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Talk Show Changes Spark Renewed Excitement for Late Night

By Jac Kern · February 12th, 2014 · Television
ac_tv_2-12_photo-james white:nbc Photo: James White/NBC

A new era in NBC late night begins this week as Jay Leno passes The Tonight Show on to a new host, Jimmy Fallon. Fallon previously hosted Late Night beginning in March 2009 through last Friday’s final show.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Premiere, midnight Monday, NBC) promises a fresh take on the classic program with many components carried over from Late Night, including Fallon’s announcer/side-kick, the hilarious Steve Higgins, and The Roots — quite possibly the best house band in all of late-night talk shows. Tonight relocates to New York for the first time since 1972 and will return to its 11:30 p.m. time slot once the Olympics are finished. Monday’s first guests will be Will Smith and U2.

Fallon was a goofball on Saturday Night Live, known for his messy mop, comedic tunes, anchoring Weekend Update and for infamously — and adorably — breaking character during live sketches. And while he’s matured into a crazy-talented comic and host, he retains a lot of his loveable playfulness — a quality The Tonight Show has grown to lack.

The change-up will likely pull a younger audience to Tonight, but that’s not to say Fallon will abandon Leno’s older crowd. Fallon is easily accessible across demographics — he’s topical, charming and has a well-rounded background/bag of comedic tricks. He is never afraid to be weird or silly, a characteristic reminiscent of longtime host Johnny Carson. 

Taking Fallon’s hosting spot on Late Night is fellow SNL alum Seth Meyers. Also coming from a history of Weekend Update, Meyers is a perfect candidate for the job. Adding to the excitement is the recent announcement of Late Night bandleader Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live, Portlandia).

Late Night with Seth Meyers debuts Monday, Feb. 24 with guest Amy Poehler, who co-anchored Weekend Update with Meyers from 2006-2008. Viva SNL!


Hoarding: Buried Alive (9 p.m., TLC) – Usually it’s fun to see Cincinnatians on TV. This is not one of those times. :(

Workaholics (10 p.m., Comedy Central) -– The guys fall for a babely local consumer reporter. 

Broad City (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) -– Abbi has to bomb her apartment for bugs and Ilana loses her keys, leaving the girls to fend for themselves on the streets. As Jean-Ralphio would say, “Technically, they’re homeless!”


Couples Therapy (9 p.m., VH1) – Bummed about spending the upcoming Valentine’s Day alone? Watch this. It could be much worse. 


House of Cards (Season Two available on Netflix) – Picking up right where the first season left off, Francis celebrates his new promotion, selects his replacement as House Majority Whip and covers up his ties to Congressman Russo.

Helix (10 p.m., Syfy) – The group that landed on the base in last week’s episode is no military rescue team — they’re from Ilaria, Arctic BioSystems’ parent company, arriving to usher in a cure (though they definitely have a hand in the virus). Elsewhere Daniel makes a discovery, which hopefully means he meets his twin and they pull a Parent Trap on Hatake.


The Walking Dead (9 p.m., AMC) – This second half feels like a completely new season — maybe even a new show. The writers are finally finding a balance between zombie action and quiet but intriguing character development. After an intense and emotional episode that followed Rick, Carl and Michonne, it was refreshing to see a positive ending. But lots of question marks remain: The other survivors are yet to be seen; this week’s episode catches up with Daryl, Beth, Maggie, Glenn, Tyreese and more as they try to reconnect.

True Detective (9 p.m., HBO) – In 1995, Hart and Cohle cover their tracks as they search for Ledoux and celebrate a closed case. But in 2012, interrogators Papania and Gilbough reveal new evidence that threatens the former partners. 

Girls (10 p.m., HBO) -– The fab four reunite for a weekend on Long Island. Marnie’s plans for a healing retreat are interrupted when Hannah invites Elijah and his buddies to the beach house.


Kroll Show (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – George and Gil bring their pranks to the local Y; Bobby Bottleservice moves into Gigolo House; C-Czar takes care of a practice baby on Dad Academy.

CONTACT JAC KERN: jkern@citybeat.com or @jackern



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