As Brian Lowry notes, today marks the anniversary of the premiere of “The Jay Leno Show,” known today by its full title, “NBC’s Failed Experiment: The Jay Leno Show.”
Lowry reprints his review of the show’s debut, which accurately notes how disappointing the entire endeavor was. But the review starts out with six words that I wanted to comment on: “As a surprise to no one, Jay Leno’s new show looks a whole lot like the old one … “
I’m here to admit, I’m the guy. I was surprised.
I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t enjoy the show (I was a fan of Leno’s standup back when I was in college, but not so much of his “Tonight Show” period), but I was taken aback, however naively, that Leno didn’t even seem to try to rise to the occasion and deliver something bigger and/or better for primetime. So I was dumb that way.
The lesson that everyone has drawn from “NBC’s Failed Experiment,” as well as past fliers like “Rosie O’Donnell’s Failed Experiment,” is that a variety/talker will be a disaster in broadcast during primetime. And maybe that’s the correct lesson, but a small part of me still wonders if that would be true if someone in the genre actually put on a good show.