Congratulations to Jay Leno for spending his retirement in primetime. We’ve been looking forward to his return for three months, and the commercials promoting it have been driving us crazy. So, how did the first show go?
The intro had an interesting concept behind it – showing images of Jay over the years – but I did not feel the execution was done well. It already seems dated, like a Saturday Night Live intro from the 90s, and the voice over was rather anticlimactic.
His new set is also designed with a flair of 1990 but materials from 2009. The design is too literal in regards to a living room design, and the chair set up reminds me of the Montel Williams Show, among others. The stage is huge! There are at least four zones – Primetime Band area, desk, interview area, and performing space. The set is so large that it seems disconnected during studio pans and jib shots. I do like the band shell area, it allows for a lot of flexibility by the performers in regards to space planning and décor.
The show itself will improve over time, this first episode seemed a little forced. The oddest thing happened during the interview with Seinfeld when a TV monitor dropped from the ceiling so Oprah could talk. Both Jay and Jerry looked in the direction of the screen as if it were there, but due to camera shake and other rendering glitches we find that the TV monitor is actually keyed in. That’s right, they spend a lot of money on Jay’s set, but someone thought that a digital representation of a TV monitor was a better decision than really putting out the money for it. Later in the show Kanye West made an appearance and apologized for his actions during the Video Music Awards when he grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift and announced that Beyonce should have won. While Jay was talking to him he looked like a little kid in a principal’s office, especially when Jay asked if his mother would be disappointed if she were still living.
Overall I enjoyed the show and know that they will continue to tweak it as the show progresses -the first show is always the roughest. I wish Jay and the cast and crew luck. A lot of shows were cancelled to make way for this one, so I hope the show develops into a really strong and entertaining piece of television history.