—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:
- Willard Scott, in conjunction with Smuckers, gives out birthday wishes to 100+-year-olds. When Scott retired in 2016, Al Roker took over the segment.
- 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 Len Berman, who was then the sports director for NBC's New York flagship station, WNBC. 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. Basically, 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: An 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, much like a less political (though no less snarky) version of Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
- 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 The Family Channel (or whatever it's called now) 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.
- Former co-anchor Bryant Gumbel (who was co-anchor from 1982 to 1997) once wrote a memo containing strong criticisms of Gene Shalit, Willard Scott, and consumer reporter David Horowitz. Of the three, Scott was hit the hardest when the memo was leaked to a New York newspaper. The linked article noted that the memo portrayed the normally affable Gumbel as "a man of little compassion." Scott subsequently delivered a Take That! at Gumbel while filming Today promos, teasing that they would beat each other to death with baseball bats.
- Both Katie Couric (co-anchor from 1991-2006) and Matt Lauer (co-anchor 1997 to 2017) fall under this category to some extent. While Katie was know for to have a perky sunny demeanor, and Matt a laid-back friendly demeanor on camera, both have had more than their fair share of hard-hitting interviews, and both of them have had some diva moments behind the scenes. NBC fired Lauer in 2017 over allegations of workplace sexual misconduct.
- Original anchor Dave Garroway (who anchored from 1952-1961) while having a very friendly easy-going appearance on camera, was battling depression, and could be less than easy to work with during his tenure.
- Big Fun: Al Roker. Willard Scott counts as well, though he's more of a Gentle Giant in terms of personality.
- Al Roker has several:
- Spanning the World has "And of course, nobody got hurt" whenever a clip of someone taking a fall plays.
- From the fourth hour with Kathy Lee and Hoda:
- "How do we do it day after day?"
- "Louis Licarinote , Lala-lala-la-la!"
- "Lou Manfredini!note He's got a name that rhymes with... (insert word that rhymes with Manfredini)!"
- Crawl: The first known example of a news ticker appeared when the show premiered back in 1952. It took the form of a typewritten strip of paper scrolled across the screen and superimposed via split-screening. It was quickly retired due to its unwieldy nature; it would take until the advent of computer-generated graphics for news crawls to catch on.
- 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. that 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.
- Halloween Episode: For the second hour, the team would dress in themed costumes. Matt Lauer would invariably dress as a woman, such as C.J. on Baywatch or Jennifer Lopez in her green Grammy dress.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl:
- 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 one 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. The show 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 '80s - 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 '80s and The '90s 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 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!!
- One-Word Title: As it's about the day it airs, as a morning news program.
- 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.)
- 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.
- True Companions: The Today team, like most TV show clans, are incredibly close-knit.