Mr. TV: A View on The Talk

I’ll admit it again. My TV tastes are not necessarily always all that, um, manly. I grew up watching serialized dramas Dallas, Knots Landing, Dynasty and Falcon Crest. I was addicted to those trashy New Jersey housewives on Bravo this past summer. I’m riveted every time Joan Rivers is on the screen, and I’ll watch anything with a Kardashian in it.

But there are limits, you know, and outside of the tumultuous season with outspoken Rosie O’Donnell as one of the co-hosts, you won’t catch me tuning into ABC’s The View.

I bring up The View because today marks the launch of CBS daytime clone The Talk, which explores topical subjects through the eyes of six celebrity mothers: Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini and Marissa Jaret Winokur. It airs at 2 p.m. ET in place of canceled soap As the World Turns. Since success breeds imitation, I’m surprised it took CBS this long.

While I will reserve judgment until I actually see The Talk, what immediately got on my nerves at the session at the Summer Television Association Press Tour in Los Angeles in August were the six hosts gabbing over themselves. Julie “the Chenbot” Chen, my personal favorite, is not the oldest, but she stands to assume the Barbara Walters role because she seems the most grounded.  Considering how well Chenbot handles all the mishegoss in the Big Brother house, she is the voice of reason and the most important ingredient on The Talk.
And if this gig doesn’t work out, she can probably go back to a full-time role on The Early Show. She is Mrs. Les Moonves, after all.

Sharon Osbourne, the oldest, is not exactly mother of the year (all three of her little Osbournes did not finish high school). And her track record is 0-1 in daytime (The Sharon Osbourne Show from Warner Bros. came and quickly went in the 2003-04 season when the distributor’s then also freshman Ellen DeGeneres Show got the lion’s share of attention).

But four years as a judge on successful NBC summer reality/competition America’s Got Talent has showcased her sympathetic side. Being an Osbourne with three grown kids gives her the most life experience. And her marriage to rocker Ozzy is worthy of endless anecdotes, including this humorous item at the Press Tour: “He doesn’t even know I’m doing this show. I am here today, and he thinks I’ve gone to America’s Got Talent. He has no idea.”

I am anxious to learn more about Holly Robinson Peete, the mother of four, including one child with autism. We know her from her TV stints on 21 Jump Street, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper and, most recently, Celebrity Apprentice. And I became a real fan of Broadway’s Marissa Jaret Winokur—who will be predominantly in the field—when she competed on Dancing With the Stars a few seasons ago. But Leah Remini, who I interviewed twice during her stint on sitcom The King of Queens, came across as brash and cruel at the Press Tour session (“I am going to completely abuse my mother on this show,” she squawked as the audience responded in dead silence). Her role seems like a combination of opinionated Joy Behar and ill-informed original View co-host Debbie Matenopoulos. Remember that ditz?

Last, and certainly not least, is Sara Gilbert, who we know, of course, as sullen and cynical Darlene Conner on long-running sitcom Roseanne (and her follow-up roles as clones of Darlene on short-lived sitcoms Welcome to New York and Twins). Gilbert is also a behind-the-scenes presence (she developed The Talk), and her personal life as a gay parent brings another layer of true life to the show.  

While I have no intention of watching on a regular basis, the optimist in me thinks there is room for yet another hour of female-focused talk in daytime. Make way Barbara Walters and company. Love them or loathe them, I am sure the women on CBS’ The Talk will have plenty to say.