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March 4, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | March 4, 2009 |

After the summer vacation or a particularly long hiatus, I often think — with two weeks or three months to work on material — that a post-layoff “SNL” episode might be a little better than most. And despite my low expectations, this almost never seems to be the case. Apparently, six days or three months, you still get the same subpar skits (and for anyone who has watched “SNL” post-election, it’s just as godawful as it was before Tina Fey brought her Sarah Palin impression; the Alec Baldwin hosted episode was a season nadir).

Likewise, you’d imagine that Jimmy Fallon, with several years to prepare for his first episode as the host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” would be able to step it up, at least for the debut episode. Granted, I haven’t seen the entire episode (though, I understand his interview with Robert DeNiro was even more awkward than Robert DeNiro interviews usually are), but that’s mostly because I could barely make it through the opening monologue and the embarrassing slow-jamming news.

This is the guy that got to replace Conan? Really? Jimmy Fallon is the successor to Conan O’Brien, and David Letterman before him? And he got The Roots to be his house band? Who did this guy blow? NBC would’ve been much better off, instead of bringing Andy Richter back onto Conan’s new “Tonight Show,” if they’d just let Richter have the 12:30 spot.

Still, I’ll concede I didn’t care for Conan much to begin with, but he grew on me. I was flabbergasted with the choice of Craig Ferguson to follow Letterman, but he, too, has grown on me. And I couldn’t stand Jimmy Kimmel, but even he’s endeared himself to a degree. So, maybe Fallon will eventually grow into the position, and we’ll grow to tolerate him out of simple inertia.

As for ratings: Fallon’s first ep debuted particularly strong, scoring higher ratings than both Kimmel and Craig Ferguson’s debut shows, as well as improving 35 percent on Conan’s average ratings (Conan, by the by, was being regularly beaten by Ferguson up until recently). Fallon’s ratings, of course, will eventually cool as the curiosity factor fades, which will likely coincide with his increased comfort level. I suspect he’ll be fine, though. After all, as I recall, it took over a year before folks stopped clamoring to replace Conan. And the fact that I can recall that just reminds me how fucking old I am.

Here is some of that awful opening monologue; see how far in you can make it in.

Jimmy Fallon Debuts Strongly / Dustin Rowles

Industry | March 4, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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