Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ten Point Scale: nighttime talk show logos

Today I’m premiering a new feature: the Ten Point Scale, wherein I rank the designs of a given category from Pr*ttiest (10) to Sh*ttiest (1).

Today’s scale: the logos of nighttime talk shows.

10. Larry King Live
Believe me, I’m shocked by this, too. But the straightforward bold-condensed type is very handsome, even if it’s slightly 3D-ized. If this were his old microphone logo, I guarantee it would be at the sh*tty end of the scale.

9. The Late Show with David Letterman
This could be drawn better (that T feels fat), but Letterman capitalizes nicely on his name with the collegiatey text, and otherwise doesn’t attempt too many acrobatics with the type.

8. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
The winning logo in Fallon’s fan vote, as designed by Number 17. Some will likely want this to be higher in the rankings, but this falls into the trap that most talk show logos seem to fall into: multiple lines of slightly offset type. What the heck is wrong with left-justified people? Here it’s not so bad, but I still can’t help but feel that the words need to be the same length (or noticeably increasing in size) in order to really pull this off.

7. Chelsea Lately
So close to being really quite great. But those overlapping letters are just clumsy. Either open the tracking, or make some ligatures for goodness sake.

6. The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien
Not bad, not bad. It should really look worse given my list of grievances: multiple lines of offset type; a nice-looking but randomly placed moon; the T’s in Tonight have longer outside strokes (huh?); “with Conan O’Brien” isn’t properly justified with the type above; and that apostrophe is wrong (!). But somehow it’s still pretty ok.

5. Jimmy Kimmel Live
Recently updated to a boxy san serif, this falls right in that perfectly acceptable, but not all that interesting range. Oddly enough, his previous logo couldn’t be more different, and yet it falls in that exact range, too.

4. The Jay Leno Show
I’ll admit, I really don’t like Jay Leno, and that may be influencing my ranking. But there’s simple (which you know I love), and then there’s boring. And this is the latter.

3. The Late Late Show
Another new logo I think.
Now they’re really starting to get sh*tty. Oof.

2. Spectacle Elvis Costello with...
Elvis, I love you dearly, but this is a train wreck! Spectacle is a clever name, but then they screw it up by actually ending the name of the show with “with...”. Pile on some bad typography, and an incredibly forced S-shaped glasses logo mark, and you have to wonder how it isn’t a 1 on this scale.

1. Charlie Rose
But alas, that honor falls to another man I love dearly. Do I really need to explain what’s wrong with this?

Honorable Mentions:

The Henry Rollins Show: I give it an 8.5.
Lopez Tonight: Fun, but not quite right. 7.5.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Last Call with Carson Daly: 2.5
Tavis Smiley: 0.5


  1. whaoh, dude. i think you've outdone yourself this time.

    heh, tavis smiley...
    couldn't find byron allen? :)

  2. i am so glad you mentioned the spectacle that is "spectacle elvis costello with..." i keep looking at in the subway, trying to figure out if it's really genius and i am just blind to it.

  3. Couldn't Craig Ferguson be /deliberately/ going for a horrible design? One of his favourite themes is about how the network hates his show/him & he's running it on a shoe-string budget. But then again, I could be wrong, especially since I haven't seen the earlier avatars of the Late Late Show.

  4. Sidharth, there have been only two logos. One from January 2005 to August 2009 and the current one.

    The previous logo: