If healthcare reform doesn’t work out, at least there’s daytime TV. Self-ordained “America’s doctor” Mehmet Oz debuted his syndicated series in 99 percent of the country the week of Sept. 14 in hopes of capturing a good chunk of our health- and beauty-obsessed culture. The doctor stands a decent chance, considering the wizard behind this Oz is none other than Oprah Winfrey. Head to toe, fin to fur, Dr. Oz offers one-stop doc talk.
Spinning off from his success on “Oprah,” the good doctor set the bar rather high in kicking off his one-hour series. Right off the bat, he told his small, intimate studio audience, “As a doctor, I want you to have an orgasm.” There’s computer animation for and an animated discussion of erogenous zones — all before the first commercial. It makes you wonder what kind of presents this audience will find under their seats.
In fact, the good doctor’s first-week topic list read like the teasers from the cover of Cosmo: How to have the best sex ever; dangers lurking in your purse; swine flu, The Next Pandemic: 5 Things You Need to Prepare.
At first, the segment on swine flu seemed more sensationalistic than sensible, complete with alarming graphics and dire predictions. But once the experts from the National Institutes of Health were brought in and Dr. Oz got past the lurid headlines, there was a good deal of useful information presented.
The hushed audience, however, looked as green as the waiting-room colored sets — offering neither nervous titters nor the more common daytime talk whoops. Perhaps that’s because “The Dr. Oz Show” feels less like a daytime television show and more like an engaging college lecture. There are simulations and models, personal interviews and a Q&A portion.
As a host, Oz is fairly blunt and clinical, but he does a good job of removing the embarrassment from most topics, mixing in personal anecdotes. Turns out he doesn’t know all of wife Lisa’s erogenous zones. And he can’t dance. He’s also known to offer up more unconventional advice, such as eating seaweed and tofu to prevent uterine fibroids.
Still, the randomly picked audience assistants seem to be a tricky proposition. The woman picked for the vaginal health section, for instance, seemed really uncomfortable, especially with Oz’s unique touch-and-feel display. If the idea is to empower medical patients and inform viewers, it’s done well, but — like much of daytime TV — it’s not for the squeamish.