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Series / Fernwood Tonight

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Left to right: Barth Gimble and Jerry Hubbard.

"Tonight from Fernwood, Fernwood Tonight! Coming to you almost live!"

Fernwood Tonight (sometimes stylized as Fernwood 2 Night) is an American parody Talk Show developed by Norman Lear in 1977 as the second spinoff of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Ostensibly broadcast from the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio, the show is hosted by leisure-suited Smug Smiler Barth Gimble (Martin Mull), who may or may not be evading extradition to Florida, and Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard), the clueless announcer and sidekick who somehow always manages to say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. The show ran five nights a week in first-run syndication for a total of 65 episodes. The following year, it was retooled as America Tonight.

This show provides examples of:

  • After Show: The successor to Forever Fernwood, which was itself a successor to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
  • The Ditz: Announcer Jerry Hubbard embodies this trope (when a female guest discusses the subject of gynecology, Jerry interjects earnestly: "Have they found a cure for that yet?").
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: In-universe, this applied to every "guest" who ever appeared on the show ... with rare exceptions.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The house band, Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers, whose playing brought new meaning to the word "adequate". In reality, the band members were all highly accomplished musicians; Happy Kyne was played by Frank De Vol (an arranger-conductor-composer for several well-known singers, movies and TV series) and one of the guitarists was Tommy Tedesco (a Los Angeles studio musician part of the Wrecking Crew).
  • Lounge Lizard: Tony Rolletti (played by Bill Kirchenbauer) was a particularly cheesy (and pathetic) example who became a frequent guest.
  • Shout-Out: America Tonight aired on the UBS network.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Barth Gimble, who sees himself as the Tri-County Area's answer to Johnny Carson.