Fallon upward

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"Lick it for 10" notwithstanding, Jimmy Fallon's first week as host of Late Night wasn't the disaster it could have been.

Fallon was a fish out of water for the first two nights, as uncomfortable as a talk show host could be. His interview with a stoic Robert De Niro was painful, and even with charismatic SNL pals Justin Timberlake and Tina Fey attempting to bail him out, Fallon looked incapable of chatting up a guest.

Eventually, he started to settle in and settle down. His invisible bowling ball shtick was a good gimmick to spice up monologues that Fallon still reads like he's sitting behind the "Weekend Update" desk. Beer pong with Serena Williams was a stroke of genius.

In some ways, Fallon's polite, reverent program feels more like a traditional 11:30 p.m. talk show than the madhouse we've come to expect at 12:30 a.m. after David Letterman and Conan O'Brien.

In other ways, it comes off like a sketch show transplanted into a talk show. (Fallon's spoof of The Hills was riotously accurate.) And sometimes it just seems like a product-placement showcase - wouldn't it be more fun to make an audience member lick a rusty, grass-infested lawnmower than the shiny new model Fallon was hawking?

As uneven as this new Late Night is, it's uniquely Fallon. Considering how long it took Conan to find his footing, that's as good as start as he could have hoped for.

"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"

12:30 a.m. weeknights, NBC

Grade: C+