I’ve been reading mixed reviews of the premiere Arsenio, which featured the return of Arsenio Hall to late night television. Some comments I read have been good while others were just …. *RobFather drops mic*
Anyway, I have no idea what some of the viewers of the original Arsenio Hall Show (aired 1989 -1994) were expecting but I thought some of their comments were far too critical and unfair. No…fuck that; that’s a lie! I thought some of their comments were harsh! There. I’ve said it! I am not going to make a comment about some of the things new viewers said because to me, their opinions don’t matter at this time simply because many of them were far too young to remember Arsenio Hall during the period his first showed aired. Some of those people only watched last night’s premier because they remember their parents or older siblings enjoying the show ‘’back in the day”. I also refuse to read so-called “professional reviews” or ratings on the show because I’ve always found such reports to be a bit premature – whether they are good or bad. I never understood how one can rate something on a national scale after only one night and one hour. That simply doesn’t seem fair to old and new viewers of a show and certainly not to the talent or host of any TV show. Such reports tend to be unscientific anyway in many cases and fluid, in that opinions on whatever is being rated can go either way on the scale. Sometimes there’s simply no telling how a show might turn out. Yes, there are obvious bombs but there are others which tend to have a “let’s wait and see” aspect. Those particular “let’s wait and see” TV shows I would agree should be given a little more time to capture an audience. Television history has proven time and again what a little patience can do for shows that had the appearance of no future success.
I happen to have liked the premiere of Arsenio. I thought Hall was, as the expression says, “back to his old-self” (so it seemed) even though I felt it was the studio audience who was a bit dry (judging by the camera sweeps) but I expect that to improve. What I saw last night was a man who temporarily left late night variety television in 1994 only to return two decades later and pick up where he’d left off without skipping a beat. That’s fuckin’ kool!
In my Facebook post last evening announcing the airing of Hall’s premiere [return] show after a near-20 year hiatus I said, “I hope the brutha still has the magic!” You see, I LOVED The Arsenio Hall Show (AHS) years ago and tried to watch it as often as possible – which is saying something since back then – as now, I don’t normally watch late-night talk shows unless the TV happens to be on as background noise to keep my company when I’m busy working on something and not watching it. I missed several of the old AHS show broadcasts due to military deployment overseas years ago but I recall me and several of my fellow servicemen watching rebroadcasts of it around 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning while stationed in Rota, Spain waiting for permanent deployment orders during Operation Desert Shield (later to become Operation Desert Storm) back in 1991.
Hall has been off late-night TV for two decades. I thought it was appropriate that he did a little explanation and offer humorous “catch-up” jokes and skits for his fans. I’m certain he and his team knows that he has to appeal to his old fans/viewers and work harder to appeal to new viewers – both in his age group and those who are much younger. That is not going to be an easy task in this day and age where one’s attention span is sometimes less on television late-night than it is on the internet chatting on Facebook or tweeting. I heard on the radio today that the Arsenio Hall Show premiere scored higher in its time slot than each of the regularly late-night shows that came after it in their respective time slots! It that’s true – which I suspect it is – and should be, then that’s great! Of course, this would have to be confirmed – and readers of this blog are welcomed to do that. However, as I said, whatever the ratings say I’m not going to look into them at this time for I think it’s much too early to take seriously any rating of the show.
With Arsenio, Hall cannot appear as a man out of his time but he also cannot come off as being so much of an “old head” that he is considered a “has been”, “irrelevant”, or worse, someone desperate – appearing as if he’s “trying too hard’ to recapture that “magic” I mentioned earlier. I doubt any of those things will happen but if any of those traits are perceived by viewers its probable that Hall could risk losing BOTH old and potential new viewers! I’m sure all of this – and more – was heavily considered by Hall and his team long before he returned to TV. And let’s NOT forget the “elephant in the room”: SKIN COLOR. Yes sadly, though much has changed in television, there is STILL racism in the television viewing audience and bigots can be harsh. Perhaps no one wants to think about it or admit it but I believe such assholes are still lurking in the shadows.
Someone on Funnybook [Facebook] commented that Hall “didn’t look the same as he once did”. My response to that is, Huh?? Really?? I totally disagree! As far as Hall’s looks, EVERYONE changes over time to some degree! Some people appear to have hardly changed very much at all with the passage of time (like me, for instance) and others appear much worse, especially after 19 or 20 years! A lot of physical change with time has to do with how well – or how poorly one lived and handled the challenges of life, regardless of one’s economic status (or DNA). I thought Hall looked just fine – and appeared much the same as he did 19 years ago! Not bad for a man who is now 57 years old but who was only 37 or 38 – and still in his prime, at the end of his original show in 1994. I also thought guest Chris Tucker, a comedian who is now 41, didn’t look bad for his age either. Tucker was a young pup doing comedy in his late teens/early twenties at the period of Hall’s first show.
Finally, someone on Funnybook commented on the excessive number of commercials Hall’s show had. My formal educational in media broadcasting, along with my years of broadcast experience and somewhat limited knowledge of behind-the-scene television broadcasting gives this possible assessment: A show having “many” commercials is a bit normal for certain premiere TV shows, particularly for a live (or recorded), late night show. Hall’s show already HAD advertising sponsorship (it needed that to help launch the premiere). If the RATINGS for his show are good, I expect there to be less – and perhaps better commercials on his show. As some people know, television, movie and radio advertising or “ads”- while annoying, take a HUGE expense off the creators and producers to produce a show/or media form of entertainment. Ads help pay for things like the TALENT’s salary (the talent being Hall in this case), his staff, the writers, directors and producers of the show, studio operation expenses and a large host of other things many people don’t think about. Advertising is indeed much of the “bread and butter” of ANY network, network affiliate, radio station and TV show you see on television (or hear on the radio), including: sports, local and national news, “reality” shows, soap operas, talk and self-help programming, game shows, et al. The list of people who get a piece of the money from advertising dollars is so long that it would take having to write a much longer commentary just to list them all! However, to get an idea of those people in television who benefit from ad money, simply take a few minutes to read all the names and titles at the beginning and tail end of any TV show or movie you watch. Also, whenever you hear or see the words to the effect of, “Brought to you by” or “Sponsored by” followed by some, someone’s name, product, or company, you will know that those are the people or businesses paying big bucks to bring you that particular form of entertainment. There’s a lot more to this advertising and broadcast media relationship but you can research that information on your own.
As far as the new Arsenio Hall Show is concerned, I’m very happy that Arsenio’s back! I’m not worried that those of little faith in the man are still wringing their hands or whatever they do while waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”. I suppose we’ll see if viewers’ opinion changes from one extreme to another in the POSITIVE sense as Arsenio’s future shows air… that is, if people choose to watch/continue to watch it, which I hope they do!
Give him time. He just left the gate.