Chicago Sun-Times critic Tom Shales left no doubt about his distaste for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
In a nearly 2,000 word review, Shales eviscerated both the show and its host on the occasion that the ABC talk show moved from midnight to 11:35.
Shales, a Pulitzer-winning TV critic best known for his work at The Washington Post and whose vicious reviews have become the norm, opens by assessing Kimmel's newfound status as the late night competition to David Letterman and Jay Leno: "Jimmy Kimmel still comes across like a guy who crashed a party and got caught at it, yet adamantly refuses to leave," Shales wrote.
He lamented ABC's decision to move Kimmel to the 11:35 spot, calling it a "bad, bad thing" to move the TV newsmagazine "Nightline" to 12:35.
His claim that "The Chevy Chase Show," the notoriously disastrous late night talk show hosted by the former "SNL" star, "was 'Masterpiece Theater' compared to Kimmel's" show may seem a bit over the top, but Shales hardly stops there. Throughout the course of his review, he called Kimmel a "living monotone in most conceivable senses of the word," and harshly pans every segment on Kimmel's Tuesday show from the opening monologue, to the guest bits and even Kimmel's sidekick Guillermo.
Shales unfavorably compares Kimmel to the host's broadcasting hero David Letterman, calling him "a giant compared to his two major competitors in the arena." He also criticized Letterman for appearing on Kimmel's show during its week of Brooklyn shows, implying that Kimmel's show is unworthy of Letterman's presence.
Notably, the review contained little evidence that Shales had seen much of Kimmel's show prior to its 11:35 time change. The bulk of the takedown referenced Tuesday's episode, with no mention of the previous nine years of the show that cemented Kimmel as a late night star worthy to go head-to-head in the most prestigious late night time slot on television.
But even if he had not commented on Kimmel's work at length in the past, his opinion has been consistent. In September, Shales called Kimmel's hosting of the Emmys "cruel and unusual punishment."
As dour as Shales' review reads, Kimmel is actually in good company. In 1993, Shales famously dismissed "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" in similar terms of his Kimmel pan. He wrote at the time that O'Brien is "a switch on the guest who won't leave; he's the host who should never have come."
But by 1996, Shales had done a complete 180 on O'Brien. In a column entitled "So I Was Wrong," he said that "Late Night" had "gone through one of the most amazing transformations in television history."
In his Kimmel review, Shales has little nice to say about anyone in the late night field, save for Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night," which he says "is easily funnier than anything Kimmel has done." However, he goes on to bash Fallon's Capital One and Lincoln commercials as luring "still more millions of Americans into unmanageable and hopeless debt."
Luckily for Kimmel, TV viewers seem to disagree with Shales' assessment of the show. His debut week at 11:35 has seen him fluctuate between second and third place, but has seen increasing numbers in the 18-49 demographic.
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