Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm Giving James Corden a week...


Ok, so I know the topic of late night talk shows is about as relevant as the width of men's neckties in the grand scheme of things but I have something of an investment so bear with me.

I haven't had pay TV for about 2 years now which means my choices for non-interactive visual media are fairly limited.  Yes I know, there's YouTube, XBMC, Hulu and Twitch to name a few but to me those are very solitary experiences.  

There's great content to be had but all of those options are to me more like checking a book out of a library than going to a movie.  I just like the idea that I'm watching the same thing at the same time as a lot of other people.  A shared experience.

So I'm weird, whatever...

When I had Satellite TV, I could care less about who was hosting a talk show on CBS.  When Conan O' Brien left for TBS, it was the only show I'd even think about watching.  Even then it wasn't a regular thing as he was at his best back when he was doing late nights at NBC (pre Tonight Show.)  At least in my opinion.

As I mentioned earlier, my choices have become a bit more limited as of late.  That means I had to give broadcast TV another look.  At some point I happened onto CBS' Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  I was an instant fan.  Ferguson was plain spoken, irreverent and a natural entertainer.  

What I liked about him was that he didn't take himself or his show too seriously.  It never felt scripted even when he was forced to interview yet another Hollywood airhead.   He had a habit of tearing up note cards before beginning an interview which was a signal that this was not going to be the same scripted diatribe you saw on every other talk show.  It was like listening in on a conversation between friends.  The celebrities loved it and so did I. 


Ferguson had a run of close to 10 years and developed a kind of cult following not unlike Conan O'Brien.  Late night TV is the purview of those not quite in step with normal society.  Yeah, that means the stoners and the sub culture types but it also means the 2nd shift worker and the entrepreneur for whom clocks and sleep are a damned inconvenience.

To see the difference in audiences just watch a few of Ferguson's reruns on YouTube then watch one of the early morning news/chat shows like the Today Show.   Those giggly, empty talking heads drive me insane but that's what the cheery 9 to 5 types demand. 

I most unequivocally do not...  I hate morning people.  If you're the type that thinks 9PM is late then you should either be writing sermons or milking cows for a living.  

Think I'm wrong?  Then think about this.  Technology didn't advance much till the 20th century, know why? The damned light bulb that's why!  Without night people, you day people would inherit a world in flames!

But as always, I digress...

In short Ferguson was our kind of people.  Funny, direct and entertaining without pretense

But nothing is forever...

Ferguson decided to end his late night tenure last year with the final episode of his Late Late show airing on December 19th.  There was much speculation as to his replacement as his run had proven to be the most successful of any show in his time slot on CBS. 

Back in November, America was officially introduced to the new host of the Late Late show in the person of one James Corden.  He made an appearance on David Letterman's Late show which airs in the timeslot immediately preceding the Late Late show.  Letterman's own Worldwide Pants production company was behind both. 


When Ferguson left it was announced that Corden's first show would air on March 23, 2015.   The intervening 3 months found CBS scrambling to find a succession of guest hosts to fill in.  It also meant Letterman's production company had to continue being on the hook for the filler shows till CBS officially took over with Corden.

During one of those filler shows, Letterman was interviewed by guest host Regis Philbin and expressed irritation with the delay saying, "Where is he? Why are we talking to you?" "There aren't that many shows. How bad does he want it? Where is he?"

While Letterman is known for a dry wit, the comment was not made in passing but rather part of a much longer rant that included, "This guy... where is he? Is he even in this country? Don't you think that's a question that should be answered - where is the guy? I do."

Work ethic aside, it's doubtful anyone was really waiting with baited breath for Corden's debut.  His initial appearance on Letterman was uninspiring and yawn inducing at best.  

Anyone would be nervous in his position but Corden seemed more interested in his personal life than his new gig.  At the time I remember commenting that as nice a guy as he may be, he was the wrong choice.  It seems that CBS believes the formula for success is nothing more than a funny accent from somewhere in the British Isles and a fancy set.


So that's the backstory and for the next week I'm going to be doing short reviews of the new Late Late Show every day.  I'm going to give the kid a chance but I'm not holding out much hope.