Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Rates The New Black Talk Shows.

While "The Obama Effect" on mainstream entertainment has mostly been negligible at best, there's one area where black folks have actually come up since 1.20.09. No, there still isn't a black drama on TV. No, there still isn't a black sitcom that I can watch without wanting to gouge my eyes out. No, For The Love Of Ray J hasn't been cancelled. No, the Real Housewives Of Atlanta haven't been put out to pasture. No, Centric and TV One aren't dramatically better than BET. However, I'm happy to report black folks are receiving TV Talk Shows like they're going out of style.

But are these shows any good? Let's run the tape, show by show and rate em'.

The Mo'Nique Show

BET's The Mo'Nique Show comes on nightly at 11, but honestly, I haven't watched anything since the first episode. Seriously, I applaud Monique Imes for trying to expand her multimedia empire, and I'd be the last one to hate on a sista for gettin' paper in what's been a predominately male-centric segment. But damn, this show is just so... extra. I mean, seriously, Mo'Nique is so damn loud, you can put the TV on mute and still hear her.

I guess I get the point here. The show is only going to attract D-List talent (I think Bokeem Woodbine's already been on twice), so the "angle" is to somehow take these regular folks' personal success stories and use them to inspire viewers to greater heights. Thus, Mo'Nique's never ending "Yes Baby"s, "Full Figured Women Are Beautiful"s and "Believe In Yourself"s. But c'mon, this is a woman who got famous for telling d*ck jokes. It's really hard to buy her Iyanla Vanzant routine without giving her the side-eye, mostly because she's so over the top, it all comes off as disingenuous. About the only redeeming thing about this show is her underused sidekick, Rodney Perry, who is one of my favorite comedians. Otherwise, there's nothing to see here, keep it movin'.

Rating - Unless you really, really, really don't have better things to do, don't bother watching.

Washington Watch With Roland Martin

For years I've complained about the total and complete lack of political and public affairs shows on BET and it's more grown and sexy contemporary, TV One. After years of doing little more than showing a bunch of bourgeois home and fashion reality shows, Cathy Hughes and Co. finally spent some money on an actual show, the Sunday Morning gabfest hosted by occasional CNN Opinionated Negro-On-Retainer, Roland Martin.

I'll give TV One credit for trying. Washington Watch isn't without its flaws (Martin's style is a bit grating, the parade of reserved CBC members gets a bit boring), but it's a viewpoint you aren't going to get anywhere else on TV, and the show is continually improving. This is a start, at least, and it's a solid one.

Rating - Tivo-worthy.

The Wanda Sykes Show

Perhaps in an effort to prove they don't hate all black people, Fox gave controversial comedian Wanda Sykes a late-night show this Fall, occupying MadTV's old spot opposite SNL.

As much as I like Sykes, this just isn't the right format for her. She's funniest when she's off the cuff, but this show's "monologue, skits, guests" format doesn't really allow her to do so. Perhaps worst of all is the "Wanda's Bar" segment when 3 less-talented comedians do the predictable "setup/punchline" routine over a handful of current events. This should be much better, but it's obvious the comedians are spouting off pre-written quips, so the end-result is sorta like those old Byron Allen Shows. I won't write this show off yet, it probably just needs some time to work out the kinks.

Rating - Ok, but lots of room for improvement.

The Brian McKnight Show

I'm not really sure when this show comes on, but I've noticed it a few times when I couldn't sleep on my local UPN/WB/WhateverItsCalled affiliate.

As opposed to the traditional in-studio show, McKnight's show often follows him on his travels as he interviews his semi-famous peers and other Hollywood no-names. I can't really hate on the concept. Who else is gonna interview K-Ci and JoJo nowadays? But the execution is lousy, and McKnight's watching-paint-dry personality deep-sixes the whole thing. I suppose I should be glad to see a real sanger from the 90's working. I guess this means Late Nite With Chante Moore is next.

Rating - Just a-ite. If you can't sleep and it's on, tune in.

Lopez Tonight

I'll confess, I only tuned into the first episode of this show, which supposedly airs every weeknight. I'll give TBS credit, they didn't spare a dime on the set, and the studio audience is huge, which gives this show a dynamic you don't see elsewhere on latenight.

I'm not the biggest fan of George Lopez's brand of humor, but I give him credit, he has his following, and it's hard to imagine this show failing, given the money the network sunk into it. It's not my thing, but it might be yours.

Rating - Not my thing, but if you like Lopez, you'll probably like this show.

Question: Have you seen any of these new shows? How have you seen "The Obama Effect" play out in other forms of media?

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