8:37 We just tuned in — truth be told, we never watch Good Morning America. Probably because of the ugly set design. Is that wall Crayola red-orange, or is our TV extra crappy? Anyhow: The weatherman is making some bad jokes about a fake best-of DVD, and Diane says she has some other old friends dropping by for Charlie. She seems a little softer than usual, but this doesn't quite pass for sentimentality or emotion. It's more exhaustion. Has Joe Hagan whipped this farewell into submission?
8:40 Joel Siegel was under the weather, so he couldn't make it (that sort of sad excuse shouldn't ever be announced on live television). Bring on the medical folks, instead: Dr. Nancy Siegel is there to recount the memories of Macedonia, Dr. Tim Johnson is says Charlie should be an orthopedic surgeon because he's "very good at pulling our legs." We're actually longing for a Couric-style fanfare, as opposed to this.
8:43 Charlie mentions that Dr. Johnson was incredible when Peter Jennings passed. Cue brief, barely noticeable tearing up.
8:44 ABC news announces the creation of the Charles Gibson GMA scholarship for college students who demonstrate Gibson's passion for "the craft." And who will step over any blonde bitches who get in their way.
8:46 Commercial break, mind wandering: When we first switched over to GMA from the Today show, we were switching away from Kate Bosworth. Wanted to see how skinny she got. Wondering if we should've stuck with NBC... But wait! She's on Regis next! Prepare for a Kate-Kelly emaciation showdown.
8:47 Oh yeah, back to the farewell. Charlie begins the big speech: "And so this wonderful, 19 year experience comes to an end... You let us come into your homes and you treat us like friends. You share your breakfast table with us..." Brings up 9-11, dimples quiver. Gives everyone the requisite shout-outs to just about everyone; special thanks to David Westin, who would not let him leave ABC. In the end, those handcuffs were a good choice.
8:49 To those of us who watch, "the greatest thanks of all." Good Morning America will go on better than ever. We're starting to feel really, oddly guilty about never having watched much before. Guess none of that greatest thanks goes to us. Whoops.
8:50 Charlie chokes up, his voice breaks — "I almost made it!" he laughs, acknowledging that he just totally wussed out. Now we're crying. We've no idea why. It's like a fucking Hallmark movie: doesn't matter what it's all about, we just have a Pavlovian response to sap.
8:53 Ends with a toast to 6:30 tonight, where he will "continue the legend of Charlie Gibson." Kermit the Frog puppet is sitting on Charlie's shoulders; confetti explodes on the studio crowd, and Natalie Merchant's Kind and Generous plays over an incredibly sensitive montage of Gibson holding babies, hugging ladies, and wearing various sports jerseys. The "thankyouthankyouthankyou" music is a little much, but it's expected.
8:56 And that's it. The studio is full of celebrating staffers, but it's nothing ostentatious. No Jersey Boys, no massive posters, no Rock Center rally. Just a dignified speech, a quick toast, and those jowels staying strong.