Media in Transition: “Revolution,” or Returning to the Past?

Automatically, I thought of the song “Everything Old Is New Again”  as I watched the NBC successful line-up last night. Both The Jay Leno Show and America’s Got Talent had audiences running above 15 million viewers according to the overnight Neilson ratings.  Still, ESPN’s Monday Night Football stayed in the ballgame, if you will, also getting more than 15-million viewers.  I watched some of all three shows.  I watched the game while I was getting in my two-mile treadmill walk.  I like to watch something I don’t have to think about when I walk. 

Back to Leno and America’s Got Talent.  Leno topped the established talent show by actually going over the 17-million mark.  No doubt, being the highly hyped premier broadcast had a lot to do with that.  The weekly average will be the thing to watch with Leno.

NBC is being called revolutionary for putting Leno on at 10 p.m. But, really it’s more reactionary. The comedy/variety show concept was big on TV when it started.  Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, Martin and Lewis, Imogene Cocker and Syd Caesar and others were staples in the 40’s and 50’s.  I enjoyed those show then and I enjoyed Leno last night.  I have been saying for years that some network should feature some good, live (Leno is recorded “live”), prime time comedy/variety shows.  It’s one of the things television does best.

And as far as America’s Got Talent is concerned, that’s hardly a new concept, either.  Major Bowles “Orignal Amateur Hour” was big on network radio more than 60 years ago, and morphed into a TV show in the 50’s.  Frank Sinatra was “discovered” on the Bowle’s show.

As far as what I thought of the Leno show, basically, I enjoyed it.   I particularly liked the creativity and performance of the car wash skit.  Dan Finnerty and a couple of dancers in business suits offered entertainment to people going through a car wash.  Hilarious.  Let’s hope Jay can keep it up.  Five nights a week?  I don’t know. We’ll see.

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