Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are we there yet? Fool me twice and I will write a column about it


From page A5 | June 18, 2014 |

Mornings in our house have gotten much calmer because “The news is back in morning news.” That’s our new show’s self-description on Twitter, along with #newsisback.

Yes, instead of screaming at the TV, “That’s not news!,” every few minutes, we are now tuned into “CBS This Morning” and loving it. It’s the perfect antidote after our two-year abusive relationship with NBC’s “The Today Show.”

Our “Today Show” habit started when our older son negotiated the TV remote away from our younger son who had a morning “SpongeBob SquarePants” routine. Having seen every episode of SpongeBob thousands of times, we were all ready for a change.

Our older son wanted to watch the previous night’s “The Daily Show” in the morning, but my husband and I didn’t think it was appropriate for our then-11-year-old. So I suggested we tune into “The Today Show.”

When I was a kid and ready to leave morning cartoons behind, “The Today Show” was there. I remember being pleasantly surprised at how much more interesting it was than the evening news or “60 Minutes,” one of my dad’s favorite programs. News mixed with feature stories with lively hosts was the perfect morning mix, at least in the early 1980s.

At first, everyone in my household liked the change. Hearing the top news stories of the day and being informed on major events made us feel engaged. But “engaged” was quickly replaced with “irritated.”

The modern format of “The Today Show” resembles a three-ring circus. There’s the news desk, where up to five people sit around gabbing; there’s the “Orange Room,” where we get to find out what’s going on in the realms of Twitter and Facebook; and there’s the man-on-the-street segments where people hold signs and wave to their families back home.

So here’s the deal, “Today Show” producers. We all have computers and can see what’s happening on Twitter and Facebook. Seeing a roomful of people working at laptops to bring us all the trending “news” is beyond stupid.

We also have plenty of opportunities to see out-of-towners; we don’t need a camera crew panning a cheering crowd of tourists every 20 minutes.

And if we want to see pseudo-celebrities chatting, we have a nauseating variety of choices.

What we don’t have is a news crew who’s culled through the important stories that have developed since the previous day. And neither does “The Today Show,” apparently.

Thus we quickly tired of “The Today Show’s” antics — we took turns yelling at the TV, demanding that fluff not be pitched as news. Honestly, morning TV was more subdued when Squidward and Mr. Krabs were arguing in our living room.

Looking for a replacement, I systematically scoured all the news channels to find a morning program where they report the news; not argue about it or interpret it, not pretend that celebrity weight loss is news, not rely on average-Joe opinions to fill time. Our older son asked with total sincerity if there was a morning show where someone just read the newspaper. (He’s a big fan of “60 Minutes’ ” dry delivery.)

I couldn’t find an improvement, although a case could be made that the shopping channels were more informative.

Still, we were forced to flee a few weeks ago when “The Today Show” just went too damn far. Sure, we were complicit in that we foolishly believed their pitch … I mean fool me once, shame on you, and all that.

Their final crime was teasing an exclusive big revelation coming up from Amy Poehler. We all like Amy, so even though we figured we were being bamboozled, we stayed tuned. Maybe she’d be returning to “Saturday Night Live,” or maybe she’d be helming a talk show.

As “The Today Show” dragged out their “big reveal” over the next half-hour, we started joking that maybe Amy got a haircut or was changing her toenail polish from pink to lavender. But we kept watching, as if daring them to not tell us something interesting.

Well, fool us twice, no swearing way. Amy Poehler’s big, exclusive revelation was the cover for her new book. Which was just the kick in the butt we needed.

As of a few weeks ago, we’ve been tuned into “CBS This Morning,” and we are living happily ever after. The hosts are Charlie Rose, who is pleasantly understated; Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend who has toned herself down nicely; and the third woman. Just not knowing who this third woman is has been refreshing because she’s not trying to make this a show about her.

Interestingly, soon after we tuned into “CBS This Morning,” we saw the show’s TV promo, which says, “More real news. That’s our promise to you.” It’s like they read our minds. No gimmicks, no three-ring circus, no endless teases about trivial drivel … #newsisback!

— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other Wednesday. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya





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