"Monsters" off to a slow start

Monsters and Money in the Morning, the new morning sports and financial advice program on CBS-owned WBBM-TV, got off to a rocky start yesterday morning.

According to Nielsen, the 5-to-7 a.m. outing could gather only a .6 household rating in the first hour and a .2 in the second hour. Among the 25-54 demo, it fared worse: Monsters averaged a .1 in both hours. All numbers are down from year-ago time period ratings, when WBBM ran a more traditional newscast.

While it is only the first day for the Mike North/Dan Jiggetts vehicle, these anemic numbers could suggest one thing: tick tock, the cancellation clock may soon be ticking.

Yesterday’s program did receive fair reviews, but it obviously needs work. North and Jiggetts, as well as financial experts Terry Savage and Mike Hegedus, discussed a wide variety of issues – even beyond the world of sports and finance.

There was Mike North shamefully begging for a sponsor with a box of Raisin Bran. There was a “table cam”. There was also an on-screen clock, a la Pardon The Interruption.

Savage and Hedgedus really have no business commenting on pop culture, since they don’t know anything about it. And Savage’s questions to Chicago Blackhawks owner and guest Rocky Wirtz proved she did not do any background research on the team’s business. And she’s been a financial expert for how long?

Finally, there was Phil Simms from Miami, chatting away about the upcoming Super Bowl.

To be fair, CBS – and WBBM-TV – have never been real factors in the morning news ratings race for decades, thanks in part to CBS’ constant retooling of its network morning program, from The Early Show to CBS This Morning to The Morning Program.

In fact, the latter show was an “experiment” of sorts, much like Monsters. The Morning Program was an “infotainment” program produced by CBS Entertainment – not CBS News – and hosted by Rolland Smith and Mariette Hartley, with comedy from “sidekick” Bob Saget, who would flee for the exits a few months later to join the cast of a new ABC sitcom called Full House.

The Morning Program’s January 12, 1987 debut was panned by critics and hated by viewers, and would last only ten months.  Steve Friedman, then-producer of NBC’s The Today Show, told Electronic Media: “It looks like a Saturday Night Live parody of morning television. Not only they are poor ideas, they are poorly executed. The stand-up comics aren’t funny and neither are Hartley’s quips”.

As part of the carnival atmosphere known as The Morning Show, there was one instance where the late Soupy Sales – whose shtick was throwing pies in people’s faces – threw one in the face of Bob Saget.

With Monsters earning ultra-low ratings, don’t be surprised if you see Dan Jiggetts start throwing pies at Mike North.