Larry King‘s fittingly self-indulgent final episode begins with a retrospective of some of his 25-year-old series’ most iconic moments — including the greatest, his hilariously sexual duet with Marlon Brando.
But did anything from the Dec. 16 “Larry King Live” swan song warrant inclusion in his best hits — or even the pantheon of greatest final episodes? Not so much.
Joined on set with co-emcees Ryan Seacrest and Bill Maher, divergent heirs to the King throne, King receives send-offs from a variety of media cronies, most of whom could only make it via satellite.
First up: Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose lame duck legislation as outgoing governor of California is apparently limited to declaring it “Larry King Day” throughout the state. (Hurry up, it’s almost over!)
President Barack Obama was also kind enough to record a message to King, though Bill Clinton has the time to actually sit down for a quick satellite chat. Too bad there is a serious disconnect in the conversation. Either these two are just too old to be conversing through earpieces or technology called in sick this episode.
King’s BFFs Regis Philbin and Donald Trump make brief cameos, but mostly just because Philbin will take any opportunity to sing. Not that we don’t love him for it.
The undisputed highlight comes when “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen appears to interview King — as Larry King, a character he’s been doing for seasons. Dressed in an identical outfit, with the aid of cartoonish shoulder pads, the segment becomes oddly poignant.
Armisen asks King what the best question he’s ever asked is. “Why,” he responds. It sounds sarcastic, but he elaborates. “The best question is ‘Why?’ because it can’t be answered in one word and forces the person to think.”
“It’s also good if you’re not paying attention,” Seacrest chimes in. Oh, Seacrest!
See, we actually learned something tonight. And all this before Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams and Barbara Walters put aside their network allegiances to sit down at the same table. It’s like “The Avengers” of network TV journalism. Couric reads a limerick, because duh.
Tony Bennett singing, via satellite, from Vegas is hardly Bette Midler straddling your desk, but it’s the thought that counts. “The Best is Yet to Come” is the chosen tune, and though that may be the case for Larry’s life in retirement, it is not for this show.
Before his closing remarks, King hands the mic over to his obnoxious children, who soil what little reverence remains for this series with poor impersonations of their father and awkward prompts from mom.
Goodbye, Larry. Thanks for not pulling a Connie Chung.