NBC started strong Friday night, and there is plenty to praise -- from executive producer Jim Bell to director Bucky Gunts, a Baltimore native. Meredith Vieira was superb in the co-hosting she did with Lauer -- not a second of wasted effort or silliness. She defines solid. Costas was a little less smartalecky than usual, and on most nights, I would complain about that because I love his ironic, wiseguy edge. But again, I think NBC was right: There wasn't a lot of space for irony and wisecracks Friday night. I'm not sure why that was the case, but there wasn't. Maybe it was queen, I don't know.