How fast time flies! After over a year of talking about it, the all-new The Arsenio Hall Show debuted nationwide last night, MondaySeptember 9 at 11pm, with main guest Chris Tucker, and Snoop Dogg providing the music.

Surprise, albeit brief appearances by Paula Abdul and Jay Leno in an intro skit (which I thought was maybe the episode’s funniest bit), spiced things up a bit, but, unfortunately, not enough to really excite.

The headline of this post describes it as “the all-new” Arsenio Hall Show, but, while watching, I felt like I’d been transported back in time, about 20 years. The set looked eerily similar, the show opened with the same opening theme song from its 1990s incarnation, although updated with the new Posse, and even Arsenio doesn’t look like he’s aged very much. Gone is the high-top fade, in favor of a low-cut trim, but the man doesn’t at all look like he’s 3 years away from 60.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that the intro skit with Jay Leno was maybe the premiere’s funniest, most unexpected bit, because the rest of the hour, I unfortunately found rather dry – the guests and the jokes.

I know it’s his first episode back after 20 years, so maybe it’ll take a few more for him to regain his mojo, because, despite my lackluster reaction to episode 1, I’m genuinely rooting for his success – especially given the noticeable absence of black late night talk-show hosts. And I was a huge fan of the previous Arsenio Hall Show.

The times have changed however. The TV landscape isn’t at all what it used to be, as television itself has seen a radical transformation in the last decade, thanks in large part to the information superhighway known as the world wide web. Competition for eyeballs is intense, with so much demanding the audience’s attention, even when at home; so content creators really need to stand out if they’re to survive.

The fact that the show is housed at the CW network (and its affiliates) may be to its detriment in the long run, as opposed to if it were on one of the majors like CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX, but those slots are already taken, so what’s a new late night talk show host to do? Get in where you fit in, I suppose. 

But I really wanted him to come out swinging, with the guests, the skits, the excitement for what’s to come; but I didn’t really feel much for it. They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, a statement that carries even more weight today in TV land than it ever did, with network execs and their itchy trigger fingers, not hesitating to cancel new shows if they aren’t hits right from the start.

I’m certainly not giving up on the show. It’s only been one episode. So I’ll be watching nightly to see how it grooves over time, hoping for the best!

Did you tune in, and if so, your thoughts?

As for the rest of the week, here’s what to expect:

· Tuesday, Sept. 10: Ice Cube, Lisa Kudrow and musical guest, rapper Mac Miller.

· Wednesday, Sept. 11: Magic Johnson, George Lopez, and musical guest, rapper Nas.

· Thursday, Sept. 12: Actor Mark Harmon from NCIS, magicians Penn & Teller, and musical guest, Earth, Wind, & Fire.

· Friday, Sept. 13: Angela Bassett and Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” group, Emblem3 as musical guests. I’d assume Cowell will be there as well, if only to introduce the group.

But that’s not all. Expect a number of surprise guests throughout premiere week, although no hints as to whom they might be.

Looking past premiere week, guests booked for the rest of the month of September include: Kendrick Lamar, Nick Cannon, Dr. PhilPaula Patton, Melissa Leo, Djimon Hounsou, Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Allison Janney, Anson Mount, Russell Simmons, 2 Chainz, Louie Anderson, Orlando Jones and many others.

The show is produced by Eye Productions Inc., in association with Arsenio Hall Communications Ltd. and Octagon Entertainment Productions, and distributed by CBS Television Distribution