TV

Conan's Debut

Conan O'Brien kicked off his run as the fifth permanent host of "The Tonight Show" last night, and all in all, had a very nice debut.

The show opened Conan "forgetting" to move from NY to LA, so he ran across the country to get there in time for the opening of the show -- only to find he left his key to the studio back in NY.

He then did an extended bit where he served as a tour guide for a day on the Universal Studios lot before welcoming guest Will Ferrell, who entered the studio on a sedan hauled by four Egyptian slaves. Pearl Jam closed the show with a song from the group's new album.

Conan seems to have found the right blend in moving into the 11:30 timeslot, sticking with the style of humor that made him a star, but playing it a little safer at the same time to appeal to the older-skewing "Tonight Show" crowd. The show wasn't quite as edgy as "Late Night" was with Conan, but he brought a lot of energy and buzz to the stage which hasn't been present there in some time.

It seems like Conan's plan is to ease "The Tonight Show" viewers into his style of humor, so while we will eventually see some of Conan's most familiar bits, like Triumph the Insult Dog, it may be a gradual process to incorporate them.

The only real nitpick was that sidekick Andy Richter was really underused, a non-factor, and that Pearl Jam's new song was really lousy, which isn't Conan's fault.

But at least for one night, Conan validated the faith NBC had in him in giving him the coveted "Tonight Show" hosting gig.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Speaking of NBC franchises, "Law & Order: SVU" wraps up its season tonight with a new episode at 10 p.m.

ABC burns off its remaining new "According To Jim" episodes at 8 p.m. before hopefully finally killing the series. It's followed by the news special, "Earth 2100" at 9 p.m., which examines some of the global issues facing the planet over the next 90 years and how we can avert them.

Fox has a new "Mental" at 9 p.m. The debut wasn't bad, but I don't see the show being renewed beyond its summer run.

Finally, "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) is all-new tonight as Sean tells his mother about his cancer, while Black Shawn tries to make up with Colleen, apparently forgetting she's a Gavin. I've just watched Eps. 10-16 of "Rescue Me," and let me tell you, the quality remains very consistent over the next several weeks.

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