11/09/2010 AT 9:45 AM ET
After all the buildup, Conan O’Brien’s return to television on TBS Monday night was a modest, lowkey and slightly awkward affair – Seth Rogen, the first celebrity guest on what is now called Conan, was promoting The Green Hornet, a movie that doesn’t even open until January. Both he and O’Brien seemed aware that they had committed an unstated, inexplicable breach of talk-show protocol. It was as if Rogen had been expected to bring coffee cake and instead showed up with a plate of uncooked ribs.
But O’Brien is still dealing with the fallout of the past year’s talk-show battle with NBC and his former home, The Tonight Show. Moving to TBS at 11 p.m. ET, he’s a bit like one of those Shakespearean princes who get bounced from their kingdom and have to reestablish their court on an island or in a forest or on a cul de sac. His charm, intelligence and humor will probably win out. Here are three encouraging signs that Conanian silliness will live on: