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August 29, 2014

The Rachel Maddow Show (series premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 9th 2008 10:05AM
Rachel Maddow portraitThe most famous Rachel on TV today isn't the same one that made Jennifer Aniston a star. And it's Rachael with the extra "E" that's the syndicated star of a talk show that won the Emmy in 2008. But the newest Rachel on the air is MSNBC's plucky new host of her own show, Rachel Maddow. Like Aniston, Rachel Maddow's hairdoo is fashionable, and like Ray, Maddow's very personable. However, The Rachel Maddow Show is worlds apart from Friends or 30 Minute Meals/The Rachael Ray Show. Maddow is all about politics, current events and things that, by and large, are important.

In some ways, The Rachel Maddow Show is a spinoff of Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Maddow has been a regular sub for Olbermann, proving her prowess to MSNBC, and her show has a cushy spot between the first run of Countdown at 8 p.m. ET and the replay at 10 p.m. For the premiere episode, in fact, Keith appeared as Rachel's first guest -- a crossover from the end of Countdown where Rachel was interviewed in the last segment before the close. This was a smart move, sort of like a bridge from his show to hers, a bridge to somewhere if you will.

The new studio for Maddow has the quality MSNBC look, glass top desk, plasma screens, obnoxious -- but expected -- graphics on the bottom and bugs and flags reinforcing information as it's spoken.

Good luck finding a cable news channel sans all that mishegoss! Still, for Maddow, the splashes of color are soft blues and reds on a white backdrop with black frames, making it look almost like pop art, and it's pretty warm and friendly, on the subliminal level. After all the overt patriotism of the convention colors, I was relieved to see water colors instead of primary colors.

Like most news/information shows, TRMS is set up in a magazine format with features. "Talk Me Down" follows the opening top of the news segment, and it's Rachel's commentary/blog/editorial about a specific topic of note to her. It's her show, so she gets to choose. She does her spiel, then invites a guest to "talk her down." The blurring of the line between church and state was her debut issue, and I especially liked this line in her set-up. "Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, church and state are two great things that actually, really don't go great together."

Another feature is called "Mind Over Chatter" where Maddow goes inside an issue, dissecting it with an expert. In both these features, I was happy to see the talking heads invited on Maddow's show were not the same old faces that have been overexposed on the cable news shows. Fresh faces are a good way to go for Maddow.

Introducing MSNBC in-house Republican strategist and one-time presidential candidate Pat Buchanan as "my fake uncle," Maddow engaged in a frisky "Point/Counterpoint" (remember from Saturday Night Live, "Jane, you ignorant slut") encounter. I don't know if this will be a regular bit with Buchanan, but the idea of Rachel one on one in a debate works. She's tough enough to go toe-to-toe without winding up in a shouting match.

The one feature that laid an egg was "Just Enough," a pop culture bit with Kent Jones. Eh ... needs work. Not nearly as funny as it probably looked to be on paper.

So, what's my verdict (which is the name of the show she's replacing)? Thumbs up (don't sue me, Roger Ebert!). Rachel Maddow is very smart -- a Rhodes scholar -- and you can hear that in her interviewing style. She packs a question with information, rarely sputtering or laughing at herself like Chris Matthews, for instance. She's got a high likability factor, probably a high Q rating, because I enjoy watching her and I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way.

Yes, the format is heavy on politics, not surprisingly, and Maddow is a left-leaning. However, that didn't stop her from taking shots at the Democrats in Congress, so perhaps she'll be an equal-opportunity critic when necessary.

One final point of interest -- Olbermann referred to Sarah Palin as a "Liza Minnelli in A Star Is Born." Umm, no, K.O. It was Barbra Streisand in A Star Is Born.

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Ibrahima

I am so glad for the Obama victory.I congratulate him to serve well.But also,I do understand now;why, USA is different in terms of democracy.It is a good sign for peace in the whole world.Obviously, I always pray for,all over the world could take an example for the American polacy.I mean,all over the world,in particular, the place where I am living for twelve years;Italy. After the day election,so many countries in europe enjoy the Obama doctrine for change .Unfortunately,I was desappointed too much about what I saw in italian channel.Some people said from the outset,U.S.A. is not ready for the "NEGRO" president.It is a very sad mistake.Even their comments after the exit poll ,they always kept saying "NEGRO" in the WHITE HOUSE.I was not happy for that kind of remark,just because I am black and so proud to be what I am.I do believe now,we all are the same black, white, yellow ect....Some judgments could be stoped going forward........Thank you Rachel Maddow I love your Show

November 06 2008 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tom

first of all no one has ever listen to air america second is rachel
keith olbermans little brother? those facial expressions
......ewwwwwwwwwwwwww

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October 25 2008 at 8:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tom

first of all no one has ever listen to air america second is rachel keith olbermans little brother? those facial expressions ......ewwwwwwwwwwwwww

October 25 2008 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patsy J. Weiss

Rachael Maddow is sharp as a tack and quick on her feet. My husband and I look forward to her show. She is darling and we can see her heading up "Meet the Press". She is like a breath of fresh air. Joe Scarborough should feel threatened!!! Patsy Weiss

September 26 2008 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Herb

Will you soon have a website at which we can see programs which we missed?

September 19 2008 at 9:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry G. Knapp

Regarding Keith's reference to Liza in "A Star is Born": While Babs did star in the third version of "Star" (if you discount the story's origin in George Cukor's "What Price Hollywood?"), I believe KO intended to Judy Garland in Cukor's version of "Star."

September 14 2008 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SHelley

I think that Rachel's show is as good as her Air America show on the radio. When people talk about her intellect, clearly if one does not understand what she is talking about perhaps they need to read more!..I am sick about S.P.. and will not even write about her name, let alone speak it.. the media is the media.. spin is spin.. but Rachel.. YOU go girl!

September 10 2008 at 11:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Annette

I have watched Dr. Maddow every night and I love her work...She is smart, funny and I am glad she was given a shot on NSNBC...

You go Girl!

September 10 2008 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
emc

You're disparaging John McCain because it "appears" that he stepped on a yacht of someone who two years later pled guilty to wire fraud. Yet to you, two years is "soon to be arrested". However, Republicans are not permitted to bring up Obama's (or nobama) 20-year close association with Reverend Wright. Pathetic...more liberal lunacy...I've watched your show for the first and last time.

September 10 2008 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ladi

It was Liza's mother, Judy Garland, in the original Star is Born.

September 10 2008 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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