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Conan Returns Featured

Conan O'Brien at the 2010 Emmy Awards Conan O'Brien at the 2010 Emmy Awards

Following an NBC-imposed ten-month sabbatical from television, Conan O’Brien enjoyed a rapturous reception from a flock of devoted fans at his new home at Warner Bros. Studios, located mere minutes from the Universal lot from which he was exiled. 

The Team Coco faithful had eagerly awaited November 8, the day O’Brien would debut his eponymous, new TBS show, and their great enthusiasm for the former Tonight Show host’s return was apparent.  Some fans who didn’t have the good fortune of scoring tickets to Conan’s first taping camped out for days in hopes of witnessing the start of what will hopefully be a more enduring chapter of O’Brien’s television career.  Sporting gravity defying, ginger-colored wigs, “In the Year 2000” t-shirts, and all sorts of merchandise from his previous T.V. endeavors, the studio audience was prepared to shower their red pompadoured hero with a welcome fit for a king.  After hours of waiting on the bottom floor of the Gate 8 parking structure (highlighted by the appearance of two men donning safety helmets with dozens of bags of chips stapled to their clothes, sent to feed the restless, hungry masses), we were finally led through the labyrinthine Warner Bros. lot to Studio 15.  The crowd poured into the decidedly more intimate venue (compared to the sprawling Tonight Show stage) and was given the public’s first view of Conan’s set, complete with O’Brien’s proudest addition – a remote-controlled, three-dimensional replica of the moon in front of a painted Pacific Ocean backdrop.

All the mystery and intrigue surrounding Conan’s new show gradually unraveled through what turned out to be a six-hour commitment to be a part of T.V. history (or at least own bragging rights for the next few days).  The newly christened Basic Cable Band, formerly known as the Max Weinberg 7 and the Tonight Show Band, revealed its new moniker by emblazoning its logo on any piece of their share of the stage that could fit it.  After comedian Jimmy Pardo warmed up the crowd, he introduced O’Brien’s longtime comic foil and announcer Andy Richter.  Andy Richter, in turn, introduced “the best band in television,” contrary to what Jimmy Fallon claims every night regarding his own house band the Roots.  Noticeably absent from the Basic Cable Band was original bandleader Max Weinberg, replaced as band leader by his usual substitute, guitarist Jimmy Vivino.  The horn-laden, seven-piece band set the celebratory mood with Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” and had the crowd on its feet even before cameras started rolling.  Moments later, the lights fell dark, and a clip detailing Conan’s journey to TBS (which involved plenty of gunplay and Larry King) was shown.  The Basic Cable Band launched into the show’s new, ska-inspired theme song, and Richter’s familiarly booming voice announced the night’s guests (Seth Rogen, Glee’s Lea Michelle, and Jack White).  Deafening applause and an extended standing ovation greeted the bearded O’Brien as he walked through the curtains for the first time in ten months.  He welcomed everyone to his “second annual first show” after giving the crowd a taste of his trademark string dance and imploring them to simmer down in classic Conan fashion.  The show was exceptionally funny, despite being devoid of most of the disgruntled hilarity of his final shows at NBC.  Jack White performed “Twenty Flight Rock,” the Eddie Cochran song he had recorded with O’Brien in Nashville, with Conan on guitar and the Basic Cable Band in tow.  Explaining why he named the show Conan, O’Brien quipped, “I did it so I would be harder to replace.”  If his fans’ unwavering dedication is any indication, replacing the irreverent, self-deprecating comedian is an absolute impossibility.

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How does Conan's return fit into the TV's late night universe?
Last modified on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 22:23

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