CBS (weeknights, 11:30 p.m. ET)
If I were Barbara Walters [shudder] and if I wondered what kind of trees people would be if they were trees, then I’d guess that Pat Sajak would be a ficus—a pleasing little domesticated plant. He may not bloom and impress, but he is nice to have around—surprisingly nice. From behind his shrunken, Sajak-size desk next to the longest couch in all talkshowdom, Pat puts on a show that is at least aggressively okay, sometimes downright good. And he’s getting better by the day. Like Johnny, Pat politely interviews guests and tells jokes not quite naughty enough to inspire blushes (he wants a slogan for his show that “would appeal to women: ‘The Pat Sajak Show—he lasts a half hour longer’ “). And like Letterman, Pat leaves the set, with cameras trailing, to visit the company cafeteria. True, Pat is not an adventuresome explorer among talk show hosts. But that’s not the point. His is not a new talk show, just another talk show. It is competition. So now, when Johnny gushes over one of his 100-year-old guests or when Dave lets Chris Elliott waste airwaves, we can turn to Pat. He is a welcome choice, an affable and amusing alternative. He may actually stick around long enough to become a redwood (although a short one).