Left to right: Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Ann Currynote , 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
'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:
- Willard Scott, in conjunction with Smuckers, gives out birthday wishes to 100+-year-olds.
- 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.
For Brits, not to be confused with the BBC Radio 4 show of the same name
, also a morning news programme.
That's what's going on around the country; here are some of the tropes being used in your neck of the woods:
- Adorkable: Everyone has their little quirks, but Willard Scott fits this mold more than anyone else. He actually got to host a short-lived talent show on what is now ABC Family mainly because he was so adorkable.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, who joined in 2012, may appear to be your average "don't take me seriously" morning host, but she is known for her tough interviews and controversial statements.
- Big Fun: Al Roker. Willard Scott counts as well, though he's more of a Gentle Giant in terms of personality.
- Cuddle Bug: Willard again - sort of taken Up to Eleven; as demonstrated in this video, he's also prone to randomly kissing people as well.
- Enforced Plug: Willard's 100+-year-old birthday segments are sponsored by the Smuckers jelly company, and everyone else does cross-promotions of other NBC shows.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: J. Fred Muggs from the show's early days.
- 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.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Kathie Lee and Hoda, to the point of Memetic Mutation, and especially after Kristen Wiig's parody on SNL.
- During her time on Today, Meredith Viera was also implied to be this (often whenever she screwed something up on air, Matt Lauer would tip his head back like he was drinking a glass of wine).
- Idiosyncratic Series Naming: At one point before David Letterman came around, one could turn on NBC and watch Today, Tonight and Tomorrow.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Almost everyone not named Willard Scott or Al Roker. The former is sweet to a fault, and the latter is a similarly affable Large Ham. The rest of the team for the most part fits this trope to a T.
- 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 (and to a lesser extent Meredith leaving the show about a year previously). 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 exception was August 2, 2000 when a woman in the crowds 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 while at the Republican National Convention and was visibly shocked. Today referenced the incident about 10 years later with the offending scene censored (and erroneously stated to have happened in 2006).
- 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.
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow:
- Older Than They Look: Pretty much every single freaking anchor in the show's six-decade history. Willard in particular could have easily passed for being in his mid-thirties at most during his heyday in The Eighties - this◊ leaflet for Florida grapefruit was made in 1988 when he was 54. His front-tooth gap, chubbiness and endless optimism certainly add to this. Matt also looks to be in his mid-thirties when he's actually in his fifties. Al, born in 1954, seems to be aging sideways - compare some of his earlier stuff during The Eighties and The Nineties to his current exploits (such as the 2014 "Rokerthon"). Katie Couric and Barbara Walters, two of the show's more legendary female hosts, both seem to be aging slowly, as is former cohost Bryant Gumbel (all three of whom have since left the show aside from Milestone Celebrations and the like). Justified with Gene Shalit, who has kept the same face and hairstyle throughout his entire 40+ year career.
- To drive the point home, here◊ is a picture of the Today personnel as it stood circa 1991. Keep in mind that literally no one in the picture (save for Shalit and Joe Garagiola, sort-of) looks close to their actual ages!!
- Parody: The Onion News Network's Today Now! (whose hosts, "Jim" and "Tracy", have actually appeared on Today itself).
- Shout-Out: Kathie Lee's opening banter with Hoda Kotb is reminiscent of her banter with Regis Philbin.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Bryant Gumbel - see Beware the Nice Ones above.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Katie was introduced as "Katherine Couric" until about 1995 or so. (This was actually universal to almost all of her appearances at NBC, not just this show.)
- Spin-Off: Al Roker's Wake Up with Al on The Weather Channel is pretty much him doing the Today weather segment for an hour.
- Two failed spinoffs featuring the titles Early Today (not the current shownote , but the 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.
- Thanksgiving Episode: Every Thanksgiving morning, the show heavily focuses on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (which airs right after it and has some of its anchors provide commentary), including interviews with some of the performers, spotlights on at least one new balloon being featured, and raw footage of the parade being prepared. This 1995 video shows most if not all of a typical Thanksgiving Episode of Today. (A word of warning: it'll be best if you stop watching 46 minutes into the video, unless you want to watch someone channel surfing and several minutes of the movie Pride of the Yankees.)
- True Companions: The Today team, like most TV show clans, are incredibly close-knit.