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Conan O'Brien has hobnobbed with his fair share of celebrities. But he's always been at his best when he's mixing it up with regular folks, behaving like a court jester who will face the guillotine if he doesn't produce laughs. His desperation to crack up store clerks, waiters and students made him a legend.

"Conan O'Brien Must Go," his first TV series since leaving late-night TV in 2021, seems designed to take advantage of his connection to us commoners.

In four episodes, all now streaming on Max, he travels to Norway, Thailand, Ireland and Argentina under the pretense of befriending loyal fans, as well as anyone else who crosses his path. Highlights include O'Brien crashing a knitting party, haggling with vendors and trying to convince an Irish senior citizen that they might be related.

But the series doesn't capture enough of those interactions. There are too many forced skits and fantasy sequences, like one in which O'Brien imagines himself as an old-time lighthouse keeper or a bit where he makes a cameo on a TV talent show in Bangkok. These manufactured moments steal time away from what O'Brien does best: improvise off random strangers whose only previous brushes with fame were during karaoke night at the local pub.

I wish "Conan O'Brien Must Go" had borrowed more from the best moments of his stints on NBC and TBS in which the host was constantly flying by the seat of his pants.

Fortunately, you can still watch those segments through the Team Coco and Conan O'Brien channels on YouTube. Here are the most hilarious:

"Conan Goes to Houston" (1997): "Late Night" struggled in the ratings during its early years. It didn't help that a major market like Houston didn't air the show until 2:40 a.m. O'Brien's trip to Texas to rustle up new fans showed just how well he handled those who couldn't care less that they were meeting a TV star. "Good for you," said one potential viewer when O'Brien told him he had his own show. Instead of being wounded, the host ate it up.

"Conan Plays Old-Timey Baseball" (2004): In the new series, O'Brien dresses up as everything from a tango dancer to a fisherman. But he never looked kookier than he did as an 1860s slugger, playing ball in a throwback game at Long Island's Old Bethpage Village. The more serious the re-creators are, the more O'Brien acts like a nincompoop, peaking when he tries to court a shy woman whose husband is off fighting in the Civil War.

"Conan Visits the American Girl Store" (2013): The premise is a bit creepy, but O'Brien makes it work by being more innocent and playful than the store's regular customers. At one point, he delights the restaurant staff with an amateur ventriloquism act, providing the voice of a belligerent doll, Agnes, while sipping wine from a straw.

"Conan in Berlin" (2016): O'Brien revels in moments when everyday folks give him a hard time. So he gleefully gives himself over to a dominatrix during a visit to Germany. Lady Velvet Steel's all-business approach brings out the best in her "collared" victim, especially when she gives him a bare-bottom spanking and slips a dog mask over his head.

"Conan Without Borders: Italy" (2018): Much of this one-hour special consists of O'Brien needling know-it-all producer Jordan Schlansky during a road trip from Florence to Naples. But the laughs are just as huge when the odd couple join in with second-rate truffle hunters and bicker in front of a wine merchant. O'Brien's need for attention is best captured when he greets pedestrians by substituting "buongiorno" with random names of pastas.