The monologue was OK. It was a bit mushy and maudlin, but had some funny moments and self-deprecating lines that took the pressure off. The studio is smallish and low-ball for the Tonight show. It feels like a college auditorium more than a top-flight spectacle like with Carson and Letterman. It's not a late night stage, and not up to the standards of either Kimmel or Letterman. NBC supports its talent once again. You really wonder about these TV execs sometimes - their lack of ability to put together a show in the classic sense, but that's Hwood nonsense at its peak isn't it?
The dance segment with WIll Smith was pretty good by Gen X and younger generational standards, but it was kind of hack and not something you can build a show on long term. It did show that Fallon has a physical component that can be used to some extent, though it also demonstrated a sort of desperation to substitute slapstick for personality. Is this something people want in the Tonight Show long term? I doubt it, but as I said, maybe this appeals to the new demo they're looking for.
The segment with U2 was quite uncomfortable first with Fallon saying that now that U2 were nominated for an academy award, they were in the 'big time' as if they weren't over the last 30 years. The other error was cajoling Bono to give a speech about a coffee mug to prove what a good speaker he could be at the Academy Awards. Bono tried to bat it away, but then relented half-heartedly and sucked at it, and wow, was that uncomfortable for a while. THe band, meanwhile, did NOTHING to alleviate the dead time.
Then Fallon set up U2 to play their newest song with instruments hid behind the seats, something U2 mocked as a concept repeatedly as Will Smith laughed in a mocking fashion, and that was funny, at Fallon's expense. It was like two old school major acts were laughing at this newbie, when they weren't trying to help him not bomb. Wow, was it ever amateur hour right then. I think about half of Americans on 2-3 drinks could've managed these stars in a more entertaining fashion.
Then U2 played and proved why they're famous. The only moment of relief was Fallon asking why his guitar wasn't plugged in. He set a really uncomfortable tone with U2, even though they rode it like pros, and you could see Bono was knocked a bit off balance until they started playing. In fact, he seemed to have become genuinely annoyed, since Fallon was a bit short of respect, like with his comment about Leno's band, I don't know if this is from nerves, or he really sees anyone older than him as being not that great (except the BeeGees or another act from NYC), but the overall treatment of U2 was lacking in depth. Fallon really seemed to know almost nothing about their past, and he had time to research. Maybe they aren't his favorite, then why have them on?
Maybe he'll get better, but they better up the production value/excitement quickly and Fallon better become a better interviewer soon. His stand-up though seemed reasonable, but the sappy squishy stuff needs to go ASAP , unless his female and younger fans lap it up.
All I can say is this is not a show someone over 35 would be into and Craig Ferguson entertains the older crowd as well as clearly bringing in the younger viewers like Letterman did once upon a time. Plus the band is lifeless.
Seth Myers will take this show in a year. Guaranteed.