Thursday, July 1, 2010

TV Notes

Larry King announced Tuesday night that he's leaving CNN, on a full time basis, in the fall.  He'll stick around for the occasional special.

It's time.  Larry's best days had passed.  He seemed disconnected.  It showed.  The ratings slipped.

Let's go back a bit.  After some radio jobs in Florida, Larry hooked on at the Mutual Broadcasting System, in January 1978, to do an all night radio show.  A fine show, it was.  Larry would work midnight to 5:30-- all live.  He'd have a guest the first couple hours.  The rest was dedicated to what he called "open phone America."  Calls on anything and everything.  Larry knew how to get to people to open up, and he really had an ability to connect with the audience.  That's especially important when you work the overnighter.  The audience might be small, but they're loyal, and they tend to form a bond with the host.  Being the overnight guy isn't as easy as it sounds.  I dabbled in it, as a fill in guy, at the old WARM, in the pre Larry King days.

One of the most entertaining parts of King's show was the last half hour.  No calls, no guests.  He'd just throw the bull with Mutual's news anchors and whoever else happened to be around the studio.

You knew this was coming.  There are two sides to every coin.  Larry prided himself on the fact that he never researched a guest.  Larry said it gave him the ability to ask questions the average person would ask.  I call that lazy.  Any "journalist" who doesn't use all the tools at his disposal is a fool.  Most of his interviews were superficial, and Larry King has the reputation in the industry as a guy who throws softballs.  His lack of preparation was clearly evident in the later years when pop cultural guests would appear, and that stuff was over his head.  He looked and sounded lost.

When King got the TV gig, the radio show suffered.  The hours were shortened.  It was more tape than live.  It eventually went away.

I don't know who CNN has in mind for the 9 PM hour, but it has to be better than the Larry King of 2010.

Still, 25 years is an excellent run.

Shifting gears, Steve Carell announced he's leaving "The Office" at the end of next season.  I don't think this will mean the show will become any less funny.  Sorry.  I stole that line from someone else, but it sums up my feelings exactly.  I've tried to watch.  "The Office" is a dismal show filled with pitiful characters, and I don't want them in my home.  I don't know how anyone can tolerate being around those people.

It's far from a ratings success.  At best, "The Office" is in the lower middle of the prime time pack.  These days, at NBC, middle of the pack qualifies as a hit.  It's among the network's better performers.  Plus, NBC owns the show, so it gets to keep all the profits.

"Cash Cab" won the best game show Emmy the other night, for the third year in a row.  Cute show.  Interesting concept.  Emmy-worthy?  Three years in a row?  Hardly.  "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" deliver consistent, well produced episodes every night.  If I had a vote, it would have gone to "The Price is Right."  It's slick.  It looks good.  It's still interesting and fresh after nearly forty years.  Drew Carey has made the show his own, without destroying the Bob Barker legacy.  Let's hope the Emmy voters come to their senses next year, and don't forget to control the pet population by having your pet spayed or neutered.

ESPN says Erin Andrews has agreed to a new contract.  She's competent, but I think she's forgotten that it's all about the game.  It's not about her.  It's a football sideline.  It's not a fashion runway.  She needs to dress down a bit.  Her look can be distracting.  The woman's had a horrible year, with that peephole stalker business, so I hope this means things are looking up.