Hosts: Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric.
TV may not now or ever need “Now,” the latest newsmag to hit the glutted genre, but its premiere was encouraging enough to justify its inclusion on NBC’s fall sked.
ABC’s “PrimeTime Live” got there first, but “Now’s” live anchor segments, with Tom Brokaw (“NBC Nightly News”) and Katie Couric (“Today”), had the added glitz of Manhattan at night.
Using Rockefeller Center (NBC’s New York HQ) — with Prometheus and his fountains glowing huge in the background — as show’s opening set created a lively, interesting tone, and also cleverly, if not subtly, triggered memories of past NBC hits “Late Night With David Letterman” and “Saturday Night Live.”
The attempt at urgency started with a trailer counting down the minutes to show time (“Two minutes from ‘Now’ “). The momentum of a live show is hard to sustain when the segments are taped, but the pieces were timed well to coincide with breaking news, allowing, for at least one of the segments, same-day updates. (The show reportedly will ease into using live interviews once the kinks are worked out.)
The segments themselves were a mixed bag, with the usual mixed results.The first, a wrenching look at Baby Jessie’s last days with her adoptive family, the DeBoers, was for masochists; the second was an interesting re-examination of the siege at the Idaho home of white separatist Randy Weaver; and the last, an interview with Bette Midler, while fun, was unrevealing.
Brokaw and Couric have good chemistry, with their banter relaxed, not forced. Doing double duty as reporters, Couric proved able, if light, in the Jessie and Midler segs, and Brokaw, while not especially aggressive, was his usual competent, mildly sardonic self.
If Couric, who’s up before dawn for “Today,” doesn’t pass out from exhaustion , and viewers aren’t bored with the genre, “Now” may prove to be smart counterprogramming against ABC’s “Home Improvement.”