Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I used to like Jay Leno. I've seen him live twice, but a long time ago, maybe 30 years for the first time, at Buffalo's Tralfamadore Cafe.

Since he took over the Tonight Show, not so much. I find his explanation of the jokes after the punchline irritating and pandering, showing either no confidence in the joke or the audience. He's much more likable showing off a car from his collection.

JAYWALKING is really People Are Funny spun one way. That's really old TV, People are ignorant, which I don't find funny, but worrisome. JAYWALKING wasn't part of the big premiere.

We tuned the new show last night, wanting to see how the retread would work. For me, it doesn't. The montage opening is weak and it rolls along familiar tracks afterwards, with a tad more haste.

But who's the fool here? How many tens of millions has Leno made so far? He was popular - is popular - works hard. Jay is not the fool.

I believe NBC will regret its decision to drop 5 hours of prime time for this discount-programming. That's the game - cut expenses/make money. A week of Leno costs less than ONE hour of episodic TV. The first day will rate highly from curiosity, the first week, too. Then the show will settle. NBC will call it success if they can turn a profit.

I won't watch.

After the less than overwhelming open, Jay comes out and shakes hands with audience members, then does jokes. There's a new set, but that opening format looks like his old show after-the-news to me. I watched enough to know I didn't like it - or would watch occasionally to catch a guest.

Last night had a LAME bit where Jay 'asked' President Obama questions which then showed answers from another interview. Har har.

Guest Jerry Seinfeld - still funny - should have been given more uninterrupted time. He 'brought on' Oprah via Video which was another waste of time (as Jay was unable to get a word in...) Har.

A comic then 'entertained' a car-wash patron, singing to her as she waited. Reportedly, there are other folks on board for more out-of-studio 'bits.'

Kanye West choked up trying to 'splain why he did what he did, interrupting that poor Taylor Swift at the MTV video music award show the night before. That was semi-poignant and semi-literate at the same time. Maybe if he rapped it, it would have worked? This was almost surreal, especially when he couldn't speak and Jay (wisely) let the silence extend. Instead of a hoople-head shouting at the President in an address to Congress and the nation, here's where a healthy "You Asshole!" from an audience member would have made impolite sense.

Rhianna, Jay-Z and Kanye then sang or rapped.

You could argue the new show hasn't found it's feet yet, but after 3 months to think stuff up, this was bland, bland, bland.

A bizzare thing intruded - we thought it was a schtick at first. We were watching on TiVo, about 5 to 10 minutes behind the real time timeline. At one point, the channel switched to an EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION on another channel, which crawled in English and Spanish across the top of the screen, announcing a child abduction in waters 20km from the coast... which is a couple hundred miles from here. It seems the emergency notification was really a combo of weather and Amber alert, with no real details. I've never seen TiVo hijacked before. Somebody pushed the wrong button at KXAN-TV. They also blew the news promo slot as their rehearsal or taping of it also just popped on in mid-Leno, then popped off. When it came time to run it, they didn't.

But wait: Others seem to share my opinion:

"The answer: No desk until the last five minutes. The question: What is the difference between the new 'Jay Leno Show' at 10 p.m. and the former 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno' at 11:35 p.m.?" -- The Gazette

"The menu of the new show is awfully familiar ... [and] an unsettled sense that they're throwing things on the wall to see what sticks." -- Hollywood Reporter

"Without Kanye West, and his conveniently timed controversy from the MTV Video Music Awards, NBC's 'Jay Leno Show' premiere Monday would have been even more of a cut-rate, snooze-inducing, rehashed bore. If Leno's desire is to help fans get to sleep earlier, desire satisfied" -- USA Today

"Leno's funny, but in the safest way. He's adheres to the center of the exact middle road, so it's wrong to expect a revolution here. He has all the draw of buy-one-get-one-free smoothies. His comedy is bubble-wrap; its appeal needs no explaining. He goes with Dan Brown novels and Marriott Rewards points and repeat viewings of the cinchy CBS crime procedurals he now finds himself programmed against: Who doesn't like all of those things?" -- Washington Post

"The first 'Jay Leno Show' was reminiscent of nothing so much as a typical 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' with ... [though] superstars were upstaged by what turned out, through pure dumb luck" -- Kansas City Star

"There isn't much difference between the new show and Jay's 'Tonight Show.' There's more comedy, though it's of the bland, topical variety that Jay is known for..." -- Newsweek

"NBC and Leno have delivered something pretty 'Tonight'-like ... they're giving old Jay fans what they like ... interspersed with enough of Whatever People are Talking About Today to get a churning drive-by audience" -- Time

"Exactly like we all should have known it would be ... If this is as good as it gets with three months to work on it, what's it going to be like once the night-after-night grind sets in? Or even more to the point, what's Jay going to do without a Kanye West moment every night?" -- Dallas Morning News

"It's not a good sign when the Bud Light commercial is funnier than the comedy show it interrupts ... his opening monologue seem[ed] like an attempt to cash in on the current vampire fixation -- comedy of the undead" -- LA Times

"The jokes felt familiar, the monologue, too. Someone, however, might want to alert Universal lot security: The couch was missing.Otherwise, what was so different between his last gig and this one, besides the hour?" -- Newsday

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