The latest incarnation of CBS' ever-changing morning show format debuted Monday — and, by many accounts, it's a puzzler. Called CBS This Morning, the new endeavor is co-anchored by the seemingly odd pair of Charlie Rose, an elder statesman of news, and Gayle King, a chatty Oprah protege. The format features a news-heavy first hour — helmed by Rose — before transitioning, in hour two, to pop-culture gabbing courtesy of King. Former CBS Early Show correspondent Erica Hill is also back on board as a third host. The wildly ranging topics covered in the show's first outing: Newt Gingrich's campaign, stem cell research, Beyonce's baby, and the CBS drama The Good Wife. Based on first impressions, is the program worth skipping the snooze button for?
This was a "lively debut": The debut showed promise, says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly. The three anchor-hosts "maintained a brisk pace and showed some degree of chemistry." It was smart to keep Hill on, as she deftly handles both hard news and fluff features. This Morning also played to the newbies' strengths, saddling Rose with the political stories and King with the pop-culture segments. "All three hosts seemed perfectly at ease and confident negotiating the various roles required on a morning show," though producers would be wise to keep Rose off the social-media beat: "It's a huge Twitter topic that Twitter friends have been tweeting" was the venerable newsman's cringe-worthy attempt at previewing a Beyonce baby story.
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It felt like two different shows: Tasked with balancing hard and soft news, morning programs can often feel like two different shows, says James Poniewozik at TIME. But the jarringly disparate two hours of CBS This Morning "are almost literally night and day." Compared to King's bright, dishy demeanor, Rose's gravitas is jarring. "It feels like the light must automatically dim 25 percent" whenever Rose enters the set. His distinctive presence is the equivalent of "asking viewers to wake up with a scotch rocks instead of coffee with cream and sugar."
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CBS should just give up: The new format offered further proof that CBS just doesn't get it, says Hank Steuver at The Washington Post. After successive failed attempts to compete against Today and Good Morning America, the network would be better off getting rid of its morning program altogether than fruitlessly trying to remedy its failures with Charlie Rose's soothing, almost slumber-inducing, presence — a veritable "televised melatonin." Based on first impressions, this isn't the show that's going to save CBS mornings, and there may never be one that will.
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