Tag Archive: The Tonight Show


Lip Sync Battle Dwayne Johnson The Rock

No surprise here. You know what you’re going to get with the show’s title: Lip Sync Battle.  Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show lip sync contests where he faces off against everyone from Will Farrell to Emma Stone are the stuff of viral videos now.  So it was a smart move for him to lead up a team of producers and Saturday Night Live’s Beth McCarthy-Miller as show director to feature a cable show that spun-off this segments into its own gig.

Spike TV started its new “reality competition” series off this week right, featuring the king of lip sync, the goofy, give-it-all-you-got Fallon against the larger than life charisma of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  LL Cool J serves as the host of the show, with co-host/Spike eye candy model Chrissy Teigen.

Both trash talked each other throughout the show with plenty of good humor.  The prize for each episode is a giant boxing belt and midway through battle one Fallon offered up a pint-sized version for Johnson.

LL Cool J Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battle

Johnson’s songs were Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” up against Fallon’s take on Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line” song from Beetlejuice.  Fallon upped the ante by taking the audience into a Conga line.  But the second round was the big production, with Fallon first up, syncing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” with a back-up choir.  But you just can’t beat Johnson sporting John Travolta’s trademark duds from Saturday Night Fever, syncing the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive.”  Both the stars really seemed to give it their all.

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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David Brenner Tonight Show

Comedian David Brenner was said to have been Johnny Carson’s favorite guest on The Tonight Show, showing up on 157 episodes.  He passed away this weekend at age 78.  Watching clips decades later reminds you how easy Carson and Brenner could fill air time with a quick chat and be able to make others laugh so effortlessly, and how much of a good guy Brenner seemed to be.  When I was a kid, I’d try to get my parents to “let me stay up to watch Carson” and they often let me, to my sleepless glee.  But I was disappointed if the show didn’t have David Brenner as a guest or as guest host.  I liked to watch him laugh as he told his jokes, and his humor, whether I understood it all or not, made me laugh.  I learned of Brenner’s passing via a nice comment by Jimmy Fallon on Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, where Fallon has returned to the kind of humor as the new host of the long-lived show, the kind of humor that kept audiences rolling back in the 1970s and 1980s with Brenner’s brilliant monologues.

I liked Brenner so much that when his autobiography came out before I was a teenager I nabbed it up, maybe the only autobiography I read until adulthood.  Again, some of it was outside of my understanding back then.  And here’s a strange thing.  My personal sleep habits spring from staying up late to watch Carson and Saturday Night Live, but even more so to Brenner’s own sleep clock.  I latched onto the fact that Brenner said he would only sleep about four hours each night, nothing close to the eight hours most people aim to get.  He figured if he kept it up he could live–be awake–something like 20 years longer than everyone else.  People say you need 8 hours of sleep per day, yet Brenner made it to 78.  Bravo.  It makes me wonder if he kept up that 4-hour sleep plan.  Because of Brenner I have never bought into the need for the eight-hour nightly sleep.  My own strange takeaway from this funny funnyman.

Called Soft Pretzels with Mustard, Brenner’s autobiography is a story of a kid growing up in Philly and how he picked up his sense of humor along the way.  The book became a bestseller and I count it as one of my favorites.

Soft Pretzels with Mustard

My favorite clip of The Tonight Show with Brenner is one of the funniest pieces of television you’ll ever see and I last saw it on a Johnny Carson anniversary show.  I scanned the Web for it to no avail, but found Brenner’s own recollection of the episode:

“Johnny loved to catch someone NOT watching the “Tonight Show,” especially when they were on it.  So one night I was on the show and I did my act and I came over and sat on the couch and, if you remember, sometimes the last guest would be the author of a book.

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