Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Tonight Show? Time For CoCo To Go Go

I hope Conan leaves NBC. Not necessarily because of his treatment as of late. Given the peacock's history, no one should be surprised (pick up a copy of the book, "The Late Shift" and you'll understand). No, Conan should leave so he can have the kind of show his team is capable of making. He's earned it. He deserves the chance.

In my personal la-la land, his new show would be his old show, "Late Night". I'd love to see the old writer-performers back (Jon Glaser anyone?) and the old bits were always fun to watch. Even the failed ones. Conan embraced failure like no other late night host, often turning it into another segment. Give me the show I fell in love with.

Or not.

Conan and company have changed over the years. At first they developed their comedic style and the format of the show. Once they settled in they lost Andy. And it was a bit rough at first. But they adapted and had Conan rely more on his performers and guests. Last summer, the show changed again. "The Late Night" model was made to fit with "The Tonight Show" model. A hybrid if you will. We lost Preparation H Raymond but we got to watch vampire intern Cody sacrifice himself to the sun every week. Masturbating Bear was left on the East Coast and eventually replaced by wax mannequins of Tom Cruise and Henry Winkler. The bottom line is this: Conan has always proven to create something unique out his entertainment outlets. It's evolution and intelligent design baby. If anyone can bring the two extremes to the center, it's CoCo. Conando. Conesie. The problem is he has not had enough time to develop this new "Tonight Show".

In my humble opinion, here is the good, the bad and the hmmm of it, so far:

The Good

1. Twitter Tracker - Probably the most classic of the new sketches. Conan interacting with graphics and a nameless voice is all good.

2. Retaining staff. Keeping on the regular performers, Max and the band, Pierre and a lot of the rest was a good move. It allowed the old audience to move over and gave the new viewers some proven talent to enjoy.

3. The interviews. Conan has finally gotten used to this part of the gig. He owns all of those nervous quirks that made him endearing so long ago. He has established a personality that makes a "Tonight Show" host integral to the franchise.

The Bad

1. Musical guests. This seems to be the greatest compromise made in the transition. For every good one, you get four mediocre to bad ones. This is the height of NBC pandering to what they perceive their audience to be.

2. The studio. It is beautiful, to be sure. But a big part of the allure of "Late Night" was being able to go into offices, hallways and other NBC studios. No more dropping in on "The Today Show" and Brian Williams.

3. Los Angeles-Hollywood - On the rare occasion that Conan leaves his studio, he ventures out into the neighborhood around it. And it just doesn't work. So far, the best bits have seen Triumph visiting the most shallow of businesses, mostly catering to pampered pets. These remotes have been entertaining, yes, but are a constant reminder of how pathetic people can be.

The Hmmmm - The Return Of Andy - I'm torn on this one. Initially, I felt that bringing him back would be a slam dunk. But keeping him at a podium is never a good idea. Andy has actually made it back to the couch recently, which makes me feel a little better. And I love seeing him in the updated "In The Year 3000" and "On The Aisle". Hopefully he'll stick around with whatever happens.

So? What happens now? Here are three possibilities.

1. Two "Tonight Shows". Conan moves back to New York and gets "The Tonight Show East" airing at its traditional time for half the country. Leno gets "The Tonight Show West" also at 11:35. California and the other half of the country watch him. For anyone who doesn't like the arrangement, you can watch your choice from the internet or NBC can air the alternate version deep into late night for your viewing or recording pleasure.

2. Conan leaves late night altogether and develops a new kind of show. Or maybe he moves to HBO and really goes wild with an uncensored late night talk show.

3. Conan moves to another network and adapts himself as he always has. He finally gives Fox something they've been craving for a long time. They can afford him. And who wouldn't love to see Triumph invading the space of Bill O'Reilly and his ilk. This is my top choice.

Whatever happens, I firmly believe Conan will come out of this as the better person and his fans will get a load of great comedy for years to come.


Julia said...

I may have only watched Conan once or twice in my life, but I was pretty impressed with the letter he wrote about the possible changes. I hope he lands somewhere that meets his terms.

Fourth Row said...

I find myself pondering a world in which Alton Brown is handed the reins of The Tonight Show . . .

Fourth Row said...

FourthRow = Randy J