“The Morning Show” could be off to a rough start.
The drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell as broadcast journalists working on a “Today” show-like set — with Carrell’s character getting canned for sexual misconduct allegations a la Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose — is the highest-profile original series coming to Apple TV+ on Friday. Yet many early reviews of the first three episodes are pretty … bad.
And that’s troubling, especially considering each “The Morning Show” episode costs Apple
more than $15 million to make, according to a Financial Times report — so each one is more expensive than an episode of “Game of Thrones.” HBO’s
bloody medieval drama ran between $6 million and $8 million an episode leading up to its final two seasons, when some installments began pushing the $15 million mark and beyond.
Variety dubbed “The Morning Show” a “politically muddled, under thought, and underwhelming streaming misfire.” The review mused that the show tries to take on too many provocative topics, including the #MeToo movement, the morning show boys club, as well as what news coverage should and shouldn’t be.
“‘The Morning Show, in trying to sell all sides of its story without committing to telling a single one well, falls startlingly short,” summed up Variety’s Daniel D’Addario. “And, worst of all, there’s not a human worth caring about in sight.”
TV Line gave it a C+, and wrote it off as “preachy, jumbled Sorkin lite,” referring to Aaron Sorkin’s Emmy Award-winning NBC
series “The West Wing” and his HBO series “The Newsroom,” which scored star Jeff Daniels a Best Lead Actor Emmy.
Rolling Stone said the series “rises but doesn’t shine” despite its all-star cast. While it noted the show “isn’t terrible,” and praised the performances of Billy Crudup, Witherspoon and Aniston, reviewer Alan Sepinwall complained that the show is a “well-polished snore.”
The Hollywood Reporter also panned it as “broadcast snooze,” but said that it has potential. While the first two episodes see the series “struggling and floundering to find its focus, tone and attitude toward its main characters,” episode three hints at a “more satisfying and confident” show down the line.
“Did the behemoths at Apple really get into the crowded original TV marketplace to become the latest perpetrator of ‘It eventually gets better!” patience-testing?’” asked critic Daniel Feinberg.
But “The Morning Show” also has fans already. The AV Club gave it a largely glowing review, calling it a “winner,” “sly” and “timely,” and raving that it’s “a lot of fun.” But even writer Alex McLevy said that it “takes a while to get going,” and the plot is “sprawling and overlong.”
Apple TV+, the latest player in the streaming wars between Netflix
and company, goes live on Friday for $4.99 a month, or shoppers who recently bought a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV or iPod Touch get a free year-long subscription.
Other original series coming to Apple’s service include “See” starring “Aquaman’s” Jason Momoa living in a world where humans have lost their sense of sight; “Dickinson” with Hailee Steinfeld playing a young Emily Dickinson; and the space race miniseries “For All Mankind.” Some of their early reviews are also mixed.