Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fallon's First Week

by Bill Holmes

I already reviewed the first episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in a previous post. Since you should never judge a TV series by one episode, here is my opinion of the rest of the first week of shows. 

On Tuesday night there were some funny parts to the show but most weren't because of Jimmy. He started with another weak monologue. Back at the desk he did a Pros & Cons bit which was done often on his previous Late Night show. There were some mildly amusing lines. He next did a comedy song with a barbershop quartet. This too is a holdover routine from the old show. Finally some good stuff, guest Jerry Seinfeld delivered a funny stand-up. Jerry continued to be funny during the interview segment and Jimmy did his Seinfeld impression. They traded several complements. Apparently they are both wonderful. Seinfeld left after his interview. Next up was Kristen Wiig in the guise of Harry Styles (One Direction). Styles had been mentioned a few times so I guess that was the reasoning. It was not funny. Fallon overlaughed at Wiig's attempts at comedy. The musical guest was Lady Gaga who did an overproduced number as is her want. It wasn't terrible.
Lady Gaga - Tonight Show

For show number three on Wednesday the monologue had a couple of Rob Ford jokes and
more Olympics stuff. I'm sure NBC instructed Jimmy to plug the Olympics every chance he could. They also recycled a Brian Williams "rap video" from the old show. It consisted of short phrases and single words spoken by Brian mostly during his news broadcast that were very cleverly edited together and set to rap music. It shows that Jimmy has very talented video editors working for him. It was the highlight of an otherwise weak monologue. Back at the desk he showed a video of the "#hashtag" skit with Jonah Hill. The premise was first done on Late Night with Justin Timberlake. Some of it was funny but I thought it was too long. The best line was when Questlove of The Roots opened the door and said to Jonah and Jimmy "hashtag - shut the f*&k up". My sentiments exactly. Next was a short interview with Bradley Cooper. He's wonderful, the movie is wonderful, everyone in the movie is wonderful, blah, blah, blah.  This was followed by a game of charades with Cooper, musical guest Tim McGraw and "surprise" player Emma Thompson. The charades is another holdover from Late Night. This was followed by a segment with child inventors. It was OK, but after a kid showed his or her invention Jimmy had to show an invention that he "invented". For the finale, Tim McGraw sang a song. He's OK but I've always thought he was more hat than talent.

On to Thursday and show number four. There was more unfunny Olympics stuff in the monologue. In his first show, Fallon had promised a ten minute monologue each night. This one ran a very weak seven minutes. We were then treated to one of the worst skits I have ever seen. Jimmy and Will Ferrell dressed as teenage girls. They spoke in almost unintelligible exaggerated valley girl accents. They were joined by Michelle Obama. I have no idea what they talked about or the point of this unwatchable piece of crap. There was then an interview with Michelle that was another mutual admiration exercise. It also was a plug for Obamacare and her good nutrition initiatives. Will Ferrell was next. He came out for his interview in some sort of clownish tuxedo/tails costume. It was skin tight. The interview was all scripted and was followed by a figure skating routine but without the ice or the skates. None of it was funny. The musical guest was Arcade Fire performing an overproduced number. This was the worst show of the week by far. Not an easy accomplishment.

Finally on Friday we have the Justin Timberlake - Jimmy Fallon Show. To be honest I was surprised Justin wasn't Jimmy's first guest on the first show. They have partnered often on some funny stuff in the past. I was hoping this would be a good show. My hopes were dashed. Tonight's monologue didn't have any video clip inserts and ran about nine minutes. It had the required Olympics jokes and was not funny. It also seemed to me that he was delivering the monologue to his sidekick Steve Higgins. He kept looking over to Steve during and after every joke. I use the word joke in the loosest possible interpretation. At the desk he did another staple bit of Late Night, the thank you notes along with the same music. The interview segment was as expected only worse. After an overly long applause, Justin sat down to some more fawning exchanges with Jimmy. Then the two of them did a very lame rap song that went on for what seemed like several hours. That was followed by more bad interview moments. After the break Justin did a wonderful and fabulous (I'm sure I forgot an adjective) song. I think Timberlake has some talent but I've never thought he was great. It was a disappointing show based on what these two have done in the past. 

As you may have guessed by now, I am not a fan of this show. Jimmy's monologues are mostly terrible. His interview skills are nonexistent although Leno was a terrible interviewer too. So far all his comedy bits have been recycled from his Late Night show, no original ideas yet. It appears that the Fallon version of The Tonight Show may be more skit, videos and planned segments than the usual monologue, interview, unscripted format of late night TV. Maybe more Saturday Night Live than the David Letterman Late Show. That's not necessarily bad provided the material is entertaining, so far it hasn't been. Jimmy is just too damn excited about everybody and everything. He borders on maudlin when dealing with guests. His next controversial joke or probing interview question will be his first. 

I'll tune in again on occasion but only when Letterman and Kimmel are in repeats or there is a guest or musician I particularly want to see. Fallon will certainly not be my first choice on most nights. I do hope the show improves though. I really wouldn't want to see Leno return for a third time. 

That's my two cents worth, what's yours?


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