New Jay Leno Show Not Even As Good As Old Jay Leno Show

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Photo: Courtesy of NBC

Given NBC's regrettable move to swap him out of the 11:30 slot for a guy with half his ratings, the unfair way his new prime-time show is being blamed for the network's purported murder of scripted drama, and the fact that he totally seems like a nice guy in real life — wouldn't it sort have been nice to see Jay Leno triumph last night with a terrific (or at least non-terrible) first episode? Yes, that certainly would've been nice!

No matter how one feels about his comedy, it would seem like Leno's seventeen years of experience hosting The Tonight Show should give him the confidence to relaxedly make it through one measly hour-long 10 p.m. premiere, even with a new set the size of an airplane hangar and a team of rusty writers (as he proved during the strike last year, he doesn't even need writers!). So what made last night so clumsy and awkward?

Last night's accidentally watchable moment came courtesy of a crying Kanye West (watch here), who'd luckily been booked for Leno to perform with Jay-Z before his acclaimed appearance on Sunday's VMAs suddenly made him Earth's most popular celebrity. But unless Kanye can offend America again today, and pencil in another emotional apology for tonight (it's possible, we suppose!), Jay's second show has a big hole to fill.

Next came a painful sit-down with first guest Jerry Seinfeld (tuxedoed, for some reason), during which Leno, perched weirdly on a chair, never seemed to get comfortable. He kept shifting his weight, crossing and uncrossing his legs, while conducting a stunted interview that he and Seinfeld appeared to be reading from cue cards. Jay wasn't at ease again until show's end, doing "Headlines" from the safety of a desk.

We'd hate to accuse the guy of being unprepared, after three months off, to give a new show that's barely different than his old one, but there was one big tell — Leno badly needed a haircut, and kept having to brush away stray pieces of hair hanging over his forehead. Certainly that should've been fixed before last night, right? Also, finally, where was the show's much-hyped racetrack? Can we assume NBC is working furiously to make it more dangerous in preparation for Tom Cruise's appearance on tonight's show? If anybody watches, please let us know.

We'd hate to accuse the guy of being unprepared, after three months off, to give a new show that's barely different than his old one, but there was one big tell — Leno badly needed a haircut, and kept having to brush away stray pieces of hair hanging over his forehead. Certainly that should've been fixed before last night, right? Also, finally, where was the show's much-hyped racetrack? Can we assume NBC is working furiously to make it more dangerous in preparation for Tom Cruise's appearance on tonight's show? If anybody watches, please let us know.