Perhaps it’s the return of Conan O’Brien to the small screen, but suddenly the late night nonsense passing for quality programming over the past 2 years seems suddenly uproarious, not with laughter but with outrage. Chileans can probably blame earthquakes and collapsed mines on Johnny Carson, kicking, rattling and rolling around in his grave at what television execs have been serving audiences of late, clearly mislabeled as comedy. The return of Team Coco reminds us, this used to be programming platform with standards. While a proud few have held the bar in O’Brien’s absence, a thorough examination of overall quality will undoubtedly leave viewers disheartened and disappointed. Who should be congratulated and who should be canceled? We’ll start with the highs.The GoodDavid Letterman Amid heart problems, sex scandals and a cantankerous Joaquim Phoenix, Letterman remains perhaps the single greatest late night personality in the post-Carson era.Chelsea Handler Women love her, and not in same fashion they view fellow host Ellen DeGeneres, as every female under 30 continues to read her Vodka-induced memoir as if Nicholas Sparks penned it. With an audience that constitutes 50 of the country, genetically speaking, she must be doing something right.Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert Smart guys, smart jokes, the two back to back time slots are at least good enough on a regular basis to kill an hour of time when nothing else is on. If only the Comedy Central time slot didn’t usually segue into a late night teen comedy or steady diet of infomercials.The BadCraig Ferguson Don’t blame Craig Ferguson, as a host he is both entertaining and disarming, but the overall production quality for CBS second act simply lags behind an earnest attempt at gaining viewership. Ferguson actually even plays into this on occasion, mocking his set, budget and whatnot.Jay Leno As his much talked about glory days fade further and further into distant memory, one can’t help but wonder, was there ever really a point in time when people actually liked Jay Leno? NBC has now tested Jay in virtually every feasible time slot. The verdict, Leno’s jokes are tired, probably best suited for 1 a.m. insomniacs.Jimmy Fallon Jimmy Fallon’s hosting career is actually a lot like his movie roles. Likeable in character? Sometimes. Likeable in person? Sometimes.Jimmy Kimmel We were surprised to find his show is actually still aired by ABC. Though there were a few good gags back when Kimmel was dating Sarah Silverman, perhaps she got custody of the couples comedic sense in the split, as there has been little to laugh at in years since.The UglyGeorge Lopez Hands down, the worst late night host and the worst late night show in the history of television. Had Philo Farnsworth screened episode of Lopez Tonight in 1927 and seen what kind of monstrosity his life’s work might become, perhaps today we would all still be sitting around reading books. Seriously, go one full episode without leaning on a racial crutch for a few cheap laughs. Just one. A 15-minute segment maybe? Didn’t think so.
www.aboutstarz.com — December 17, 2010, 12:00 am
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