Arsenio Hall is back after nearly two decades of being off the air, and viewers are very divided in how they feel about his premiere episode.
While Hall looks and acts like he’s barely aged since his popular show went off the air, some felt that the jokes he made during last night’s broadcast were stale and forced.
“He joked that, in his day, “Instagram” was a “cocaine delivery service.” His pop-culture references were mostly old (he joked about Wesley Snipes’s tax problems), and even the newer ones were tired: he made fun of Kim Kardashian by pulling out her supposed pink tricycle from childhood, fitted with an oversize seat,” wrote Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times.
Even the night’s guests–which included Chris Tucker and Paula Abdul– seem to have been pulled directly from Hall’s cache of personal friends rather than from the pool of popular stars who do the talk show rounds for promotion. Still, Hall hasn’t lost the charm or charisma that kept his show running for five years, and despite a less-than-stellar first night, many fans have high hopes for him.
“The host brings not only a still-necessary demographic corrective to late night but memories of a time, which was also the time of the Wayans brothers’ “In Living Color,” when black culture seemed poised to join the broadcast mainstream,” writes L.A. Times television critic Robert Lloyd. “It is a curious thing to launch a new late-night series under the stewardship of a 57-year-old, even one as lively and youthful and fit as Hall; that is the age, rather, when they are painting the target on your back. But with late-night still dominated, almost to the point of exclusion, by white men — very white men, mostly — Hall does make sense: He is the outsider and insider, with a track record and good will, and the power of nostalgia working for him.”