How Did Leno Do? Review Roundup

Jay Leno had his first night back on the Tonight Show, and the reviews are in. James Poniewozik of Time

Jay Leno had his first night back on the Tonight Show, and the reviews are in.
James Poniewozik of Time noted that “Jay Leno’s transition from primetime failure to once-and-future host of the Tonight Show lasted about a minute and a half,” with a Wizard of Oz-themed cold open:

And then it was back to what could largely have been a Leno monologue from before The Jay Leno Show, right down to a set of jokes about the previous Presidential administration. For a while in Leno’s monologue, it appeared that Jay was not the only one who had been restored. A news item about Dick Cheney’s heart problems led to a string of golden-oldie Bush jokes, as if the former President too had suddenly taken back his old job from the new guy.

Clear message: well, that’s over! Who wants to hear an Alan Greenspan joke?

In other words, “slow and steady,” said the Daily News.
“One of the least imaginative team of writers and filmmakers in TV,” said The Baltimore Sun.

The Times, meanwhile, recounted Letterman’s sideline heckling:

“Thank you very much, welcome to the ‘Late Show,’ my name is Dave Letterman — same time, same host.”

“I want to tell you something, tonight is a rough night for my mom. She doesn’t know who to watch — Jimmy Kimmel or Jay.”

Mr. Letterman also joked about Gov. David A. Paterson’s problems, saying that Mr. Paterson had announced he would not run for election, but that “Jay had nothing to do with it.”

And the Post was preoccupied with Leno’s new set:

 Leno’s desk and couch were back, replacing the two facing armchairs he had used to interview guests on “The Jay Leno Show.”…

Viewers also saw an all-new set — dark wood and blue light — which was warmer than the “Leno Show” set.

Gone, too, were the glass doors through which Leno had entered — and a few guests stumbled into.

It was replaced by an large arch.

But maybe the drama is all for nothing–The Kansas City Star’s Aaron Barnhart (“the dean of Leno criticism,” per Felix Gillette) wrote before the show that “there may be some damage initially, but longer term is a different story.”

Thus Leno takes his place alongside death and taxes.

How Did Leno Do? Review Roundup