CBS launched its "CBS This Morning" Monday as the latest iteration in a long line of iterations, and allow me to take this opportunity to wish the newcomer all the best for the future.
But what the heck was that about?
Wasn't this supposed to be brain food for a starved soul -- a kind of high-road-less-taken show that would tell people what they really need to know as opposed to what they really don't need to know? First impression? Glad you asked. Not a good one.
Even with a seasoned newcomer (Gayle King), an esteemed PBS interviewer (Charlie Rose), a solid veteran (Erica Hill) and one of the sharpest reporters in New York TV history (John Miller, long ago at WNBC/4), "Morning" has a wickedly tough challenge before it -- let's just call that "Today" and "Good Morning America."
So why have one of those soul-depleting network cross-promotional interviews (with "The Good Wife's" Julianna Margulies) the first day? Why cross-talk with Melissa Etheridge to discuss Beyoncé's new baby? Why all the weather cut-ins, and everything else that passes for morning TV drivel?
There were some good things: A serious broadcast top (Bob Schieffer graced the launch) and a cleverly titled, well-produced "Eye Opener" that flips past the overnight news developments. There was a pretty good Armen Keteyian piece on bowl-game shenanigans, too.
But there were simply not enough good things and far too many bad things.
This effort, if it is to succeed at long last, must do what it has promised to do: Offer something that does not replicate what the other guys have.
There are viewers who want a refuge from the noise, and proof that a certain degree of dignity, intelligence and sobriety does exist on TV between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. They want it and they expect it -- especially when you have told them they will get it.