TV talk

This little transition has kept me from watching a whole lot of television lately.

I no longer have the DVR to magically record anything that piques my interests. I’ve rarely made it home in time to watch my beloved Nightly News. And then, once I finish my supper, I’ve been too occupied with work projects and Skype-ing with Kates and Phoebe to care much about what’s on the tube. Most nights, I’d rather just listen to music.

When the premiere of “American Idol” snuck up on me last week, my reaction was: “eh.” … I tried watching it and got so bored that I turned off the TV after about 40 minutes of it. Thus, I didn't bother watching the next night and missed the "Pants on the Ground" guy who was ALL OVER the radio the next day ... It’s just not the same without Paula, and I still can’t stand Kara. … Maybe I’ll try watching it again when Hollywood Week arrives, but sinking two hours times three nights per week of “Idol” into my life just doesn’t appeal to me right now. I’ve been there, done that -- and now with the news of Simon’s likely exit, I‘m feeling less likely to devote my time to the show.

I‘ve virtually forgotten about “Cougar Town” and the new “Scrubs.” Even “The Daily Show” and David Letterman have fallen off my radar (… although, Letterman did get me back this week. More on that in a minute …).

The only certainty in my TV-watching routine right now is “Sportscenter” in the morning while I get ready for work -- which is interesting because it was one of the first things to go when I moved to that awful 5 a.m. shift last year.

As for my other favorites, I’m finding more and more that I prefer to watch them online whenever I can fit them in. The commercials are short, the picture is clear, you can’t beat it … “Modern Family,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Office,” “Big Bang Theory,” and “30 Rock” (in that order) are my must-sees right now.

Thursday night’s “Office” had me laughing as hard as I’ve laughed at an “Office” episode in a long, long time -- even though it was clip show. Watching those montages and seeing the funniest moments in the show’s history again was pure joy -- Angela tossing her cat to Oscar during the fire, Jim impersonating Dwight -- and one of my all-time favorite bits -- Jim slamming his car’s brakes and causing Dwight’s head to crash into back of Jim’s seat.

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And then there’s the whole late night TV fracas

I wasn’t complimentary of Conan O’Brien when he took over for Jay Leno in September. I told someone the other night, I used to enjoy watching him on “Late Night,” but I grew up and his material didn’t. It seemed to me he wasn’t growing into his new role at “The Tonight Show,” either, so I stopped watching him after a couple weeks and remained true my old faithful, David Letterman.

Leno, I’ve always considered a terrible bore. His monologues come across as glossy, rarely biting and merely good for a couple smiles … Where NBC should have held firm in its decision to pass its late night torch to Conan and given him room to grow, the network copped out and awarded Leno the primetime slot like a consolation prize.

I fell into the camp that was just waiting for the whole thing to blow up in NBC’s face. All you needed was to consider the network's recent history. … And yet, I probably kept watching Leno’s show longer than 90 percent of the country, if only for the guests.

When NBC announced a couple weeks ago it was put Jay Leno’s show out of its misery, I certainly didn’t expect the controversy it stirred up … NBC could have cancelled Leno’s show and quietly said good-bye to him; Their treatment of Conan was just wrong and sad. Conan's statement, on the other hand, was only the beginning ...

Boy, did it spur some classic late night television.

Check out these recaps on for Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Thursday night.

I happily tuned into Letterman most nights and loved his relentless barbs about Leno and NBC … Meanwhile, Leno played it safe and flat as usual. With Leno, I was bored in minutes. Click, TV goes off.

And Conan? Conan was on fire. With nothing to lose, his monologues were razor sharp and had me laughing so hard that my side hurt … Between surprise appearances by Ben Stiller, Pee Wee Herman and Steve Carell and some crazy stunts (Example: Supposedly billing NBC $4.8 million to bring “Mine That Bird” on the stage in a mink Snuggie to watch the NFL Network), I found Conan to be as entertaining as he’d ever been -- and I’m not just saying that out of sympathy. Robin Williams shouting “You idiots did the wrong thing!” out Conan’s fake window was priceless.

This week’s final shows left such an impression on us that my friend John and I cut short our Friday night on the town and made sure we were back at my place by 10:30 to watch Conan’s final show … Tom Hanks getting the crowd into a Coco chant, the multiple standing ovations and the classic moments montage were chill-worthy (Conan’s cross-country run to open his first show was still a treat to watch). And watching Conan on his guitar for a jam of “Free Bird” with Will Ferrell, ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons and Beck was a sweet, sweet way to end it.

Conan’s final words should be posted on our quote boards, too …

"All I ask of you, especially young people ... is one thing. Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen."
Here's some good reads about the situation ...

a Conan O'Brien's future after 'Tonight Show'
a On show, Leno casts himself as victim; at Globes, unflattering words pour down on NBC
a Tom Shales on the villains in the Leno-O'Brien fiasco at NBC

* * *

One more thing ...

I spent the morning watching the first four episodes of "Lost," and my anticipation for the final season is burning ...

My friend John had never seen the show. So I explained to him the glorious television he was missing, and this morning he wanted to watch my DVDs of the first season. I giddily obliged.

In a search for "Lost" material this week, I stumbled onto this amusing spoof ... Enjoy.

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