Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letterman’s Retiring; Who Cares?

David Letterman (Source: Wikipedia/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CC BY 2.0 license)

When Johnny Carson retired from “The Tonight Show” in 1992, it was a big deal. Carson was the King of Late-Night Television, and none of the other networks could compete with his show. They had tried, but people were still tuning into Johnny after the late news, and every show that tried to compete didn’t get very far. With Johnny gone, who was going to rule late night?

Fast forward to tonight, when David Letterman hosts his last “The Late Show.” You can watch that, “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” on NBC, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC, “The Graham Norton Show” on BBC America, or anything else on the tube. Or you can read a book, or go to bed. Tomorrow night, you can watch “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS, or the other choices as before. Ho hum.

And that’s the difference between the two retirements. Where Carson’s retirement left a huge void that was soon filled with lots of alternatives for late-night viewing, Letterman’s retirement is really no big deal, regardless of what CBS would like you to believe. Many people think he should have retired long ago. Some believe he did retire long ago, but just kept showing up. On a few occasions, I’ve fallen asleep during the late news on WGCL and woken up in the middle of Letterman’s show, and it looked to me like he didn’t want to be there. Rumor has it he wanted to beat Jay Leno’s 20 years at NBC.

Well, congratulations, Dave, you did it. Enjoy your retirement. While you do your last show tonight, I’ll be watching a “Perry Mason” rerun from the 1960’s.

Do you think late-night TV has lost its relevance?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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