I'll give this show credit for one thing: It got me to watch a Jay Leno show for the first time in years. Even more than that, it got me to watch two Jay Leno shows in a row for the first time in a decade! That's not to say it's all that good, but that I was curious... and that it's on an hour and a half earlier than the Tonight Show. Turns out, that makes a big difference.
As it turns out, watching the "new" Jay Leno Show out of curiousity was a bit of a curious premise, because the only thing really surprising about it was the lack of any real surprises. For all intents and purposes, this is just the Jay Leno Tonight show without a desk. This isn't all together a bad thing, since Jay Leno has been doing this for over 20 years and he's gotten pretty good at it. Sure, I hear a lot of people complain about Jay because he's not as "edgy" or whatever as some of the other talk show hosts, but whatever. All I need is for a host to be witty when a quip is needed and quiet while a funny guest is talking, and nobody is better at either than Jay. He's wittier than Dave and he's actually able to shut the hell up for a minute and let the guest be funny, unlike Conan who thinks because his name is in the title he's the only one who should get any punchlines. So I like Jay, but never so much that I'm willing to stay up and watch his show.
Now that he's on at 9:00pm here in Minneapolis, well, I'm probably not going to make that much of an effort to watch his show on any regular basis either, but it's nice to know it's there in case I ever get bored and need something else to watch. And I'm not one of those people who complained about how he's taking time away from primetime dramatic shows, because I don't really watch those. If it wasn't Jay, it would just be some CSI: Disneyland clone that I wouldn't watch anyway.
As for the two episodes I watched... I'd give them both around a B+. They were both consistently, but never so much that I was at risk of falling off of my chair. Jay is a funny, likable guy who has great writers, but that's also part of this problem. I like interviews that feel real, and his show works bits and prearranged acts into his interviews far too often. The same goes for his "man on the street" bits, which either rely too much on making "real" people look stupid or feel way too forced and set up, like in the premier episode where Jay meets a baby who has an irrational fear of Conan. Sorry, didn't buy that, although the baby was very cute. It's also weird that whenever Jay interviews "real" people on the street, 99% of them are young, sexy girls. I'm not complaining about that, just making a point about it.
So... all I have to say is that there isn't much more to say. If you liked Jay's Tonight Show, you'll like this because not much has changed. If you hated it, you'll hate this for the same reason. But if you don't care either way, it's there and it'll make you laugh if you happen to tune in. But I'll still probably watch Food Network or that GT Express 101 infomercial again instead.