I never really watched Larry King Live — chalk that up to a youthful bedtime and an inherent uninterest in old people — but I'm more than familiar with his characteristic interview style and renowned ability for asking celebrities… well, whatever the hell he wants. Last night, exactly 19 months after Live went off the air, Larry King premiered his new web show Larry King Now, a four-day-a-week Hulu evening suppository that seeks to throw King headfirst into the Internet age of digital clip-sharing and social media relevance — in other words, the titular Now.
Although his original flagship show had no lack of online buzz or water cooler talk, King is in many ways a relic from a pre-Jon Stewart age, an ante-Kimmelian adumbration of journalism before the advent of YouTube and social media. With Now, it can be assumed that King and his team seek to re-invent his digital presence and join his 'colleagues' (if you can accurately call Daniel Tosh a colleague) at the clip-sharing, viral video party commonly known as Hulu.
And what better way to reach young eyes than with Seth MacFarlane, who kicked off the series premiere with a refreshingly candid interview tied to his vulgar new comedy Ted. From a set that looks like your grandpa's living room, the two talked about MacFarlane's animation endeavors, marijuana legalization and cryogenic freezing. All par for the course with King, who will welcome other such guests Matthew McConaughey and Meghan McCain (did the show's booking agent only have directory listings under the prefix 'Mc'?) later this week.
The problem is, King displayed a cringeworthy benightedness with MacFarlane's oeuvre — "Do you ever think you're weird?" he asks, with all the delicate filtering of a broken Brita pitcher. He then went on to assign the same adjective to the titular character in Ted ("Why do we love someone who's a weird bear?") and the colorful cast of Family Guy ("The characters are weird!").
MacFarlane later drew a parody portrait of King (another testament to his many talents) before attempting to teach the host how to draw Family Guy's Stewie, whom King reproduces with predictably absurd results.
But let's be real: King doesn't do shticky gimmicks. Were we supposed to feel the same way about King's guest interaction practicals as we do about Jimmy Fallon's beer pong tournaments or Jimmy Kimmel's Regis-Butthead mash-up? I'm skeptical about whether we can really buy the suspenders-clad legend as a fun-loving host with wacky antics and comedic side bits. Just give me King behind a desk with the nation's top celebrities, politicians, business leaders and global diplomats, and I'll tune in.