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October 7, 2015

The Jay Leno Show: Vince Vaughn

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 24th 2009 4:45AM
Jay Leno and racecar driver Justin Bell at the Green Car ChallengeA talk show can only be as good as its guest. That means The Jay Leno Show can only get better than Pee Wee Herman's tornado of suck.

Wednesday's episode was a big step up from the previous night, thanks in part to Vince Vaughn's entertaining sit-down with the big chinned one. Couple that with some entertaining features like "Jaywalking" and the second "Green Car Challenge," and you've got a much better show this time round the track.

Part of that success has to do with the show's choice of guest stars, but this show stuck to what makes it work by introducing new segments that fit the old show's style and building on old ones.

Leno's staple bit Jaywalking made its triumphant return to television on the new show, delivering the kind of dumb fun you would expect from the random ignorant riff-raff who run into the eye of Jay's camera crew. It always amazes me how long this feature has lasted. People must know what Jay is up to when they see him and his gaggle of cameras roaming the streets, and yet they still saunter into frame looking for their 15 minutes no matter how much of their own soul it costs them. It's funny on two levels: one, because it's hard to believe anyone with a God given brain is this dumb; and two, because people are willing to do whatever it takes to just get on TV. Maybe it's not as funny as I thought.

Vaughn also helped Jay lighten things up by simply being Vaughn. He's had lots of practice since he's basically being Vaughn in just about every movie he's done since Swingers. Still, if you have to be someone whether you're playing someone or not, Vaughn isn't a bad person to be. He's extremely likable, funny and witty in all the right places, like the world's best drinking buddy.

The "Earn Your Plug" moment with Jack LaLanne was a little weak, but Vaughn saved it by cracking some very honorable jokes at the 95-year-old fitness buff who looked like he could bend Vaughn into a 45 degree obtuse angle instead of a full half. It also was ten times more entertaining and less cringe-worthy than Michael Moore's impromptu singing that could make William Huang hold his head in shame.

The most fun moment of the night came during the "Green Car Challenge," Jay's answer to Top Gear's "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car." Pitting Bob Costas and Al Michaels against each other was a move of pure genius, since it gave Costas, a funny broadcaster in his own right, a chance to make some great jokes at his and his opponent's expense. It gives Jay room to work in an area he knows probably more than any other man on the planet.

[Watch episodes and clips of The Jay Leno Show at SlashControl.]

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We watched it last night. God what an awful show. Just awful. The bits were hackneyed and the Green Car Challenge made my wife want to destroy the TV (she's a big Top Gear fan - they've had a running bit called Star in a Reasonably Priced Car for over 8 years). She was rather livid they would steal the bit and moreso because they made it so "American Gladiators" with the streamers and sideline audience.

Anyway, the show's rather awful.

September 25 2009 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did Leno and "pure genius" actually appear in the same sentence? OK, I give. How much is NBC kicking in to review this disaster every night? Really, you can tell me.

September 24 2009 at 9:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Craig's comment
Joel Keller

Like it or not, Jay's foray into prime time is the biggest story of the fall season. We wanted to review his first few weeks of shows, at least, to see how he's doing. Whether we'll go past the third week or so is up for debate, though.

September 24 2009 at 10:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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