I know I don’t blog much about television, but I do watch it from time to time. I get more enjoyment out of films but I do have a few loves that currently reside on the tube. One of those is Conan O’Brien.
No late night talk show host has tickled my funny bone the way the red haired giant has. His humor is not that of any of the other hosts, past or present, and channels today’s younger generation a way predecessor Jay Leno and time slot rival David Letterman just can’t.
Tonight marked the return of Conan O’Brien to the late night lineup as the host of The Tonight Show, his first show since Late Night with Conan O’Brien became Late Night with Awkward Dolt (Jimmy Fallon). I for one am absolutely pleased to welcome O’Brien back to late night television as I’ve been waiting for this premiere for quite some time now.
The debut show was a hit. Fears that O’Brien might change his regular shtick to suit the older audience that typically tuned in to Leno were surpassed right from the get go as the intro to the brand new show featured O’Brien running cross country from New York to Los Angeles. O’Brien entered the new studio to a familiar tune, and it seemed like everyone was at home.
The jokes were the same, and Andy Richter proved to be a worthy companion as the new announcer and sometimes laugh track. The only thing missing from show’s setup was the usual awkward and hilarious banter with Max Weinberg. Perhaps this will be discussed at upcoming production meetings.O’Brien ‘s going to have to share his free banter time!
O’Brien kept alive the magic that are his pre-filmed videos. O’Brien became known for classic reels such as his old time baseball production. Tonight he added two more to the mantle with a piece about how his Ford Taurus is still cool in L.A. (he impregnates a woman by the rev of the engine and makes Fabio with brown hair jealous!). They also gave us a look at O’Brien leading a tour through Universal Studios which ended with a ride through the streets and a shopping spree at the 99 cent store.
O’Brien’s only guest of the night, aside from the musical performance we’ll get to later, was Will Ferrell. Ferrell’s is doing the final march of promoting his new film Land of the Lost so the timing is logical and right for him to appear as the first guest. And even though I’m not the biggest Ferrell fan, his time on the show was funny, and was probably a very safe choice for the crew to make in terms of a guy who would be at least somewhat funny everytime out there.
Pearl Jam performed a lackluster song called “The Fixer” off their upcoming album Backspacer. I’m not a huge Pearl Jam fan, but I do consider Ten to be a masterpiece. This song just made them feel like another one of the generic American heavy rock bands we hear much too often. I understand the choice to have Pearl Jam on, apparently they performed on either his first show or one of his earliest shows, but they could have sounded better (or played a better song). There seemed to be a technical glitch that didn’t help things for the band.
The last thing I’d like to mention is the fact that Jay Leno is moving up to the 10 pm slot in the near future. I understand the decision by NBC to keep Leno aboard and keeping him from competitors, and I understand O’Brien’s graciousness and withstanding honor of being lead in by Leno once again, but I think this just hinders O’Brien’s development as the king of late night television. In addition, NBC is going to have four late night talk shows with Fallon and Carson Daly following O’Brien, both are shows that don’t need to exist. This seems like too much talk and forced comedy for any sane person to sit through. We’ll see where NBC goes with all this.
One show in the bank and he’s already funnier than Leno was throughout all his years. Despite an already long and successful career, O’Brien has an even brighter future ahead of him. The old folks that might not be familiar with his style of humor will have a choice to make. Stay and get used to it, or make the switch to Letterman. Tonight’s show is history in the making, and we got to be part of it. O’Brien’s move to the 11:35 slot is just another landmark in the long and fabled history of late night television.