Did Megyn Kelly redeem herself with debut of TODAY?

Megyn Kelly’s transition to NBC hasn’t exactly been what the network execs had hoped for.

NBC offered Kelly a whopping $18 million salary, thinking they were picking up a cash cow in the former news host who had often held the #1 spot in ratings over at Fox News.

But Kelly’s disastrous interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin showed she’s not cut for hard-hitting journalism, and her prime-time program consistently lost to America’s Funnest Home Videos.

In an interesting change of direction, NBC has given Kelly an early-morning daytime show–Megyn Kelly TODAY. Kelly’s new gig is light-spirited, non-political talk show in the vein of Ellen and Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Kelly’s new program aired its first episode on Monday, allowing TV viewers to decide for themselves whether NBC’s interesting experiment in reinvention is worth all the promotion given to it.

The final verdict? Megyn Kelly TODAY falls flat.

Kelly began her new show with a long-winded introduction in which she rambled endlessly about her climb to the top (though she left out the part about her abrupt fall).

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The casual setting may hide Kelly’s deficiencies as a serious journalist, but they only highlight other deficiencies. Kelly comes across as try-hard, forced, and robotic.

The clear lack of charisma wasn’t lost on viewers, who lost no time in pointing out everything wrong with the latest addition to daytime television.

Kelly stumbled through awkward interviews with the cast of the popular sitcom Will and Grace.

At one point she was joined on the set by the cast of “Today,” minus Al Roker. Kelly went through the entire program sporting an $1,100 Gucci blouse and a $1,150 skin-tight pants.

Needless to say, Kelly was not well-received by the mostly liberal audience she’s trying to reach–the one she spent years alienating at Fox.

Kelly’s first episode may have been an obvious debacle, but there were a few saving graces showing signs of promise. Despite assuring she’s “done with politics for now,” one of the better moments of the program was when Kelly temporarily went back into news mode, giving time to a Chicago nun who’s working tirelessly to clean up the streets of her city.

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In a moment that was actually slightly touching, Kelly told the audience about her deceased father’s role in her career.

“In the summers, we used to go camping and my dad would play his guitar and would sing John Denver around the campfire. Cue the tears. One of our favorites was Denver’s song Today – it’s about not wasting a moment. Making each day count. I didn’t really understand the message as a kid. But all too soon, I would come to understand.”

That bit helped show Kelly’s human side–something lacking throughout the rest of the episode.

Nevertheless, the former news host received some positive remarks and wishes from other media figures, including Jay Leno and former Fox News colleague Bret Baier.

If Kelly can pull the new show off, she will be the biggest transformation story in television history. If not (as seems most likely), Megyn Kelly’s rejection of her conservative fanbase will be the ultimate example of a simple rule: don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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Luis Miguel

Luis Miguel

Luis Miguel is a South Florida-based writer covering politics, society, and culture.
Luis Miguel

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