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Exactly one week from Monday, Jimmy Fallon will take over the likes of Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, and short-lived Conan O'Brien as host of the coveted "Tonight Show." Jimmy has come a long way from his "Late Night" debut, but Jimmy still has a long way to go. His monologue is still only eight minutes at the very most, and seems very underdeveloped in that field, as he doesn't have the edge of Conan, nor the spunk of Leno.

Jimmy seems to rush through the monologue, as it feels like something he is not-so comfortable with a lot of times, and while he has come a long way from his beginning in which Fallon looked like a deer in the headlights, the show seems to have a bit of an identity crisis whether it wants to be goofy or classy, and sometimes fluctuates between the two at the expense of the viewer. While he has eliminated the lamer sketches like "Lick it for 10," Fallon seems to be scrambling for ideas on what to do with the time, and it shows with too many "game show"-esque skits which I am not sure will retain the viewers.

To get to the point, I am not sure Fallon can support himself without his strong Jay Leno lead-in through the years. Ratings reports for Fallon without the influence of Leno (or a disenfranchised audience at Leno's reboot in early-mid 2010) showed declines in Jimmy's numbers, so that NBC had to double-down on advertising the program. While we know Jimmy will do great in the beginning as they all do, down the road the future is iffy. Here are some predictions using a best-case-worst-case scenario and how it might spell out a few months down the road.

Best Case Scenario

Jimmy starts out strong through the Winter Olympics, and Jay's audience quickly embraces Fallon, causing only a slight drop-off from his numbers. He goes on five months later to slightly edge out Letterman in the ratings, as people are re-invigorated with the Tonight Show with the show going back to its home in New York. Jimmy becomes a fan-favorite among many.

Worst Case Scenario

People get on board with Fallon out of hype at first, but fall off quickly. The show will get Conan-esque ratings or worse 4 months in, as hype dies off, as Conan was a more recognized name through the years, and Fallon hasn't had as much exposure or experience, as Fallon struggles to maintain an identity for the show. NBC keeps Fallon on as long as they possibly can, but then 1 1/2 years later, they replace him with Jerry Seinfeld.

Most Likely Scenario

As much as Fallon's a nice guy and all, I'm leaning towards the latter. I suspect hearing a story in the news about Fallon's ratings matching Conan's at some point, and I don't see any way he could beat Letterman in the ratings, let alone Kimmel, who are much more established in their interview and humor styles. I see Fallon on his best nights beating Kimmel, but the show will have to be given the test of time for it to get anywhere in the ratings. I suspect so-so ratings will follow Kimmel's show, NBC will be patient with it, and Fallon will get to ride out his show for at least two years before making any kind of move.

What are your thoughts?

Comments (6)
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I think the time of the great monologue is in the past, and it's not something I grade them on. Hell, I love Conan and half of his monologue is laughing and dancing versus an actual monologue.

Jimmy could definitely improve in the interviewing aspect of things, but (for me anyway) he comes across as really personable which is a quality I don't want to see him lose.

I enjoy the skits and the guests seem to as well, which is what makes them work so well. I can imagine that, in the endless press cycle, it's nice to do something a little outside the box for a change.

Do I see him hitting Jay's ratings once we get past the bump of the first couple weeks? Not right away, and most likely not for a while. It'll take a little while to build HIS audience. But I do think he fits the profile a little better than Conan did so NBC will be more likely to stick with him for awhile.
I never found him to be funny or that great on his show...., To me, he just doesn't have that spark in his personality for the tonight show. But I hope he does well.
Loser. I don't find him funny at all. He's the worst interviewer I've seen and his skits are sophomoric. I say keep him at 12:30, move (ancient man and band fag) Letterman to 12:30, bring up Seth and Craig to 11:30! (Hoping Seth does ok, but I'm a big Craig fan).
Jimmy is much more likable than Conan, and is more likely to appeal to the older audience that watched Leno. I've always enjoyed the games he's played with his guests. They are fun and put the guests at ease. He will need to work on his interviewing skills, but most hosts have trouble with that. His musical abilities are a plus that we haven't seen in a Tonight Show host. I hope he can develop that into something special. I hope for the best.
This is a great post! We also have a Community already set up for Fallon's Late Night Show and we'll be creating a new one for this Tonight Show gig shortly.

Or, if even in doubt where to post, you can always utilize the General TV Discussion Topic instead. Thanks for the great writeup!
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