Strong Start For "Lopez Tonight"

By George, I think he’s got it. Comedian George Lopez’s new late-night talk show, Lopez Tonight, premiered to a very healthy 3.1 million viewers Monday night on three Turner Networks: TBS, TNT and TruTV, says Variety.

1.7 million of those combined total viewers watched the show on TBS—a good thing for the show since that’s where it will air weekly at 11 p.m. But more importantly, the debut—which featured guests Eva Longoria Parker, Kobe Bryant and Carlos Santana—performed solidly among adults (1 million viewers) in the key 18-49 demographic that advertisers love. “That’s higher than the current season averages (though not the premieres) of the adult demo draws for talk shows like CBS' Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live and Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. If you use the combined three-net number, the show was sampled by more adult demo viewers than Conan O'Brien or David Letterman's average,” writes The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd.

In even more good news for Lopez Tonight, the show, which aired in place of TBS’s usual reruns of My Name is Earl drew 70% higher household ratings than Earl. “Viewers are ready for a change, and George Lopez is an exciting addition to late-night television,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. “We are extremely proud of the success of last night’s premiere of Lopez Tonight and are confident the show will continue to be a big late-night hit.”

I’m not at all surprised that Lopez Tonight got off to a very good start. After all, TBS has promoted the show heavily over the past few weeks, so I knew the debut would at least be respectable. And as a fellow Latino, I really couldn’t be more proud or happier for the Mexican comedian.

But I must be honest and say that the show needs a lot of work. First of all, it’s too heavy on race. In his opening act Monday night, Lopez spoke about America’s diversity, telling his audience that as a country we are black, white, Asian, Latino, etc. That’s a beautiful thing, because after all, that’s what America looks like. But then he went on and on and on about race for so long that the show became a conversation about race and not a late-night talk show that discusses the current issues in the news, or pop culture stories that appeal to late-night audiences.

Lopez went on to deliver even more jokes about race and ethnicity, chief among them one tired joke about how his grandmother always used ethnic groups to remind her of things she needed to do in her life: "If she saw an Asian person, she remembered she needed a pedicure," said Lopez. "If she saw an African-American, she remembered she had to lock the house." The jokes are fine for 1995, but this is 2009.

The race issue aside, the show has another major problem—the skits aren’t very funny. Last night, Lopez had on singer Marc Anthony and the two of them performed a skit in which they had an “adult playdate.” The whole thing was wildly unfunny, and actually kind of embarrassing. The show needs work. The good news is, thanks to the strong debut ratings, it looks like it will have time to improve.

What did you think of Lopez Tonight? Dish in the comments!