The picture was fuzzy. The sound was tinny. "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" was less like a broadcast than a webcast.
"We're having a technical problem tonight, so I decided to do the whole show from my computer," Kimmel explained at the top of the hour in his office, one hand holding his laptop as he aimed its built-in webcam at himself.
Who needs expensive TV cameras, a fancy control room or high-tech recording gadgetry?
Not Kimmel, when faced with a power outage right before show time. For Tuesday's edition, the resourceful TV host turned his chat show into iChat.
Walking on stage toting his laptop with him, he pivoted the webcam to display his cheering studio audience.
"Can't we just plug into whatever that beacon is, right there?" he asked, pointing to the bright studio lights.
Alas, no. The lights worked fine, but the outage had shut down the control room, broadcast transmission center and tape operations area at Kimmel's Hollywood studio. Things had gone on the fritz Monday shortly before the ABC late-night show was scheduled to begin taping.
"I don't know if this is going to work," he said more than once, appearing genuinely perplexed.
But it did, in a goofy, amateur-hour, show-must-go-on sort of way.
Even so, the unconventional production technique caused a day's delay. A repeat episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" aired Monday. (The show airs weeknights at 12:05 a.m. EDT.)
Kimmel chatted up members of the audience in a bald effort to kill time.
"You see, we don't need celebrities to do this show," he joked.
But he had celebrities. Guests included film star Seth Rogen, comedian John Henson and country artist Dierks Bentley.
"Are we still on? Yeah, this is still working," Kimmel said, apparently checking himself on his laptop screen in mid-interview with Rogen.
"Yeah, it's working," Rogen said. "It's amazing, isn't it?"
The audience cheered distortedly.
Postproduction was kept to a minimum. A clip from "The Green Hornet," the film Rogen was plugging, was added later, with the studio audience deprived of so much as a glimpse.
"Not only will these people not be able to see it," Kimmel cracked, "but they're not allowed to come to the movie."
Kimmel interviewed Henson, a co-host of the game show "Wipeout," in his dressing room.
Back in the studio, Bentley and his band managed to fit into the webcam frame to perform a song.
"I promise nothing terrible like this will ever, ever happen again," Kimmel told viewers as he signed off.
Of course, Kimmel isn't the only late-night host to be plagued by (and to overcome) a technical glitch recently.
Last October, "Late Late Show" host Craig Ferguson had to finish taping his program by flashlight after high winds knocked out power at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. Studio lights began dimming and then suddenly went black as Ferguson was interviewing actress Alicia Silverstone, leaving both in the dark until the flashlight was switched on.