We know it’s not COCO: THE MOTION PICTURE, but FilmEdge is glad to blog our review of Conan O’Brien‘s welcome return to late night television as his new show premiered on TBS earlier tonight (we caught the HD East Coast feed).
Conan opened with a clever GODFATHER parody as his former-network executives opened fire on O’Brien’s car at the (supposed) NBC security gate to ‘fire’ him a few months ago. His squib-blasting death scene/arm waving dance move set the tone for the night, and the ensuing show maintained good comedy and an entertaining talk show pace for the that-went-fast hour.
O’Brien and returning co-host Andy Richter picked up where the left off before being kicked off the NBC airwaves when the peacock pulled their plug on The Tonight Show in January. The surrounding Jay Leno debacle hasn’t slowed Conan down one iota, even if he did have time to grow a chinfull of ruddy whiskers. O’Brien’s monologue was lively and laugh-riddled as ever, blending past and present with new optimism and a few digs at the expense of “basic cable” TBS and the wobbly moon over Malibu behind the desk set.
After fan poll-picked ceremonial First Guest the Nutcracker Lady walked on (and off) the show without saying a word (funnier than anything she might have said), and Conan hilariously revealed his “Ex-Talk Show Host” Halloween mask with Andy: “the inside smells like tears.” Then Team Coco shifted into gear.
Actual celebrity first guest Seth Rogan took the chair to joke about his engagement and how karate lessons in his childhood Jewish Community Center prepared him for his role as THE GREEN HORNET coming this January. Conan also brought up the defeat of California’s Proposition 19, attempting to legalize growing marijuana, which Rogan parlayed into stating it was much easier to get a medical marijuana prescription card. Topical and comical in a solid first-night-back blend.
Lea Michele from Fox’s hit series GLEE followed, and admittedly I’m not a fan of the show so I can’t help you much here on the results but it went well enough and no doubt gathered some of the series’ valuable demographic.
Musical guest Jack White rocked out a duet with Conan from their co-recorded album leading into O’Brien’s live tour earlier this summer. Conan excels in such music segments since he can play guitar himself when it fits, and the duo (backed with the newly-dubbed Basic Cable Band) capped the TBS debut with good humor and energy.
Conan delivers as reliably as ever, and we only hope fans will have followed him to TBS and 11pm to keep his latest venture into late night hosting a long-lived success. Team Coco isn’t resting on its revived laurels either, lining up a stellar menu to keep this debut week rolling: Tom Hanks, 30 ROCK’s Jack McBrayer, Soundgarden, MAD MEN’s Jon Hamm, Michael Cera, MODERN FAMILY’s Julie Bowen to name a few.
On a personal note: I had the fun of working with Conan many years ago when he was “only” a writer long before his hosting days. He was a cool guy, incredibly funny then and nothing appears to have changed since. Except that beard. I wish Conan the best going forward and much success — glad to have you back again!