'Dr. Laura's' TV Talk Is a Loser

                          By DAVID BIANCULLI
                          Daily News TV Critic
                   Believe it or not," radio's Laura Schlessinger said in the
                   opening moments of her new TV talk show, "I remember."

                   She took such a long pause at that point, it seemed to be the end of
                   her sentence. Yet the host of "Dr. Laura" was just getting started.

                   "I remember ... when being a teenager meant
                   homecoming games, learner's permits, pimples,
                   hurt feelings, problems with your best friends,"
                   she continued. "Well, today it's a very different
                   story. We have teens shooting up schools, girls
                   getting knocked up right and left, kids getting
                   zonked out on drugs. They start young, younger
                   and youngest."

                   Her intro went on for a few high-pitched
                   sentences, and then she screeched, "I'm sick of
                   it, and I'm very worried, and I want it stopped."

                   Very Maury and very Sally, Schlessinger has closing thoughts like
                   Jerry, and elicits comments from audience members, like every
                   daytime chat host since Phil and early Oprah.

                   The only part of the show that seemed to be her own was her body
                   language. When she interviewed most of her guests, especially
                   teenagers, she sat close enough to put her arm around them and get
                   right in their face.

                   That may sound like a compliment, rather than just an observation.
                   So let me be clear about my initial impressions of "Dr. Laura" based
                   on her squawky, meandering, unconvincing premiere.

                   I'm sick of it, and I'm very worried, and I want it stopped.

                   The opening show included a mother who had sent her teen
                   daughter away in handcuffs, to a religious boarding school to help
                   her kick drugs. The daughter was there, expressing gratitude for the
                   tough-love treatment.

                   There was an interview with some California cops about drugs and
                   youth. San Diego cop Bobby Rollins' answers were more suited to a
                   comedy sketch.

                   Where are kids getting drugs? "From the drug dealers," he answered.
                   Where were the drug dealers coming from? "Out of the woodwork."

                   Another parent-teen team was featured, a mother whose
                   drugged-out son stole her car and wrecked it whereby she
                   instigated prosecution for grand theft auto.

                   Her son said he thinks that was fair, and took a drug test on the air.
                   When he turned up drug-free, the host rewarded him with a "Dr.
                   Laura Warrior" T-shirt, which looked like Army fatigues.

                   Perhaps the love of military uniforms among youth will be covered
                   on another "Dr. Laura" program.

                   My favorite part came when Schlessinger interviewed an audience
                   member who credited his close, loving relationship with his teen
                   daughter to her complete avoidance of drugs.

                   Asked how he'd react if he came home and found her using drugs
                   after all, this loving parent replied, "First off, I'd have to go upside
                   her head."

                   "Dr. Laura's" host laughed approvingly. Perhaps corporal
                   punishment, like her well-known objections to homosexuality, will be
                   covered on another program, too.

                   I can hardly wait.

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