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Conan's First Week: How'd He Do?

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 12th 2010 1:33PM
ConanSo Conan O'Brien is done with his first week. How'd he do?

While it's probably good that Conan's most loyal fans get to see him on television again, it's not really a show to go out of your way to watch.

It's probably not fair to judge a talk show after watching one episode or even one week -- especially since that format lends itself drastic changes -- but it's fair in Conan's case. He's been doing a talk show (actually, three!) for close to 20 years, and what we've seen from Conan this week is probably what we're going to see a year from now.

The ratings for 'Conan's first week followed early predictions.

Everybody thought the first episode would get gangbuster ratings, which it did, grabbing over 4.2 million viewers, a 2.8 rating, beating 'The Tonight Show' (3.5 million viewers), 'The Late Show' (3.4 million), 'The Daily Show' (1.3 million) and 'The Colbert Report' (1 million). And we also knew that the ratings for the next episode would fall, which they did by 33 percent, and by last night even more.

We did know that, didn't we? Because a lot of people were talking about how the numbers dropped for his second night, but that wasn't really a newsflash, especially in a late night television scene where there are many other options for comedy and music (and local news). People who don't even usually watch Conan tuned in that night to see what he'd say, and then the next night a lot of them tuned out.

Maybe they'll tune back in occasionally, but Conan's numbers are probably always going to remain at a certain level, and that level is "a basic cable show watched by his loyal fans."

At the least, TBS can be satisfied that 'Conan's' numbers in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic range are holding strong, and his audience's median age is a young 32. In its first week, the show averaged a very respectable 2.9 million total viewers -- with 2.16 million of those in the 18-49 range, which puts him above all the other late night shows.

As for the show itself, it was a mixed bag. For someone who has done a talk show for so long, it was surprising to see how nervous Conan was his first night back. He was either nervous or had consumed six cups of coffee before coming out to do his monologue, as he walked around the stage in such a weird manner that the camera man had trouble keeping track of him a couple times.

He did his string dance -- something CoCo fans go gaga for but I think is one of the worst five seconds on television -- and bantered with Andy Richter and showed that he's still a rather so-so interviewer at best. In short, he was Conan. Only with a beard that we all know he's going to get rid of at some point (sweeps stunt, perhaps?).

And while his second episode was better, 'Conan' is still the type of show that non-fans will watch only if there is a celebrity guest or musical performer they particularly want to see. It's really the guests that make a show like this. His first show was odd in the sense that there really wasn't anyone that was "must-see." Seth Rogen was the first guest -- promoting a movie that isn't coming out until January 2011? Really? Then Lea Michele? Perhaps a talk show that is going to run for years doesn't necessarily have to jump out of the gate with a huge celebrity, but you'd think that Conan would want to get someone huge for the first night of his "basic cable talk show." He had Jack White, who's important in some circles, but he seemed like a first-night guest brought on because Conan is really close to him.

Things got better as the week went on because Conan had better guests. Tom Hanks is always engaging, Jon Hamm is a solid talk show guest and Michael Cera always brings a funny story or two and has great reactions to what the talk show host is doing. And Jack McBrayer is a Conan semi-regular you can always count on to add something funny and/or weird to the show.

Where did Conan excel the most? In his taped bits. That's always where Conan hits it out of the park. He's not going to win awards for his interview style or the painful way he telegraphs his monologue joke punchlines or the mugging and dancing he does all the time. But the opening of the first episode, where they showed what Conan did to pass the time after losing 'The Tonight Show,' was well done and needed for the first episode.

Those are the types of things he should do more -- videos where we can see Conan in funny situations/stories or on-the-street bits where Conan's quick wit can shine through. And I do love that each episode so far has had a title, like 'Baa Baa Blackmail' and 'Murder, She Tweeted.'

You have to wonder, though, how long Conan is going to do the "I lost my NBC show so now I had to go to basic cable" jokes. Either embrace the network and your time slot and how you fit in to the late night landscape or take your money and do something else. It's funny up to a point, and that point has already passed.

It really comes down to this: if you loved Conan before at 12:35AM (or even at 11:35PM), you'll probably love him again and will check out his new show. If he wasn't your cup of tea before, you're not going to go out of your way to watch his new show at 11PM.

Unless, of course, he has some of these people on.

'Conan' airs Monday through Thursday at 11PM ET on TBS.

[Follow Bob on Twitter.]

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This clown is not funny, never was funny, never will be funny, he wont last long, he will be gone, he just dont know when to lay down and die.

November 14 2010 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why do I have the suspicion that the positive comments on the new Conan show are somehow related to those in the show or perhaps creators of, or stars in the show? There's no way of the general public knowing this, so I'll have to guess what I will and give a hefty thumbs down on Conan and his show. His humor is insulting to adults so maybe children with only half a brain can get the entertainment value, if there in fact is some.

November 13 2010 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can GUARANTEE...that if NBC had the 'nads' to give it a try.....They could run the old "TONIGHT Show w/ Johnny Carson" TAPES and do better than ANY of the other networks for Late Night viewing. They could even toss in a "Dean Martin Comedy Hour" every now and then for some great laughs!

November 13 2010 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gee what a surprise! Conan with failed ratings? It's simple--He is NOT FUNNY! That's why he was booted from the tonight show---failed ratings.

November 13 2010 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Pool "c l morgen" is as smart as Conan = Can't think, nor spell!! LOL

November 13 2010 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


November 13 2010 at 7:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not only was Conan NOT Cute, with tasteless attempts at embarrassing us & Teachers here in WV. He told "Sex With Cows lies", (that sadly had happened in another state), but he tried to "Spin it & Flipped it north to us"!
But his subsequent quips about "he'd be Getting Letters"; then "Does NBC even have an Affiliate there"; "Can they even write?"; then "We won't get any Letters" was too good of a joke for us to Pass Up with Pay-Back to the Red-Headed Punk! Writing Letters was only a start.

November 13 2010 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think that almost word for word this reviewer's critique could be applied to Jimmy Fallon, though I would give Conan slightly higher marks for his interview style. The prob for me is, really, that late night is so crowded now how am I supposed to fit this new one in? I love Jimmy Kimmel, I like Craig Ferguson in measured doses, have grown to really enjoy Jimmy Fallon, so even though I was a fairly regular watcher of Conan's old show I just don't know if I'm gonna be able to make room for this.

November 13 2010 at 6:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hate him, wouldnt watch him, have no idea who would pay him much less put him on tv...he is an idiot.

November 13 2010 at 5:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The writer of this piece of crap article is misinformed and well out of touch. I was not a die hard Conan fan until after the first two new episodes. I laughed harder this week at "Conan" than I did all year long at anything else. I got angry when I was reading this article because the writer has no idea of what sets Conan apart from everyone else with this type of show. This writer actually stated "as he walked around the stage in such a weird manner that the camera man had trouble keeping track of him a couple times." HELLO!?! Have you ever seen any of Conans previous shows? This is part of his act. He wasn't doing it because he was nervous! How does this writer get his work exposed? It must be out of pitty or through some deep throat connections. I am a new Conan fan after this week because I was truly amused by ideas and jokes that I can't find every day. If Conan and Andy keep up the funny like they did this week, I will be a proud member of team Coco for life.

November 13 2010 at 5:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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