In the few weeks, NBC-Universal launched two new early-early morning shows, the Weather Channel’s “Wake Up With Al” starring Al Roker and MSNBC’s “Way Too Early With Willie Geist,” which has left at least one reviewer—NYTimes’ Alessandra Stanley—satisfied but skeptical. Stanley finds Roker’s show “pleasant and relaxed” and has this to say about Geist’s debut:
Mr. Geist’s first show got off to a promising start, partly helped by the departing Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, and her acid farewell to the news media on Sunday, in which she exhorted, “So how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?” Mr. Geist said with deadpan gravity: “Quit making things up? I can’t agree to that deal.”
But overall, Stanley responds to the pair of new shows with a generous helping of skepticism:
There is an audience for these spinoffs, and Mr. Roker and, to a cable-size extent, Mr. Geist have loyal fans. But both are television personalities who do their best work playing off and even sending up their co-hosts. Neither has surrendered his day job yet, but the danger is that their energy and best efforts will be siphoned to their new gigs.
It’s a narrowing gyre: as soon as regular contributors or co-hosts begin to develop marketable personas, they get their own show. And sometimes, as is the case with Rachel Maddow, who was fun to watch at first but lately has run out of steam, too much is worse than too little.
Speaking of the New York Times, op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd is set to appear in a phone interview tomorrow morning on “Way Too Early” during Geist’s “Morning Buzz” segment.