There are some pretty amazing oddities out there if you turn on the television at noon on a weekday. As of Monday, that included a puppy fashion show on the debut episode of “Ice and Coco,” a new syndicated daytime talk show starring actor/rapper Ice-T and his wife, model Coco Austin.
Daytime television is a tough business: You have to be empathetic and relatable, but also famous enough that people tune in. You must mix breezy monologues and goofy games with human-interest stories and emotional interviews. Oprah Winfrey proved that if you find the right balance, you can turn it into a billion-dollar empire. Ever since she signed off her talk show in May 2011, TV has been trying to find her replacement … with little success.
The road is littered with failed attempts: Katie Couric, Queen Latifah, Anderson Cooper, Jeff Probst, Ricki Lake, Bethenny Frankel, Kris Jenner. So now, Fox Television Stations and Warner Bros. are trying a new twist this summer, launching two shows starring married couples, hoping that doubling up on hosts will encourage viewers to tune in. Actor Boris Kodjoe and actress Nicole Ari Parker debuted “Boris and Nicole” in July for a four-week preview. On Monday, Ice-T and Coco kicked off their three-week test run in hopes of a full-season pick-up.
The competition is brutal, so Ice-T, 57, and Coco, 36, had to be as memorable as possible. Did they accomplish that on their first day? Probably not, save the fact that they literally used it as a platform to announce that Coco is pregnant — to the surprise of some of their closest friends who were in the audience. Either way, the premiere certainly had its weird (and fairly entertaining) moments, which is really all you can ask for on daytime TV, when ratings and expectations are generally pretty low.
The couple, married for 15 years and who first chronicled their love on E!’s “Ice Loves Coco” reality series, admitted they’re not exactly sure they know how to do a talk show. This is a grand experiment. They explained this all while their two bulldogs, Spartacus and Maximus, wandered around the stage and into the audience. “We’re trying to take the talk show to a new level,” Coco said.
“The new level might be a new low!” Ice-T chimed in. “We don’t know.”
The duo launched into Wikipedia-style explanations of their lives. Ice-T: Born in New Jersey, orphaned at 12, lived with his aunt in Los Angeles where he started going down a “road to destruction” while involved with the L.A. gang scene. Music saved him — he invented the gangster rap genre and became a famous rapper. He landed a role in the movie “New Jack City,” which led to a stint in TV, which led to him getting a role on “Law & Order: SVU,” a show on which he’s starred for the past 17 years.
Coco’s monologue was shorter: She started modeling at 18 before she went into fitness competitions and dabbled in acting. (She’s been on “SVU” three times.) She had a show in Vegas and is “having fun with the entertainment world,” including a clothing line and a “pleasure product” line.
However, she concluded: “At the end of the day, I might be this businesswoman, but really, I’m a wife. This is where my heart is,” she said.
“You’re trying to make me blush or something,” said Ice-T, looking bashful.
The rest of the show didn’t depend on the cute couple moments, although they did go into detail about Coco’s pregnancy. (She’s five months along; it’s a girl; first name Chanel.) Obviously, they showed off the sonogram. Every good daytime talk show throws in a segment or two about health advice, and this was no exception: Coco implored women to keep the faith when trying to get pregnant, even if their doctors tell them it will take a year after they go off birth control pills. She got pregnant six weeks after she stopped using birth control.
“I told you, I can make a baby through a brick wall!” Ice-T boasted.
An all-grown-up Snooki stopped by to offer parenting advice and talk about life post-“Jersey Shore,” which was surreal. Singer Tamar Braxton and her husband, Vince Hebert, (who have their own WE tv reality show “Tamar & Vince”) appeared to plug Braxton’s Fox daytime talk show, “The Real.” They had a long conversation about kids, with the kind of chatter that made it feel like you were eavesdropping on a couple’s double date.
Then, Ice-T played a game called “The Ice is Right,” where he tried to guess the price of antiques; he did not do well. (Playing embarrassing games on daytime talk shows is a must: Remember Meredith Vieira’s premiere with blindfolds and karaoke?) Finally, there was a dog fashion show that included Coco explaining,”It’s hard to dress bulldogs because their necks are so wide.”
In the end? Definitely scattered and a bit bizarre, but in the best way — it’s entertainment-lite, basically the goal of daytime talk shows. “Ice and Coco” is currently playing in select Fox markets (in Washington, WTTG at noon), and soon, they’ll find out if they make the cut for a full season. Either way, the experience certainly adds to the odd collection of afternoon TV.