US late night chat shows are fairly generic in form, but they are designed to be comforting to fall asleep to. By their very nature, they must be formulaic. And yet, each late night show maintains its own flavour. It’s own distinct charm. For the past ten months, the genre felt as though it was lacking. Conans voice had been silenced and television was poorer for it.

In watching his return to television tonight, it felt as though all was right with the world once more.

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When Conan moved from Late Night with Conan O’Brien, it was believed that he would have to change his act. To make concessions to an older and broader audience for whom Conans act just wouldn’t quite work. In doing that, however, he was neutered somewhat. It was still Conan O’Brien, but it wasn’t quite the comedian that viewers had gotten to know over the 17 years prior that Conan hosted Late Night. The move to TBS has reinvigorated Conan in a big way.

conanABThe first thing that strikes the viewer about his new show, Conan, is just how similar it is to the tone of his previous show Late Night. Andy Richter is back on the couch to converse with Conan throughout the show, the band are back to the left of the stage, and the set has been shrunk down to a more intimate scale once more.

Much like on Late Night, Conan is once again doing less jokes in the monologue. His skill with the monologue was traditionally never his strong point, so its great to see that this has been scaled back once more. The best and funniest moments of Conan usually came from his banter with Andy on the couch, followed by a skit. With this being the return episode, there was less time provided for a pre-interview skit, but give it a night or two and it’ll be business as usual.

And by ‘business as usual’, I mean for time for self-pleasuring bears and staring competitions.

Obviously, with the show off the air for close to a year, Conan and Andy had some first night jitters. There is always a lot riding on the launch of a new show and with the intense media interest in the launch of Conan, the pressure must have been intense. After a few minutes, Conan appeared at ease. He’s the same Conan we had seen on the New York show, only now he’s bearded, in California, and has a sense of control over the show now.

There’s little to offer in regards to a commentary on the launch episode. If you were familiar with Late Night with Conan O’Brien, you know what you’re going to get from this incarnation of his talk show. Conan is back on television. He appears comfortable and relaxed in a format that plays well to his strengths as a performer.

Once more, I have a TV show that I’d happily continue to fall asleep to on the couch.

Conan launches on GEM tonight at 11:30pm

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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