November 06, 2006 12:00 PM

CBS (Weeknights, 6:30 p.m. ET)



More than a month since assuming the CBS evening anchor chair, former Today coanchor Katie Couric remains something of a strange sight. There she is in her newfound powerful isolation, standing or sitting by her lonesome in front of maps and graphics. If only Al Roker would saunter in, tossing a beachball—anything to break Couric’s pinched concentration. You get the impression someone has whispered in her earpiece that the set is booby-trapped, and if she lets her voice slide up an octave the whole place will blow, taking Walter Cronkite’s grand legacy with it. With time, she’ll outdistance her long history as part of the old Today news ensemble and grow into this new role. Won’t she? For now, third in the ratings, she’s best in interviews. Her eyes light up with the give-and-take.

First thing, though: The broadcast needs to ditch those guest editorials. The segments are called “freeSpeech,” but they’re more like “deadAir.” Give those minutes back to Couric.

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