Will new Conan O’Brien show meet expectations?

Chris Letso

It’s been nine long months since Conan O’Brien’s orange pompadour has been emblazoned upon America’s TV screens.

As you may recall, the gangly funnyman was unceremoniously relieved of his duties by NBC back in January after hosting “The Tonight Show” for less than eight months when the network grew impatient with his disappointing ratings. O’Brien would not accept a change of the show’s long-held 11:35 p.m. start time, so he agreed to part ways with the network in exchange for a nice buyout package of $45 million.

NBC and Jay Leno came out of the debacle as TV’s biggest villains, while O’Brien embraced his status as a sort of pop culture folk hero, generating a massive wave of online support in the form of a social media fan club called “Team Coco.”

After traveling the States on the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour,” O’Brien is ready to get back to where he belongs: at a wooden desk in front of a studio audience.

If you’ve seen any of the countless ads during the MLB playoffs or that big orange blimp flying through the sky, you already know the brilliantly-titled “Conan” is coming to TBS on Monday.

While the new cable talk show is sure to inject the late night circuit with an extra dose of humor, details on the program’s format have been sparse.

With that said, here are a few ideas and predictions of what to expect from O’Brien’s grand return to TV.

The “Conan” Facts

O’Brien will compete against his buddies Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central, as “Conan” will air from 11 p.m. to midnight on TBS.

Each of these three comedians essentially share a fan base, so it will be interesting to see how O’Brien’s venture into the world of basic cable will fare against the well-established “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report.”

“Conan” will probably start hot out of the gates, but then even out to the level of his political-minded counterparts by the time the new year rolls around. Like those two Comedy Central shows, “Conan” will not air on Fridays, which will be a change from all those years on network TV. Surely, he won’t mind having three-day weekends.

Also, it has been confirmed that Andy Richter will return as O’Brien’s comedic sidekick and announcer. After holding the job for O’Brien’s first seven years on “Late Night,” Richter never really found success in his TV career.

He reunited with O’Brien for the “Tonight Show” stint, and luckily he’ll be back once again with his brand of silly humor to complement O’Brien’s jokes.

What’s New

The show’s second guest will be Seth Rogen, but the first guest is fittingly being decided by an online fan poll on TeamCoco.com. Out of the 12 amazing choices that include Pope Benedict XVI, the full cast of the 2004 live-action “Fat Albert” movie and Tom from Myspace, Jack Nicholson appears to be running away with the victory. Nicholson has not appeared on any talk show since 1971, so it would be quite a feat to pry him away from his courtside Lakers seat to appear on basic cable. O’Brien’s BFF Jack White will be the premiere’s musical guest.

O’Brien’s longtime house band leader, Max Weinberg, will sadly not be returning to his position, as he has been undergoing some health issues and will stick to touring with Bruce Springsteen. Instead, it’ll be Jimmy Vivino, the band’s guitarist, taking the reins of “The Basic Cable Band.” A new bandleader could mean a new intro song as well, although nobody would mind if the classic Conan tune kicks off the first episode. The band members will remain the same, meaning we will still be able to laugh at La Bamba’s horrible acting and neatly-trimmed moustache.

It’s been rumored that the show will be less conservative than O’Brien’s short run on “The Tonight Show,” which is definitely a good thing. Crazier equals funnier when it comes to O’Brien, and his “Tonight Show” episodes lacked the ridiculous humor and charmingly low-budget skits of his “Late Night” years.

What We’re Hoping For

O’Brien has a long list of classic characters and skits that have been used on his shows countless times. If he chooses to abandon them all for his new show, his fans will surely stand by him, but hopefully a few of them return. A certain explicit bear character may be the most notorious of all, and it seems likely that he will return after being censored on “The Tonight Show.”

O’Brien’s glimpses into the future with “The Year 2000” skits were almost always a hit, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he renewed “The Year 3000” version from “The Tonight Show.” Simply put, everybody loves watching big time celebrities wearing silver alien balls around their necks and making ridiculous predictions under an eerie green light.While the “Walker, Texas Ranger” lever provided for some of O’Brien’s most memorable moments, there were only so many episodes of the Chuck Norris action crime drama, and the vault of hilarious clips may be running dry. It’s probably time to retire this segment.

Surely, the freedom awarded to the show by its basic cable placement will allow for some completely insane skits, and this will undoubtedly make for some can’t-miss TV. It must be said, though; it’s going to be kind of weird hearing O’Brien say, “Stay tuned for George Lopez!” every night.