The commercials in the months leading up to George Lopez’s talk show may have given off the impression that it would be a program worth watching. After all, President Obama wouldn’t appear in an ad campaign for and lend his slogan to a televised train wreck, right?
Lopez Tonight kicked off last week on TBS. Lopez will host the hour-long show five nights a week. It starts at 10 p.m. CST, so the time slot indirectly overlaps with the shows of more established hosts like David Letterman and Conan O’Brien.
The first warning sign during the premiere was the “party” atmosphere. Blaring music, an oversized venue and a screaming audience give off the impression of a My Super Sweet Sixteen episode, something the world could stand to live without.
Instead of opening the show with topical one-liners, it seemed like Lopez tried and failed to throw together a stand-up act. About 12 minutes into the show, the first commercial beak was a welcome relief from the jokes.
The fact that Lopez had big-name guests should have helped out his cause, if only he could have engaged them in interesting conversation. Eva Longoria Parker told of an argument with Mars Inc. over her Peanut M&Ms. Kobe Bryant struggled to say anything of substance and wasn’t helped by Lopez’s constant fascination with repeating curses for the censors.
Logic would dictate that Carlos Santana performing “Oye Como Va” could save even the worst of shows. Not so, although it was impressive that Lopez snagged such a prestigious first musical guest. If he can consistently book good acts, he’ll have that advantage over other talk shows.
Granted, few talk shows are perfect at the start. It took Jimmy Fallon a couple of months to grow into his new role and tweak his content.
It’s not that there’s absolutely no hope for the future of this show. It is likely to appeal to a broader racial demographic than the other talk shows. The only problem with that theory is that Lopez’s being Chicano likely won’t be enough for the show to steal viewers from other hosts with better quips.
Lopez has everything that major network hosts don’t have and don’t need: a supply of recycled jokes from a canceled sitcom, the support of a smaller TV network and guests who tell stories that make viewers want to add: “And then I found five dollars.”