Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts On…The Jay Leno Show

I don’t normally watch talk shows, but I figured I’d make an exception for this monumental premiere, and it’s much easier to justify watching it when there’s nothing else on since all the shows return next week. The hour-long episode didn’t do much for me, but I think that has more to do with my general lack of interest in celebrity interviews and only slightly more enthusiastic attitude towards standup comedy. Jay Leno’s pretty funny, that’s for sure, though something has very clearly changed. I always liked his demeanor on “The Tonight Show,” but it doesn’t seem like the same guy. I’ve only watched on a number of occasions, and Headlines is really my major motivator, so I can’t claim to be comparing the two completely fairly. Even so, Jay seems far more confident in himself and of this newfound prime timeslot, and it’s not necessarily a good thing. It may be a simple trick of the camera, but there seems to be a lot more space on his stage, and instead of sitting comfortably in his chair behind his table while talking to his guests and addressing the audience, he moves around awkwardly and sits on the edge of his chair as if he’s being forced into this new, more overstuffed version of his former show. Jerry Seinfeld made a good point when he teased Leno for coming back to NBC only months after he was supposed to exit, and perhaps Leno would have been better off going out on a high note (though those who never liked Leno surely didn’t favor him by the end of his “Tonight Show” run). His prodding of Kanye West seemed a bit too much like a gimmick, and not one in good taste. Invoking Kanye’s mom felt pretty low, but maybe I’m not familiar with the culture of late night, or whatever it is now. The musical performance was cool, though I imagine that more effort was put into the first show to drum up buzz. The headlines also didn’t seem as funny, which was a shame. I can’t grade this on my normal scale since I have nothing to compare it to, but if I had to assign it something, I’d give it a C+. I won’t be checking back in anytime soon unless I’m really desperate for something to watch. The 10pm-11pm on NBC is now off my official weekly timetable.

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