Well, did you watch? After the months of hype and the weeks of promos, the new Jay Leno Show premiered last night.
Basically I have a real soft spot in my heart for The Tonight Show. I started watching it when Steve Allen was the host, watched intermittently through the Jack Parr days, and was a loyal follower through Johnny Carson's 30 years. I taped every single program of the last month of Carson, prior to Leno's take-over.
The fact that I didnt even tape Leno's last show (though I did watch it) says how I felt about the Jay Leno Tonight Show vs. the Carson Tonight Show. In its later years, I only watched once or twice a week, usually the nights when "Headlines" were on. I would watch the monologue and watch through "Headlines" and then turn it off.
I also kind of liked Jay-Walking, amazed that we have such a nation of really uninformed to downright stupid people in professions, like teaching, which help shape our children's minds.
Sometimes I watched the Conan O'Brien Show late at night, when Leno was still doing Tonight, but O'Brien isn't really my kinda guy. Oh he was OK, but too silly for my tastes. I was not excited aboaut his taking over for Leno, but understood that it was a logical choice (personally, I prefer Craig Ferguson, but haven't watched him regularly enough to be able to rave about him).
From what I saw about all the promos of The Jay Leno Show, I wondered if people would watch it five nights a week and continue to watch Conan an hour later.
So what did I think about the opening show. Well, that "yawwwwwnnnnnn" expressed it pretty well. I think there was a time when I might have liked Leno's jokes, but despite his apparent nice-guy image, I don't like put-down humor. He didn't last night, but he tells terrible cliche jokes about gay people that I always find offensive.
The comedian he had embarrass a poor girl at a carwash went on interminably, with sexual innuendos that made her obviously very uncomfortable. I could have done without that.
The banter with Kevin Eubanks is just as awkward as it always was...he doesn't have the pizazz of Doc Severinson and is definitely NOT a comedian. Interestingly, in all the years that Leno did The Tonight Show, I never saw him single out any band members the way Carson used to. The woman who does the vocals during the commercials has been doing them forever and I've never known her name.
The "interview" with Obama was clever, but again it was a Tonight Show bit moved to the new format.
Leno said there would be no desk on his new show, and there wasn't. I longed for one. Somehow the two-chairs-facing-each-other was just a desk without a desk. Jay looks better behind a desk.
Jerry Seinfeld was the best part of the show, though the shtick with Oprah was kind of dumb.
Maybe Kanye West deserved to be put on the spot, but that was an awfully long awkward period with no sound at all after Jay hit him with "I knew your Mom...what would your Mom have thought about your behavior?" C'mon...even Barbara Walters doesn't hit that low--or let the silence go on that long!
I wasn't really interested in the music, so I skipped over that (I was watching on our DVR).
The most depressing part of the show was that he's kept "headlines" but now they come at the end of the show, so you have to sit through a whole hour of this boring stuff before you get to the only part that you really enjoy.
The show did not put me in the mood to watch my local news (thank goodness for the return of The Daily Show from vacation last night) and after having watched an hour of "The Tonight Show that isn't really The Tonight Show," I certainly wasn't in any mood to stay up for Conan O'Brien.
This is the show that is supposed to save the network. I'll be curious to hear what others thought of it. I suppose it's not fair to judge a show until it's had a chance to really find its footing, but this isn't a "new" show, at least so far. It's The Tonight Show in a different time slot, with Jay standing up instead of sitting down and then sitting down in an easy chair instead of behind the desk.I was not instantly impressed.