Craig Ferguson asked critics not to review Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which premiered in the wee hours last night, for 30 days. Not that he is the King of television or anything but that seems like a reasonable request, so I'm going to honor it. But I am going to weigh in with a few quick impressions.
The show felt at times like Letterman (especially the cold opening with Conan O'Brien still cleaning out his desk) and a bit like O'Brien's old show (thanks mainly to the college age audience). It will take weeks to find its feet and perhaps break away from the very traditional format it seems to be embracing. The proscenium, the blue curtain, the suit, the desk, the night time city-scape back drop, the band, the announcer. Same studio as Jack Paar and Steve Allen and you can almost feel them in the room.
The band, The Roots, are brilliant. They did a bit last night where Fallon "Slo-jammed" the news which was a nice new late night wrinkle. "You can't rush my stimulus baby!" Hilarious.
Fallon's best monologue joke: on news that Microsoft have announced plans to open a chain of computer stores just like rival Apple. "They'll be just like the Mac stores," said Fallon, "except the staff will freeze when you ask them a question."
There's a reason Robert De Niro never does talk shows. He's a terrible guest, very uncomfortable. The lame skit they made him do was very SNL lite.
Justin Timberlake was a great guest, tossed off funny singing impressions of the Bee Gees, John Mayer and Mike MacDonald.
I was hoping to see more out of studio bits but with three big guests there really wasn't time. I'm sure that will happen soon enough. Fallon's team (including executive producer Lorne Michaels) was wise enough not to pile it on, to keep it simple.
"A smart man would leave now" Fallon cracked after his hearty opening ovation. No such luck, Jimmy, see you in 30 days.