Talk Shows Return

Tonight both the Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O'Brien came back on the air with new episodes, two months after the writers' strike began.

The Letterman show was a pretty typical Dave. It was a solid episode featuring a Top Ten list by writers striking on other shows and the nostalgic return of the Hal Gurnery Network Time Killer (an early predecessor to Is this Anything?). Robbin Williams was a great guest, and slightly more subdued than normal.

While Dave returned with his writers, Conan did not.

And the Conan show was great.

They spent much of the show wasting time and making fun of the writer-less situation. The camera simply panned across closeups of Conan's new beard. They spent several minutes talking about Conan's habit of taking off his wedding ring and spinning it on the table. He mocked the quality of men's wedding rings and then went for a record long spin.

They also showed some video of what the office staff did during the strike. There were video games. Conan also took the camera on a tour of his office and annoyed people by playing his guitar. It was an encouraging video because it was reminiscent of some of the video and audio tapes we used to make several years ago. Of course our stuff wasn't in the same league as Conan's but it did make me feel better about our road trip video.

This Conan show really was the Conan show, however. Each segment had a distinctly O'Brien flavor that wasn't diluted by a lot of scripting. The episode was successful simply because of the force of O'Brien's personality. The question now is: Can he maintain this for four shows a week until the end of the strike?

No comments: