OWN Network, Day 1: Oprah does not want to waste your time
After seemingly endless announcements and preparation, Oprah Winfrey kicks of 2011 with the launch of The Oprah Winfrey Network.
And as the king-making media empress tries to clarify in her introductory hour, "Oprah's Guide to OWN," she is not here to waste your time. She wants her new block of original programming to serve a purpose in your life.
Being Oprah, she's going to get a lot of this right. But so far, there are a few docu-series that seem like they could be a tad misguided -- in the inadvertently hilarious way.
Shows like "In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman," a cartoonishly awkward sex rehab program for middle-aged couples. We haven't seen an episode, per se, but if Oprah's extended preview is telling, it could become required viewing.
"He hasn't touched my genitals in a year," says one woman. Well, Dr. Laura has the cure for you -- a ropes course! Yes, outdoor group activities and trust falls are the secret key to a healthy sex life. Mondays at 10 p.m. ET: Sign us up.
Our next insincere endorsement goes to "Miracle Detectives," a spiritual version of "Ghost Hunters" that finds a believer and a scientist traveling the globe to investigate religious phenomena. There are angels caught on CCTV, crying statues and just a whole lot of divine intervention testimonials.
There is certainly something to be applauded here, but so far the finished product does come across like a spoof series that should only exist in the world of a sitcom or "Tropic Thunder."
Something we thought would be funny, but admittedly had to turn off a few commercial breaks in, is "Kidnapped by the Kids." The contrived series about children stealing their parents away from business trips to reconnect on a bonding adventure should be sweet. But kids are sort of obnoxious. We'd much rather OWN kicked off its first afternoon with "Breaking Down the Bars," the show about lady inmates.
Obviously, there's a legitimate draw to OWN. And since Winfrey's own series and the Rosie O'Donnell talker won't debut until an undisclosed date later in the year, the first big show on our radar is "Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star." The 10 finalists have been selected, and Friday, Jan. 7, Winfrey starts squashing their dreams, one-by-one.
Till then, we'll pick and choose among the Whitman's Sampler that is OWN, hoping we don't go after a caramel that ends up being one of those milky fruit things.