Scenes From the Jaypocalypse

Slow news day so I’ve been catching up on the mass of articles about Leno last night. The battle-lines are drawn, most are either for him or against him, but every article seems to note how odd the last year has been for late night television.

Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly (“Jay Leno reclaims ‘The Tonight Show,’ Letterman acknowledges the return“) starts off with, well, some of that cynicism that Conan warned us about:

Jay Leno took back The Tonight Show from Conan O’Brien on Monday night, saying, “It’s good to be home.” Ha-ha-ha, oh, oh, I get it: Conan was a bully who kicked poor Jay out of his own house and stayed on as a squatter until the police (i.e., NBC) gave Jay back his property! Justice prevails!

Mmm snark!

The Washington Post (“Leno’s return to ‘Tonight’ gives off victorious air“), however, can’t seem to pick a side of the fence to be on:

In the end, Leno is talented in the most mediocre of ways, and this gives viewers great comfort. His big win here is a win for the middle of the road.

So, is that bad? Or good? Or … what?

The Los Angeles Times (“Jay Leno returns to ‘The Tonight Show’“) does what it does best, plays the middle of the road while dropping clever pop references:

It was quintessential Leno, man of the people, and after the new desk was unveiled, it did seem as if the last seven months were, if not a dream, then a sort of parallel universe, similar to this season’s “Lost.”

James Poniewozik at Time (“Jay Leno’s Long Nightmare Is Over“), who I felt eviscerated Leno in his cover story back in the autumn (“Jay Leno Is the Future of TV. Seriously“) veers into cynicism as well:

To be fair, Leno and NBC have a delicate task with the relaunch of the Tonight Show: making a premiere event of something that viewers were watching less than a year ago, without too many awkward reminders of what came between. At one point, Leno referred to his guest tomorrow, Sarah Palin, saying that she’s “never been on a late night show.” Palin appeared last year on Conan O’Brien’s Tonight (as a walk-on, not a scheduled guest, which she was on SNL). But, as we know, Conan O’Brien never existed.

(Incidentally, and maybe I’ve beaten this point to death, but would any of the Leno fans who complained about “that immature Conan O’Brien” care to explain to me the maturity and sophistication of Jay’s “World’s Tightest Pants” segment? Update: For those of you who missed it—extreme tight shot of someone’s wedgified butt crack. I realize I’m losing a lot of the nuance by summarizing.)

But the end-all, be-all of snark came from Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon (“Leno’s late-night comeback“):

And then, seemingly hours later, it was over. All that was missing was a celebratory drink out of Conan O’Brien’s skull. In your face, America.


I kind of wish it was a busier news day. That there were more stories about “The Bachelor” and “Dancing wth the Stars” and “The Marriage Ref”. Something about the Academy Awards. Celebrity drama of the Britney or Paris Hilton kind. C’mon. Anything but more snarky Jay Leno stories …