Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jay's first (early) night

Well, at least we didn't have to stay up late.

Jay's first (early) night


Well, at least we didn't have to stay up late.

NBC's "The Jay Leno Show," billed as a weeknight show with topical comedy, kicked off  in prime time tonight with some parts salvaged from Leno's "Tonight Show" days and a collection of jokes the host had clearly been itching to tell for days, weeks, even months.

The president and a certain South Carolina congressman? Days.

The troubled marriage of a certain South Carolina governor, a joke Leno had been trying out on reporters on a conference call with reporters only last week? Weeks, if not longer.

Cash for Clunkers? Months.

Even Jerry Seinfeld, who showed up in a tux in honor of being the show's first guest, had a line he could've been saving for a rainy day.

"You know, in the '90s, when we quit a show, we actually left," he told Leno, then pulled a lame bit involving Oprah Winfrey and a monitor that came down from the ceiling.

Though there'd been speculation that the one bit of topical material -- Kanye West's outburst at Sunday's VMAs -- might actually have been a stunt encouraged by NBC, given that the performer was also due to appear on Leno's first show, West's mournful mien suggested otherwise.

After thanking his apologetic guest for "honoring [his] commitment" to appear on the show the night after he'd interrupted an acceptance speech by Taylor Swift, Leno asked him, in Dutch uncle fashion, what the singer's late mother would have thought of his outburst, reducing his guest to sad incoherence.

In retrospect, it almost felt like a cheap shot.

Leno then moved -- quickly -- to introduce West's performance with Jay-Z and Rihanna, a musical number that preceded the show's true topper, a not particularly lively segment of  the popular "Headlines" that Leno and NBC felt would be a better lead-in to the affiliates' 11 p.m. newscasts.

There's no point, of course, in judging this experiment by one night, or even one week or one month. Leno will sooner or later run out of stored-up thoughts and be forced to deal with actual current events. Another guest will come on after some public disgrace, as Hugh Grant once did, and the host of "The Jay Leno Show" will make it work for him.

Or not.

It's just too soon to say.

So far, though, there's nothing on "The Jay Leno Show"  that's worth losing sleep over.





Daily News TV Critic
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About this blog
As the TV critic for the Philadelphia Daily News, I've always believed my job is less about thumbs -- up or down -- and more about the conversation. Because the more choices we have, the fewer people in our lives know what we're talking about when we say, "Did you see that?" And that's when television really starts to get interesting.

Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
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