Late-night TV continues to provide some of the best fodder for next-day, watercooler conversation (provided offices still have “watercoolers”!).
And that’s always especially true when late-night hosts go after each other in their monologues and comedy bits. Earlier this week, one such incident was so fascinating (at least to us) that it tops our Top Five this week.
1) Leno to Kimmel: Hair’s to ya!: Jimmy Kimmel is apparently very sensitive about his hair. Our observation over the years was that he certainly does keep his hair neatly combed and parted, but we had no idea he had such a short fuse when his hair’s true color is questioned. Well, he was quick to anger following a joke Jay Leno made on “The Tonight Show” at the expense of Jimmy’s hair. Basically, Jay accused Jimmy of artificially coloring his hair to hide the gray. So Jimmy sought to set the record straight this past Monday on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” just in case anyone else dare raise this pressing issue.
2) Bill O’Reilly “covers” Whitney Houston’s death: For the record, here’s where we stand on Bill O’Reilly: We happen to think he’s one of the most gifted broadcasters working today, and agree with him or not, we find his show, “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel, to be hugely entertaining. But this week, he seemed to blow his usual cool when he began raising the subject of how the media was covering the death of Whitney Houston. To him, the coverage was too quick to de-emphasize her lifelong drug problems and their likely linkage to the manner in which she died. And in several TV appearances this past week, Bill blew his stack in ways we hadn’t really observed before. To his credit, he included these incidents in his Thursday “Talking Points Memo,” which you can watch here.
3) “The Walking Dead”: The AMC zombie show took it on the chin last fall when critics suddenly came staggering out of the woods to declare that the series seemed to have lost its impact by, generally speaking, coming down with a case of the slows. We happened to disagree at the time, and now, following last Sunday’s resumption of “The Walking Dead’s” second season, we’re more than satisfied that this show has lost none of its power. This episode, titled “Nebraska,” brought the pain and raised the stakes. And when it was over, we wanted more.
4) TV’s greatest mystery: Well, one of them anyway. It’s just this, a situation we recently began pondering (but have yet to arrive at an answer for). It’s about “30 Rock” and the question is: How does a TV show — a comedy — that boasts both Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin in its cast draw only about 3.5 million viewers an episode (more or less)? These are two of our top comedy stars, two people who we always felt were universally liked — well, Tina, anyway. And sometimes Alec. And didn’t millions of people buy Tina’s book? So what’s the problem? Maybe it’s “30 Rock’s” early time slot — 8 p.m./7c on Thursdays. If we were running NBC, this show would be on at 9:30, when more adults would be around to watch it and appreciate it. Well, if you’re like the millions who aren’t watching “30 Rock” at 8 o’clock, here’s a chance to watch this week’s episode (guest-starring Steve Buscemi) — a great episode (mostly) about the challenges of living in New York. (Tell me about it!)
5) And then there’s “Rob”: Can anyone ‘splain this? Well, maybe I can: This new Rob Schneider comedy, in which he plays a middle-aged guy who just married a hot, young Latina, comes right after “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS. Thursday night, “Big Bang” drew 15.5 million people (12 million more than chose “30 Rock” during that same half-hour). “Rob” then lost nearly a third of “Big Bang’s” audience and still had 10.9 million viewers. Sure, critics aren’t exactly wild about “Rob,” but like most other CBS shows, it seems to hit that audience sweet spot. And that spells success, CBS-style.