The late night wars resumed last night with Conan O'Brien's TBS debut.
Conan O'Brien's return to late night came ready made with ammunition about his "Tonight Show" exit.
"People ask why we called the show 'Conan'. It's so I'd be tougher to replace," he quipped in the opening monologue.
"He had to deal with it last night, it's the elephant in the room. It's why he's gone to TBS.
He had to deal with that," says New York Times Media Writer Bill Carter.
Carter believes O'Brien's cable debut showed the comedian at his best.
"Lot of over the top silly stuff, which I think he's great at. He looked comfortable, he looked happy, which he's not been for a while," he says.
The drama from earlier in the year when O'Brien was ousted as host of NBC's "Tonight Show" in favor of a returning Jay Leno is covered in Carter's new book, "The War for Late Night".
Final ratings for the night won't be out until late this afternoon, but early estimates for household ratings in the largest cities indicate O'Brien was neck and neck with "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and a bit ahead of "Late Night with David Letterman".
The final ratings, which take into account the entire country, could alter those results.