Thursday, May 21, 2015

Letterman Late Show Ends

And that's that.

As I wrote a little over a month ago, I stopped being a regular Letterman viewer years ago.

At one time, I was a diehard fan. That changed and I tuned out, only watching the show on the very rare occasion that I wanted to see a guest. For example, July 2014, I watched Letterman to see Joan Rivers. Even then, I refused to suffer through his monologue.

So, in mid-April, when I decided to tune in again on a nightly basis, it was weird.

The show was already swimming in the final dance routine. The tributes were pouring in, with celebrities doing their Letterman curtain calls.

At times, it was a bit much. And, at times, Letterman's monologue offered validation that I had made the right choice to bail on the show. Other times, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Letterman, little flashes of the past.

It has been quite the nostalgic journey beyond the show itself.

Talk of Letterman's morning show on NBC takes me back to that time, where I was and what was happening in my life. The same goes for Late Night and the switch to CBS and the years that followed.

Watching all the old clips has been fun but also sort of a maudlin exercise. Accelerated aging. A dinosaur exhibit.

Letterman's departure certainly marks the end of an era. That's no exaggeration. Television is so different now. It's so fragmented. It's not the same sort of experience as it was when people grew up under the influence of the Big Three networks. The FOX network didn't even exist when Letterman began his late night gig.

The TV landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation since Letterman started. The Internet, Netflix, streaming on demand, and whatever is yet to come are sure to put an end to the establishment of towering entertainment figures with the longevity of Letterman. Everything is smaller and diminished in scale.

In many ways, Letterman's retirement is a big, blaring shout: YOU'RE OLD. DEAL WITH IT.

His final show was about as sentimental as Letterman could muster, meaning not very sentimental at all.

But it was nice. His expressions of thanks to the crew, staff, and his family were sincere, but certainly not sappy. He maybe choked up a tiny bit at the very end but really was in complete control of his emotions when he signed off:

DAVID LETTERMAN: All right, that's pretty much all I got. The only thing I have left to do for the last time on a television program: Thank you and goodnight.

He ended it his way.


No comments: