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