By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
We're just going to assume the first Katie is not really the show Katie Couric is planning to do.
Or, to be more precise, not the only type of show she's planning to do. After all, if there's one thing daytime offers a talk host it's time: She has dozens of shows ahead of her in the next few months alone. That gives her multiple opportunities to keep her opening promise that her new syndicated talk show, which premiered Monday, will give viewers a chance to "meet interesting people, talk about things that matter to all of us, be inspired, enlightened and of course have some fun."
Which means, one hopes, bringing us deeper and more interesting topics than first guest Jessica Simpson's current preference for chocolate over chips or tips for losing her baby weight -- which seemed to boil down to taking your baby with you as you walk.
Still, even in a weak segment, you could see Couric's strengths. The long-time co-host of NBC's Today show and former CBS anchor, Couric retains an ability to connect with the people she interviews; to seem constantly intrigued and engaged. And to be fair, the show did pick up when she replaced Simpson with Sheryl Crow -- though by that time, thousands of brain cells had been destroyed across America.
Despite her abilities and the support she may get from famous friends -- including Matt Lauer, who helped her open the show with a Newhart dream segment spoof -- the road ahead won't be easy for Couric. She enters a crowded marketplace, and while she has a solid fan base, she is no longer America's unchallenged sweetheart. Her CBS Evening News interview with Sarah Palin ensnared her in the partisan wars and ensured that many on the Palin side of the divide will never view her the same way again.
Of course, that still leaves a huge potential audience, just waiting to be inspired, enlightened and entertained by someone who has proven she can do it.