The Return Of Coco!?!?
Last week Conan O'Brien made his return to late night television in his new 11 pm time slot on TBS.
As a long time Conan fan I was excited about the prospect of his new show on a cable network. When all the bullshit went down at NBC, he put up the best week and a half of late night television I've ever seen. Since they gave Coco the early exit I have pretty much boycotted the network (except for "Community", that show is great).
9 months later, all that business is water under the bridge. Jay is back rocking the geriatric crowd to sleep and Conan is back with a much hyped new show. The first twenty minutes of the premiere of "Conan" was great, it was good to finally have him back on my television. As the show continued on it became more and more familiar, and I'm not sure if it was in a good way. The first guest was Seth Rogen...really? Was nobody else returning your calls that day or what? Don't get me wrong that dude is funny, but hardly the first guy you want on your talk show. Conan followed that up with another dud of a guest in Lea Michelle of "Glee" who displayed the personality of a mannequin. To top off the big first episode Conan performed with friend Jack White to some rockabilly song they wrote in Conan's downtime. Maybe it's just me but it's REALLY hard to take Conan seriously as a musician. He just looks really out of place and I could probably do without too much of him playing on the show. All in all his first show started off strong but thanks to lack luster guests left you with a kind of "meh" feeling.
The next two shows exhibited the same symptoms, decent start and then a flat-line towards the middle once the interviews kick in. I wonder who is booking his guests, the second guest on the first three shows were C-list at best (Jack McBrayer...HOLY SHIT! Set your DVR). Despite his shenanigans on the first night, shows 2 and 3 showcased great musical acts including Soundgarden's first TV gig in over a decade (too bad they played "Black Rain") and Fistful of Mercy (featuring George Harrison's kid and Ben Harper) along with Tom Morello. Both good picks but neither band played anything showcasing their talent level. By Thursday I was wondering if Conan's show was ever that great or had it been like the ex-girlfriend you fight to win back and then instantly regret once you do.
Thursday nights show had decent guests in Michael Cera and (the super-effing-hot..IMO) Julie Bowen. This is where the show finally showed some signs of promise, it was funny and the interviews were even really good. Even the no-name comic who came through as the third act was hilarious. Bottom line: is "Conan" a revolution in late night television? NO. It's actually a pretty standard late night format that we have all seen before on Coco's previous two gigs. That Doesn't mean it's not entertaining.
I grew up watching Conan in his prime when he had Andy Richter on the couch, PimpBot 5000, Triumph the insult comic dog, and "interviews live via satellite" with Bill Clinton and pre-governator Ah-nuld. This is why I still watch Conan today and hope he can find his way back to the comedy he delivered in those years. While its true he didn't quite put up those results in week 1, he showed real signs of promise by the end of the week. Looking at tonight's guests (LL Cool J, B.J. Novak) makes me wonder if nobody wants to go on TBS. There are some bright spots in this weeks line-up which features Harrison Ford, Rosario Dawson, Russell Brand, Jesse Eisenburg, and Kid Rock. Whether he is stuck with mediocre guests half of the time or not, what will ultimately decide the shows fate is the bearded red one himself (and Andy). He has all the skills and pieces to do so, he just needs to come out and deliver like he did in his last week at NBC. After Thursday's show, I am confident we'll have Conan around for much longer than 7 months this time.