Dr. Drew debuts a new TV show, called Dr. Drew, on HLN tonight.
Well, not exactly new. Dr. Drew has had his own one-hour TV show on HLN for a while now, immediately following Nancy Grace. Tonight’s installment represents more of a new direction, a rebranding. His radio co-host Michael Catherwood will now be on the TV show, and they’ll have a live studio audience. And judging by the promos HLN has been airing, the new direction means more sex talk.
HLN has been going through an identity crisis for a couple years. Way way way back when, HLN was Headline News, and its format was simple: a 30 minute news program, repeated and updated every 30 minutes, 24/7, forever. At some point, that format lost its popularity and/or profitability, and they started airing talk shows. Gradually they became a tabloid true crime network with Nancy Grace as their main star. More recently they have tried to become the social media network, which mostly involves recycling cute animal videos from YouTube.
Before signing onto HLN four years back, Dr. Drew’s radio/TV career had two main directions: sex and relationship advice on his Loveline syndicated radio show (still running after 20+ years) and the MTV spinoff (1996-2000); and addiction recovery on Celebrity Rehab and its spinoffs. He’s very good at both. As pop culture sexperts go, he’s about as sensible and non-scolding and non-cheesy as we can hope for. And the Celebrity Rehab season with Heidi Fleiss, Tom Sizemore and Dennis Rodman was damn great TV.
However, HLN has tried to shoehorn Dr. Drew into its nightly crime talk theme, often making him spend an hour covering the same case that Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell just spent two hours covering. Why hire Dr. Drew to do that? He’s not a crime guy.
With the “new” show, it looks like HLN will finally let Dr. Drew be Dr. Drew. Considering how thoroughly the network has lost its way (how many hours of Forensic Files reruns can you run per day?), the switch is long overdue.