Last night, Conan O'Brien officially took over hosting duties for The Tonight Show and opened the show with a taped bit that showed him running across the country from NYC to LA (with scenic stops at the Wrigley Field in Chicago, St. Louis Arch, and a Victorian Doll Museum somewhere else).

The NY Times' Bill Carter noticed this was an "homage to the debut that introduced him to the national television audience in 1993. Sixteen years ago, Mr. O’Brien started his first day energetically walking through the streets of Manhattan to his studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza...Sixteen years ago he wound up getting a rope to hang himself; this time he forgot his keys to the studio and bulldozed his way in."

O'Brien joked with the audience, "I have to admit, I think I’ve timed this moment perfectly. I’m on the last place network, I’ve moved to a state that’s bankrupt and tonight’s show is sponsored by General Motors." He dropped jokes about the LA Clippers, announced he would go to Lakers games, made fun of Joe Biden, and paid tribute to Jay Leno—"He took very good care of this franchise. He’s been a very good friend to me, I’m looking forward to him being our lead-in once again... He’s going to be coming back on the air in, I think, two days, three days tops."

There were also other taped segments—O'Brien commandeering a Universal Studios tour and him driving his 1992 Ford Taurus around car-crazy LA. The Daily News' David Hinckley declares, "Conan O'Brien didn't frighten small children, livestock or longtime Johnny Carson and Jay Leno fans when he took the stage for the first time last night...What may have been most noticeable, in fact, were the things that didn't change...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." The Post's Linda Stasi hated the first show: "His decision to do sketch upon sketch instead of a tight monologue with smart topical humor was, at times, painfully unfunny," and by the end of his interview with Will Ferrell, "So far, all I'm feeling is Leno deprivation."

Our disappointment: That Will Ferrell didn't strip down to leprechaun gear.