Good news, Jimmy Fallon! The debut of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was a success in the ratings department, giving NBC its strongest numbers in the time period in years. Bad news, Jimmy Fallon. The reviews weren't exactly sparkling.
One of the hardest jobs in show business is sitting behind the desk of a late-night talk show night in and night out, and none are more difficult than that very first one. Former Saturday Night Live player Fallon found that out on Monday, delivering a performance that even he called "nervous."
The critics weighed in on Fallon's debut on Late Night, and it seems there's plenty of room for improvement. So far, reviews almost unanimously point towards opening-night jitters as the biggest problem for Fallon, with the Boston Globe likening Fallon to "a lone deer in the spotlights" and Slate.com saying, "he wriggled and swayed and shifted his weight from one quaking leg to the other throughout the middling monologue."
But even though Fallon's debut wasn't a hit among critics (...yet, all appear to want him to succeed), at least plenty of people watched the disappointing performance. Fallon drew a 2.3 rating and 8 share on Monday night, the best NBC has seen in that time period in years. And last night's show didn't have too much of a dropoff (down to a 2.0 rating), a good sign that people are at least curious enough to ride out a shaky start. Both nights of Fallon drew better ratings than the more established late-night shows from Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson, but we'll see if that lasts.
Things will probably get better for Fallon before they get worse, but will they get good enough to keep him on television? And will people continue to watch?