HomeTelevisionConan Season Premiere Review: New Format = An Even Better Conan

Conan Season Premiere Review: New Format = An Even Better Conan

After a three-month break, Conan is finally back. Major changes have been made to the show. Gone are the band, the desk, the string dance in the first episode, the musical guests, and the unnecessary second guest. The show is leaner and oddly more mature, which suits Conan O’Brien well.

Anyone who has followed Conan’s career from Late Night to the shortened version of Conan knows that on screen he’s changed a lot. He went from being the goofy underdog who literally had NBC renew his contract weekly to the man who has been in late night television the longest. Over the years, he’s been cast aside, underestimated, and pandered to a younger audience. While I’ve always loved Conan, I must admit I became a bit disillusioned with his public persona.

Without trying, the 30-minute version of Conan cut through years of opinions and got make to what makes Conan special. He’s no longer trying to make everyone happy. He’s focusing on himself. Conan the persona is fading away to reveal more of Conan the person. The best example of the change is the new opening, which features photos of Conan from his childhood to his current TBS show.

This Conan is also looser. He’s no longer wearing the suits that have been a staple of late-night television hosts’ wardrobes since Steve Allen. Instead, he’s wearing outfits that you could find him wearing around LA and may come from his closet at home. He describes it as “hip biology teacher who sells weed to his students,” which sells short the fact that this style is more authentic for Conan.

The show opens with the standard monologue. On the first episode, it was hitting on all cylinders because the writers had three months to write it. In the coming weeks, it will be hit or miss, but that’s normal. The monologue was followed by a sketch parodying This is Us that was used to address all the changes made to Conan.

Once the opening monologue and sketch were over, Conan brought out Tom Hanks, who sat between the host and sidekick Andy Richter. Because Conan is no longer behind the desk and wisely chose someone he has a long history with, the first interview in the new format didn’t feel forced. You could tell that these are two men who like each other. They bantered about the origins of Team Coco and Hanks’ lost glove photos. Was it ground breaking? No, but it’s everything you would expect from a fluffy talk show interview.

It’s nice to have Conan back at his best. However, Conan still isn’t a show you must watch. If you’re up at 11 pm and don’t plan on falling asleep soon, Conan is worth a look. The show’s not as groundbreaking as it could be, but the show’s not trying to reinvent a successful format. It’s simply trying to bring a 70-year-old format into the digital age. Will it succeed? Only time will tell. Until then, we have a revitalized Conan who has decided he no longer wants to phone it in. We should be thankful for that.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Conan airs Monday through Thursday at 11pm on TBS.

Allison Lips
Allison Lips
Anglophile, Rockabilly, Pompadour lover, TV and Music Critic

Most Recent

Stay Connected