New delivery system, same old programming for first major offering from Apple TV+

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Everything about "The Morning Show" screams prestige TV, from its flashy cast of big name stars to its timely subject matter to its delivery system, as the tent pole offering on Apple TV+, Apple's new streaming service. 

So it's disappointing that the show is so, well, basic, a traditional take on the behind-the-scenes goings on of a morning news program, with a few ripped-from-the-headlines buzzwords (#MeToo) thrown in to spice things up.  

Jennifer Aniston is Alex Levy, the anchor of a "Today"-like network morning news show, whose longtime co-host Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) has just been fired for sexual misconduct.

The series kicks off with the news of the firing, and the early-morning phone tree where word is spread from the network execs down to the staff. That's where we meet cautiously nervous producer Chip Black (Mark Duplass) and cocky network bigwig Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), who weirdly plays every scene like the cat who just ate the canary. 

Down in West Virginia, feisty local news reporter Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) goes viral after going on a political rant at a coal mine protest while cameras are unknowingly rolling. The circumstances of her sudden fame are as unlikely as her name.

Since the Morning Show suddenly needs an anchor and we've just been introduced to Bradley, well, you can see where "The Morning Show" is headed. It's the bumps along the way that make it eye-rolling and arduous, from Bradley's dedication to "real journalism" — her ideals would have made her perfect for HBO's similarly cringe-worthy "The Newsroom" — to Alex's in-studio protests to Carell's entire character, whom "The Morning Show" has no idea how to treat. Is he a predator or a victim of a cultural movement that is still figuring itself out? It would be nice if "The Morning Show" made up its mind.

"The Morning Show" doesn't push boundaries or start any new conversations. It's quite the opposite: as television's possibilities expand, "The Morning Show" is content playing the same old game under the same old rules. It's a throwback in all the wrong ways. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'The Morning Show'

GRADE: C

Starts Friday on Apple TV+

How to get 'The Morning Show'

"The Morning Show" is the flagship offering on Apple TV+, which goes live Friday.

The streaming service costs $4.99 a month and is launching with nine original titles, including: "The Morning Show"; "Dickinson," which stars Hailee Steinfeld as poet Emily Dickinson; "For All Mankind," which suggests an alternate history of the space race to the moon; "Servant," a psychological thriller from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan; and "See," a sci-fi-drama starring Jason Momoa.

The series each debut with three episodes, with subsequent episodes arriving every Friday, save for "Dickinson," which is dropping its entire first season at once. 

For more, visit tv.apple.com.   

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