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Late Night, Earlier

Jay Leno debuted at 10pm (daylight savings time, reminded one of our precise readers) last night, 9 central (reminded another), but regardless of the time, it was pretty much the same old Tonight Show, just 90 minutes earlier. Sure, Jay booked it to the max with Jerry and Oprah, plus Kanye, Jay-Z and Rihanna (hey, does anyone have a last name anymore?) But the stunts (Dan Band at the car wash and Leno faking an Obama interview with CBS video) and Sweater Jay in a reality show with Sweater Friends were pretty much stock Tonight Show routines.

From time to time, I will DVR Letterman or Leno to see a guest I didn’t want to stay up for. The experience of watching that show time-shifted is how I felt during the whole hour Monday night. (My other feeling was that I felt awfully alert considering it was midnight — except, it was only 10:30!)

Look, the set was big and glamorous, the band is talented, the jokes were fine and the guests were appropriately stellar for a “debut” — but Seinfeld had it right when he suggested that the whole thing was kind of ho-hum. Wisely — or perhaps defensively, knowing how affiliates might be feeling about a show even NBC brass think can do only a 1.5 in the demo — NBC and Leno left a nice hole for a local station news promo before the last segment, and then went seamlessly from Leno’s final segment to the local news (at least in New York where I saw the feed.)

The bottom line is that while the show was perfectly professional and well-produced, it didn’t contribute anything different, much less breakthrough, which would suggest viewers– especially young ones — will come flocking (regularly) to this new offering. In fact, the scariest thing for NBC might be the continuing transfer of “older viewers” (55+) from 11:30 to 10pm. What do you think?

Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. He oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company, including ShopTalk & TVSPY. If you would like to comment on Remote Control, or want to reach Erik, email remotecontrol@tvspy.

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