Saturday, January 23, 2010


I've been watching since I was able. I planned my first trip to New York City around when I could attend a Late Night taping. It will not surprise you to learn I've been pretty bummed this past week.

Conan signed the agreement to move to The Tonight Show right around the time I started being a professional scientist. 2009 seemed like a long time to wait until I could watch him live without being exhausted the next day. The transition finally came, and it was glorious -- and now all this.

Growing up, my house always watched channel 3, the NBC affiliate's local news. I do not know why. But if the clock struck 9:59 and we were tuned elsewhere, we made a point to get up, MANUALLY turn the channel to NBC, and watch their news. So this current situation with Conan makes no sense to me.

I can't fathom is how this disaster is related to lead-in audiences. The television principal of a lead-in audience states that you need to keep your viewers engaged so that they won't turn the channel, even after their program is over. Ratings go down during Leno's prime time show, so ratings go down for local affiliates' late news broadcasts.


As usual, I'm left to wonder who the fuck I'm sharing these United States with. When I watched "The Office" and "30 Rock" in the past, I NEVER ONCE stuck around to see what John Stamos was doing on "ER", no matter how many "ER" ads NBC snuck into my programs of interest. This is because digital cable tells you exactly what is on every channel, and because every television manufactured since 1990 comes with a remote control, and because I come with A FUCKING BRAIN IN MY HEAD.

Do I share an America with people that have no interest in finding the show that most matches their interest? Does everyone really just leave the TV set on and hope something good shows up? "Well, I've never seen it before, and I'm not really one for crime procedurals, but I'm gonna give 'The Mentalist' a shot. I'd hate to spend 30 seconds to find something better by using this remote control in my hand."

And let me ask you this, local affiliates? How good are your newscasts? Are you cool?

How LAME IS YOUR SHIT that you have to count on the lead-in show for anyone to tune in? Your broadcasts are the weakest, most stale wastes of broadcast airtime in existence. You never break important stories. YOU SPEND TEN MINUTES DISCUSSING THE WEATHER WHEN YOU COULD DO IT IN TWO MINUTES. Your sports beat has been rendered useless by ESPN. Your EVERYTHING has been rendered useless by the internet.

Listen: I am not a journalist. I could be way off base. But maybe, instead of complaining about the low numbers Leno pulls in, you could THINK OF INNOVATIVE IDEAS TO ATTRACT A DEDICATED AUDIENCE.

Ugh. You are all the worst. Everyone is the worst.

Conan, I miss you already and I hope I see you soon.


Gav said...

So many comments:
1.) The nation is getting dumber, and this is just evidence of such. Leno's fat jokes work because you don't have to think about them.

2.) Dependance on television actually does play a pretty big factor on lead-ins. With 4 channels showing the local news, a vast number of people probably just leave their channels from whatever shitty drama they were watching at 9:00 since it's all the same news.


4.) If it makes you feel any better, Jimmy Fallon is closer to taking over!!!

5.) I go to bed at 10:00, so the world virtually stops for me then anyways.

Floyd said...

"Do I share an America with people that have no interest in finding the show that most matches their interest?"

I'm still a bit shaken from my time working at the theater, when MANY PEOPLE came to the theater with NO IDEA what was playing. They would literally walk up to the box office and make a decision right then based on the FIVE movies we offered, often with no more information about the plot or actors than what the small promotional box with the times said. It constantly blew my mind, and made me realize once again that too many people are very, very bored and extremely incurious about the world around them. So it doesn't surprise me that there are people that will watch their shows, then not turn the channel out of sheer mental and physical laziness.

On a side note, about halfway through "The Road" I overheard a man say to his wife, "I thought this was supposed to be a love story."

Brad Raple said...

I think I know what the problem is. If I watched a talk show, it would be Conan. For sure.

I think many younger people probably feel the same way. You would think disproportionate popularity with younger viewers would be a good thing.

Problem is, I don't watch Conan, because I don't watch any television. The kind of people who like Leno probably take the daily paper. The people who like Conan probably catch him on YouTube.

dn said...

Floyd: watching the trailers prior to seeing "The Informant!", our friend said, "What? I thought 'The Road' was supposed to be a coming-of-age story?"

Brad and Gav: agreed on those points. And just like the local news, talk shows feel pretty bloated these days. I'd like to see the format shrunk to 30 minutes, so they only have to worry about booking 1 guest per show, a la Colbert and The Daily Show. The shorter format would also favor online viewing.

Anonymous said...

welcome to my severe brand of cynicism, old friend. i have long abandoned any expectations of any kind of inspiration or intelligence from this society...

on the other hand, i am mostly coming away from this situation with excitement for whatever conan decides to do next. i think he was being stifled in an institution that is going to be obsolete sooner than america thinks. hopefully he doesn't just sit on his thumbs and gigantic payout now...


Jenny said...

I was wondering when you might comment on this situation, Dan. I've been thinking about you in this time of great loss.