Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Arsenio Hall's Back.

Lost in the media domination America's two favorite pasttimes, football and war (!) this week was the return of a familiar face to the late night airwaves. If you were alive and allowed to stay up past 11pm in the late 80's, you're probably quite familiar with Arsenio Hall. His late night show was appointment TV: a hip (albeit corny) host, great interviews, and musical guests you couldn't see anywhere else on TV, mostly because nobody else would book them. The show was a cultural staple in black households, much like those large brown wooden forks everyone seemed to have on their living room walls back in the day.[1]

After a few years, the show's ratings declined, Hall extended an ill-advised middle finger to management by booking Louis Farrakhan as a guest, and the show was off the air quicker than you can say "anti Semitism". Hall basically disappeared off the face of the Earth for two decades before resurfacing on Celebrity Apprentice, winning it, and getting his own new show, which premiered Monday.

So it's back, but is it any good?

Personally, I don't care for late nite talk shows. I find Letterman/Leno/Kimmel annoying and lame. Leno in particular seems so bitter and mean spirited of late that I can't even make it past the opening monologue the rare times I forget to change the channel after the news goes off. But Hall's new show is good for the same reasons the original was. Namely, he has guests he seems to know very well (see the Ice Cube interview above) and he's got common stories with them you aren't gonna get elsewhere.

Format-wise, the show's virtually identical to it's predecessor. Same theme music, a "posse" playing generic "funk", the crowd barks and fist pumps, Arsenio makes the same Pinnochio fingered pointing gestures, smirks, laughs, and tells corny, sometimes inappropriate jokes. The show is still shaking off the rust, as Hall sometimes makes odd segues to commercial breaks, and is cringeworthy when interviewing people he doesn't know well, And the concept of a posse (and their style of music) seems anachronistic. Flaws aside, the show's still light years ahead of its counterparts. I like it, and while I typically prefer spending the rare time after my wife and kids are passed out playing NBA2K, I'll prolly tune in ever now and then.

Welcome back, Arsenio.

Question: Have you seen the new Arsenio Hall Show yet? Your thoughts?

‘Arsenio Hall Show’ Returns, With Much Familiarity [NYTimes]

[1] Speaking of Stuff Black People Used To Do: Anyone remember that purple punch with lemons in it they'd often serve after church? What the heck was that? Lemonade? Grape Kool Aid? Did this conconction have an actual name? Does this still exist anywhere in the South?

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