TV Review: ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’

The Arsenio Hall Show review

Arsenio Hall's new show looks just like his old one. And that might be a pretty shrewd move

Although Arsenio Hall devoted his opening-night monologue to what he’s been up to for the last 19 years, the announcer wasn’t really joking by introducing the host as “back from a very long weekend.” That’s because “The Arsenio Hall Show,” inevitably and perhaps shrewdly, looks like a carbon copy of the syndicated show Hall left in 1994. And if you think about it, why not? In today’s fragmented TV universe, a series with a fraction of the audience Hall delivered in his heyday will likely be heralded as a success. So enter the new “Arsenio,” a touch wiser, perhaps, but essentially, same as the old one.

Hall’s most inspired gag was also the most obvious — enlisting Jay Leno, playing his shrink, to tell him if he works hard and does a good job, why shouldn’t he be able to host a latenight show for as long as he likes?

After that, though, the new venture — syndicated by CBS and anchored by the Tribune station group — made clear there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Indeed, almost everything about Monday’s opener felt like the product of a time warp — a musical appearance by Snoop Dogg, light banter with guest Chris Tucker,  a walk-on endorsement from a spacey Paula Abdul.

SEE ALSO: CBS, Tribune Bet on Arsenio Hall’s Latenight Syndie

Granted, the scripted bits were hit and (more often) miss, with so much time spent delving into the way-back machine as to become a trifle tedious. Then again, Hall can be somewhat forgiven for reveling in the moment, and his own enthusiasm — looking like someone genuinely happy to have this second shot — helped power through the clunkier elements.

Hall is in his 50s now, but that still puts him in good company in terms of older hosts chasing after a younger audience. (The crowd, naturally, was young, wildly appreciative and attractive — or at least, the women the camera kept finding were.)

SEE ALSO: ‘Arsenio Hall Show’ Launches to Promising Numbers Monday

The latenight landscape is far more diverse and crowded than when Hall made his initial splash — back when there was Johnny and not much else — but even that potentially plays to his advantage. For starters, the Tribune stations on which he airs were once local-news powerhouses and cash machines; today, not so much.

At its peak “Arsenio” was described as a free-wheeling party, and as often happens in the throes of middle age, it’s hard to find old friends to stay up and hang out. Fortunately, Hall doesn’t have to clear the old bar, or even match his booking power, to demonstrate that while he might not be the hippest guy in latenight anymore, Arsenio 2.0 can still emerge as a survivor.

TV Review: 'The Arsenio Hall Show'

(Series; Syndicated (KTLA), Mon. Sept. 9, xx p.m.)


Produced by Arsenio Hall Communications Ltd. and Octagon Entertainment Prods. in association with CBS Television Distribution.


Executive producers, Arsenio Hall, John Ferriter, Neal Kendall. 60 MIN.


Host: Arsenio Hall

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  1. Mike says:

    instant gratification youths need not comment!

  2. Mike says:

    When I heard Arsenio Hall show was going to be coming back I was thrilled,I remember as a young child trying to stay up late to watch the show because it did have pop culture icon and such on the show.
    I watched the opener last night and I thought it was awesome and also a little uplifting. The sketches were a little less than A+ but hey things will only get better not worse as some twits are saying here. Plus if you look at the number of people wanting to be guests on the new show, that alone will make the show a huge hit, Its nice to have a breath of fresh air something other than no class low class late night shows like jimmy kimmel which only pander to the uneducated youth. So if the big name guest want to be on Arsenio Hall thats cool with me cause I now have a new favorite show that cant wait for 10pm cause its party time!

    • Santos says:

      Mike, judging by your comments and your harsh, quick put down of commentators who criticize the show, I’m beginning to think that you’re Hall’s publicist or your even Arsenio himself!

      • Mike says:

        what are you talking about bro? were have I [had] “quick put down of commentators who criticize the show”? are you referring to when I said “jimmy kimmel panders to uneducated youth” well yeah he does can you say he doesn’t with a sraight face I didnt think so. If your gonna comment on my comments at least state something with content if your beginning to think “I’m the shows host” then your silly. If I was Arsenio I wouldn’t be talking with you. OK Now, when I post comments I try to incorporate the silver lining and say something positive. I dare you to do the same

  3. tommy says:

    In all honesty I had high hopes for the show. But in reality I found it to be a huge disappointment. Arsenio appeared to be really off of his mark. The gag comedy was somewhat flat, and borderline high school. The band looked like they had just met him that morning for the first time, and the guests where at best B list..It was like a high school back in the day re union with people that you where close with at one time, but hadnt seen each other since the day. The audience was young and attractive, but the whole thing seemed really dated like the time capsule that he had, and even then the jokes where flat. I loved his show back in the day it was cutting edge, but if arsenio doesnt step up his game, and quickly aka less b list and more a list, then he wont survive a month before his show is cancelled..sorry arsenio…woof woof…

  4. SHAR says:


  5. corky says:

    Now I know why this idiot was cancelled 20 years ago

  6. LJ says:

    Was it necessary that it HAD to be funny or entertaining? Those are two different things. I’ve watched the others with a straight face and so have plenty of other people. When was the last time they had you “howling with laughter”? Arsenio did what he did 20yrs ago. Reach a diff audience and judging by the different opinions… it was a success. You don’t like..don’t watch. Only prob I had. Was the dog pound was gone.

  7. Brian - Los Angeles says:

    The debut of The Arsenio Hall Show 2.0 was a complete and utter embarrassment. The writers should all be fired. This is the best they could come up with after a 20 year hiatus? WOW!!This show will last no more than 2 months TOPS. I’m the target demo and there are simply too many smarter options out there. Memo to Arsenio Hall, “I can only guess that you hired the same writers you had back in 1994. Please fire them all, and hire a few 20 or 30 somethings that can actually write something funny and relevant. Also, make sure you employ a few writers that are willing to say “That’s not funny Boss”. This is the ONLY way your show will survive, if last nights debut is the best you can come up with. Embarrassing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here is a special offer for you. AT NO CHARGE, I would be more than willing to screen each and every joke and bit to let you know if it should make it to air or not. I’m not a professional,……..just a proud member of the viewing public”. I’m sure Arsenio is a nice enough dude,…..but come one.

    • Mike says:

      it’s the first time back hosting his new show after 19 years (you think the big wigs are going to set him up with the best gig right of the bat, yeah right), the writers will only get better, and the better talent will want to work on the show so, give it a decent chance bro next thing you know once its popular all you followers will get on board that’s when the show will start to suck, hopefully not!

  8. kimberly says:

    I enjoyed watching the show, it brought back many memories. I was a senior in high school when he left and think he will do well now. I’m a mom with 3 kids under 13, so the time slot after the 10:00 news is the last bit of TV I watch before I collapse from fatigue. I need a few laughs to finish my day and I am happy to give him my viewing time.

  9. Latoya says:

    Im glad that he is back. It was refreshing to see him on T.V.. He revolutionized late night, a lot of what is on today was just like what he did 20 years ago. I’ll definitely be watching!! 11pm belongs to Arsenio in this house!

  10. Don says:

    I watched for old times sake. I laughed a few times but some of the material felt forced and fell flat. Maybe opening night jitters.

  11. jlar says:

    Not shocked by all the negative comments….its amazing that one certain sector of society feel they are the majority and only their opinion matters. Our societies are huge melting pots, different strokes for different folks. There is no one size fits all. I stopped watching late night shows.. because .they were all the same….BORING….a bunch of people on I didn’t know or relate to. Do your thing Arsenio, it was good then, its good now…you recapped on the past..filled in the blanks for a few years missing and its assumed that will be done every show…omg!! really….We missed you man….Do yo thing…you still have a fan base and last night show was hot…I usta skip the channels on all the corny late night shows…now one I can look forward too..I felt like I was at a my blood pumping…went to bed happy!! Thanks Arsenio!!!!!

  12. I DVR ARCENIO AND THE FIRST 15 minutes had me cracking me up.I will b watching. We need a talk show like this ,thank goodness for Wendy Williams…how u doing? NOW BACK TO ARCENIO ,the show is hip, down to earth, and it has its own special freshness..THE GUESTS HE HAD ON HIS SHOW WAS RIGHT ON ..POINT…GREAT JOB…..entertainment was Snoop dog and his guest star and Chris Tucker…I likey like…

  13. E Christensen says:

    What a joke, it was the same old humorless crap he put on 20 yrs. ago. The laughs were few and far between and muffled at best. It’s about time he realizes he can’t get by with a goofy smile and a bunch of feminine hand gestures, you need some “there” there. He is not funny!!! You could see how nervous he was, and he came across like a “Katie Couric” not a “Jay Leno” with that ridiculous interview style of his. He just sat there discussing his guests schedules and achievements like we didn’t know all that already. There was no humorous comes backs or banter, just information. Chris Carter carried the night for him, everything that was funny came from him. Like the Variety article mentioned, this is just the same old stuff he did before “WHICH GOT HIM CANCELLED”. And for the idiots who think just because we didn’t like it makes us haters, I would have been happy if he made me laugh and if he was interesting but instead we got crap. Good humor crosses all gender and racial boundaries you don’t have to wear your race on your sleeve. Arsenio, get new writers, get new jokes don’t try to get by being the little happy gay elf. Anybody who turns in to this program every night is brainless.

    • Mike says:

      reading your post was a waste of time, if you dont like it dont watch “Good humor crosses all gender and racial boundaries” who are you watching for late night entertainment? you prefer no class low class shows instead?

  14. Ozzy Ozlo says:

    WOW… I waited and recorded this show all to be so VERY DISAPPOINTED.with all the boring jokes and guests… To have waited 20 years and your opening guest was Chris Tucker… and all he said was “THIS IS GREAT. THIS IS GREAT” Snoop Dogg was AWESOME… the band was alright.. not the best he could have got….but I guess things take time before the get better… Good Luck… I hope the show gets better….

  15. Pepper B says:

    Loved it! Loved it! Love it! I’m watching tonight and every night!

  16. Nettie Algoso says:

    BACK IS BEAUTIFUL!! I loved Arsenio’s show last night and believe that he’s back for a long while. I hardly every watch late night shows, but now that he’s back, I’ll stay up an hour later just so I can go to bed laughing, smiling, less stressful and dancing and just feeling so much better than how the day may have gone before watching Arsenio do what he does best….make you realize that we shouldn’t take life too seriously, it’s okay to laugh and joke and have a party! Love ya Arsenio. Many blessings are sent your way and to your son and much success with your return to late night!!

  17. donna m coleman says:

    Great show with all the guess. and it was different, and Mr .Hall kept you laughing. Good to see Chris Tucker and Snoop Dog. These are powerful people still standing. I will tune in each time the shoe is on. Have fun and enjoy what you do best. forget the hater’s. God Bless you and can’t wait to see who’s on next time. Paula was having a good time too. Now do your best and keep smiling. Love DMC

  18. It’s the FIRST episode (back), people, geez…you had to know he would work the My Summer Vacation angle. Fallon wasn’t killing when he premièred back in ’09 either, but given time to work the ideas and attract bookings, now he’s hitting homers. Give him a few weeks, let news start happening, let him try his bits, and see how it works. NBC didn’t have so quick a hook with Fallon, let Arsenio have his deserved time to oil the machine.

    That being said, Chris Tucker didn’t do it for me as a guest. Not much of an interviewee. Fall TV premières and better movies will net him the guests he needs.

  19. D.J. says:

    The show was slow and boring. The fist waving in the air was old and boring. Paula Abdul mumbled a few words, looked like she was on something and and finally found her way off of the stage. Due to Arsenio winning Celebrity Apprentice and a big push from Trump I think people tuned in to see what Arsenio had to say, actually “NOT MUCH”. I feel the network will give Arsenio a few month, cancel his show and people can wait another 19 years. As mentioned by a previous reviewer, the set did look very crowed and cramped. Arsenio, see you in 2032.

  20. Fred Penafel says:

    I reveled in the nostalgia at the start of the show. The skits seemed a bit long though. And yeah, it was fun seeing Snoop Dog (Lion?) perform. Just like old times!

    But Chris Tucker said it best in his interview. “I gotta grow up……..for my son”. That made you realize that you are now older than when Arsenio went off the air 19 years ago. The world, and you, have moved on. It hit me that while it was fun to revel in Gen X nostalgia of the late 80s, early 90s, you really can’t live in the past.

    That said, I changed to Jimmy Kimmel at 11:35. Sorry Arsenio, but while Kimmel is no kid at age 45, His, Conan’s and Jimmy Fallon’s shows all feel fresh, alive, contemporary, even hip.

    Arsenio’s show felt exactly like running into an old friend you haven’t seen since 1994. It’s cool and really fun at first catching up on old times but after awhile you realize you moved on and don’t have much in common anymore.

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