It's been a rocky road for Rosie O'Donnell since her daytime hit The Rosie O'Donnell Show went off the air in 2002 after six seasons. O'Donnell returned to daytime TV briefly in 2006, with a tumultuous stint co-hosting The View that ended prematurely after an on-air feud with fellow host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. O'Donnell's high-profile (and expensive) attempt to launch a primetime variety show in 2008 tanked so badly that it was canceled after one episode. Now, O'Donnell is back, this time at the floundering Oprah Winfrey Network, which is suffering disappointing ratings. The Rosie Show debuted Monday, and featured stand-up comedy, a Broadway-style dance number, a lengthy interview with comedian Russell Brand, and a surprise appearance by Winfrey herself. How did the "promising" show fare with critics?
"Welcome back, Rosie": O'Donnell's new show is reminiscent of the best elements of her hit '90s series, says Michael Musto at The Village Voice. But if anything, it's even better this time around. For one, the host "mixes more salty realness into her positive stew." She's also learned not to "waste one second of airtime." By the time she finished her stand-up, audience interaction segment, and splashy musical number, "we'd gotten enough entertainment value for a whole week of talk shows" — and the episode wasn't even half over. Rosie's "new show is fabulous."
"Rosie O'Donnell's new show is fabulous"
Sure, it's charming — but there are "glaring problems": O'Donnell's monologue, capped off with an "I don't get no respect" joke, was "enough to make you reach for the remote," says Liane Bonin Starr at HitFix. And an episode-ending game show, though well-intentioned, came off as dated and "a little creaky." But thanks to a "loquacious and effortlessly charming" interview with Brand, The Rosie Show signalled that it will work out its kinks, "sooner or later."
"The Rosie Show debuts — but does it live up to its own hype?"
Rosie may be just what OWN needs: Oprah's network is desperate for a ratings savior, says Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times. Judging by its "not-bad, pretty good, kinda funny, sort of smart debut," The Rosie Show may fill that role. With the network's "endless rotation of heart-wrenching/breaking/string-tugging reality shows," OWN benefits from the zest of O'Donnell's "zingy showmanship." Her stand-up was charming and her unrivaled rapport with the audience was evident during a Carol Burnett-inspired Q&A session. Things weren't perfect, but OWN needs this kind of "good clean fun."
"Rosie O'Donnell is back on TV, with a little help from Oprah"