Just some quick TV-related stuff:
– Fred Ewanuick talks to Bill Harris about Dan For Mayor, premiering next week. I’ve only seen the pilot, which starts out with quite a bit of charm and humour and gets funnier as it goes along. The version I saw had some pacing issues that might be corrected in the final version (that is, it seemed like the editing and musical scoring didn’t always speed the show along as much as they might), but Ewanuick is a good lead — as well as, obviously, an experienced TV comedy performer — and the pilot sets up a bunch of promising story possibilities.
Since Ewanuick is once again playing a likable but not-very-bright guy, it raises the question of how different his new character is from the one he played on Corner Gas. It doesn’t seem, from the pilot, that he’s that different, but since he is the star, he can’t be as dumb as he was as the second banana on Corner Gas. When supporting players become stars, they often play vaguely similar roles, but a bit less cartoonish because they’re now heroes rather than stooges. (It even happens when they play the same character: think of Frasier on Cheers vs. Frasier on his own show.) Plus there’s a wardrobe difference that is all but essential:
“There were discussions early on as far as wardrobe and stuff,” Ewanuick said. “They were adamant, ‘This guy (Dan) doesn’t wear a hat!’ But that was as close as any discussion came to making sure this guy wasn’t like Hank.”
– Steve Sternberg argues that the idea that Jay Leno’s image has been damaged is just wishful thinking on the part of anti-Leno types. Leno and O’Brien have different fanbases, and Leno has an older, generally loyal fanbase that supported him at 10 (there just weren’t enough people watching to make him a hit in prime-time, as opposed to late night). I have to agree with this, basically. I’d like to see somebody do a detailed, scientific poll on who watches Leno and O’Brien and Letterman, and how many people plan to follow Jay back to 11:35 — but in the absence of specific polling data, it still seems likely that most people who liked Leno before are now glad to have him back.
– Further showing that he’s the most experimental and interesting of the late-night hosts, Craig Ferguson recently tried (for one episode) morphing his show into a different kind of talk show, the Tom Snyder type of show where there is no audience, and the show consists of a long back-and-forth conversation between the host and the guest. The show, with guest Stephen Fry, worked quite well, and was an object lesson in how the presence or absence of an audience can completely change the rhythm and feel of a show — it’s not better, not worse, but an interview with two guys alone in a studio (except for the zillions of crew people and onlookers, I mean) is a very different thing from an interview with the two guys and bunch of people reacting to it.
Of course, while I appreciate Ferguson’s tribute to TV figures of the past — he really does seem to have a love of the medium and the genre that goes beyond anyone else’s — every time I think of Tom Snyder I think of this cartoon (the Snyder bit is at 1:30):