Thoughts On The All-New 'Arsenio Hall Show' After Last Night's Premiere?

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
September 10, 2013 10:24 AM
32 Comments
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How fast time flies! After over a year of talking about it, the all-new The Arsenio Hall Show debuted nationwide last night, MondaySeptember 9 at 11pm, with main guest Chris Tucker, and Snoop Dogg providing the music.

Surprise, albeit brief appearances by Paula Abdul and Jay Leno in an intro skit (which I thought was maybe the episode's funniest bit), spiced things up a bit, but, unfortunately, not enough to really excite.

The headline of this post describes it as "the all-new" Arsenio Hall Show, but, while watching, I felt like I'd been transported back in time, about 20 years. The set looked eerily similar, the show opened with the same opening theme song from its 1990s incarnation, although updated with the new Posse, and even Arsenio doesn't look like he's aged very much. Gone is the high-top fade, in favor of a low-cut trim, but the man doesn't at all look like he's 3 years away from 60.

I wasn't kidding when I said that the intro skit with Jay Leno was maybe the premiere's funniest, most unexpected bit, because the rest of the hour, I unfortunately found rather dry - the guests and the jokes.

I know it's his first episode back after 20 years, so maybe it'll take a few more for him to regain his mojo, because, despite my lackluster reaction to episode 1, I'm genuinely rooting for his success - especially given the noticeable absence of black late night talk-show hosts. And I was a huge fan of the previous Arsenio Hall Show.

The times have changed however. The TV landscape isn't at all what it used to be, as television itself has seen a radical transformation in the last decade, thanks in large part to the information superhighway known as the world wide web. Competition for eyeballs is intense, with so much demanding the audience's attention, even when at home; so content creators really need to stand out if they're to survive.

The fact that the show is housed at the CW network (and its affiliates) may be to its detriment in the long run, as opposed to if it were on one of the majors like CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX, but those slots are already taken, so what's a new late night talk show host to do? Get in where you fit in, I suppose. 

But I really wanted him to come out swinging, with the guests, the skits, the excitement for what's to come; but I didn't really feel much for it. They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, a statement that carries even more weight today in TV land than it ever did, with network execs and their itchy trigger fingers, not hesitating to cancel new shows if they aren't hits right from the start.

I'm certainly not giving up on the show. It's only been one episode. So I'll be watching nightly to see how it grooves over time, hoping for the best!

Did you tune in, and if so, your thoughts?

As for the rest of the week, here's what to expect:

· Tuesday, Sept. 10: Ice Cube, Lisa Kudrow and musical guest, rapper Mac Miller.

· Wednesday, Sept. 11: Magic Johnson, George Lopez, and musical guest, rapper Nas.

· Thursday, Sept. 12: Actor Mark Harmon from NCIS, magicians Penn & Teller, and musical guest, Earth, Wind, & Fire.

· Friday, Sept. 13: Angela Bassett and Simon Cowell's "X Factor" group, Emblem3 as musical guests. I'd assume Cowell will be there as well, if only to introduce the group.

But that's not all. Expect a number of surprise guests throughout premiere week, although no hints as to whom they might be.

Looking past premiere week, guests booked for the rest of the month of September include: Kendrick Lamar, Nick Cannon, Dr. PhilPaula Patton, Melissa Leo, Djimon Hounsou, Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Allison Janney, Anson Mount, Russell Simmons, 2 Chainz, Louie Anderson, Orlando Jones and many others.

The show is produced by Eye Productions Inc., in association with Arsenio Hall Communications Ltd. and Octagon Entertainment Productions, and distributed by CBS Television Distribution

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32 Comments

  • RW | September 18, 2013 12:04 AMReply

    I find it hard to watch Arsenio name dropping and reminding the audience of his past success (failing at being subtle about it). It like when you see an old buddy once I a while and you have nothing to talk about but the good old days... Oh, remember that time when... And it's awkward and a bit forced just like Arsenio's new show. Nervous, forced, over compensating and just trying too hard without actually saying "will you please like me... I really need you to like me..."

  • Gloria | September 14, 2013 12:41 AMReply

    His show is flatter than a pancake. His jokes aren't funny. He seems lost in the 90's. It just isn't cutting it. Sorry Arsenio it's been to long and you need to stop talking about "when you had your other show". Move on, and get with what's going today or you will loose any potential new audience or the old audience you used to have.... Sorry but sometimes honesty hurts.

  • Aida Tamran | September 13, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    I disagree with your comment/assessment. The Show was a success and we're glad he is back!!

  • Walter Harris Gavin | September 11, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    If you have the same guests, with the same format, look, set as every other latenite talk show, it's going to be pretty much the same ol' same ol'. If you're going to come back after 20 years, I think you need to break new ground somewhere...format, guests, look, otherwise why watch?

  • Expressive | September 10, 2013 11:44 PMReply

    Fingers crossed! Slow start, but great guest appearances by Snoop and Chris Tucker. I think once Arsenio gets back in his groove, he'll be great just like he never left. He's still playing it safe (understandably so). I hope viewers give the show a chance. If they do, they won't be disappointed (my opinion, stand by it a 101%).

  • Curtis | September 10, 2013 7:29 PMReply

    This was the most salient part of this post:

    "The times have changed however. The TV landscape isn't at all what it used to be, as television itself has seen a radical transformation in the last decade, thanks in large part to the information superhighway known as the world wide web. Competition for eyeballs is intense, with so much demanding the audience's attention, even when at home; so content creators really need to stand out if they're to survive.

    But I really wanted him to come out swinging, with the guests, the skits, the excitement for what's to come; but I didn't really feel much for it. They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, a statement that carries even more weight today in TV land than it ever did, with network execs and their itchy trigger fingers, not hesitating to cancel new shows if they aren't hits right from the start."

    That's it right there. Folks are mentioning that other hosts got off to slow starts but you have to keep in mind that they're not coming into the game in 2013 when the game has changed. Networks are canceling new shows after 3 episodes if the don't show and prove from the start. And if Arsenio's numbers start slipping because folks aren't watching then we can't expect the show to be on the air for long. It's a sad state of affairs but that's what it is.

  • Donella | September 10, 2013 7:04 PMReply

    Even Conan took a while to get his groove back after his own late night dust-up.

    Oprah had to do a lot of calibrating for OWN.

    Queen Latifah's going to give it a go in daytime and I hope she gets a chance to prove herself.

  • ALM | September 10, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    The show is actually on Fox affiliates in some areas.

    I am rooting for Arsenio. I blame the writers. Most of the jokes were not funny. Arsenio still has a great personality on camera, though. I thought the time capsule bit was going to be funny, but it was unnecessarily tedious, i.e. the large seat on the tricycle for Kim Kardashian....I think a lot of people are trying to forget about her, so bringing her up at this point was about a year too late.

    I LOVED seeing him reunite with Paula, and I loved the Jay Leno bit. For this first week, he should have brought out the big guns, i.e. Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Prince, etc.

    I'm not sure why he didn't bring out the big guns...I hope that he hasn't burned industry bridges. I would love to hear Mariah, Aretha or Prince perform even if they don't have brand new music to perform (although Prince has new music and Mariah has semi-new music).

    Being the music lover that I am, the musical performances were the highlight of the original show for me. I loved the diversity. You could see Nirvana one night, and Luther Vandross the next night, and CeCe and BeBe Winans the following night, and the show still felt cohesive.

    I am upset that so many legends are gone now, i.e. Whitney, Michael, Luther, Cobain......there are only so many left, so Arsenio needs to book Aerosmith, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Stevie Nicks, Patti LaBelle, Lionel Richie, Diana Krall, etc. quickly........

  • Lawrence | September 10, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    Kimmel, Conan and Fallon emerged after Arsenio and have been wildly successful. (I wish I could add funny-as-hell Chelsey Handler, but her time slot and repeated shows put her out of the competition with "the guys".) Kimmel, brash and mocking to everyone, is amazingly successful as a self-made up from dregs tv host. Conan and Fallon, creatures of SNL Svengali Lorne Michaels, have had a lot of programming support to carve out their slots in Latenite. All of them needed time to tweak their product and settle into a groove. Arsenio needs it too. Indeed he needs to know he can't serve warmed over '90s style stuff. He WAS an original and broke the mold with his brash ethnic hipness which was unseen on latewhite TV. But many elements of his pioneering style have been adopted by the other guys and adapted for their audiences. I'd like to see him get some sharp young producers and and come up with some brilliant young comics, stimulating non-reality-tv guests, intelligent observers of pop culture, and some regular eye-candy girls on the set. I wish him well.

  • CareyCarey | September 10, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    Wait a minute, what am I missing, if I am not mistaken Arsenio Hall (back in the day) was a corny suck-up schmuck, but we were hungry for something new. Flash forward nearly 20 years. Arsenio is now an old (thus nervous) corny suck-up schmuck who's trying to re-live his negligible past glory. And wasn't it fitting that he brought along a few other pot-heads from the past?

    That reminds me, when I smoked pot (years ago) I couldn't do a damn thang besides sit my ass down, mumble a few philosophical phrases and look stupid. Well, Arsenio's guests -- so far -- has that move down pat.

  • Miles Ellison | September 18, 2013 12:16 AM

    CareyCarey is rough, but he's not wrong. I saw Uptown Comedy Express. Arsenio was pretty funny, but it wasn't exactly Delirious. Pump the brakes.

  • Agent K | September 11, 2013 6:01 PM

    @CareyCarey & Sergio
    Damn you two are rough lol!

  • CareyCarey | September 11, 2013 11:41 AM

    Yep, again I am agreeing with Sergio, JEFTCG is reaching a-wee-bit. Listen, not only have I seen that special (country folks do have TV's and DVR's) I 've actually sat in the Apollo theater, the home of the most funniest and edgiest black comics of all time. So I am here to reiterate the fact that Arsenio's 5 minute performance in Los Angelos, on an obscure night in NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN would not put him in the annals of edgy black comics on par with Pryor, Murphy or 20 other comics of that period. In fact, on par with Sergio comparing him to Ellen Degerenres, the white boy Barry Sobel (who was also on the special) was edgier than the lame-corny-suckup-schmuck.

    "Although, because I'm a humble black man, I'm always willing to consider I might be wrong" ~ JEFTCG

    Well, we all know fools sometimes go where wise men tread not, so the door is open and we do accept apologies. Or just wave the white flag, we'll understand. :-)

  • sergio | September 11, 2013 7:29 AM

    If you have to reach back to ONE program in the later 80's to prove how "edgy" Arsenio was or might had been at one time, then your argument is weak, If he was back then, then he sure as hell wasn't by the time he had his show

  • JEFTCG | September 11, 2013 5:12 AM

    Sergio & CC-- occasionally I agree with you guys.. Tonight, all I can say is "Do Your Homework, SUCKAZ." CLEARLY you country fools have never seen the landmark 1987 comedy special "Uptown Comedy Express" hosted by "Uncle Ray" Murphy, and starring the top stand-ups of the day: Chris Rock, Robert Townsend, Marsha Warfield, Barry Sobel, and yes, a stellar Arsenio Hall (who actually out-shined Chris Rock!) It's probably this comedy special that prompted FOX to hire him to replace Joan Rivers as permanent guest host on her ailing show. Once you watch it, get back to me, kids.

    Although, because I'm a humble black man, I'm always willing to consider I might be wrong.

  • sergio | September 10, 2013 11:16 PM

    "...but I have no memory of an edgy stand-up comic with traits of Pryor and Murphy, who went by the name of Arsenio Hall."

    Same here. Just who exactly is this "edgy stand-up comic" that JEFTCG is referring to? Never in his lifetime was he ever "edgy". His jokes were and have always been corny. He makes Ellen Degerenres look like Rudy Ray Moore. And he was always unbareable whenever Eddie Murphy would appear on his show licking his ass until holes wore through his tongue (To paraphrase Money Python. Now THEY were edgy)

  • CareyCarey | September 10, 2013 11:00 PM

    JEFTCG, I know Sergio and I are a wee bit older than you, so maybe you've seen a different Arsenio Hall than we have, so as Sergio said "I never saw what was the BIG deal with him back then and even less so today."

    I mean, maybe you have some inside information that lead you to say he was "influenced" by Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, and I can't speak for Sergio, but I have no memory of an edgy stand-up comic with traits of Pryor and Murphy, who went by the name of Arsenio Hall.

    However, I do have memories of him hanging on Murphy's coat-tail as the corny suck-up schmuck in the films Harlem Nights and Coming To America (the characters Crying Man and Semmi). So yeah, I disagree, he (as Sergio said) is a lame interviewer (always has been) and now he's an older lame corny schmuck, imo.

  • NO BRAINER | September 10, 2013 8:06 PM

    Dare I say I have to agree with SERGIO? He is a really lame interviewer. I never paid attention to that back in the day as I was basically a kid watching for the celebs. But looking at him now, I'm like, "What kind of questions are these?"

  • JEFTCG | September 10, 2013 6:50 PM

    DANG you guys are harsh! He surely wasn't top-from last night, but I wouldn't say "Corny suck-up schmuck". I disagree wityall: Arsenio's popularity back in the day was legitimate. When he took over Joan Rivers' tired-ass show, Arsenio was an edgy stand-up comic who was clearly influenced by the Master, Richard Pryor, and the Masters' protege, Eddie Murphy. But last night, Arsenio was an edgeless late-middle-aged man trying to find that harmless middle ground entertaining middle America echoing Carrot-Top (by his own admission.) It didn't work, in my opinion. But he can bounce back, and I hope he does; he certainly has been given a rare and great opportunity for redemption.

  • sergio | September 10, 2013 6:04 PM

    OH GOD! Dare I say I have to agree with Carey about Arsenio? He's dead on target calling him a "corny suck-up schmuck' (and let me add a really lame interviewer) back then and now "an older corny suck-up schmuck who's trying to re-live his negligible past glory" I never saw what was the BIG deal with him back then and even less so today. The only reason why I assume he was popular back then was because..."OOOOH look! He's got Tupac on his show! Take that Johnny Carson!' Yeah well that and $2 would get you a ride on the bus back then. Now who cares?

  • Phillyteri | September 10, 2013 4:08 PMReply

    **Sigh** Ok here it goes...I really wanted to like Arsenio's show, but I was underwhelmed...he could have done without the corny bits at the beginning...and Snoop...meh....I like Chris Tucker, but he should have had someone a little more dynamic for his opener. It all seemed more like rewarmed back in the day Arsenio...hopefully things will pick up. Also he needs to dial it down, he was so hyper as if he was soooo happy to be back, a little too manic.

  • NO BRAINER | September 10, 2013 3:36 PMReply

    He needs better writers. He still got IT but that might be the problem as 1994 was almost 20 years ago. He needs to update his style, the way he interviews, questioning, etc., just a little. I'll give him a month.

  • Gigi Young | September 10, 2013 2:40 PMReply

    I didn't watch it--11 PM is way past my bedtime--but it's on Fox in my area (Northern California). I hope it lasts, and I hope Arsenio manages to balance nostalgia for the 90s with today's audiences.

  • JEFTCG | September 10, 2013 1:30 PMReply

    You said it, Tambay; I completely agree. The show was surprisingly not funny. Better writers seem to be needed, and rather quickly, I'd say. And Arsenio didn't seem relaxed (but that is forgivable for a "first show".) Most unforgivable, however, was Chris Tucker: there was nothing funny or entertaining there. I'm almost tempted to re-watch the show to count how many times Chris said "great". (He great! She's great! It's great! Deniro's great! Ice Cube's great!)

    While Tucker was probably a stumble as a first guest, the show doesn't seem to have a problem booking quality, and I will continue to watch for the time being. Hopefully Arsenio loosens up a bit, makes it more "classy/edgy adult" and less "corny 90's sitcom dad trying to relate to kids" (perfect analogy, Amari.) I'm looking forward to Penn & Teller as well.

  • lovesfilmnmusic | September 10, 2013 2:13 PM

    He did say "Great" a million times. lol

  • Amari | September 10, 2013 1:03 PMReply

    To me, watching Arsenio was like watching a corny sitcom dad trying to relate to his kids by talking about how things were back in the day. Add onto that, Chris Tucker didn't make the best first interview nor did Snoop really help him. He would have been better off getting two interview guest who could have really showed this was his element, and not make it seem like a reunion special or "Where are they now?" Hosted by Arsenio Hall.

  • Troy | September 10, 2013 12:34 PMReply

    You know, I'm going to agree with what everyone's saying, but I'm also going to note that I can't recall a single talk show that came out the gate on fire with an abundance of great jokes and hot bits... and yes, I know, "Arsenio's done it before," but it's been 19 years, though; it's not like he took a month off and came back to TV. It was only night 1, let's let him work out all the kinks, eh? And since he's aligned with Viacom (even though the show is technically syndicated), hopefully he won't have very many political problems with booking guests and such, and hopefully his creative team can come up with some memorable and recurring bits over time... he knows that he's once again serving an audience that is criminally underserved in the late night market...

  • LeonRaymond | September 10, 2013 11:30 AMReply

    I can agree with both comments posted, but what hit me was that I got hit by the emotion and thought that a show like his is so badly needed. Cause the others shows are just one white guest after another after another and the tone of those shows are white for white humor and white sensibilities. So hopefully he will bring it as time goes on. I will be watching just because it's a Black show. I just feel in this present climate I got to!

  • juliette | September 10, 2013 3:29 PM

    Leonraymond, you said everything that I was going to say.

  • CJ | September 10, 2013 10:54 AMReply

    Yup, you pretty much nailed it!! The jokes felt 20 years old and Arsenio's interview style hasn't changed. I hope now that they've gotten all those corny "where has he been" jokes out of the way, they will bring out the funny stuff. Tunaphoon?!! SMH Can't base much on a single episode though. He's got me through premiere week fo' sho'. Woot woot woot woot.....

  • lovesfilmnmusic | September 10, 2013 10:51 AMReply

    Maybe he was broken after he lost his show on CBS and having Farrakhan as a guest. Perhaps this is Arsenio lite. He may not be willing to go out on a limb because he lost everything before. I'm rooting for him though. Bring back the Arsenio who had vigor and snapped on audience members. Bring back fun Arsenio, not this one with his tail between his legs.

  • ALM | September 10, 2013 4:45 PM

    Yep. It feels as if he is holding back.....It's as if he is treading very, very lightly, lest he risk cancellation (or lest he risks being asked to leave while stating the decision was mutual). I would prefer he get a show on HBO like Chris Rock did and just let loose with the jokes.

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