We’re going to be honest here and say that we personally thought that “The Arsenio Hall Show” was going to flop in its return to TV. This is a guy whose last major TV gig was on “The Celebrity Apprentice” more than a year ago, and we really didn’t see that much publicity out there for a syndicated program that was airing largely on many CW markets.
However, the ratings have not only come in solid, but above both Jay Leno and a delayed David Letterman last night. Arsenio drew a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic for his show, which felt much like a broadcast of the original decades ago. Leno made a cameo at the start of the show, and we also had a fun appearance from Paula Abdul midway through for a little sketch mocking one of her old music videos.
Now that Hall has cleared this hurdle, the next obstacle for him is going to be stability. Late-night TV is a jam-packed field, but there could be a market in here for him as the only African-American late-night host on broadcast TV, and one with nostalgia to go along with it. The only other one we can think of on cable is “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” and it airs on the just-starting-out FXX. While his jokes were not always hysterically funny, Arsenio has a natural charm and charisma that makes his show feel easy to watch and never forced. His interviews are also comfortable, which is a nice change to Leno and his meticulously-planned discussions.
You can watch a couple of the highlights from “The Arsenio Hall Show” last night in the video below.
Photo: “The Arsenio Hall Show”