January 26, 2004

So how was Dennis Miller in his first effort?

The "monkey," actually a chimpanzee, really was meant as a tribute to J. Fred Muggs, of the original Today Show (as discussed below). The creature seemed depressed (or drugged), and didn't hop away or jump back up on cue with the speed that must have been intended. This is no cute baby chimp, but a relatively full-sized one (to my eye, at least). I'm not sure what that added, other than dead weight, but Miller led off with a few jabs at animal rights types who might object, out of concern for the chimp--which he referred to as "the simian," in a typical effort to help us expand our vocabulary.

Some of these efforts are off the mark. For example, it's not right to say "We're not going to waste time pretending to adhere to the McGuffin of 'fair and balanced.'" A McGuffin is not a slogan or a canard, but a meaningless plot device, like the uranium in "Notorious." Is he just trying to impress people who don't get the references? But even they can pause the Tivo and Google.

His intro didn't make the idea for the show very clear--other than the "one unalterable rule: no Ed Asner." He said he was going to change from his usual "milieu" and "evolve" (a possible reference to the chimp). He claimed to be liberal, but changed since 9/11. He did that gay wedding/terrorist joke quoted below. Expressing disdain for the overprotection of the rights of the accused, he said "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown." I don't know how in control of that reference he was, but as I remember "Chinatown," that line means the law has no application here. So did he mean, after 9/11, the government can fight terrorism any way it wants? I doubt it, because he went on to talk about the need for "pragmatism," which can be a vision of the rule of law.

After the intro, he brought on his pal Arnold Schwarzenegger, who proceeded to talk policy, blabbing about Proposition 57 and 58, which Miller had to prod him to explain. Did you know that people need to work together to solve problems? At least Miller made fun of himself afterwards for being so bad.

Some "Weekend Update" type clutter in the middle, then out come David Horowitz, Naomi Wolf, and David Frum. Okay...

After the break, there's Dennis hiding behind an O'Reilly Factor mug. He says, "All Right! First show! Broke some adhesions. Gotta figure out a way to break into people. Don't wanna be rude."

Unfortunately, the show seemed to justify the O'Reilly approach of cutting in all the time. I hope he figures out a solution. He obviously knows he's got a problem.

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