For its second season, Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show changed from "Anderson" to "Anderson Live." The show moved into a new studio, changed its format, and added a prominent social media feed. Alas, the tweaks were not enough to garner a third season, and "Anderson Live" will end in 2013.
Despite Cooper's charm and star power, too much competition and awkward antics keep his show from becoming appointment viewing.
Too many voices
New talk shows from Ricki Lake, Jeff Probst, Steve Harvey, and Katie Couric added to an already saturated daytime schedule of talk shows, leaving little room for ratings domination. With discussions about the latest headlines and viral videos, Cooper's "The First 15" segment is similar to "The View," "The Talk," and Wendy Williams's own "Hot Topics" segment. Although "Anderson Live" incorporates innovative elements, such as social media, the Silver Fox is essentially another face in a crowd of popular TV personalities.
Welcoming a new celebrity guest co-host for each show sounds fresh and exciting, but it often plays out like an awkward first date. Comics Rachel Dratch and D.L. Hughley fared well. Others, like Deborah Norville ("Inside Edition"), were difficult to watch because they were out of sync with Cooper. Kristin Chenoweth and Cyndi Lauper were fun, but a little too frenetic for the show's format.
"Anderson Live" looks like a really fun show for the studio audience, but it sometimes feels like TV viewers are watching a warm-up routine or inside joke. During one episode, a producer did an impression of Iyanla's infamous apology to Oprah. Cooper laughed like an Elmo doll, but the command performance wasn't nearly as funny at home.
Cooper keeps the show lively with sudden jaunts into the audience and his #StumpAnderson T-shirt giveaways. His humility is refreshing, but the impromptu treks and nervous banter work better as bonus footage for the website.
During the first season, some of Cooper's interviews had an uncomfortable layer of hostility or judgment. He memorably booted "Human Barbie" Sarah Burge from the stage because she insisted her teen daughter needed Botox injections and gave her 8-year-old daughter pole dancing classes. It was a strange choice since her parenting philosophy was well known before the show. The whole scenario fits "Dr. Phil" better.
Season 2 takes a much lighter approach but still has cringeworthy interviews with a somewhat exploitive tone. "Tan Mom" Patricia Krentcil came forward to defend herself against allegations that she brought her young daughter inside a tanning booth. Krentcil's slurred speech and incessant fidgeting made for a very erratic interview. She continued speaking even as Cooper desperately tried to take a commercial break. Strangely, Krentcil's backstage interview was far more coherent. The whole fiasco added a new layer to the "Tan Mom" mystique instead of revealing the woman behind the brown mask.
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