In the opening montage for Monday’s series premiere of CBS’ ‘The Talk,’ Julie Chen touted the “instant chemistry” she and her fellow cohosts shared. “But it takes more than that to get a show on the air.”
Now, before you mutter your own zinger about Chen’s real-life hubby Leslie Moonves having a hand in granting the green light, he appeared via video to issue a (mock?) warning to Julie & Co.: “If it doesn’t work, I’ll cancel you.”
The good news is that for the most part, ‘The Talk’ is poised to work on its most basic level, which is to provide an alternative to ABC’s ‘The View.’ In that respect, the cast seems much cheerier and not jaded, while the set itself is exponentially warmer and welcoming.
The opening voiceover wasn’t overstating the chemistry issue. At first blush, the cohosts – Chen, Holly Robinson-Peete, Leah Remini, Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert and Marissa Jaret Winokur – appear to know their respective roles here and be unified in their excitement over braving this TV frontier.
Though ‘The Talk’ is the brainchild of executive producer Gilbert, Chen acts as the moderator/queen bee. In that capacity, she efficiently keeps the show and narrative on track, though she could work less hard to come off as The Fun, Motherly Julie Chen You Haven’t Seen Before. Fun fact: The ‘Early Show’/'Big Brother’ personality is not on Twitter, though someone has been passing themselves off as “the_julie_chen” – and has even duped Remini into online exchanges!
Gilbert actually was the quietest of the cohosts on opening day. But as she herself admitted, while “people across the country need this kind of support system… I am so not a talk show cohost.” Fun fact: Gilbert said it had been pointed out to her that ‘Roseanne’ also premiered on October 18th, back in 1988.
Expectedly, Remini and Osbourne are the brashest of the bunch, with the former playing to the camera just a bit too much, as naturally funny as she is. Ozzy’s wife, meanwhile, shows hints of yearning to be the “naughty” cohost and stir things up starting with Day 2.
Winokur, at least in the premiere, did not take part in the opening roundtable discussion, but showed up later in a pretaped segment about how to have ‘The Talk’ with your kids about S-E-X. (She milked much humor out of having an aversion to “clinical” terms such as vagina, let alone vulva. If you’re a parent, you identified.) Remini later revealed that she taught her own daughter to refer to “down there” as her “cupcake,” an idea that elicited exactly the mixed reaction you’re having right now. That share session perhaps best demonstrated the show’s much-mentioned “Mom-centric” take on things.
Robinson Peete perhaps was the premiere’s only “surprise,” all things being relative. She laid back but offered up the occasional zinger from the perspective of a bedraggled mom/wife. Example: “[My kids] used to get life from my breasts; now they complain that there’s no food in the house.” Fun fact: Holly spent the night before the premiere sleeping in solace at a hotel, since hubby Rodney was determined to stay up late clearing out their DVR of such fare as NFL peer Kurt Warner’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’ appearances.
If ‘The Talk’ hopes to compete at all with ‘The View’s concerted and unabashed effort to make headlines, the “x factors” moving forward will be 1) the opening discussion session, which on Monday was self-congratulatory and not at all topical/buzzworthy, and 2) the caliber/quotability of the main guest.
Day 1 served up guest Christine Brinkley, who while astonishing to gaze upon at age 56, had precious little to say. When Chen inevitably tried to drum up drama with talk of Brinkley’s famously messy divorce from Peter Cook, the sunny supermodel stuck to the high road, instead responding with a semi-applicable Mae West quote.
Osbourne then attempted an awkward segue to the topic of cyberbullying (pegged to, we presume, Alexa Ray Joel’s December 2009 overdose on pain pills?), but that too evoked not much conversation. Rather, Christie’s overall message was one of environmental awareness, the perils of bad botox, and the importance of later-in-life Spanx.
Tuesday’s guest is new ‘American Idol’ judge Jennifer Lopez, so expect some headlines there.
In her sign-off, Chen declared, “It’s always the right time to have ‘The Talk.’” But did you have a good time watching ‘The Talk’? Share your own review in Comments!