"I've gotta say that so far I've not been impressed with the new Oprah Winfrey Network," Julie Rehm posted Sunday to my Facebook page, after OWN had been online 24 hours. "It seems like it's just behind-the-scenes looks at her show. Who cares? Give me back my Discovery Health!"
Lisa Mateas seconded that emotion. "Killing off Discovery Health for OWN was a bad move on Discovery's part. We want Discovery Health back!"
Normally it would be rash to judge a cable channel on its first 24 hours of operation. But Winfrey pretty much threw open the front doors to the store and let viewers sample everything. Not only was there a sneak peek Saturday of the behind-the-scenes "All Access Pass: Season 25 Of Oprah," but most of the other shows Winfrey was touting in the one-hour preview special that kicked off OWN at 11 a.m. local time Saturday.
There was an hour of "Master Class," featuring celebrity friends of Oprah talking about what made them so special.
There was an hour of "Kidnapped by the Kids," a charming reality show in which an overworked parent every week is forced to take a week's vacation and spend it entirely with his family -- no computers or cell phones allowed.
There was "Miracle Detectives," in which a real-life Mulder and Scully investigative paranormal phenomenon from the viewpoints of faith and science.
And the three gurus who probably owe more to Oprah than anyone else -- Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Suze Orman -- hosted a two-hour show Sunday in which they answered viewer questions.
Also promoted by Oprah: a cooking show, a sex show hosted by Laura Berman (who used to have a sex show on Discovery Health), and, almost inevitably, a reality competition to pick the host of their very OWN show on OWN.
In short, viewers couldn't be faulted for thinking they've seen a lot of the OWN shows already, on other cable channels.
To be fair, the production values were consistently up to "Oprah's" high standards throughout. Clearly Winfrey's people know how to make a television show. And with OWN going into 85 million homes out of the gate, almost anyone who wants to keep following Winfrey when her talk show ends this spring will be able to tune her in on cable.
The question is: Will you?facebook.com/TVBarn