Holiday Viewing: Conan

Okay, everybody.  It’s time.  Last fall, we all held our breath, stomped around in a circle, and threw a collective Internet tantrum after Conan O’Brien lost “The Tonight Show.”  We seethed over Jay Leno’s calculating, gutless, “I’m just a company man, I do what the bosses tell me” schtick, we cracked up during Conan’s exceptionally strong final week of shows, and we teared up when he delivered his heartfelt goodbye speech.  Team Coco was not only behind him, it was everywhere — both in the ubiquitous image in the mold of the Obama Hope poster, and in the community that rallied underneath its bright orange pompadour.  But all that emotion, from rage to love, will have been totally impotent if we don’t follow through now.

“Conan,” his new TBS show, debuts November 8th at 11pm — and we need to be on board.  There is a lot at stake in the early going, as the entertainment media will be sure to remind us repeatedly.  After having a home on a network for his entire career, there will be talk about how he was “demoted” to basic cable.  His ratings will be pored over from a ton of angles: how he did against “The Daily Show” and Colbert, how he did against “Lopez Tonight” in the timeslot the year before, how his last half hour held up against Letterman and Leno (especially Leno), how he compared to both his brief tenure at “The Tonight Show” and his old 12:30am slot, etc.  The media loves tearing people down, especially when they get to stick it to “younger demographics” and “bloggers” at the same time (words they use dripping with such venom that their consonants should be quarantined).  If “Conan” doesn’t come out with both barrels blazing, he, you, me, and us will all be dragged through the mud on the way to the show’s funeral.

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