Nice job, Jimmy — at least, judging from the first few laps of Sunday's Emmy broadcast.
As host, Fallon struck a clear contrast to last year's host, Neil Patrick Harris, who wowed viewers with his sleek versatility and cool.
Fallon is a versatile performer, but the Harris brand of show-biz smooth just isn't in his skill set.
By contrast, Fallon was puppy-dog eager, a nice guy who wants to please his guests and his audience. He's a TV star who never pulls rank, a celebrity who seems to see himself as an equal to his fans. (And as much a social-media geek as any of them.) As he's demonstrated since taking over "Late Night" 18 months ago, that's not the worst thing for a TV host to be.
He demonstrated it again on the Emmycast, aired live by NBC from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre.
He's a guy who wasted no time on the broadcast telling viewers, "The fact that I get to work in TV is beyond belief," and sounded convincing.
But the show started with a bang as Fallon joined forces with stars from "Glee" who complained, that, in the tradition of the high school students they play, they couldn't afford the tickets to the Emmycast. Solution: put on a show! The "Glee" stars joined forces with Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Jorge Garcia ("Lost"), Randy Jackson ("American Idol") and others in a song-and-dance rendition of "Born to Run," complete with Fallon in jeans and T-shirt channeling Bruce Springsteen.
Then, in brief opening remarks, he scored a bulls-eye when he explained that "NBC asked me, the host of 'Late Night,' to come to Los Angeles to host a different show. What could possibly go wrong?"
Cut to Conan O'Brien, Fallon's "Late Night" predecessor and short-lived host of "Tonight," in the hall giving the camera a world-weary nod.
The broadcast was efficiently divided into genres (including reality, drama, variety, and miniseries and movies), which Fallon introduced with a few riffs accompanied by guitar and different star alongside. Reality was introduced by "they don't have writers and they don't have plots, they're the only thing on TV that people still watch."
The show's brisk pace was assisted by the occasional brief but funny filmed bit, such as suggestions for how to improve the ABC comedy "Modern Family": Have the show's gay couple adopt a second child, Stewie, the tyrannical baby from the animated "Family Guy"; film the show in 3-D to highlight cast member Sofia Vergara's voluptuousness; and swap out one of the male regulars for George Clooney.