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Grading Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Late Night’ debut

How the former Saturday Night Live star fares as talk-show host

Jimmy Fallon's debut as host of NBC's Late Night, said Tom Shales in The Washington Post, “had an unfortunate aura of disconnect. It didn't seem to have attitude, direction, or an identifiable style—a newborn already suffering an identity crisis.” (click here to watch Fallon's opening monologue) Fallon’s predecessor, Conan O’Brien, also had a rough start, in 1993, but O'Brien had way more "novel ideas" than Fallon.

Fortunately, Jimmy Fallon has "great taste in music,” said Maureen Ryan in the Chicago Tribune. “Closing out Fallon's jittery first show was the legendary Van Morrison, and guest Justin Timberlake provided comic relief by imitating John Mayer, Barry Gibb, and Michael McDonald.” (click here to watch Justin Timberlake) And then there’s the “outstanding” house band—“at least until Fallon improves, we can enjoy the Roots every night.”

Fallon’s debut show had “a few hits and a few more misses,” said Mark La Monica in Newsday. The Robert De Niro interview "was terrible,” but “the Timberlake interview was great.” And you really can’t “pass judgment on the quality of Fallon as a talk-show host after just one talk show.” There were some bumps, but “it was still worth watching.”

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