Superfluous 7 Favorite Late Night Television Hosts

It feels appropriate to piggyback on recent themes and complete somewhat of a trilogy. First I rated my all-time favorite stand-up comedians. Then, upon the retirement of the venerable David Letterman I bid a melancholy happy trails to my childhood of the 1980’s. And now I shall close the circle by pontificating about late night talk show hosts.

I’ve always been a night owl, even as a child. My mother knew that one of the best ways to punish me when I’d been mischievous was to send me to bed super early. I had a set bedtime on weeknights anyway, but making me go to bed an hour or two early was akin to what a modern youngster might feel like if they had their iPod taken away or their game console privileges restricted. It was as if I was afraid I was going to miss something. I don’t know why some folks are nocturnal while others are early risers. I am sure there is some sort of scientific explanation, but long ago I just decided to go with the flow and embrace who I am. I feel energetic & creative when most of the world is fast asleep. The vast majority of the things citizens of The Manoverse read here are produced after midnight. When combined with my affection for laughter and predilection for comedy over drama the affinity for late night talk shows makes much sense. So I thought it might be fun to discuss the hosts of these shows. The guys whose names are on the marquee. The engine that makes each program go and largely determines its success. I have my preferences, and if you like late night TV as much as me I am sure you have yours. Maybe we agree…maybe we don’t. But with all the darkness & misery in the world it is atleast a casual & pleasurable topic to ponder. Therefore, may I present…..




from the home office in Ha Ha Bay, Newfoundland, Canada…..




The Superfluous 7 Favorite Late Night Television Hosts:


7 Craig Ferguson
I will always regret that I was late to the Ferguson party. I was somewhat familiar with him cffrom The Drew Carey Show in which he played Carey’s boss Mr. Wick from 1996-2004. When he took over CBS’ Late Late Show in 2005 my 12:30am allegiance had long been with Conan O’Brien’s Late Night program on NBC and my memories of Mr. Wick & The Drew Carey Show were hardly fond enough for me to switch things up. I’m either loyal or stubborn & inflexible…you decide. At any rate, it wasn’t until I quickly became bored with Seth Meyers’ incarnation of NBC’s Late Night franchise in the winter of 2014 that I decided to give Ferguson a whirl. Sadly, just a few weeks later, he announced that he’d be leaving the show by the end of that year. Though I only had about 9 months with Ferguson I thoroughly enjoyed that time. It is likely that had I began watching him a few years earlier or he’d not abdicated his throne as the clown prince of late night TV that he’d rate much higher on this list. To call Ferguson irreverent would be inaccurate, because I always felt that he had a deep respect for his job, his guests, & the audience. However, like a quarterback who uses his playbook only as a general outline but mostly improvises, Craig Ferguson kind of made up his own rules. His monologue was always an extemporaneous stream of consciousness. Usually fun, sometimes serious, always sincere. His sidekick was an animatronic robot skeleton named Geoff Peterson (voiced by gifted impressionist Josh Thompson). He ripped up whatever kind of notes he had about his guests and ad-libbed interviews, making them more like a genuine conversation between two real people. There was no house band. It is almost impossible for me to accurately describe Ferguson’s show. Like other gentlemen we’ll be discussing one watched Ferguson’s program for the talent & charm of the host…the guests were almost unnecessary. Supposedly Ferguson had decided to leave the show before news of Letterman’s retirement was announced. Maybe that is true. Maybe he is the restless type, a vagabond who doesn’t like to stay in one place too long and yearns for new challenges & adventures. However, I think it is very possible that he felt disrespected when the idea of him moving to 11:30pm was almost immediately dismissed. Whatever the truth may be, the fact is that the late night landscape is less interesting without Craig Ferguson, and I hope that maybe one day he might get the itch…and the opportunity…for a welcome comeback.


6 The Jimmys – Fallon & Kimmel
Guess what folks…you better either love these guys or learn to like them as much as possible because they are likely to be the foundation of late night television for possibly the next 20-30 years.

I first became familiar with Kimmel in the late 1990’s when he hosted both Win Ben Stein’s jkMoney and The Man Show on Comedy Central. He’s a natural for late night TV. One can tell that he grew up a fan of Letterman and emulates him in a kinder, gentler way. Unfortunately ABC painted his show into a corner from the very beginning, airing it at midnight for its first decade of existence due to misguided & outdated loyalty to Nightline. ABC corrected their error a few years ago, but it’s put Kimmel behind the proverbial eight ball, as if he’s ten years behind and perpetually trying to catch up. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, despite its name, doesn’t air live anymore but that’s no big deal since neither does anything else. In the early days Kimmel used to have a bar in the studio and various celebrities would be his “guest co-host”. I recall Snoop Dogg getting plastered on live television one night, which was hysterical. Mostly the show follows the standard late night outline, although certain elements are individually underwhelming. Cleto, the bandleader, and Guillermo, the sidekick, are both forgettable. Jimmy’s Uncle Frank was the show’s security guard & sidekick until his death a few years ago and he is missed. Kimmel is sardonically affable, and that what has kept the show afloat. There still seems to be something missing, but it’s a solid alternative that may yet gain momentum and become the go to show in late night.

Fallon, obviously, gained fame from his stint on SNL and starred in a few movies. He took jfover NBC’s Late Night franchise for about 5 years and it was awesome. The host himself is genial & engaging, and at 12:30am his comedic sensibilities were spot on. Sidekick Steve Higgins is sneaky talented…a more versatile Ed McMahon. I’ve never been a huge fan of house band The Roots, atleast partially because I don’t understand why they are introduced as “legendary” when I’d never heard of them previous to Late Night, but they are talented and good at what they do. I love Fallon’s Friday night staple “Thank You Notes”, and at 12:30 audience participation games like “Models & Buckets” & “Dance Your Hat & Gloves Off” were goofy fun. He has his finger on the pulse of pop culture and effectively utilizes social media, which is a double edge sword. Millenials and people like myself who atleast try to keep up with the times enjoy the humor, but older folks my father’s age don’t connect with it at all. I was excited when Fallon took over the Tonight Show more than a year ago, but my delight quickly soured. At 11:30 Jimmy comes across as annoyingly enthusiastic and somewhat narcissistic. While many games & comedy bits on Late Night were silly, harmless entertainment, on the Tonight Show they often seem juvenile, forced, & not all that funny. I can’t imagine that celebrities who are there to promote a movie, book, album, or TV show really want to participate in such childish activities. Having said all that, just like his counterpart this Jimmy has time to modulate and find a more stable formula, although I may be the only one pining for such an adjustment since the show’s ratings and Fallon’s popularity are thru the roof and probably will continue to grow with less competition for the next few months.



5 Bob Costas
Yes, that Bob Costas…the one who has been a foundation of sports broadcasting for three bcdecades. From 1988-94 he hosted a show that aired for 30 minutes at 1:30am on NBC and that I ranked 18th amongst my 50 Favorite TV Shows of all time. There was no monologue. No jokes. No sidekick. No comedy bits. No house band. It was just Costas doing a cozy one-on-one interview with a single guest…and it rocked. The host himself was always engaging, articulate, & attentive, and if the guest was interesting that was icing on the cake. The show was occasionally mesmerizing and almost always compelling. Studies have shown that night owls are intelligent & creative, so, while on the surface it may seem like any show is doomed to fail at 1:30 in the morning, the truth is that this kind of program, when packaged correctly, is a fantastic solution. It’s a unique departure from the typical late night menu and a format whose return is much needed. There are only so many jokes to go around and a plethora of options to be entertained in that manner. We have comedy shows. We have “infotainment” like Entertainment Tonight and Extra. We have cooking & lifestyle shows. ESPN has a full lineup sports talk shows. We have mind numbing stupidity like Maury Povich, The View, & whatever poor NFL Hall-of-Famer Michael Strahan is forced to endure with the tiresome Kelly Ripa every morning. I wouldn’t mind a bit if someone would revive this show so I could once again look forward to something cool every night.



4 Jay Leno
The whole Leno thing is sort of complex. Things got off to a bad start for him when Johnny jlCarson retired in 1992 and NBC couldn’t decide who should get the Tonight Show gig. Leno ultimately got the job, but lost supporters along the way. It didn’t help when a book called The Late Shift was published in 1994 and exposed just how insecure & desperate he had been about keeping the job. And then after nearly two decades of solidly entertaining the masses Jay was dumped after a 5 year transition plan that the knuckleheads at NBC had to have been drunk to even fathom might work. Why would you replace a guy that had been winning the ratings?? To keep Conan O’Brien?? Really?? Anyway, once again Leno came out looking bad after eventually “taking back” the Tonight Show instead of doing what he should’ve done…tell NBC to shove it and walk away, likely right into a new show on Fox or in syndication. On top of these controversies Jay Leno was often criticized as being lame & old-fashioned. That criticism isn’t necessarily invalid, but I think it’s a bit harsh. He certainly never pushed the envelope and rarely did anything wacky. I think in his mind the Tonight Show had been successful for many years and he wasn’t going to even try to re-invent the wheel. He believed that the formula that had worked in the 70’s & 80’s would still work. Did it?? The ratings seemed to indicate that it did, but you’d probably have no problem finding folks who will claim fervently that Leno sucked. His monologue was topical and often political, although I thought he was usually even-handed, especially in comparison to his competition. He had been a successful stand-up comic so obviously it was a strength. I thoroughly enjoyed “Headlines” on Monday nights, but there are those who will cite the bit as a prime example of Leno being old & out-of-touch since newspapers had become archaic, while the aforementioned Fallon was making copious use of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Over the years he made hay with big news stories like the OJ Simpson trial & the Hugh Grant hookerpalooza. His interviews were solid. I understand why NBC chose Jay Leno in 1992. He was a fun, comfortable, approachable, safe presence at 11:30pm…just like his predecessor. Society may have developed a thirst for edgier, more rebellious entertainment, but there is still a place for laid-back, pleasant, old school amusement. Leno gave us that. People may not really miss him all that much, but we’re fortunate that he filled a void as well as he did for as long as he did.



3 Tom Snyder
God I miss Tom Snyder. He was The Man!! I was too young to have caught him on Tomorrow, a show that aired on NBC at 1am on weeknights TS2throughout the 1970’s. Apparently he also had a program on CNBC in the early 90’s, but I believe I was still a drunken frat boy at the time. At any rate, I became familiar with Snyder when he hosted the inaugural incarnation of the Late Late Show at 12:30am on CBS in the mid-90’s. It still ticks me off that some genius at CBS thought it was a good idea to replace Snyder with former ESPN snarkmaster Craig Kilborn in 1999. What drive-thru is Kilborn manning these days?? Is he still alive?? Does anyone care?? Snyder’s Late Late Show was a one-on-one conversation much like Costas’ Later, but the hosts couldn’t be more different. When I did my 50 Favorite TV Shows a few years back, I ranked Later 18th and Snyder’s Late Late Show 25th. In retrospect I believe I might reverse that simply because Tom Snyder was such a matchless presence on the TV screen. He had a deep, resonant voice and a smoky, infectious laugh. He had the gravitas that comes with decades spent as a radio & television reporter, but didn’t seem to take himself too seriously. He could conduct a thoughtful interview or relax & have fun…sometimes both within the same hour. Snyder was the kind of guy that one suspects drank & smoked a bit too much in his down time, but he came from an era when that was acceptable, even cool…not the politically correct, health conscious, information obsessed, afraid of everything 21st century. Snyder had no sidekick or house band. He’d just banter with unseen beings, presumably producers & directors of the program. He’d slyly encourage the audience to enjoy a beverage while watching/listening, calling the theoretical drink a colortini or simultini (because the show was simulcast on radio & TV). And he would tell stories. Tom Snyder had been around. He knew people. He’d done things & went places. I could have listened to him laugh & tell stories for hours. The dude could have done a boxed set of CDs filled with him simply talking, chuckling, & telling stories and 15 years after he left the air I’d still be listening to them. Thank goodness for YouTube.



2 David Letterman
I don’t know what else I can say about Letterman that I haven’t already said. His tenure in late dlnight television can be neatly divided into two periods…the decade he spent at the helm of NBC’s Late Night and the two decades+ that he hosted CBS’s Late Show. The NBC years were fresh, innovative, & funny. The CBS years can be further divided, with the first half being a slightly more mature yet just as amusing version of what Letterman had accomplished at NBC, and the latter half being somewhat stale comfort food tinged with cynicism and bereft of the originality that had made the host a star. Early Letterman was groundbreaking, must-see TV (if I may borrow a phrase), and old Letterman, even though he was resting on his laurels & coasting to the finish line on fumes, was still better than most of his peers. Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back I think that NBC probably made a mistake all those years ago. Dave probably should have gotten the Tonight Show, and Leno could have been rewarded with the 12:30 show. How would late night have looked if that’d happened?? The obvious casualty would have been Conan O’Brien, who’d probably still be a comedy writer for various TV shows. I would have been okay with that…no great loss. CBS & ABC would probably still have ended up getting into the late night game eventually, and guys like Fallon & Kimmel probably would have ended up with hosting gigs somewhere. But the 1-2 punch of Letterman & Leno on NBC could have been a juggernaut thru the 90’s and into the 21st century. Ahhh what might have been.



1 Johnny Carson
The undisputed King of Late Night. Unmatched. Unchallenged. Oh there were people that jctried…Chevy Chase, Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall, Pat Sajak. They all failed. Television was different during Carson’s reign. There were fewer channels. Nothing aired 24/7. Obviously we didn’t have The Internet. It is fair to say that Johnny had little legitimate competition and ponder whether he’d be as successful now. However, that’s probably an unfair question. Almost everything…music, television, clothing, technology…is a product of its time. Very few things are timeless. Letterman wouldn’t have clicked had he came onto the scene a decade earlier. Leno, accused of being obsolete & unfunny by some, might have been considered edgy & daring if he’d been center stage in the 80’s. Half of Fallon’s shtick revolves around ideas that weren’t even around in the 90’s. It’s all relative. Johnny Carson was the right man with the best job at the exact time in history that happened to be a perfect fit. He was 2/3 of the way thru his run on the Tonight Show by the time I became a fan. I never sensed the weariness in him that seemed to hinder Letterman’s stretch run, but then again I don’t recollect the early years that would enable a comparison. All I know is that throughout my childhood, through high school, & into college Johnny Carson was as much a part of Americana as fast cars, mac & cheese, rock n’ roll, and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Other late night hosts have come & gone. Several are still plugging away, doing their best to make us laugh every night after the local news. But Carson is the measuring stick, the gold standard. He always has been and likely always will be.

50 Favorite TV Shows…..20-11

Please be sure to catch up on the previous entries in this series here, here, here, and here. I will be taking a brief intermission from this series before we get to the highly anticipated (I hope) Top 10. God has laid it on my heart that it is time to get back to writing about some more meaningful things. Please be sure to read those when they are finished, and we will get back to the exciting conclusion of this adventure eventually.




20     M*A*S*H

          CBS 1972-83

I hated MASH as a kid. First of all I was way too young to “get it”. To me it was just another “war story” that my Dad watched that bored the crap out of me. Secondly, as I recall, it came on at 9pm on Monday night…the same time as Monday Night Football. I always had a bedtime (which I loathed since I’m a night owl but am now thankful for because left to my own devices I would have stayed up til 3am every night and probably flunked out of school), and I wanted to spend my last 30-60 minutes of “freedom” watching the ball game. Unfortunately my father was King of the Castle (something which I now truly understand) and he wanted to watch MASH…hence my animosity. However, a strange thing occurred in my adult years. I began to watch reruns of MASH and realized what a remarkably well written, well performed show it had been. This may have been the genesis of my affection for the dramedy genre, because sometimes one has to laugh to keep from crying.



19     Taxi

          ABC 1978-83

I called WKRP in Cincinnati one of the most underrated sitcoms ever, and here we have a similar situation…yet another workplace comedy that didn’t last as long as it should have and has never gotten the love it deserves from the masses. Set in a NY City cab company, the casting director gave us such luminaries as Danny Devito, Tony Danza, Judd Hirsch, Christopher Lloyd (who would star as Doc Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy a few years later), and Andy Kaufman. I think that is why Taxi outranks WKRP…its stars went on to become even bigger stars. Devito’s Louie DePalma was your typical smarmy, immoral, narcissistic boss character, but Devito played it for laughs…lots of them…instead of making the audience hate him. My father LOVED Louie, and my father isn’t easily entertained. Personally I was as amused by Lloyd’s Rev. Jim Ignatowski, a former Harvard student turned hilariously burned out reminder of the drug infested 60’s. Every sitcom writer ought to study Taxi like a science experiment and learn how to create memorable characters and a funny show.



18     Later with Bob Costas

          NBC 1988-94

I ranked The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder 25th on this list, and coming in just a few spots higher is a show with the same general vibe…two people sitting down to have a meaningful tete-a-tete for an hour…no band, no comedy, no sidekicks, no live audience. I think Bob Costas may be one of the smartest people on television, and what makes him so cool is that he seems blissfully unaware of that fact, unlike smug windbags like Oprah, Bill Maher, Dr. Phil, Bryant Gumbel, Matt Lauer, ESPN’s Skip Bayless, or just about any successful movie star of the past 20 years (really George Clooney & Brad Pitt…we don’t care what your opinions are on sociopolitical issues). I also like the fact that Costas has always pretty much stuck with his first love…sports. Could he do weightier, supposedly more important things?? Sure. He is probably the most talented person to walk the halls of NBC in my lifetime. But he enjoys doing sports and doesn’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone. However, the one time he did step beyond his usual boundaries was this show, and it’s a crying shame it didn’t last very long. I read somewhere that Costas himself stepped away because he & his family lived in St. Louis and the show taped in New York, which became too much of a grind. If I would have been in charge I would have moved the damn show to St. Louis. In what rule book does it say that every movie & TV show has to be produced in New York or Los Angeles?? At any rate after Costas’ departure Later went thru a plethora of hosts, including Greg Kinnear, MTV’s Cynthia Garrett, & comedienne Rita Sever, and even “presented” old reruns of SCTV (Canada’s answer to Saturday Night Live), before ultimately being repackaged as Last Call, hosted by former MTV tool Carson Daly. Not that it matters to me, because after the departure of Bob Costas I stopped watching.



17     The West Wing

          NBC 1999-2006

I really didn’t want to like this show. The writers, producers, and practically the entire cast were complicit in presenting an obviously liberal spin on political issues, but I’ll be darned if it wasn’t amongst the best written, best acted, best directed dramas in my lifetime. I have no idea if what was portrayed on screen was in any way an accurate representation of how the real White House works, but I must say that, regardless of party affiliation or philosophy, if the American people were ever fortunate enough to be able to vote for a guy like Jed Bartlet we could do much much worse. Unfortunately I don’t believe for one second that real politicians…especially liberals…are as honest, honorable, compassionate, and intellectually sincere as those portrayed on The West Wing. Writer/producer Aaron Sorkin…leftist though he may be…is a terrific scribe and I enjoy almost anything with which he is involved. The performers on this show were sublime…folks like Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, John Spencer, Joshua Malina, and Bradley Whitford. Martin Sheen was already a proven commodity and The West Wing was just the cherry on top of a memorable career, but the majority of the rest of the cast were little known character actors who probably plateaued with this show. Even former Brat Packer Rob Lowe was made to look like a credible actor, either due to the company he was in the midst of or because of Sorkin’s deft skill. In my humble opinion this show…this concept…is tailor made for an eventual revival. Would Sorkin return?? Would the idea work with a whole new cast?? I don’t know, but it is an interesting idea to ponder.



16     Late Night with David Letterman

          NBC 1982-93

David Letterman circa 2012 is a bitter old man who doesn’t even try to hide his extreme left political bias. It is my opinion that the events of September 11, 2001 combined with a month long hiatus due to heart surgery in early 2000 changed the Letterman we’d all known and loved for two decades. I rarely watch these days because I just don’t find him funny anymore. However, before 9/11, before his heart problems, and even before his move to CBS & the 11:30pm time slot in 1993 Letterman spent a glorious decade at NBC in the 12:30am period immediately following Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and he was absolutely brilliant. Late Night in the 80’s was quirky, bold, sardonic, original, irreverent, unpredictable, odd…and most of all very very funny. Every effort was made to be different from Carson and attract a younger, hipper demographic. Letterman utilized his actual staff…bandleader Paul Shaffer, stage manager Biff Henderson, producer Robert Morton, director Hal Gurnee, and a host of others…in comedy bits unlike anything that had been done on late night television. Current staples like the nightly Top Ten list, Stupid Pet Tricks, and Viewer Mail were fresh back in the 80’s. Letterman made a star out of little known actor Calvert Deforest (aka Larry “Bud” Melman), dropped things off buildings, wore crazy Velcro suits, crushed things with a steamroller, introduced the world to his mother Dorothy, had frequent (and amusing) phone conversations with paper pusher Meg at Simon & Schuster, and mercilessly berated his bosses at NBC & General Electric. It was all quite silly, but hey…silly is exactly what most people enjoy at 1 o’clock in the morning.



15     Star Trek:The Next Generation

          Syndicated 1987-94

I have to give a shout out to my friend The Owl for turning me into a Trekkie. Before college I had a passing familiarity with Star Trek, but hadn’t really paid all that much attention. 20+ years later I love almost all the films and dig the original series. However, my initial affection started right here, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Lieutenant Commander Data, Commander Riker, Dr. Beverly Crusher, Lieutenant Worf (a Klingon!!), chief engineer Geordi LaForge, and Counselor Troi. This show is more character driven and explores more interpersonal relationships than the original, yet it still has its share of ass kickin’ action. Alot of plot points seem to involve a bit of sociopolitical commentary, but it is rarely preachy or trite. My preference for TNG over TOS (if you don’t get the acronyms then you obviously aren’t a Trekkie) is simply due to TNG being something I watched while it was actually on television instead of watching two decades after it was over like TOS. The series finale “All Good Things”, originally aired on May 23, 1994, remains one of the finest TV episodes I have ever seen. Indeed, the trial never ends. See you…out there.



14     Night Court

          NBC 1984-92

I have been in a courtroom exactly twice in my life, both times in a supportive role for friends who were facing legal battles. But it only took those two occasions to solidify my notion that a real court isn’t nearly as interesting as the stuff we see on TV or in movies. Usually what we see are dramatic situations in shows like L.A. Law, Perry Mason, and Law & Order, or films like To Kill A Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men, A Time to Kill, and Presumed Innocent. But in the 80’s NBC decided to give us a courtroom comedy, and oh what fun it was. Set during New York City’s night shift, the presumption was that most cases at that hour are of the eccentric, offbeat, absurd variety. That premise combined with the court’s quirky cast of employees made for a unique & memorable (if not necessarily accurate) take on America’s legal system.



13     Happy Days

          ABC 1974-84

Happy Days is the TV equivalent of the movie Grease…a story about high schoolers created in the 70’s, set in the 50’s. I am a sucker for that kind of thing. Creator Garry Marshall also gave us notable shows Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy (both spin-offs of Happy Days), as well as The Odd Couple. He would direct the Julia Roberts hit film Pretty Woman in 1990, and a host of other less celebrated movies. However Happy Days remains his most endearing legacy. In many ways it was your typical family sitcom, but the characters were so unique and, with one notable exception, very relatable & real. I loved the fact that it was set in Milwaukee instead of New York, L.A., or Chicago. Ron Howard, who had been a child star on The Andy Griffith Show and went on to become a big time movie director, embodied the classic awkward, insecure teenager yearning to be cool alongside his best buddies Ralph & Potsie (one of the all-time great sitcom nicknames). Ritchie’s parents…hardware store owner Howard and homemaker Marion…were the kind of parents every kid dreams of having. And of course eventually the real star of the show became a bike riding, leather jacket wearing, finger snapping ladies’ man named Fonzie, who wasn’t necessarily realistic (trust me…I’ve tried slapping a jukebox…fetching young ladies did not emerge from nowhere), but was such a well written, well performed character that it didn’t really matter. Sitcoms like Happy Days simply aren’t made in the cynical, vulgar, envelope pushing 21st century, and we’re all worse off because of that fact.



12     Friends

          NBC 1994-2004

Timing is everything, and this show about a group of young adults trying to make their way in the world came along just as I was a young adult dealing with many of the same issues. Unfortunately for me my close pals from college spread out across the country…Texas, Ohio, the Carolinas, etc.…so I wasn’t able to live across the hall from them or gather on a daily basis in the neighborhood coffee shop. Looking back I suppose Friends allowed me the chance to live vicariously and envision just how awesome it’d be to have the opportunity to hang out with my chums. Plus the characters had really cool jobs and lived in a kickass loft that I would never be able to afford. I most closely identified with Ross, the lovelorn, neurotic, socially awkward nerd, whose unrequited love for the beautiful Rachel eventually blossomed into an on-again off-again relationship that was the centerpiece of the show for much of its run. Friends probably lasted a year or two too long, but one cannot blame the suits for keeping their cash cow alive. Hindsight is always 20/20, and what one recognizes all these years later is that Friends was actually a very well written program, a skillful mix of old school sitcom with an edgier 90’s sensibility.



11     The Dukes of Hazzard

          CBS 1979-85

Corny?? Yes. Wholesome?? Sure. Entertaining?? You bet. And what exactly is wrong with any of that?? I may have mentioned previously that my friend The Owl contends that much of entertainment today embodies “the spirit of the age”…dark, profane, violent, and proudly sacrilegious. Dukes of Hazzard may not have been highbrow, culturally refined, or intellectually enriching in any way, but it was good clean fun that promoted family values, good triumphing over evil (if you can go so far as to call Boss Hogg & Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane evil), and a general sense of morality & friendship. That’s more than one can say about 99% of the crap currently on TV. I have fond memories of happily sitting in front of the television at 8pm every Friday night for several years loving every minute of the adventures of The Duke Boys, their wise old Uncle Jessie, and their exquisite cousin Daisy. Sure there were car chases and stuff got blown up, but unlike the vacuous special effects productions so prevalent these days there was also a storyline. It wasn’t exactly Shakespeare, but it was cool enough to put a smile on the faces of young boys nationwide, and I think that’s a pretty decent legacy.