- HE'S BACK: Conan returns to late night on TBS.
Weeknights at 10 p.m.
After his much-talked-about (and joked-about) departure from "The Tonight Show" on NBC, a successful summer tour (we caught the show in Tulsa, and it was a delight) and a months-long barrage of promotions touting his return, Conan O'Brien finally made his much-anticipated basic cable premier Monday night on TBS.
The show was solid, but anyone hoping for some kind of huge departure from the well-worn late-night formula might have been a little disappointed. "Conan" is exactly what "The Tonight Show" — and "Late Night" before it — were. Monologue, skit, first guest, second guest, musical guest. But it's a formula that works and one that Conan normally sails through quite comfortably.
Monday's performance, although great, seemed a bit staid. The pressure to be perfect seemed to have an impact on the carrot-coiffed host, who seemed a little less "on" than we've come to expect. Naturally, it will take some time to get back in the swing of things.
It's uncertain at this point just how many people tuned in, but one measure of the show's pop-culture allure: It was the subject of not just one, but three of the 10 trending topics on Twitter (#teamcoco, #conanreturns and #watching conan).
There were NBC jokes aplenty, an easy punchline that will hopefully run its course soon. The good news is Conan isn't so afraid of a lawsuit from his former employer as to avoid using the old stand-bys like the Masturbating Bear, who made an appearance early.
Long-time fans will welcome the return of co-host and foil Andy Richter, whose back-and-forth with Conan has only gotten better with time. After all these years, it's nice that TBS gave us a chance to see the Carson-McMahon combo of our generation in action once again. GM
9 p.m. Wednesdays
The SyFy Channel
We're absolute movie nuts around here, so the idea of anything movie related gets our blood pumping. Movies are about as close as we'll ever get at a glimpse through the back door of heaven, so it never really occurred to us that you could actually OWN something seen in a real life classic — Charles Foster Kane's (SPOILER!) Rosebud sled, for instance, or the truck the Joads used to haul their weary bones across the country in "The Grapes of Wrath." Out in California, however, where love grows on trees and the sun shines every day, such things are available to own — the by-product of a town that cranks out movies like Detroit used to crank out Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs and Chevrolets. The idea of holding something in our hands that appeared in "North By Northwest" and actually seeing it on screen gives us a little shiver. That's why we have absolutely fallen in love with SyFy's new reality series "Hollywood Treasure." Sure, we'll probably never have the dough to even touch most of the stuff seen on the show week to week, but a boy can dream, can't he? Recent weeks have seen Tinseltown treasure hunter Joe Maddalena find and auction off all manner of goodies for big bucks, including Mary Poppins' flowered carpet bag, the Wicked Witch of the West's pointy black hat, one of the biplane models from the finale of "King Kong," Mary Anne's short-shorts from "Gilligan's Island," and lots of other stuff. It's all loads of fun, especially for a film geek. DK
SARAH PALIN'S ALASKA
8 p.m. Sundays
While we don't do many anti-reviews in this column — if we point something out to you, it probably has at least some redeeming qualities, even if it's enjoyable for the same reason that people slow down to look at auto accidents — we're about to do one now: For the love of all that is holy, please don't watch Sarah Palin's new show. Though she's famous as a quitter, something tells us that if you indulge her fantasies that people actually care what's going on in her pointy little head, we'll never get rid of her. OK, you can watch one episode. But don't look took closely at the screen. Some say her wink is so enticing that not even souls can escape. Here, for some reason or another, TLC paid Palin and her brood a reported $2 million bucks for the privilege of following them around Alaska for an 8-week campaign commercial. In one clip seen online, Palin sits on her patio while "researching" a new book (read: thumbing though the waste paper from beside the printer while her ghostwriter works on her new book 3,000 miles away) and bitches to husband Todd about the reporter who rented the house next door. The reporter, she says, is invading her privacy. She says this with a straight face. Meanwhile a sound guy, a camera guy, a producer, and God knows who else stand three feet away, recording her every move. Irony, thy name is Palin. Subsequent weeks will have the Palin Clan indulging in all the things sources (including her son-in-law) have said Mama Grizzly wouldn't be caught dead doing without a camera around, including kayaking, winter sports, hunting, fishing and enjoying the great outdoors. DK