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October 8, 2015

The Jay Leno Show: Jerry Seinfeld (series premiere)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 14th 2009 11:48PM
The Jay Leno Show
A lot is riding on this little NBC pet project. Like one-third of their primetime lineup. But despite all their promises and promotions that this was a comedy show, vastly different than Jay Leno's work on The Tonight Show, I saw virtually the same exact show on a different set. That's not necessarily a bad thing if you're NBC. Leno was incredibly successful for a long time on that show. Just call it what it is.

The promise that it would stay topical was brought to fruition. In the opening monologue, just like those Tonight Show monologues of yore, he drops a joke right away about the situation last night at the Video Music Awards involving Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Conveniently, Kanye was a booked guest tonight, as well, so with a little shuffling, he wound up on the chair next to Leno to talk about it.

The Cheaters parody was funny, if predictable. I'm glad to see the Kevin Eubanks/Jay Leno gay romance gags have traveled along with them to the new set.

Dan Finnerty, from The Hangover, performed a partially ad-libbed musical routine for a very uncomfortable customer at a real car wash. I was surprised to find myself laughing at parts of this.

Another laugher was his faux interview with President Obama. Leno has done clever things with these fake interviews, and he did so again, tackling such tough topics as tort reform and the money the President could be saving from Geico.

I enjoyed the banter between first guest Jerry Seinfeld and Leno, even if the set-up to Jerry's interview with Oprah Winfrey was painfully forced. It was an easy and fun conversation between two old friends.

Leno accepted Kanye West's request for an interview spot so he could earnestly talk about his behavior at the VMA's last night. It was pretty convenient for West that he would have this opportunity in front of what will likely be a huge audience the day after. But, he looked genuinely ashamed of himself, and even got emotional when Leno called him out on how his mother would feel about it.

It was a little awkward that Kanye had to immediately jump up to try and perform a high energy song with Jay-Z and Rihanna. It was actually nice seeing a humbler and more subdued Kanye up there. The set for the musical acts is enormous, I can see that being used very effectively.


  • I liked Leno coming out to stand on the "10-Spot," indicative of his new spot on NBC's schedule. The 10s were everywhere!
  • The set reminded me of the lobby of a fancy high-rise building. Even the lack of desk enhances the illusion. With the still shots of traffic outside, I suspect that's what they were going for, and maybe this has already been announced, but I went into this fresh like a potential new fan. I do like the look of the set, down to the topiary and the clear glass double-doors everyone comes through to enter the stage.
  • Leno made some in-jokes and references to the show as if even he thought of it as a continuation of The Tonight Show. He alluded to his car collection as if the audience already knew this about him.
  • Jay Leno sitting on a lounge chair, rather than behind a desk, for these interviews is going to take some getting used to. I keep wondering why his legs are sticking out there.
  • And the best bits from The Tonight Show will be back. Tonight was the return of "Headlines," always one of the funniest bits. In fact, the bit closed the show rather than the musical act, which usually does so. I guess it was deemed a better segue into the news.
  • Who are we kidding? This is The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 10pm. He just got a long vacation so they could build him a fancy new set. If it's supposed to be different, it isn't yet.


I expect the ratings for this first episode to be huge. I certainly can't remember the last time NBC promoted something half as much as they've promoted this. If you think about it, maybe they're promoting it five times as much as any other new show because technically, it is five new shows for them. The other networks didn't even bother to contend, throwing up a movie on ABC and CBS's typical CSI: Miami repeat in the timeslot.

Curiosity will get tons of viewers for these first few episodes; it's just a matter of how many of them will stay. Will the people who loved The Tonight Show with Jay Leno want to watch the exact same show at 10pm instead of 11:30? If so, then this could be just what NBC is looking for. Now those fans can watch Jay, check out their local news, and get to bed an hour earlier.

What's your first impression of The Jay Leno Show?
It was great, I'll be tuning in every night277 (21.5%)
I'll watch, depending on who's on279 (21.6%)
I'll watch If there's nothing else on242 (18.7%)
It was terrible187 (14.5%)
Didn't watch it, not gonna watch it306 (23.7%)

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God, I have no idea why people like Seinfeld. Jerry is such a whiner in real life as well as on the show. If it were up to me, ALL of the episodes would be included on this list -- Worst Episodes from TV Shows I Love

September 17 2009 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Fandre

I'm not sure why, but I just don't find Jay funny at all. Even the car wash thing, which wasn't even Jay but I just thought was lame. And yes, I love Conando, muy excelente

September 16 2009 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

I quote Stewie Griffin when I say "It is so fashionable to take a shot at Jay Leno these days, but the fact of the matter is the Man is out there everynight with fresh matearial and is charming." At least he works hard on writing his own matearial in large quantinies

September 15 2009 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good parts ... the Cheaters skit was funny and the headlines ...thats about it

Jerry wasn't funny ...Kanye ..should be boycotted ...should of never been aloud on the show .
huge mistake !!

the car wash skit beyond stupid ...not funny ..not up to standards worse then a bad saturday night live skit

musical choice ...having Kanye there ruined a great act

this every night at 10 just wont work ....
people will DVR the show ,,,,, zip through it at 11 during the news ...and all the affilliates will be mad because there news ratings will drop like a stone

September 15 2009 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The question to Kanye West about whether his recently deceased mother would have approved of his behavior on the VMA's was TACKY!!!

September 15 2009 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not a big Leno-comedy fan, but I still think he's likable. I think this would be so much better as an appointment-TV type show on Sundays at 8 pm for two hours. I guess that's not as much of a money maker for NBC, but he'd do real well in an Ed Sullivan type show that hasn't been seen in generations.

September 15 2009 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Watched it. Never was a big fan of Leno on the Tonight Show and glad that Conan replaced him.

This was really horrible Prime-time TV. NBC should be ashamed of catering to the lowest common denominator with this banal 'humor'.

My question is whatever happened to creativity and originality? This was largely the 1130 show at 10 PM. Albeit with the segments shifted around to maximize viewership.

I suppose if you are a big Leno fan, this was great stuff. But it is a sad commentary on the once-great NBC. Really giving up on its upscale audience who commanded premium ad rates.

September 15 2009 at 11:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wasn't Impressed. The show wasn't that funny. The car wash bit ran too long and Jerry's interview was too short.

September 15 2009 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott K.

It was okay. I only occasionally watched the Tonight Show and I expect I'll only occasionally watch this.

I was disappointed, however, that for something that was supposed to be this big experiment, it was a lot of the same stuff.

September 15 2009 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why does his set feel like it was built in the mid 90's?

September 15 2009 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ryan's comment

Hey, it's more relevant than the intro, which looks like it was done in the '70s!

September 15 2009 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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