Left to right: Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Ann Currynote No longer on the show, Al Roker.
"From NBC News, this is Today, with Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, live from studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza." —Weekday opening from September 2006 to June 2011, as read by Les Marshak
A long-running morning news program on NBC. It debuted as the The Today Show in January, 1952. Airs from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. Eastern time. Directly competes with CBS's CBS This Morning and ABC's Good Morning America, and so far is the only one of those three shows to be four hours in length.Like its competitors, Today airs more than just news. It's more like a variety show with some news thrown in. Among the more notable segments:
Where in the World is Matt Lauer? For one week, Matt will effectively go island-hopping to various points in the world, and Meredith, Al, and Ann (and you at home, too!) must guess where he is. However, the camera is heavily zoomed in on him to start, and he gives out a clue, but it's very cryptic. Example: in 2001, he gave out a clue of "the manliest Pokémon" for Machu Picchu, Peru. Once Matt reveals where he is, he'll spend the rest of the episode talking with the locals and showing us some of the culture. This is an obvious ripoff of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?; in fact, during the first few years of the segment, they even ripped off Rockapella's theme song!
Also in 2002, WSLS, the affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, did a similar segment called "Where in Virginia is Sean Sublette?" It was pretty much the same thing, only Sean (then a meteorologist, now a WSET meteorologist) went to locations in WSLS's coverage area. One location he went to was Mountain Lake, where Dirty Dancing was filmed.
They sometimes do this segment with Al Roker.
Gene Shalit's Critics Corner: The titular guy rips into some movies.
Spanning the World: Sports bloopers segment done by the head of NBC Sports. Has a funny intro that appears to have gone unchanged since the 1980's, computer graphics and all, where the Earth actually splits open with the sound of a rooster crowing, and then the highlights for that segment pop out of the split. The bloopers are then presented as newspaper segments. The ending goes, "Tune in next time for Spanning the World! (rooster crow; split in the Earth heals) ...If there IS a next time! I'm Don Pardo!"
The Toyota Concert Series: Originally founded as the Summer Concert Series. Bascially, in the second and third hours of the show, someone gives a live concert. Prior to the concert, they'll be interviewed.
Today Throws a Wedding: American Idol-style contest in which you, the viewer, must help the Today guys get a couple married. First, you must pick which couple will be married on the show, at Rockefeller Plaza. Then they go through several elements of the wedding, like the female's gown, what ring she'll be wearing, etc., and your votes decide it all. The wedding is usually done in September.
The fourth hour of this show, active since September 2007, is slightly different from the first three. Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford do a show that's more similar to The View. Among their more notable segments:
They begin their hour with a review of some weird news stories, Ă la Keith Olbermann's Countdown, but without all the Deadpan Snarking at conservatives. That says nothing about what they do deadpan snark...
While Hoda interviews a health/fitness expert, Kathie Lee asks random people in some place close by to Rockefeller Center questions that are tied to the segment. They often joke about the "prize" for a correct answer, which at one point was Kathie Lee's latest CD.
Ambush Makeover: A viewer with a particularly ugly friend or relative will submit that person for a makeover from some beauty experts in the show's staff.
It's also a literal Drinking Game as the ladies (especially Kathie Lee) are known to consume morning libations quite liberally, finding any excuse for a segment to do so.
There are also lesser-known Saturday and Sunday editions of this show, anchored by Lester Holt and Jenna Wolfe. The Saturday edition has only one notable segment:
Today on the Plaza: Similar to the Concert Series, but with Broadway shows.
That's what's going on around the country; here are some of the tropes being used in your neck of the woods:
Follow the Leader: Pretty much every other morning news program out there follows the template established by Today.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Before DVRs, on the first Today Plans a Wedding, when shown the arrangements, etc the public would be voting on the future bride would secretly hold a number of fingers at her side indicating the one she liked the most, in hopes the viewers would pick what she wanted. Today noticed this and pointed it out near the end.
Green Aesop: When NBC Universal decides to go green, you can expect this show to be at the forefront. It uses a green logo, green NBC logo, green graphics, and so on.
Laser-Guided Karma: The show was number in its time slot for over 20 years. Then came the Summer of 2012, with the firing of Ann Curry and the way it was handled. The show has since been losing ratings to The Rival ABC's Good Morning America.
Live But Delayed: To keep the crowd from not being TV-safe. One notable incident was August 2, 2000 when a woman took off her shirt revealing her bare breasts and a radio station bumper sticker stuck to her belly. The producer didn't notice, nor did Matt Lauer and Ann Curry, but Katie Couric did see it on her monitor at the Republican National Convention and was visibly shocked. Today referenced the incident later with Pixellation. (It was actually in 2000, not 2006 as Matt says.)
Long Runners: This show is the third longest-running program in the history of U.S. TV. It debuted on January 14, 1952 and is the first of its kind.
Two failed spinoffs featuring the titles Early Today (not the current shownote A simple newscast produced by MSNBC which airs at 4 AM, one in the 1980's) and Later Today have been tried by the network to little success. They later figured out just titling show extensions Today was better in the long run.