[caption id=”attachment_727” align=”alignright” width=”307” caption=”Still grabbed from Hulu.com”][/caption]
I just wanted to take a little (more) time to talk about the new “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”. As you know, the television landscape is rapidly changing. Fewer people are tuning into scheduled broadcasts and more are watching them online, on DVR or Tivo. So it seems that the best thing that anyone can do is to breath new life into one of television’s aging strongholds.
I remember when the whole late night debacle went down in the early 1990s. Initially, I was devastated that David Letterman was replaced by a nobody. Who was this Conan, and could he really fill the hilarious shoes of his predecessor on Late Night. Worse than that, oy, Johnny Carson was replaced by Jay…JAY! Even as a youngster I didn’t think he was funny. It was a shame because Johnny had built such an incredible home for America at 11:30.
The joke ended up being on me. Letterman moved to CBS with a hilarious new show while Conan slowly built one of the smartest shows on television. Much of “Late Night’s” appeal under his tutelage was not only his charisma, but a grab bag of memorable characters and sketches. From the long-running “In the Year 2000” to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to the claymation episode, the Conan show has been a hotbed for creative release. This shouldn’t be a surprise from a guy who penned some of the greatest Simpsons episodes in the early years of the show.
Less of a performer than he is a writer, Conan is now entering this new space without changing much, it seems. Watching last night’s first episode, the only thing different from his old show was the color palette. The dark backgrounds are gone, making way for brighter colors. This almost feels like daytime television it’s so bright. But it’s still the same variety show it has been for decades.
The worriers who think that Conan won’t be able to work at 11:30 are nuts. He is going to do great, not only based on his first show but based on logic. He has grown and adapted over the years. He came from behind as the dark horse of late night television and has weathered many storms over the years. He’s not only going to do great, he’ll move the show in a more positive, more hilarious direction.
I think we are looking at the next king of late night here; a new Johnny Carson. I believe that Conan will probably do this show into his old age just as Mr. Carson did. Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe I’m just greedy, because Conan is damn funny. I’ll be inviting him into my home until there is no more broadcast television or he goes off the air, whichever comes first.