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October 25, 2014

How Was Jay Leno's First Episode Back At 'The Tonight Show?'

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 2nd 2010 11:02AM
Tonight ShowIt's like he never left, isn't it?

Jay Leno returned to 'The Tonight Show' last night, and he pretty much settled back into the groove right away. Of course, there really wasn't much groove to "settle back into" since the 10PM 'Jay Leno Show' was 'Tonight 2.0,' a carbon copy of the 11:35 show with just a time change (oh, and no desk).

He still did his long monologue, he still bantered with Kevin, he still interviewed guests. It's not like he was going to drastically change anything. Jay was Jay and he did was he always does.

What didn't he do? Well, he didn't acknowledge Conan O'Brien at all. I guess that's no surprise since he didn't acknowledge Johnny Carson on his first show back in 1992. But you would think that he would have said something about Conan since it was the major TV story for the past few months, but he didn't. As the opening 'Wizard of Oz' takeoff showed, they really do want to make believe all of this was a dream. Good to see Betty White make a cameo though.

So let's get to the nitty gritty:

The Good: Leno's monologue. I know, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but at least he does a whole monologue, and when you do that many jokes every night some of them are bound to be funny, and some were last night. The "search for a new desk" segment was funny too, though I guess you can expect humor to be built in when you're a big star and you show up unannounced at people's homes. But at least Leno was funny and it was good that they actually addressed the whole have a desk/no desk discussion that has been going on.

The Bad: All of Leno's regular things: the opening where he comes out and shakes hands with audience members (still smells of desperation and contrivance even after all these years); the studio set-up, the same one he had for the 10PM show, is awful. Eubanks and the band seem to be playing four blocks away, which goes against the "comedy club" feel Leno was going for when they redesigned the 'Tonight Show' set years ago; and Jamie Foxx, who I think was a terrible, odd choice for a first guest. He took over the show, singing, dancing, ice skating, trying to lead the audience in a wave, trying to get the audience to chant "Leno." Gah. You could see that Leno just wanted him to sit down (and kudos to Leno for that). This was a typical Leno episode of the show only...less.

Worst question of the night? Leno, to Foxx: "So, did you hook up with Kirstie Alley?"

Worst line of the night? Leno saying that tonight's guest Sarah Palin had never done a late night show before. Uh...she was on a show called 'The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.'

As for that desk they settled on...I don't know. I'm not trying to turn this review into 'Divine Design,' but it seems like an odd choice. It's rounded on one end, but it's the end that you don't see in the two-shot of Leno and the guest he's interviewing. In that shot it seems like a very old-fashioned desk. I don't mind the retro look, but I bet they change it at some point.

To summarize: Leno was Leno. If you liked him before you'll like him again. If you didn't, you're watching Letterman tonight. Everything is right with the world again.

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sheri

Why put Jay down for shaking hands at beginning of program..The facts are that Jay out in Public always has been a VERY approachable Guy...on and off stage..Iy's a WARM...NICE gesture...which a lot of men are to stiff & macho to do....and Guess what..A former "Talk Show King" Merv Griffin always shook hands with Audience if not at beginning, then at the end.....and one thing overlooked is that Leno had the "squeeze" put on him when Conan had his eyes on the Tonight show and his camp created the scenario for pushing Jay out...The Majority Rules....Jay is where he belongs and Conan is exactly where he chosed to be...Wake up People..Conan was paid $40,000,000 for 7 months of immature Hosting...He was okay in the Later Hour if you could'nt sleep...but you have to be an undeveloped Adult to have him as a regular part of your Evening...Yes...the Majority prefers "Class Acts...even if percieved as Boring..after all..it's all in the eye of the Beholder...

March 03 2010 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

How nice that Conan did so well for one night. Leno's ratings will be much more consistent as they were for FIFTEEN years.

March 02 2010 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joyce N.'s comment
RobynM

Out of the SEVENTEEN he was on the air.

March 03 2010 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rich

Leno was no. 2 for 2 out of his 17 years. Conan was dead last. He couldn't even get his own 'loyal' audience whom he cultivated over the past 17 years and who were used to staying up late to raise his rating.

March 08 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kerk

"Leno's ratings were up 45 percent over Conan O'Brien's average Tonight Show numbers, but were a whopping 58 percent lower than O'Brien's ratings on his first night on the job, back in June."

Funny how Leno followers don't mention that part.

March 02 2010 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kerk's comment
Rich

The reason why Leno followers don't mention it is because it's completely irrelevant. I'm mentioning it now. Conan's ratings on his first night as host of the Tonight Show were higher that Leno's on his first night back as the host. Then Conan's ratings nosedived to dead last amongst all of the network late night talk shows and this is with Conan already having an established late night viewing audience from his prior 17 years as host of late night. Even his already established viewing audience couldn't save him. All they can do is talk trash.

March 08 2010 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

Very happy to see Leno back on The Tonight Show.

Ratings - Monday night

Leno - 6.6 million

Letterman - 3.8 million.

NBC made the right decision.

March 02 2010 at 9:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOANNA

Glad Leno is back on late night.
As for FOXX...he is a real egocentric ass.

March 02 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jim

Thank you for watching this so that I didn't have to.

March 02 2010 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jim's comment
Aml

My sentiments exactly.

Although, I feel bad for Bob. He's a Letterman fan.

March 02 2010 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
beergas

Didn't watch either lead show. Even for Manhattan lifer DL is wearing out. Leno's opening walk to audience still sucks, figures. Dumb.
Might try Palin just for the giggles to see what, if anything, she can do to shake up her act. Something about her that
is refreshing fresh if that makes sense. Like she's not afraid to wing it with whatever she thinks is going on with the vast
crowd. A male Elmer Gantry but she means it. Neat to see how Leno handles this after Foxx going all Cruisey.

March 02 2010 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adhonus

Despite knowing that there's more than enough market share to go round, I'm still fascinated by this story. I don't like Leno, but I respect him. I wish I'd given Conan a chance, but Colbert is a hard habit for me to break.

March 02 2010 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
miller980

Lambast Leno all you want, he beat Letterman by a 2 to 1 margin. Yes, it's his first night back, but a month from if Leno is still beating him it will show that those "I'll never watch Leno again" squawkers never watched him in the first place.

March 02 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent Todd

I don't know, I didn't watch it. Nor will I watch it.

March 02 2010 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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