Note: This post originally appeared on Girls Guide to the Galaxy when I was a TV & Movies contributor. The site has since gone under, and I'm not sure how much longer these posts will still exist. But they were good. And I don't want to loose them. To see the original, click here.
JANUARY 13, 2010 -
We all know about the shuffle that is going on in late night programming right now. In fact, it is such a big deal, it was right alongside Haiti news on the cover of the New York Times this morning.
In case that rock you live under doesn’t get the New York Times, here’s the deal: after Leno’s contract for The Tonight Show expired last year, NBC decided they didn’t want to lose such a hot commodity – and rightly so, Leno had great ratings, often beating Letterman. To keep Leno around they decided to give him a primetime show at 9 pm (central time, of course). This turned out to be a disaster (I’ll tell you why in a minute…).
So now NBC is doing damage control, and not very well, in my opinion. Sunday they announced that they would move Leno back to late night, with a half-hour show at 10:35 pm (the old Tonight Show spot). This pushes Conan back to 11:05 pm, and Jimmy Fallon to 12:05 am (I assume this all means Last Call with Carson Daly is cancelled, but whatever. He should probably just go resurrect TRL from the MTV graveyard). This is/was supposed to go in effect after the Winter Olympics are over.
Welp, yesterday, Conan decided that he doesn’t like this plan, and gave NBC an ultimatum: Leave his show alone, or he will leave.
Dun, dun, dunnnnnn.
All along, you’ve probably been asking yourself, “I wonder what Girls Guide’s TV & Movies Maven thinks of all this?” Well, your prayers have been answered. I am here to tell you that I hate Leno.
This is really no surprise to most people. I have complained about the Leno primetime show ever since NBC started drilling the idea into our minds with obnoxious amounts of advertising this summer. In fact, the ‘Leno’ topic has been on my list of blog post ideas since I started writing for Girls Guide this fall. And now that all this hoopla has started I feel it is my duty to share with you the reasons I hate Leno (and NBC) for moving to primetime… and now moving back to late night.
I value scripted television
This is perhaps my number one reason for hating the Leno primetime move. I love television (no surprise there), and while I do think talk shows and reality programs have a place, nothing – I repeat, nothing – beats a quality, scripted program. Leno took over a time slot once occupied by classics like ER. I understand that producing an hour-long talk show is way cheaper than producing a one hour long, but still. NBC used to be a good network, with quality programming. Leno’s primetime show? Not so much.
His show is not funny
I’ll admit, I had always been on ‘Team Leno.’ I thought he was funny. And I’ll also admit that the only time I have ever, ever, watched this new show was for his first episode. And I only watched it because the musical guests included Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Kanye (fresh off the VMA debacle the night before). I didn’t even stick around for the whole show. I turned it off as soon as the interview/performance was over.
But I don’t have to watch the show to know it’s not funny. How do I know it’s not funny? Because no one else is watching it either.
It hurt NBC affiliates
Here is how it works. You watch your favorite 9 pm show, then when it ends the local news starts, and then you watch that.
Most people don’t change the channel, they just stick with the channel they are on. So if no one is watching Leno at 9 pm, then no one is watching the NBC-affiliated news that airs after him. I’m sure it isn’t true in every market, but the Leno primetime move hurt a lot of local news stations. As if they weren’t struggling enough?!
It hurt the good shows that NBC actually has
Ratings have been down for most NBC shows- even the long-running Law & Order. If you look at ratings, NBC shows rarely appear in the top 10, even top 20 (and when they do, it’s usually football). NBC actually has good shows- 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Law & Order SVU- but the network did them no favors pairing them up with Leno. Maybe if they had a better lineup more people would watch, they would make more money in advertising, and they wouldn’t need to cut costs by filling their time with a giant chin. Just sayin’.
The good news about all of this? At least with a full, five-hours of primetime opening up you can almost guarantee that none of your favorite (albeit unpopular) NBC shows will get cancelled. Even if the shows have small followings (cough, cough, Heroes), NBC will most likely keep them around to fill the void left by Leno.
Conan, Kimmel, Fallon, Handler
All these guys (and gal) are, in my opinion, funnier that Leno. They also do better in the 18-49 year-old demographic, which appeals most to advertisers. I vote we ditch the old guy altogether and stuck with these late night hosts instead.
The people have spoken
While I know that my opinion is the only one that matters, I thought it was important to note that most people agree with me. In a TVGuide.com poll, 83 percent of voters said Conan deserves to stay.
So that settles it. Leno is a menace to television. NBC made a lot of bad decisions. They need to fire Leno, give Conan a raise, and oh, while they are at it, do some more promotion for one of my new favorite comedies, Community.
Thank you, and good night.