Just a couple hours after its premier, CBS's new morning show is swimming in the warm, comforting words of glowing reviews. This Morning debuted on Monday with Erica Hill, Gayle King and, most emphatically, Charlie Rose providing a "a more substantive alternative to NBC's top-rated Today and ABC’s Good Morning America," to borrow Brian Stelter's words from The New York Times. Based on the reviews so far, substantive is a complicated but apt word to describe the new show. CBS is starting to get smart.
Charlie Rose is a great face to wake up to. The obvious observation about CBS's new morning show adventure is the gravitas offered by its grey-haired anchor, Charlie Rose. While the network appears assertive about not naming the legendary celebrity interviewer as such -- Hill and King seem to always be in the frame with him even though they're not -- Rose is most certainly the show's star. And while the tone of the morning show is markedly different than Charlie Rose's eponymous evening hour on PBS, he's doing well adapting so far, and the balance between the co-hosts is terrific, says Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker:
On the opening edition, This Morning played to the newbies' incoming strengths: Rose handled the political stories, such as an interview with Gingrich (who shamelessly played up to Charlie by saying he was running "a Charlie Rose-style campaign, ideas-driven"), while King fielded the pop-culture stuff, such as a report on Kate Middleton. Which is just as well, because I never again want to hear Charlie have to handle an item, as he did this morning, about Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby, during which he said, "It's a huge Twitter topic that Twitter friends have been Tweeting." Memo to producers: Save our dear Charlie from social media updates!
The best thing about the show, however, is that most of the time, all three hosts seemed perfectly at ease and confident negotiating the various roles required on a morning show.
Even Newt Gingrich felt the need to namecheck Charlie Rose while being interviewed by Charlie Rose in what's hopefully the first of many big names kicking off the day at CBS:
The new studio looks fantastic. CBS built a brand new, super high tech studio just for This Morning. Thanks to its address on 57th Street in midtown Manhattan, it's called Studio 57, but it's not at all disco. Rather it's kind of homey, and while it will take some time to work out the kinks, the new show is heading "off in the right direction," according to the New York Daily News's Richard Huff:
Perfect? No. But it looked dramatically better and was far meatier than the last version, which is a huge deal. … The show is set in new studio that has classier feel than the last one. Overall hues are darker than the previous bright, light blues, and there design elements, such as exposed bricks, to make it look more pleasing to folks at home. The anchors and guests sit around a circular glass desk, facing each other, rather than a traditional linear approach. Also, viewers can see a glass-walled "green room" where upcoming guests prepare to go on.
Kinks stink. Speaking of glitches, the debut edition of This Morning had some. Not everybody loved how the show's producers used the new studio. And Rose talking about social media is going to take some getting used to, as the Boston Herald's Mark Perigard points out:
Against exposed brick were shelves stuffed with tchotchkes. Somebody needs to get the clean-up crew of Hoarders in on speed dial. Most distracting, whenever Rose interviewed anyone, say, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the cameras captured an array of videoscreens behind Rose -- showing his guest slanted sideways at a vertigo-inducing 90-degree angle.