New team, same show – that’s a quick, brief assessment of the new CBS “Early Show” based on Monday morning’s debut of the show’s brand-new foursome: Co-hosts Erica Hill and Chris Wragge, news reader Jeff Glor and weather forecaster Marysol Castro.
Not that the newcomers weren’t bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Despite the early hour, Chris and Erica were wide awake when they greeted viewers at 7 a.m. They were so excited that they had a tendency at the outset to talk at superspeed (especially Chris), though they seemed to relax more as the show proceeded.
To their credit, the two co-hosts didn’t dwell on the fact that they were starting the new year with this new challenge of establishing themselves as the newbies on the morning-show block. They made mention of it, and then moved quickly to the day’s headlines, starting with a story about those risqué videos apparently produced a few years ago by a senior officer on the naval aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise and now under investigation by top brass.
The success of this particular enterprise – making regular “Early Show” viewers forget the old team (Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price) and accept the new one – depends on that elusive quality called chemistry. And in that regard, the debut of the new team can be declared a success. As the two hours went on, the newcomers were at least able to persuade the rest of us that they’re comfortable in the presence of each other.
Among the bits meant to “humanize” these new faces were Castro’s report on how she spent part of New Year’s Day, joining the storied Polar Bear Club (and thousands of others) on Coney Island in Brooklyn to take a “plunge” into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. However, she didn’t really “plunge”; instead, she ran in up to her knees and then ran right back out again.
In addition, a segment of video footage and still pictures was assembled from a promotional trip the foursome took recently to visit some CBS affiliate stations in a handful of cities, including Raleigh, N.C., Tampa, Fla., San Diego and Los Angeles. Part of their visit to L.A. included a group appearance on CBS’ “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” where Ferguson declared them to be “adorable.” The point of the segment was to show how well the four got along in cars, planes, airports, radio stations and TV studios. They even visited one of L.A.’s iconic In-and-Out Burger stands, where they stopped for a quick lunch just like regular people.
“This trip provided memories that will last a lifetime,” Glor said. Okay, maybe for him, though not necessarily for the rest of us.
In between these bits designed to familiarize us with the new team were stories and features that have been part of morning TV forever. This catalog of “same old stuff” included such timely topics as New Year’s resolutions, post-holiday depression, the financial outlook for 2011, and a “Health Watch” segment on flu prevention.
The morning’s big “get” was Chris Wragge’s “exclusive” interview via satellite from L.A. with Lindsay Lohan’s dad, Michael, who reported on his daughter’s progress in rehab and also pleaded with this ex-wife Dina -– Lindsay’s mom -– to join him in his efforts to keep Lindsay on the straight and narrow in the coming year.
It was all very predictable, though executed professionally and proficiently. The question is: Is this team special enough to drive a sudden (or even gradual) rise in the ratings for the third-place “Early Show” in its continuing quest to become more competitive with “The Today Show” on NBC and “Good Morning America” on ABC?
Did you watch the new team’s debut? We’d like to know what you think.