’t listen to SMOKEY THE BEAR when they were a kid.
DISCOVERY - 9:00 PM: Tonight the MYTHBUSTER are driving backwards at top speeds. I have no idea what the myth they are busting is but I can’t wait to see this one.
ABC - 10:00 PM: Who could believe it’s already been a quarter of a century of sexy! 25 YEARS OF SEXY: PEOPLE MAGAZINE’S SEXIEST MAN ALIVE! tries to get us to relive it all with host KIM KARDASHIAN. I still don’t get how there can be a new sexiest man alive every year since they don’t kill off the old ones. They should make it more like LOGAN’S RUN and only the strongest of them all renews.
TBS - 11:00 PM: CONAN has RUSSEL BRAND and KID ROCK performs. Now THAT is a backstage I wouldn’t mind crashing.
ABC - 8:00 PM: Someone tell that little round headed kid that A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING is a week too early.
NBC - 9:00 PM: Tonight’s THE OFFICE has a lot going on at once. DWIGHT puts together a hay festival in the parking lot, MICHAEL apparently has forgotten that RYAN was arrested over fraud as he tries to convince others to invest in RYAN’s Internet company and some type of technicality stops JIM from being able to earn commission. I’m tuning in for the hay festival myself.
TBS - 11:00 PM: Tonight CONAN has JESSE EISENBERG. Hopefully he’ll mention how people tell him they loved him in SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and the comedy circle will be complete (see MICHAEL CERA’s appearance last week on CONAN if you don’t get this).
THE CW - 8:00 PM: To take the heat off of his team OLIVER registers for the VIGILANTE SUPER HERO ACT. Since he already admitted he is a vigilante I don’t know how this would actually take any heat off of anyone.
TRUTV - 8:00 PM: Want a triple-header of crazy? Take in CONSPIRACY THEORY WITH JESSE VENTURA.
TLC - 10:00 PM: HOMEMADE MILLIONAIRE lets female home inventors present their ideas to KELLY RIPPA and a panel of judges hoping to win a deal with HSN. I wonder how long until I see the MAC & COOL on there.
TNT - 8:00 PM: Want some fun? Watch WHAT WOMEN WANT but play those phone message recordings of MEL GIBSON’s to replace his dialogue.
TBS - 10:00 PM: Aw heck, why not watch TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY but play those phone message recordings of MEL GIBSON’s as well. It’s better than most of the other options on TV tonight.
NBC - 11:30 PM: Last time ANNE HATHAWAY was on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE she killed so I’d highly recommend taking this one in as well.
USA - 7:00 PM: It must be the holiday season because USA Network has started there annual over-playing of ELF.
ABC - 8:00 PM: I’m not exactly sure what the 2010 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS are but look at all the acts they have lined up: Kid Rock, Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, Pink, Usher, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Ne-Yo; Diddy-Dirty Money, and Rihanna. For some reason they also think it’s a big deal that they’ll have New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys on stage together. That WOULD be really exciting if it were still the 90’s.
E! - 9:00 PM: Tonight on THE E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY they turn their attention to former AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT ADAM LAMBERT. Didn’t this show used to be all about tragic careers? Oh wait, it still is. They’re just getting ahead of the curve on this one.
SHO - 9:00 PM: I haven’t written a lot about DEXTER this season because I tend to be in catch up mode on it but I love the direction they’ve taken after the powerhouse of a season they had last year. I’m sure tonight will be another great installment of the show.
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