Review: ‘Happy’ heavy ‘GMA Day’ debut was just ‘eh’

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The following opinion piece is by Michael P. Hill, the publisher of NewscastStudio and a Chicago TV critic.

ABC’s replacement for “The Chew” and its second attempt to expand its “Good Morning America” franchise, “GMA Day” debuted Monday — carried heavily by the energetic and charming Sarah Haines, but the show had some slow spots and didn’t offer up much to make it stand out.

  • After announcing its food centric talker “The Chew” would be canceled, ABC announced it would replace 1 p.m. eastern timeslot with a third — albeit standalone — hour of “GMA” called “GMA Day.”
  • The show is marketed as a “happy” way spend your day, as evidenced in its “smiley” logo design.
  • After a rather contrived cold open featuring Jerry Seinfeld, co-hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines entered the second floor studio — talking different runway style walkways to get to home base — and took their seats behind a large anchor-style desk.
  • The first segment of the show mirrors many other daytime talkers with some fairly inane banter before switching to a “Good Day-Bad Day” segment — that focused, at least on the debut episode, only on “good” news.
  • Strahan appeared to struggle at times to get out what he was trying to say, while Haines came across as informal and fun but also more polished.
  • The chemistry between Haines and Strahan didn’t seem quite as strong as in the promos ABC aired leading up to the show’s debut — with Haines’ bubbly personality sometimes overpowering Strahan — while at other times he seemed to dominate her quick comments.
  • Next up was a “feel good” segment involving a baby “graduating” from the intensive care unit, which includes a live remote interview with both the family and care team, each of which were given sponsored gifts live on air. While the story itself was inspiring, the “surprise” gifts are hardly new for daytime TV.
  • After a break was a live interview with singer Pharrell, which was probably one of the slowest paced parts of the show. The interview itself was a bit disjointed and seemed to lack energy despite having both hosts conduct it.
  • After this, a cooking segment from “The Chew” alum Carla Hall went a bit off the rails as Haines and Strahan attempted — with somewhat comedic results — to cut a chicken.
  • Another entertaining moment was when Strahan struggled to find the “oven,” which, at least based on where he placed the tray, was under the large worktable brought out for the segment — but in reality was probably nothing more than a hidden compartment just like the one where Hall’s fully cooked chicken, in true TV magic, instantly appeared from.
  • Finally, the show had singer Jordan Smith on to perform “Feel Good,” which also serves as the show’s theme song and was used in some of the show’s promos.
  • Strahan and Haines were shown in obligatory “dancing with the audience” shots.
  • Overall, while the show was mildly entertaining, it doesn’t really have anything to make it stand out from the slew of other daytime talkers out there.
  • While ABC may be relying on Strahan’s name recognition and Haines’ personality as the stand-out elements, it might take more than that to grab viewers’ attention.
  • Strong points included the use of the network’s second floor studio as well as a more cohesive and clear graphics package.