With all the late night TV shenanigans that have been going on lately, I have seen a bunch of great pieces on the web and in print about this history of late night TV. My favorite online work is this piece from WGMU’s Beware of the Blog, called “The Late Night Distemper of Our Times”, that takes a hard look at the many bad decisions that went on in the late 1950s on networks trying to tinker around with winning formulas in order to find more “win”. I especially enjoy the part about the Jerry Lewis Show, which just might be the Heaven’s Gate of talk shows. Great stuff.
Netflix’s suggestions are usually nothing more than jokes. Yes, I watched Primeval, but in what universe does that mean I might also like Downton Abbey? But Netflix finally made good last night. It suggested a little documentary called American Scary.
American Scary is about our country’s rich tradition of horror hosts. It covers such VHF luminaries as Ghoulardi, Svengoolie, Vampira, Elvira, and Zacherley. Not only are these hosts and more in the documentary, but there are also interviews with Leonard Maltin (who appeared to be sitting in the same chair he inhabited in The Sci-Fi Boys), Tim Conway, Tom Savini, Patricia Tallman (drool), Joel Hodgson, Commander USA (out of uniform, unfortunately), and Neil Gaiman. Gaiman was even shown hosting a short Halloween special of his own. Big Chuck and Lil’ John also make an appearance, and there is a discussion on the abnormal abundance of Ohio horror hosts that I (being a Columbus boy) greatly appreciated. I imagined that Claymation Werewolf and Drahken would like that part as well. The only problem? They didn’t mention my two favorite hosts: Fritz the Nite Owl (who probably would have fit into their “Normal Guys” category) and Moana (an Elvira rip-off from Pittsburg we had for about a year on WTTE). How could they have missed them when they spent so much time on Ohio? I have no clue.
If you can forgive that oversight, you can see American Scary on either Netflix Instant, Hulu, or YouTube.
I long for the days when Late Night TV choices were simpler and I think a whole lot more entertaining. This was the cover on 1988’s Rolling Stone, featuring the King of Late Night and his chosen successor. Am I the only one getting tired of this Late Night Soap Opera? I just want a laugh before I go to sleep.