Review: ‘Dr. Laura’

As the self-appointed moral crusader Dr. Laura Schlessinger is wont to say, "You can't bring home an elephant and expect it to purr." But, apparently, you can bring a controversial radio host to television and expect it to be boring.

As the self-appointed moral crusader Dr. Laura Schlessinger is wont to say, “You can’t bring home an elephant and expect it to purr.” But, apparently, you can bring a controversial radio host to television and expect it to be boring.

The outspoken Schlessinger, who has attracted equal numbers of fans and foes with her opposition to abortion, homosexuality and interfaith marriages, was uncharacteristically reserved in her syndicated television debut.

Choosing to tackle such dividing topics as teens and drugs, and affairs on her first two shows, Schlessinger carefully sidestepped any of the issues that had protesters rallying in front of her Los Angeles studios.

Perhaps then it was no coincidence that the opening montage of the show features words such as “love” and “tolerance.” Perhaps this is a gentler, kinder Schlessinger. But don’t count on it.

Granted, it’s somewhat of a relief to see a daytime talker that is devoid of fistfights and hooting audiences, but when there’s no real dissenting opinions represented, you’re left with one-note oratory masquerading as a talkshow.

Schlessinger and fellow exec producer Velma Cato have devised a format that at first appears to be standard issue: A main topic is presented, guests talk about their experience, Web site polls are conducted. But it’s all really a carefully constructed ruse to get guests and experts to tout Schlessinger’s conservative agenda.

For instance, she is never confronted with an adult who opposes mandatory drug testing in schools but instead takes on a bunch of nervous teenagers, who can’t always offer the most articulate argument.

Similarly, when differing opinions come up in the taped on-the-street interview segments, Schlessinger follows with a mocking diatribe that receives no rebuttal.

Since the good doctor is known for controversy anyway, why not lay it on the line, then debate instead of presenting this subversive format. It’s this kind of back-door approach that almost makes you appreciate the “lay your cards on the table” style of Rush Limbaugh. Almost.

Technical credits are standard, but Schlessinger’s stiff demeanor along with a misguided wardrobe and a studio set that looks like a hodgepodge of leftovers from the Mike Douglas era cramp any style introduced.

Dr. Laura

Talkshow; weekdays; syndicated

Production

Filmed on location in Los Angeles by Kidz Mom Prods. in association with Paramount Pictures. Executive producers, Laura Schlessinger, Velma Cato.

Crew

Director, Michael Dimich; supervising producer, Debbie Alpert; producers, Renee Hambley, Pamela Rose, David Sager, Lisa Tatum; cameras, Parker Bartlett, Suzanne Ebner, Chip Fraser, Lee Nicholson, Bruce Oldham, Michael Schwartz; sound, Sam Mallaun. 60 MIN.

Cast

Announcer - Michael D. Hanks
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