Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Jay Leno Show

This may have been NBC's smartest move in years.

The show premiered on Monday, September 14th with 17.7 million viewers, an 11 Nielsen rating (5.1 among persons 18-49**) and an 18 share. All for a series that costs less for a week's worth of shows than one scripted episode. While the ratings are obviously high the first night because it is the premiere (and "return" of Leno) - I suspect that the show will likely have ratings higher than NBC's "acceptable" ratings which fall between 1.5-1.8 in the "18-49".

While I've always found The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Leno himself to be somewhat of a mixed bag - with stretches of time where I would watch him almost religiously and then months where I wouldn't even consider tuning in, I've never had that much of a problem with him compared to so many out there. His monologues can be so-so, but I've enjoyed his interviews far more than say, some of the more combative and downright insulting late night hosts. I've never come away from the show with a bad taste in my mouth after a sour or interview gone pseudo-awry.

So, the show's on. It's practically the old show with a rebuilt set (much better than the last Tonight Show set) with no desk. I mean, where people expecting something radically different? How could they have made it different? They kept Kevin Eubanks for crying out loud - continuing the tradition of lame riffs at every other Leno joke.

I'm not sure where people are now getting the idea that this was supposed to be something other than "The Tonight Show in Primetime." That's what they were selling it as months ago. That's what they were selling it as last week. Now that it's out I've read articles where people talk about how disappointing it was. It's the same thing Jay was doing for years. If you didn't like him before, you won't like him now.

The thing is, if he did something radically different - you'd be hearing the exact opposite reaction out there. You'd be hearing screams of "This is too unfamiliar" or "We were expecting the Jay Leno from the Tonight Show not... this!"

Overall the show isn't bad. For the days where there just isn't anything worth watching at 10 PM (most nights now that Royal Pains is over for the season), there's "The Jay Leno Show."

** I'll talk about how much I don't like the 'demographic' breakdown some other time.

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