The Rachael Ray Show
and The Megan Mullally Show
September 18 saw the birth of two syndicated talk programs, one with promise and punch, the other ... oh, not so good. The Rachael Ray Show
, produced by Oprah
Winfrey, showcases the Food Network queen in an hour devoted to quick meals and improvised entertaining. Ray's indifference to presentation means that the results aren't always pretty—one viewer showed how to make a floral centerpiece using frozen peas instead of gravel—but Ray's pugnacious energy drives her on. She and Oprah
share the same power to command people to have the time of their lives—or else. The Megan Mullally Show
is less compelling. Stripped of her nutty, oversize Will & Grace
character, Mullally seems at first like a child afraid to enjoy herself at a birthday party. (How excited would any host be about a segment on grandmas who shoot hoops?) It may just be that her humor is drier than expected. Ray is doggedly franchising a successful persona, while Mullally is trying to start over with a public face that's new, casual and authentic. She'll need both grace and will.