The long-anticipated "Jay Leno Show" premiered last night to mixed (but leaning-toward-terrible) reviews. Most critics agreed the episode was very similar to his work on the "Tonight Show" but that the celebrity guests felt more forced. Here's a round-up of their thoughts and the video from Jay's first 10p show.
Mary McNamara of the LA Times had harsh words for Jay's monologue:
"It's not a good sign when the Bud Light commercial is funnier than the comedy show it interrupts ... his opening monologue seem[ed] like an attempt to cash in on the current vampire fixation -- comedy of the undead"
Hank Stuever of the Washington Post bemoaned Jay's "bits" but praised the host for his ability to cheer and comfort an audience:
"Amid some lame-same comedy bits (including a "Cheaters" spoof where Leno discovers and confronts his bandleader, Kevin Eubanks, in a park with a Leno impersonator, which felt exactly 10 years old, and the "Headlines" sketch, which either does or doesn't make a case for saving newspapers), certainly there's potential. Nobody makes it seem as though everything's hunky-dory better than Leno. No civility crisis here: Life is merely always ridiculous."
NPR's Linda Holmes did not enjoy the work of comic Dan Finnerty:
"It was a particularly inauspicious start for the feature Leno has probably hyped the most: performances from young comedy performers. If this is the best thing they had in the can after a summer to prepare, that's a little concerning."
WATCH THE SKETCH:
James Poniewozik at "Time" was a fan of Leno's what-would-your-mother-think-of-what-you-did questioning of Kanye West:
"I have to give it to Jay here. Yes, getting Kanye West to cry by bringing up what his mother would have thought about his acting like a jackass on MTV may have been disproportionate to the crime. But it's a totally unexpected question, leaving West silent. In this sense, the question may have been too good--Jay feels compelled to step into the uncomfortable quiet and let Kanye off the hook."
WATCH THE KANYE INTERVIEW:
Rodney Ho at the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" said the show wasn't great, but laughed at Seinfeld's mocking of Leno:
"The first truly great laugh for me, at least, was 25 minutes in when Jerry Seinfeld showed up as the first celebrity guest. 'You know in the '90s when we quit the show,' Jerry said. 'we actually left!'"