When I was but a wee laddie, I witnessed something on television that would change my life forever. The year was 1980; that particular summer day was rainy and miserable, and none of my friends were anywhere to be found. So I listlessly flipped the four or five channels on our TV before unhappily settling on an NBC morning show hosted by a very average-looking guy with an uncomfortably large gap between his teeth.
If memory serves, the host was interviewing a scientist who was pontificating over some very abstruse subject, and being extremely patronizing in the process. In fact, the scientist was a total a-hole, and I began desperately hoping the gap-toothed host would tell him off—but he didn't. He just sat there, patiently, letting this smug, know-it-all butthole dominate the entire interview. HOWEVER! When the segment was over, and the host thanked his guest, something I've never seen before or since occurred: As the a-hole scientist got up and left his chair, a HUGE 200-pound sandbag fell from the ceiling and—KA-BLAM!!—crushed the chair into splinters. And I was like, "OMIGOD, WHAT JUST HAPPENED??" That's when the gap-toothed host turned to the audience, shrugged, and said, "Just missed." Cut to commercial.
I... was... astounded. I mean, I'd already been regularly watching the still-young Saturday Night Live, so I was no stranger to acerbic comedy—but at 10 am in the morning?? I eventually learned I was watching The David Letterman Show, starring a former weatherman from Indiana (!!) who later moved to LA to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian and comedy writer. Everything about The David Letterman Show was weird: From his choice of weird comedian guests (including Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, and Richard Lewis), to his weird regular segments (like the birth of "Small Town News" and "Stupid Pet Tricks"—which shall always be remembered for the time Dave presented a canned ham to a monkey washing a cat). But weirdest of all? What was a show like this doing on in the morning? In short, I WAS IN LOVE.
Now, I'm not an idiot—I know and expect "all good things to come to an end." But The David Letterman Show was waaaaay too good to last in such an unusual timeslot and was unceremoniously canceled after a short four months on the air. But dear god, it was a sweet and revelatory four months. I watched it religiously every morning that summer, and taped it to watch later when I was in school. And even though it came and went in a flash, it gave a weird kid like me hope—that if a national network would give a gap-toothed weirdo like that his own show... even if only for four months? Any weird thing I decided to do in my life was possible.
Obviously Letterman went on to even greater things on late-night TV, but for me? My world opened up with the crash of a sandbag, an a-hole scientist who should've been crushed, and the gap between Letterman's teeth.
This Week on Television
WEDNESDAY, MAY 20
10:30 ANI KILLER HORNETS FROM HELL
Animal Planet doesn't want you to panic, but an invasion of murderous hornets are heading your way. (Yaawwwwn.)
11:35 CBS LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN
Series finale! Dave retires with class and style (and hopefully some more Jay Leno insults).
THURSDAY, MAY 21
3:00 am NETFLIX BETWEEN
Debut! A virus wipes out everybody over 21 years old—so, wait. Nobody can get legally drunk? BOOOOO.
8:00 NBC RED NOSE DAY
Comedians such as Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Martin Short, and more raise money for kids living in poverty.
FRIDAY, MAY 22
3:00 am NETFLIX JEN KIRKMAN: I'M GONNA DIE ALONE
A new stand-up special featuring hilarious funnylady Jen Kirkman.
SATURDAY, MAY 23
8:00 STARZ OUTLANDER
After being forced to marry a Scottish jerk, Claire contemplates escape... via time travel!
SUNDAY, MAY 24
8:00 ANI CANNIBAL IN THE JUNGLE—Movie
(2015) A scientist is charged with killing and eating his friend, blaming it on a "prehistoric beast." Yeah. Riiiiight.
9:30 SHO HAPPYISH
After witnessing a commuter killed by a train, the unhappy Thom realizes that at least he's not that guy.
MONDAY, MAY 25
8:00 NGC STARTALK
Science-y host Neil deGrasse Tyson talks science-y stuff with special guest former Prez Jimmy Carter.
10:00 NBC THE ISLAND
Debut! Bear Grylls hosts this reality show about a group of normal dudes left to survive on an island with no Twitter.
TUESDAY, MAY 26
9:00 CW IZOMBIE
Liv eats the brains of a paranoid person, which makes her paranoid that eating brains might not be a good idea!
10:30 COM INSIDE AMY SCHUMER
If you're not watching Amy's hilarious and naughty show with a feminist bent... I can't even with you!