"The Tonight Show" isn't what it was during the long tenure of Carson, who hosted the show from 1962 until 1992.
In those three-network times, Carson dominated late-night TV like nobody before or since. He dominated the ratings and routinely sat down challengers like so many duck targets at a carnival shooting gallery. Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, Joan Rivers, Pat Sajak -- they all tried to dethrone the king, and they all came up short.
Carson sat behind "Tonight's" desk for 30 years before passing the torch to Leno, and "Johnny" is still the model against whom all are measured.
"Late Night" producer Lorne Michaels, who's now executive producer of "The Tonight Show," has called Fallon "the closest thing" this generation has to Carson.
It appears it's now time for Fallon to show and prove.