Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Jay Leno Show: Unoriginal, Uncompelling, Uninteresting

I know I said I wasn’t going to watch The Jay Leno Show. I was never a huge fan of Leno on the Tonight Show, so I didn’t watch that very much. But, I felt it only fair that if I was going to be critical of the move the NBC made by eliminating scripted shows in favor of the daily Leno show, I should at least watch one to see if it confirms my feelings. It did – I stand by my opinion that I think this move is not a good one in the long run for NBC.

After watching his first installment, I imagine that there will be a lot of tweaking and changing going on in the coming weeks, so maybe it will be worth another look about 3 months down the road – assuming NBC keeps it that long. After all, the network really painted themselves in the corner the minute they committed to 5 nights a week for this show, which is probably 4 nights too many.

His opening monologue didn’t strike me as being anything new or different than his Tonight Show monologues. In fact, Jay seemed too stiff and rehearsed in his opening comments on his new show. I am not sure what I expected – I think I expected no monologue. I found myself wondering how much Jay will be stealing the thunder of his later counterparts Conan O’Brien and the lifeless Jimmy Fallon by covering all the funny bits from the news for the day before the other two get their crack at it? Why watch Conan and Jimmy later to get their same take on the same news? If Jay’s show does well, it may bode bad news for the other two. One thing I was glad to hear Jay acknowledge his own feeling about his show promos when he said, “Let me explain what’s going on…This is not another annoying promo, this is the actual show…I apologize for my face being all over the place.” Yes, it was a tad much, wasn’t it? NBC was shameless in taking every chance they could to promote this new show, including numerous mentions on the Today Show.

The car wash number with Dan Finnerty and the Dan Band went on too long. It was funny for a short while, then it just made me want it to be over.

Enter Jerry Seinfeld, who admitted that, like me, he was also perplexed as to why he was asked to be the first guest when he hasn’t done a show in something like 11 years. Mind you, I watched Seinfeld a lot and always liked his show, but I am not sure if he would have been my first guest. While he and Jay talked, it seemed like they were both shouting in order to make sure they were being heard to audience in the cavernous studio, and their “interview” seemed too rehearsed and stiff. Again, nothing compelling to see here.

Leno’s faked Obama interview was also not a new concept, and I sense there will be some discussion today on "The View" about Jay referring to those hosts as the “loudest, shrillest voices.” This was another segment where the joke got old quickly and I felt it dragged on too long.

Jay also brought on the jerk of the day, Kayne “It’s All About Me” West, giving Kanye even more publicity for his rude behavior at the video awards show from two days ago. Jay asks the money question: “Let me ask you something. I was fortunate enough to meet your mom and talk with your mom a number of years ago. What do you think she would have said about this?” Kanye gives a long, long pause where he seems to be getting choked up, before he answers with what seemed to be a non-answer, saying he needs to take time off. Poor baby. He needs to grow up, but I don’t see that coming any time soon, since this is not Kanye’s first time around getting in trouble when opening his mouth. But Jay got what he wanted – the key sound bite from his show to be replayed on other networks. He and Kanye really are two peas in a pod when it comes to self-promotion. Kanye then went off to perform with Rihanna and Jay-Z, a musical number that wasn’t too bad but again it seemed to go on too long.

Jay finished the show with his funny headlines – umm, shouldn’t headlines be toward the “head” of the show and not the end? Jay used to do these on the Tonight Show, maybe he thought by moving them to the end of the show it would be more edgy and show how much the show is different from the Tonight Show. Personally, if he keeps this segment – I think it should be dropped – he should move it to the beginning and hopefully only do it once a week or so, if even that often.

A note to advertisers – since I recorded the show on my DVR, I passed through all your commercials.

If I had to grade Jay’s first outing, I would have to give it a C+. It was just average. There was nothing compelling to see, nothing new and different, nothing worth tuning in every night at 10 PM to watch, especially when there are other shows that are much more interesting to watch on other networks. It’s not even worth recording on my DVR and taking the time to pass over the commercials. Unless there is a major improvement, NBC better be thinking of a fall back position and getting new shows ready for that time slot next fall, if not sooner.

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Sara said...

Chris, I don't understand why people don't like Jay's brand of humor. I have always found him to be absolutely hilarious. So much more so than Letterman's schtick or Conan's craziness. You're right in your assessment that The Jay Leno show is The Tonight Show at 10:00. So this what I do: I TiVo Jay at 10:00 and play him back at 11:30, Jay's God-given rightful time slot.

If Jay fails at 10, ABC or Fox will pick him up and there will be a 3-way late night competition. Conan will lose big time while Jay and Dave resume their nightly battle for ratings. Zucker made his bed with Conan and he will eventually suffer the consequences of that ill-founded decision.

When it's all said and done, Leno will come out the winner. But he may be at ABC or Fox when he celebrates that victory.

I Like to Watch TV said...

Sometimes I think humor is a personal thing - some things that one person may find funny someone else may not. I suspect that is the case with all the late night hosts, which is why there seem to be so many of them! It allows everyone to chose the person that they like the most.

Anonymous said...

I fall in the Jay Leno not funny side. I find him to be unctuous and shticky. Funny how I find Jay hokey and Dave hilariously subversive. Different strokes I guess.

I do see NBC moving Jay back to 11:30 and getting Conan out of the picture. They are not going to give Jay the opportunity to take his show to another network. I feel bad for Conan. He truly has had to change his entire repetoire to appease the 11:30 Jay crowd. It's a shame because he is a real talent.