Fallon’s Tonight debut: a visual stunner

Seth Rogan pays homage to Fallon in Monday’s Tonight debut

The new era of Tonight dawned Monday in a spectacular, star-packed opener for Jimmy Fallon.
The show looked great visually. The new set features plenty of wood paneling in what was Conan and Letterman’s old NBC digs, with a classic, retro curtain behind the host during the monologue. The audience seats look more comfortable than what Letterman offers his guests to sit in on stage.
The 3D Manhattan skyline behind the desk was clean and new but not  as interesting as Letterman’s jumble of models. Give it time to get cluttered.

Bono takes Manhattan as U2 performs on the roof of 30 Rock

The U2 mini-concert on the roof of Rockefeller Plaza just looked amazing. The timing, with the pink sky from the setting sun over Manhattan, was a spectacular, natural special effect. Jamming all those people on the roof added a sense of danger to the rock show and Bono and company took full advantage of their dramatic perch.
Fallon began on a personal note by thanking his Tonight Show predecessors as well as his parents, who had pretty good seats. The show really started, however, when Fallon did a bit at his desk about how his friends owed him a hundred bucks because they said he’d never host The Tonight Show. Out came Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Seth Rogan, Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan, Mike Tyson and Stephen Colbert with their dollar bills. Colbert paid his debt with a pail of pennies. It was a showy, star-packed moment that was funny and elevated the occasion, giving Fallon his Tonight Show moment of zen.

Fallon shows his dance chops opposite Will Smith

Less memorable was his interview with Will Smith. The two aced their opening dance moves bit, but despite what Fallon was telling anyone earlier, Smith is not the ideal first guest. Yes, he’s a big movie star, but he brings none of the inventiveness of go-to guys like Bill Murray, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Martin Short or Tom Hanks. Fallon is still too much of a fan during these segments, schmoozing and hugging instead of steering his guests into stories.
His viewers may not care, getting their fix from where he outshines all other late night hosts–in his ability to perform music and comedy with his guests. Plus, hell, there is The Roots.

Same as the old set, just more executive class

Is it enough to make folks forget Leno? Fallon did seem to play to an older audience Monday night, fussing over his parents. There was less edge but more oomph, which NBC will probably embrace. More will be expected from the opening monologue, but Monday’s show was a solid indication that Fallon is ready for Tonight.

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