The Bearded One is back.
After an extraordinary amount of hype, Conan O'Brien returned to late last night, debuting his new 11 p.m. talk show on TBS.
No surprise here, but "Conan" is a lot like O'Brien's old shows ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien") -- and that's not a bad thing. I loved those old shows, and there's really no reason I can think of for him to drastically change a formula that his loyal Team Coco adores.
In his first episode (titled "Baa Baa Blackmail" -- each episode will be named), O'Brien made a lot of self-deprecating jokes about his infamous dismissal from NBC and about being on basic cable (also not a surprise). His sidekick Andy Richter was back, and really funny (on the couch where he belongs instead of behind a podium). The Basic Cable Band sounded good, and guests Seth Rogan, Lea Michelle, and Jack White -- all good. O'Brien even played a number with White, and you could tell he was having a blast.
In short, the first five minutes of "Conan" -- a short film recounting the upheaval at NBC and his path to TBS -- were funnier than five years of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Watch that clip below.