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Leno's return to latenight: A tale of two shows

Jay Leno returned to latenight Monday, and just as he did when he went to prime time in September, he was frontloaded with big guests.

So, what you really had were two shows. The first covering the initial 30 minutes was the one to pay attention to. It had no guests and featured Leno and his staff -- and it was lame, tame and tepid.

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The second was all guests -- and it had energy if nothing else. Jamie Foxx came on and rocked the house from the minute he hit the stage. Then came Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, and she was friendly, open and fun. But as was the deal in September, what happens after the big and/or hot guests are gone?

That first 30 minutes offered a look at what we will be left with night in night out -- Leno and one of the least imaginative team of writers and filmmakers in TV. The film bits that Leno and his crew come up with give new meaning to the word uninspired.

The big one Monday featured Leno knocking on doors and asking people if he could try out the desks in their homes. The idea was that he was looking for a new desk for his show. If the concept sounds weak, you should have seen the execution.

Two other fast film pieces that Leno described as regular features were even worse: "How Boring Is Alan Greenspan?" and "The World's Tightest Pants." I'll spare you the details.

As for the monologue, here's as edgy and topical as it ever got: Talking about Vonn, Leno said, "When it comes to going downhill, nobody's faster except NBC."

And from its 10 p.m. replacement series like Jerry Seinfeld's wretched "The Marriage Ref," to the damaged Jay Leno's return to latenight, NBC already looks to be heading downhill at breakneck speed.

[AP photo]

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