-- The cold open was a shrewd choice on a couple of fronts. Conan got to show the Late Night diehards that he's still a weirdo, dramatically running across the country in a daringly long bit, stopping at a Victorian doll shop to enthusiastically ask if a doll's hair is made of corn silk (it was!), while giving middle America some nice shout-outs (the St. Louis Arch, Wrigley Field, umm... mountains?), just in case there was any truth to the opinion that Conan makes them feel left out. For the record, I've never really thought that Conan was "too smart" for middle America, whatever that means, but a lot of people do, so it was a smart choice in that regard.
-- These are minor, but I noticed them and my heart cried a little -- he didn't do his trademark opening spin! And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I saw the Eisenhower mug anywhere on his desk. There was, however, a string dance, so I probably shouldn't complain.
-- He went there! We got a satisfying little jab at Jay's refusal to retire after Conan lauded his fantastic Tonight Show hosting job (eye roll), saying something like "and he'll be back on the air in two days!" It was ballsy yet restrained. Impressive!
-- Will Ferrell was characteristically funny and ridiculous, but surprisingly, after his crazy entrance he toned it down and just kind of did the interview. I liked it, actually. As much as I'd take a bullet for the Sexy Leprechaun, I think it's okay to retire the character, and it was gracious of him not to upstage Conan on his big night.
-- We got not one, but two-and-a-half remote bits! Conan in the field is always the best. The Universal Studios tour was funny, particularly the 99 cent store bit, and making them chant "Circle! Circle!" was a delightful piece of Conesy nonsense. The other one-and-a-half remote bits were all about Conan showing us that he has not gone Hollywood. The nose-bleed Lakers seats bit made me laugh a lot, but while I was psyched to see the Ford Taurus back, I wasn't really feeling the second sketch as much for some reason. Maybe it was just "I'm still the same guy, I swear!" overkill? I don't know. I just can't believe that thing is still in one piece. Remember when it had a hornet's nest in it?
-- And as far as Pearl Jam goes, I know they have many dedicated fans, but I stopped caring about them when I was nine, so I don't have a whole lot to say about that choice. It did make me wonder how much Conan will remain a friend to the little indie hipster bands now that he's on at 11:30, though. I doubt we'll be seeing a whole lot of Groupers and Land of Talks on a regular basis on the new show, but I suppose that's what Fallon's for now.
-- Oh, and it's weird that The Max Weinberg 7 is called The Tonight Show Band now, but I'll get over it. That is all.
Here's the cold open with all the running and Victorian dolls, in case you missed it:
And the little Lakers piece:
Your thoughts on Conan's first show? It's a transition period for us all! Change is so hard!
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