By Chuck Ross
Judging by its first two nights, I think Conan O’Brien’s return to TV is a winner.
Highlights of his debut on TBS on Monday, Nov 8, 2010 included the taped cold opening, the taped Mastubating Bear bit, some great ad-libs by second banana Andy Richter, and the terrific, polished journey into ol’ time rock ‘n roll with Jack White that featured Conan in the band.
Conan interviewed two guests on Monday–Seth Rogen and Lea Michele; problem is, Conan’s rarely impressed me as in interviewer. Though, as Rogen proved, he doesn’t need anyone to interview him. He just talks and tells funny stories.
However, what Conan proved on night two with guest Tom Hanks, if he’s comfortable enough with the guest–and has the guest participating is a pre-planned bit–Conan can pull off the segment with aplomb.
To see what a number of reviewers–and Jon Stewart–thought about Conan’s debut, CNN has compiled a good roundup.
For example, according to the article, "Time magazine’s TV critic, James Poniewozik, said in his review that the debut ‘was exciting because of everything it promised.’ Poniewozik continued, ‘It was Conan making his act literally bigger, big as America, it was Conan — in his own words — taking the wheel of the ‘Ferrari’ that was the ‘Tonight Show’ and showing what he could do with it,’ Poniewozik wrote."
On the down side, according to the article, "Hank Stuever from the Washington Post [said] that the debut was a bit of a bore – especially in light of the marketing blitz which preceded it. ‘You can’t hype your first episode that hard and then expect a pass,’ Stuever said."