Monday, November 28, 2005

TV: The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson

I don’t know when I stopped watching talk shows. For many years I was a regular Letterman viewer, occasionally flipping over to see a particular guest on Leno. But at some point, the habit went away. Now I usually turn the set off after THE DAILY SHOW, or at least I did until THE COLBERT REPORT started following it. (Best feature of that show’s website: fanfic!) If Jon Stewart is on vacation, I’m more likely to catch a rerun on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim than a new Jay or Dave.

Conan O’Brien continues to offer a sharp, off-kilter 12:30 show. But in recent weeks, as I’m working a lot of late hours, I find myself watching Craig Ferguson more and more.

Ferguson doesn’t seem to be sweating his second-place status. Instead of booking flighty starlets and C-listers, he’s talking to the kind of interesting guests who were once late-night staples, like novelists (Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly) and filmmakers (Paul Haggis).

He’s also jettisoned the traditional monologue in favor of loosely-structured comic essays, which makes for a refreshing change of pace. Ferguson is a skilled raconteur who often draws from the vagabond life he led before becoming an actor. In last Friday’s opening about post-Thanksgiving shopping, he referred to trips he’s taken to Istanbul and Tangiers. It beats hearing about growing up in Boston or Indiana again.

It’s interesting that as ABC has turned Jimmy Kimmel’s show into a carbon copy of the Leno/Letterman programs, Ferguson continues to monkey with the form. And people are noticing. I plan to keep watching.

TV: The Food Network

What kind of masochist watches this channel while they’re working out? And why do they all go to my gym?

Miscellaneous: Link

Learn all you need to know about Aeon Flux before the movie comes out. From Mike Russell at CulturePulp. Make sure you scroll down to his rave for THE ICE HARVEST.