Conan O’Brien debuted his new show on TBS last night and he has a lot riding on it after his short-lived stint as host of The Tonight Show. So what are the critics saying?
LA Times: The first lines of this new chapter were promising, if not quite the fulfillment of his last wild nights at NBC, when caution was thrown to the wind. And except that it was a constant subject of discussion and scripted humor, the shift from broadcast to basic cable had no obvious effect on his presentation; it neither inhibited nor liberated him. (They do still bleep the bad words.)
NY Times: It’s official. TBS is the Sherwood Forest of late-night television and Conan O’Brien is its Robin Hood, leading his band of merry followers to basic cable to battle against the usurper host of “the Tonight Show.” Mr. O’Brien made his long-awaited debut on his new show, “Conan,” on Monday in the same insurrectionist mood that he left NBC last January. Starting with an opening sketch that likened NBC executives to “The Godfather”-style mafia hit men, almost every joke was a barb about the conflict with Jay Leno that led him to quit.
Boston Globe: In short, meh. The subtitle for Conan O’Brien’s new TBS talk show, “Conan,” ought to be “More of Same.” Tonight’s premiere was notable primarily for giving us Conan as he was and, probably, always will be — tense, ironic, kind of a nice guy, sometimes clever, sometimes funny, sometimes not. His months of intense bonding with his fan base in theaters and online — pushing the role of talk-show host into some new areas of intimacy with audiences — have not changed his essential comic DNA.
Wall Street Journal: Audiences and critics were certainly rooting for him, which made the lackluster resulting product all the more disappointing. As critics are pointing out, O’Brien’s new show is very similar to his old show in terms of format and structure. The host also made the repetitive decision to keep bashing former employer, NBC. Okay, okay, we get it. NBC is awful. TBS has no money. You can the word t—ies on basic cable. Let’s move on.
So tell us — if you saw it was it worth staying up for? As a parent of three-year-old twins, I need a really good reason to stay up that late.