Leno premieres with 17.7m, but…

17.7 million Americans tuned in for Jay Leno's new show but TV critics weren't rapt in what they saw.

leno317.7 million Americans tuned in for Jay Leno’s new show, but TV critics weren’t rapt in what they saw.

Update: seems it’s since been bumped up to 18.4m!

The Jay Leno Show‘s debut at 10pm is a high stakes risk for the struggling NBC network, moving a culturally late-night format into primetime, where dramas traditionally play out.

Roughly 5 million used to regularly watch his Tonight Show. It improved on that finale in May by about 50%, and averaged a 5.1 rating/13 share in adults 18-49. On sheer figures it was a big win.

For his first show, Leno had comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a timely appearance from rapper Kanye West and comedy skits involving talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama. But critics were mostly unimpressed.

“Sixteen minutes into the new The Jay Leno Show, it was difficult not to panic. This is the future of television? This wasn’t even a good rendition of television past,” wrote Los Angeles TV critic Mary McNamara.

“Five nights a week of ‘Jay Leno‘ presents a too-high risk factor to deviate too far from the norm — and what’s left is an unsettled sense that they’re throwing things on the wall to see what sticks,” wrote Randee Dawn of The Hollywood Reporter.

The show airs 7:30pm weeknights on the Comedy Channel in Oz.

Source: Reuters

16 Responses

  1. It was great to have Leno back. Definitely more entertaining than anything else at 7:30pm at the moment. And so what if it’s basically the same as the Tonight show? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  2. It was okay. It kinda breaks my heart whenever I see the desk relegated, as it reminds me of the depressing final season of Larry Sanders. The ratings were great though, especially with the updates showing an extra million or so viewers.

    @Abbey: For sure. It would have been a great pick-up by Ten, and easily have given them okay ratings (knock off a few points for it being so US-centric, but it would at least be on-par/better than The 7pm Project), and they could insert the 7pm cast into more appropriate roles. A better choice would have been Ten having a proper go at a high-scale sketch show, al a, SNL, with an all Australian cast.

  3. 17.7 is great. i know you can’t judge much from a premier. but at least NBC can be satisfied that they did the right things in terms of promotion and making people aware of it. there is lots of breathing room for it to fall down to now.

  4. It really doesn’t work with him not being behind a desk, that’s the first thing to fix. The car wash sketch was a good idea, but it went too long.
    But, it’s still better than Letterman, Conan, Kimmel and the godawful Fallon!

  5. A FTA network should have picked this up….

    Ten maybe to fix the horrible 6.30 – 7.30pm ratings timeslot. Neighbours is boring and the cast is fugly. 7PM is horrible to watch, especially the host, with his weird looks at the camera. And what’s with the pens, they don’t even write anything down.

    I believe people would have tuned in to see celebrities and to relax.

    Dumb move not to pick it up!!

  6. judging this kind of show on its premiere is a bit silly, ofcourse its going to take a while to find its feet…will be interesting to see how it goes when other ‘hit’ US shows return in a few weeks, i think the show will very much depend on the guest line up from night ot night and also on whats other channels…

  7. Geez, some of the reviews have simply echoed the opinions given months ago, makes you wonder how much was pre-written (maybe even written back in the original Letterman vs Leno war). I don’t think Aussies are the only ones with tall poppy syndrome. OK Leno isn’t a comedy god & 5 nights a week is probably too much, but talk shows are primarily vechiles for celebrities to plug their latest project. If you can book big stars the audience will probably follow. I think critics have been sharpening their knives with the hope that the timeslot returns to scripted TV. However, even if it does i don’t think anything groundbreaking will take it’s place – a nice procedural cop/hospital/law drama will simply fall off the production line. Wierd and quirky tends to thrive in cable-land.

  8. Was too much like his old show, hoped he would have improved it somewhat for Prime Time. We found ourselves fast forwarding through parts. Even Headlines was not as funny as it used to be. Would be surprised if it works long term.

  9. I enjoyed the first episode. I FF’d through the Kanye interview (who cares), and who ever the guest singer was. The skits and Jerry interview were good, but the interview seemed a little rehersed. Wasnt keen on the opening titles, or the voice over guy, he is no John Melendez.
    The car wash skit was hilarious!

  10. The Jay Leno Show was so bland it makes Rove look fresh. The only good moment was when Jay asked Kanye West “What would your mother think of what you did?” Kanye was awkwardly silent as he tried to compose himself thinking of an answer.

    The sort of moment live shows need to keep people tuning in. Of course Jay then followed the silence up with “how about a song?” and a visibly upset Kanye West then had to go and get ready to sing with Jay-Z.


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