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November 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Conan O’Brien launched his “second annual first show” on TBS Monday night, drawing 4.2 million viewers, 3.3 million of them in the 18-49-year-old demographic. In a statement, Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said, “Conan delivered an extraordinary audience and stands out as the youngest late-night talk show on television.” Monday night’s premiere received a mixed reaction from TV critics. The Associated Press’s Frazier Moore wrote that “the show lived up to its promises. As promised, it was looser, quirkier, more like Late Night where O’Brien thrived for nearly 16 years, than the mainstream Tonight Show, where he didn’t.” That was the theme of several reviews. Time magazine’s James Poniewozik commented, “Here he was starting again on TBS, with a show that felt more like a move back to the smaller scale, quirkiness and intimacy of his old 12:35 show.” Robert Bianco in USA Today noted tersely: “He’s back, doing pretty much what he’s being doing on late-night TV since 1993, give or take a few months off for bad-ratings behavior.” But some critics remarked that simply reprising the past is not likely to allow O’Brien to retain the ratings that his first week on TBS are likely to generate. Commented Variety: “Very little in the premiere could be called inspired.” Hank Steuver in the Washington Post wrote, “Conan O’Brien successfully transplanted his late-night talk show to basic cable network TBS on Monday night — successfully, that is, if the goal was merely to relocate it brick for brick, format for format, piece by predictable piece. Without a trace of innovation or deviation from the original recipe, Conan was mainly guided by the idea that the people want what the people want.” Nevertheless, most critics agreed, innovative or not, the show was funny. That, said Mark A. Perigard in the Boston Herald, was “Conan’s revenge.” And Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times suggested that Conan’s being fired from NBC “was the best thing that could have happened” to him. Lloyd argued, “It made him interesting and topical in ways that he would not have been had he stayed on NBC.” David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun figured that O’Brien “just grew up and got a better sense of who he was by going through the kind of adversity he faced.” Likewise, Tim Goodman concluded in the Hollywood Reporter: “Conan has turned a career embarrassment into a career revival. He is beloved.”