'The Rosie Show': The first week was terrific; now all she needs is more viewers: You.

The first week of The Rosie Show was a happy mess, two words I didn’t expect to be writing about a show featuring the mercurial O’Donnell and her tightly-controlled cable network, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. On Friday’s edition, O’Donnell even spent some time re-playing some of the technical gaffes the live broadcast endured (faulty microphones, wrong clips shown), every one of which only increased the entertainment factor.

O’Donnell is in some ways an old-fashioned talk-show host. It looks as though Rosie will, like Ellen De Generes and Jimmy Fallon, make her set a welcoming home, a place where guests will be greeted warmly, not grilled or made wary. Older viewers will recognize the aura Rosie is trying to evoke: That of the The Mike Douglas Show and Merv Griffin‘s comfy old sets. O’Donnell has the brains and shrewdness to know that viewers love it when they feel they’re watching something spontaneous, and so O’Donnell book-ends her show with opportunities to stoke that feeling. Her opening monologues are more dialogues with the audience, picking up on their reactions (or non-reactions — a lesser host would have been mortified to espy a sleeping audience member, but Rosie commanded the camera to train on one dozing fellow last week, and teased his TV-narcolepsy into a very funny few minutes). She’s apparently going to close out most hours with audience-participation game, various trivia contests that, again, allow O’Donnell to interact with the public and riff off their answers.

Right now, O’Donnell seems stoked to be broadcasting from Oprahville — excuse me, Chicago — and gets a lot of comedy mileage about being a newcomer to the town. Another plus: She’s booking guests that aren’t always tied to plugging movies or new fall TV shows. Thus she had a nice long, rambling, articulate chat with Russell Brand, a pleasantly scattered one with Valerie Harper, and parried sharp comments with Roseanne Barr, who came off a lot better than she does on her own current show, Roseanne’s Nuts.

This is not the O’Donnell who went into black funks during her stint on The View, loosening lightning bolts at the paltry twig that was Elisabeth Hasselbeck. (Hasselbeck has since, of course, grown into a grounded, steely rod capable of absorbing any hostile electricity thrown her way.) Right now, Rosie is working on a rosy high, seemingly delighted to have the freedom from broadcast network interference and the blessing of Oprah.

Now all she needs is ratings. OWN is not exactly FX or AMC; indeed, O’Donnell — a daughter of anarchy, a mad-woman in the best sense — goes against the grain of the fledgling network’s feel-good, laid-back style. In other words, The Rosie Show is exactly the program OWN needs to break through, but it needs time to build an audience. Last week, daily ratings master Marc Berman of Media Insights was pretty brutal, noting: “Day three ratings took another tumble for the struggling talker The Rosie Show… Based on the Live Plus Same Day ratings for Wednesday, Oct. 12, The Rosie Show at 7 p.m. dipped to 254,000 viewers — down a staggering 49 percent from its debut on Monday (497,000) … The Rosie Show three days in is a blatant failure.  ”

Ouch. Well, The Rosie Show is a blatant success in terms of quality. Let’s hope the relatively small audience thus far doesn’t throw O’Donnell into a tailspin of dark moodiness. Keep it up, Rosie…

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (136 total) Add your comment
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  • Sven

    Based on yours and the New York Times’ reviews, almost makes me wish I had cable so I could catch this program. Almost…

    • lisa g.

      How much is Oprah losing on this trainwreck of a network? Rosies show is awful n can’t pull A list actors. Doomed!

      • JB

        Lemme guess: you didn’t even watch it. Shut it.

      • Jan

        Rosie can pull in A list actors.

      • lisa g.

        @jb u would be guessing wrong now u shut it, idiot! I saw the roseanne interview, an AWFUL monologue and a stupid game. Idiot!!!!!!

      • lisa g.

        @Jan….well isn’t that the thing to do in week 1???? Roseanne n Russell brand ain’t cutting it!

      • me

        Obviously the “g” in “lisa g.” stands for “grouch”.

      • TorontoTom

        Gotta say – I really like the show! It has gotten better each day and it is now a daily fix for me! If you don’t like her, you don’t like her. But for those of us that do, it’s great to have Rosie back on TV!

      • Robin

        I’m not watching this terrible show. She should have retired gracefully.

      • Manny

        I suspect that OWN will give this show a chance to come into its own and won’t be pushing any panic buttons over ratings early on. And don’t forget, those of us that were fans of her previous talks show remember it as what it became not what it started out as. This one just needs a little time to gain its stride but I predict The Rosie Show will be a winner.

    • SaraS

      I agree. I have extended cable and I do not have the OWN channel. I’m really disappointed. Rosie has been waiting a long time for her comeback, and I just wish she would’ve done it on a basic cable channel because then she for sure would have succeeded.
      I’m worried about her and the show being in outer space.

    • Jan

      You can watch a lot of it in video clips on her website.


      I LOVE Rosie. Really, Really LOVE ROSIE! And I watched the show last week, but I cannot take it anymore. Not until that set is changed! It is terribly depressing, IMO. I remember the set of her old talk show…It was all white and bright and coloful. This show’s set is just…Dark. This probably sounds like a stupid reason to not like a show, and Hell, it probably is, but it’s just the way I feel. I LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Rosie. It’s just that set, I CANNOT TAKE IT!.

  • Flip

    I loved the original Rosie show, so I tried out the first episode but it wasn’t the same. I hope she can somehow make it feel like that again—I love Rosie and would gladly watch her new show!

    • LD

      I agree on the original, but… I DVR’d the 1st week, and watched 2 1/2 shows then deleted it from my DVR. Not impressed.

  • dcle

    If Live + Same Day is the only criteria for ratings, people like me will never be counted in the ratings. Like with the Daily Show and Colbert, I Tivo’d Rosie during the week and watched them all over the weekend.

  • Justin

    I love Rosie and will continue watching her show. It’s not great, definitely needs some work. But once the kinks are all worked out. It’ll be great. I’m glad she’s back on TV.

    • Tucker

      I agree! Rosie’s awesome. She’s hilarious, smart and caring. Another thing I like is she’s on top of what’s new and cool — she was the one who publicized the Flip camera and Etsy, the Elmo doll, etc etc…

  • benlinus

    No offence to Rosie but why do they keep giving her talk shows if the ratings never materialize; I mean I’ve got no problems her, neither does my wife (both of being shameless social liberals) but we still find her just as irritating now as we did the last time we didn’t watch he talk show. So unless a bunch of people miraculously start finding her entertaining (and before her staunch supporters start attacking me remember her last talk show was cancelled for not bringing in enough viewers) her new shows going to cancelled as well with or with out Oprah’s moral support.

    • Myra

      I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure her first talk show did well in the ratings, and when she joined The View, the ratings for The View increased. So, which of her talk shows are you saying failed in the ratings?

      • Tucker

        You’re right Myra.
        The only one that didn’t do well was her variety show, because it was less Rosie and more crazy acts no one cares about. I kind of wish her new set was less variety show, more warm daytime.

      • benlinus

        I stand corrected then, if she’s doing more talking and less crappy side shows I might give it a serious try, she was decent on the view when she had people to play off of in a discussion.

      • @benlinus

        It’s *offense*.

    • Jan

      The Rosie O’Donnell Show was a ratings powerhouse and only went off the air because she wanted to stop.

      • Robin

        It is an amazing pile of dung. At least Oprah was intelligent.

  • John

    She’ll get better ratings if she goes off the rails.
    America loves a trainwreck.
    Rosiie is one just waiting to happen.

    Sooner or later, someone will say something..anything…she doesn’t like and will come out swinging.

  • M.

    I would LOVE to be watching Rosie! However my cable service does not include OWN.

    • Jan

      I’m in the same boat. But you can watch videos of the show on her website.

  • @Ken Tucker

    How much did Oprah pay you, Ken?

    I guess it is enough to make you write this nonsense. Maybe you should retire now and do the readers a favor.

    • Susan

      I love the show but would prefer her original idea of a one topic show. She was so much better last night with the non celebrity. Calmer and not shouting.

  • anon

    They have to change the time. 7:00 pm is a terrible time and can’t believe Rosie agreed to that. Bring her back to the mornings or even mid afternoon!!!

    • Rosie’s not so bad

      The show is on an additional two times during the day and night. I think late afternoon and morning, around 830am CT. I have been enjoying her “dialogue” but tend to change the channel about midway in the show.

      • nutmeg

        I watch at 11:00 PM here on East Coast and I have enjoyed her show and guest..once kinks are worked out and people see different times to watch I hope she does well.

      • John

        The workhouse where she was bhurgot to in Birr wasn’t actually the one her great grandfather was in it was actually in the town of Naas but the workhouse is now part of the hospital so they couldn’t show it on t.v. At the very end when they’re walking into the pub Murtagh’s corner they’re in Naas just thought I’d put it out there

  • Lisa

    I like the show. Problem is, no one can find OWN.

    • Jan


    • Launch

      No, actually the problem is no one WANTS to find OWN.

  • Franco

    I believe there are many people who want her to fail because she is an overweight lesbian with opinions. But the quality of the show should find it success in the ratings, but I’m not sure if 7 p.m. is the best time slot.

    • ok

      I respectfully disagree. At one time Rosie was as loved by audiences as Oprah. After she came out of the closet, she quit her show, adopted the prison warden look and was hostile and nasty. She pushed her audience away without giving them a chance. Most people probably figured she was gay and didn’t care, but she probably rejected them first because she assumed they’d reject her.

  • K

    I wish they offered it OnDemand or online. I can listen to it on SiriusXM but it is not the same.

  • tommyrogo

    Who wants to watch a fat lesbian?

    • goawayrogo

      oh tommy life must be so hard for you

  • Marcia

    DVR solves the scheduling issue–and, at least right now, OWN reruns Rosie at 10 PM and 8 AM central. Welcome back to TV, Rosie, and please explore the midwest outside Chicago.

  • Simon

    Could it be that people are turned off by her former bullying ways and that she believes 9-11was a US plot against its own citizens? She lied about who she was with her “I love Tom cruise” baloney. She is a kook and a fake. She is doing this show because she has become totally and wholly irrelevant.

    • Simon

      I’m mean, ugly and jealous.

    • dave

      So you’re saying that as a lesbian she is not allowed to have a crush on Tom Cruise? I’m gay but I have a major crush on Eva Mendes. You’re an ignorant jerk Simon

      • Josh M.

        Make up your mind.

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