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Critics Weigh in - Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show Debut

It was a move five years in the making, and last night it finally happened -- Conan O'Brien's debut as host of The Tonight Show, taking over for Jay Leno. If ratings are any indication, O'Brien is a success. The overnight rating is 7.1, compared with the show's typical 4.0. So people watched, but what are they saying about O'Brien's first show?:

"I think I've timed this move perfectly. I'm on a last-place network, I moved to a state that's bankrupt and tonight's show is sponsored by General Motors."
-- Conan O'Brien

"His decision to do sketch upon sketch instead of a tight monologue with smart topical humor was, at times, painfully unfunny... Bottom line? Conan fans won't be disappointed -- it's Conan the frat guy -- just earlier."
-- Linda Stasi, NY Post

"All in all, a large-scale, impressive debut. But we all know that success in late-night depends on the long haul -- Conan knows this as well as anyone. So now I want to see how he follows up his glitzy debut."
-- Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

"The bit(s) lasted too long... That's how Conan rolls. He's from the world of sketch comedy, not monologues, and he sticks with an idea as long as he feels something funny could happen... Still, Conan made it subtly clear that the new kid in town will be a little naughtier and that for better or worse, Tonight is now his ride."
-- David Hinckley, NY Daily News

"The show wasn't O'Brien at his funniest, but it was funny enough to get by... All in all, O'Brien got his Tonight off to a decent start, though you still got the sense you were watching an introduction more than a settled production. But that's fine: The goal right now is just to put O'Brien's name on the show."
-- Robert Bianco, USA Today

"If Monday night is any indication, O'Brien is not as interested in filling Jay's shoes as in buying a much newer pair. At 46, O'Brien may be the oldest man to assume the Tonight Show mantle, but with his Dennis the Menace hair and semi-guilty shifting eyes, he still looks like a kid who's hijacked his older brother's (very nice) suit."

-- Mary McNamara, LA Times

"Well, David, I see you didn't get the Tonight Show again."
-- Dorothy Letterman, mother of David Letterman


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