Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kicking Television

Sunday night, I watched The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special.  While it took about 20 seconds to remind me how much I despise Morgan Spurlock, there was some worthwhile content within the program, as well as this clip, which may now serve as a spoiler alert:

Obviously, the internet is tilted in choosing which side to back in the Leno vs Conan war.  Anyone online who is actually taking Leno's side is likely doing so from an AOL account in between visits to the Columbia Record Club.  I can only speak for myself, but it seems the most impressive thing about Conan's statement today is the backbone he's shown by passive-aggressively calling out NBC and Leno himself.  Keep in mind that while it's easy to look at this as simply a "Jay vs Conan" battle, the fact remains that NBC also disrupted the lives of hundreds of Conan's staffers (most of whom are not millionaires!) to have them move across the country, only to change their mind six months later.

That said, I can't help but be curious as to how many of those pledging their loyalty to team Conan have actually been watching The Tonight Show on a consistent basis.  Again, I can only speak for myself, but my DVR is set for Letterman every night, and to be honest, the sporadic Conan clips or episodes that I have seen in the last several months have been subpar for the most part.  His guests have been mediocre (I swear Bradley Cooper is on once a week), they still don't properly know how to use Andy Richter, and aside from the reliable by-the-numbers "fish out of water" bits, the writing hasn't shown any bite.  This is another key reason why Conan's words today seemed so shocking - they had a fearlessness to them that has been missing from his personality on the air.  

Hopefully this is just another turning point for Conan.  After all, he spent most of 1993 trying to "be a talk show host" and was basically canceled for his efforts; only when he realized that the end was near did he finally show his real personality and succeed.  Perhaps this week is another turning point, though this time his success will likely come with another network.  For what it's worth, I'd be leery of any involvement with FOX, but if Conan is willing to take a pay cut in the name of freedom, he'd no doubt be able to put together a killer 2-hour block with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central.

Then again, the pastures of Spain are lovely this time of year. 

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