I know there is football on tonight but for the love of all that is holy, Chris Berman was doing the game so I just can’t watch it. Instead, I just got done watching the Arsenio Hall premiere and I have to say, not too bad. Not great but not too bad.
Arsenio hasn’t been on the air since his original Arsenio Hall show went off the air in 1994 so he’s been gone for 19 years. He pulled out all the stops tonight for the return. The cold open for the show was very funny and involved another late night talk show star that was taking a huge shot at his network. If nothing else is ever funny again, that opening would be enough for me.
Arsenio’s opening monologue wasn’t too bad. Some jokes fell a bit flat but some were funny. I am a bit concerned that the monologue was only ok. With as much time as the writers had to prepare I think it should have probably been funnier. The same for his time capsule skit that fell flat for me. I know you have been gone a long time but we didn’t need 20 minutes of jokes about things from the 90s. Paula Abdul showed up during this skit and did a bad joke about Simon Cowell that wasn’t funny and is really dated at this point. We get it. You two don’t get along.
Snoop Dogg opened the show for Arsenio and was also one of his two guests. The other guest was Chris Tucker. One of the main complaints about Arsenio from back in the 90s was that he was a terrible interviewer. It appears as though 19 years off hasn’t helped him build that skill. He’s a very likable guy but his interview was more like he was talking with a buddy than asking questions to get information that his audience and fans would like to know. And again, for a first show, the best you can do is Chris Tucker and Paula Abdul? Snoop is ok but the other two?
Overall I’d give the premiere episode a B-. There were some funny jokes and as a guy who was in HS during Arsenio’s heyday, it was genuinely nice to see him back on TV. I am concerned that with so much time to prepare that the show wasn’t better but that could just be because they are working to find their groove.
Two things that need to happen for this show to have a chance, the writing needs to get tighter and the bookers need to do a better job booking talent for the show. Colbert and Stewart only do 1 guest each a night so there has to be plenty of other talent out there for Arsenio to book. Don’t keep going to the 90s for your guests (Ice Cube and Lisa Kudrow are guests on tomorrow’s show for example).
I’ll watch the show again to see which direction they go. I am hopeful that Arsenio is successful because I like him and I think he would be good for TV.
The Arsenio Hall show airs here in Chicago on WGN TV week nights at 10:00.