Friday, January 15, 2010

Tonight No Show

So just a few super quick thoughts on this whole Leno/Conan mess...

  • You really can't blame the talent. Both guys are just comedians who are really good at their jobs. Good enough to be considered for what is, essentially, the top comedy job in the world. It's hard to be upset with an individual for wanting to be operating at the top of his industry. Conan obviously wants to keep hosting The Tonight Show, and now, it turns out, so does Leno. We can't really be surprised by any of this, can we?
  • NBC is the new Fox. Fox has been long known for its ineptitude (see: Arrested Development, Firefly, Temptation Island, Family Guy, well... they're just too numerous to name.) NBC is now taking the mantle of "stupidest network".
  • It isn't like Leno just happily stepped down from The Tonight Show. 5 years ago NBC pretty much forced him into giving it up down the line. People seem to be forgetting that. NBC, in their effort to avoid the whole Letterman/Leno succession issue that plagued them way back when, came up with this genius plan to force Leno out and designate Conan his successor.
  • They could have stuck with their plan, but ultimately they realized the Leno would go to a different network since, you know, he wanted to keep telling jokes (and people wanted to keep listening). Which would have meant Conan competing with Letterman and Leno. So instead, NBC created this 10 o'clock Leno Show. Not because it was good for the network, but because it kept Leno in the fold and prevented them from having to compete with him.
  • The right move now would be to cut Leno loose and hang onto Conan. That's the only move with any integrity. Of course, this means that Leno would go to a different network and then NBC would have to compete with him. That whole scenario they wanted to avoid. Of course now, they've created a scenario where they have to choose between which of the two they're going to compete with, since Conan will almost certainly jump to another network. The choices are "keep Conan and compete against late night's king Jay Leno" or "keep Leno and compete against a fired-up Conan and the fans who feel he got screwed." In their effort to avoid choosing between the two, NBC created an even more unpalatable choice.
  • Craig Ferguson is still the funniest person on any network late night show.
  • I read sentiments similar to these on another blog: "Ultimately, I have to admit that I haven't been watching late night on the networks. I've been watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert." I think this is true for a huge group of people under 30. The shows we really care about are still intact.
  • Given the previous point, you should be skeptical of anyone under 30 supporting Conan. They might be watching him now, but the odds are good they weren't watching him all that often before. That's not to say they don't care about Conan being around, because they do (see the next point), it's just that their support now might not translate directly into eyes on the show.
  • Ultimately, for those under 30, it's about options. We'd choose Conan over Leno, no question. But we'd also choose Stewart and Colbert over any iteration of The Tonight Show. We just like knowing that when The Daily Show is on reruns or when, heaven forbid, Stephen Colbert hangs up his gravitas for good, that we'll be able to turn back to a Tonight Show hosted by Conan.
We're not watching, but we like knowing Conan's there.

Hey world, you know you got to put up a fight
Hey world, you rumble in the jungle tonight


Alan said...

patric said...

team coco all the way.

i can't imagine leno will have much of an audience from this point on.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Like I said, Leno was forced into it. He put on the brave face and "embraced" it (see, for example, the clip), but if you're foolish enough to believe that clip, well, I've got a bridge to sell you...

Patric - I don't think you understand what people like if you think that. I think Leno will see some drop in his numbers from 7 months ago, yeah. But he'll still be doing pretty well for the time slot.