“CBS This Morning” hosts need to work on chemistry together and with guests

There are always going to be kinks that need to be worked out when a new show is launched, so it’s no real surprise that CBS This Morning is very much a work in progress. But if the show is ever going to succeed, the three hosts — Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Erica Hill — are going to have to develop a much better rapport with one another and their guests.

Premiering today at 7am ET, the two-hour program replaced the ratings-challenged Early Show with the goal of somehow competing with NBC’s The Today Show and ABC’s Good Morning America. The first hour will be devoted to news, the second hour to lighter fare such as entertainment and health stories. The strategy in itself is strong given that the former plan obviously wasn’t working.

So CBS overhauled its New York set to be more inviting, and it hired three new hosts with the hope they would resonate individually and as a team with viewers. Judging from this morning’s premiere, they still have a long way to go. The hosts sit at a round table with their guests, and it can be very confusing at times. The interview with Julianna Margulies of The Good Wife got off to a rocky start when Rose said, “It’s great to have you back on this program … not back on this program … on this program on our first day.”

Unfortunately, that was not the most awkward moment of the interview. When Margulies was talking about her charitable work to fight Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s, King abruptly cut her off to ask her why she was adamant about having her CBS show filmed in New York. It was as if King wasn’t even listening to her own guest and was just hellbent on asking the next question on the list in front of her.

And it sadly wasn’t the only time it happened. When singer Melissa Etheridge was talking about what her teenage daughters like about singing sensation Adele, King completely cut her off to ask the ages of her kids. I realize that King is accustomed to being on the radio and having to fill a lot of air time, but she needs to realize that she is going to turn away guests and her colleagues if she continues to constantly interrupt them (she did the same to Hill in a discussion with royal correspondent Victoria Arbiter about Kate Middleton’s 30th birthday).

Two other slip-ups occurred during the Margulies interview. At one point, Rose oddly referred to Michael J. Fox as Mike Fox; and when the topic of politics came up, the producers chose to air a clip from NBC’s debate with the GOP candidates yesterday. I realize that all networks borrow footage from each other, but it seemed very curious that CBS would promote a network it has been chasing in the morning show ratings since, well, forever.

All that said, CBS does deserve time to work out these issues. There does appear to be the foundation for a decent morning show, but all of that will depend on the chemistry of those on the air. Hopefully, King will realize that her colleagues and guests will be much better dance partners when she’s not constantly stepping on their toes.