TelevisionBytes: The return of Conan O’Brien!

The next chapter of the late night wars starts tonight with the premiere of Conan on TBS. This marks the return of Conan O’Brien, who famously left NBC earlier this year after a sixteen year tenure devolved into a highly publicized mess surrounding the Tonight Show and Jay Leno. Back then, the story of Conan vs. NBC struck a chord with the public as his struggles with his corporate overlords resonated with a country frustrated at the economic hardships it was facing. To many, Conan represented the everyman, with Jay Leno serving as the unctuous co-worker who’ll do anything to advance and Jeff Zucker as the greedy and myopic fat cat with no regard for human compassion. How accurate these representations are is of course up to debate, but for several weeks, it was a metaphor most people were happy to engage in.

Now that several months have passed, the question is whether or not people are fired up enough about Team Coco to follow him to TBS. It’s a big gamble, what with TBS’s reputation for down-the-middle, safe comedy — not exactly the Conan style. If it works, the network could see a big boost in audience and comedy cred. If it fails, however, will Conan’s fight be for naught?

The odds are stacked against O’Brien — in his time slot he faces competition from David Letterman, Leno, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. That’s not only a crowded slot for content but also for guests. Stars can only be booked on so many shows, which means that if Conan doesn’t bring in the big numbers, he may have trouble landing primo names. It might not be such an issue, however, if he keeps the comedy strong, and after sixteen years and two shows, there’s no reason to believe there will be any problems on that front.


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About DAVE Q 90 Articles
NineDaves is a part-time blogger, full-time tweeter, and all-around television-addict who spends way too much time thinking about what his Real Housewives’ opening quote will be. He’s so obsessed with TV, he’s basically like that kid from Willy Wonka. Only gayer.