I'm not quite sure when the puppet cold openings on The Late Late Show morphed into the spectacular lip synching numbers but I suppose it was inevitable in an ever evolving show. As I showed in the previous post the lip synching seemed to start with the puppets. A yodaling monkey, an acid rock wolf, a dinosaur and shark singing "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head." It was ridiculous and fantastic all at the same time. Eventually, with the help of a talented and playful staff, Craig Ferguson transformed this show opening featuring puppets into musical numbers that helped pump up the audience even more.
The numbers are remarkably notable when you consider the space in which they had to stage them. Some have quite a lot of choreography to them.
Again, in no particular order, here are ten of my favorite musical openings from The Late Late Show.
"Fireball XL5" was a children's show created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson of Supermarionation fame which Ferguson very likely grew up watching in Scotland ("Fireball XL5" actually did run on NBC on Saturday mornings in the U.S. from 1963-65). It had a curiously poppy closing song considering its science fiction theme that lends itself perfectly to a bit on the Late Late Show.
The Village People's "In the Navy" is a song screaming out for a good lip synching and Craig and his crew are just the folk to provide it.
"Look Out There's a Monster Coming" is a catchy little tune that can be found on the album 1967 "Gorilla" by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (one of its members, Neil Innes, would go on to write the fantastic songs to be found in the Beatles-parody band The Rutles). And it's nice to see Geoff Peterson get in on the act.
The Late Late Show's take on "White Lines" (covered by Duran Duran) is one of those numbers that definitely cemented the party aspect of the cold openings.
I think "Wonderful Night" was the first lip synching bit that I saw and it only increased my affection for this show.
It's only fitting that when Craig took the show to Scotland, his country of birth, the opening would need to be big. Add an awesome TARDIS effect and you have a rockin' cold opening.
And when in France:
"Over At The Frankenstein Place" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was one of the more elaborate cold opens and it works excellently.
This next one is one of my favorites featuring a cover of "Istanbul" by one of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants.
As a "Doctor Who" fan like Craig himself, this last one is probably the penultimate cold open for me. It didn't, however, actually open the show when it was broadcast since at the last minute it was discovered that they couldn't get the rights to the "Doctor Who" theme music. What was filmed was a practice run-through that Craig, none the less, winkingly encouraged should somehow make its way onto YouTube. And so it did. Brightening the lives of every Whovian out there.
These are the things that made The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, despite the late hour, such a joy to tune in.