'The Oprah Winfrey Show' First Episode: THR's 1986 Review

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Oprah Winfrey on the first episode of her nationally syndicated show in 1986
In a world run amok with pompous talk show pitchmen, Oprah Winfrey is something different.

On Sept. 8, 1986, the first edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired nationally. The Hollywood Reporter's original review that week is below.

Oprah Winfrey is one to speak her mind. And starting this week viewers in the greater L.A. area get to see and hear Winfrey voicing her forthright comments. 

Monday marked the launch of The Oprah Winfrey show in Los Angeles on KABC, Winfrey replacing Tom Snyder and going up against the current daytime talk show darling, NBC's Phil "He's-a-relationship" Donahue, who just so happens to be broadcasting live from L.A.'s KNBC this week.

Judging by Winfrey's debut broadcast, she's a refreshing addition to the Southern California airwaves but in choice of subject matter not too radically different from what Phil is presenting. 

Winfrey's first show, heavily slanted toward the realm of pop psychology, centered on how to find a husband/wife or how to keep your present spouse. Not exactly the apogee of intellectualism, but it doesn't bill itself as such. 

Winfrey, who is widely known for her Oscar-nominated role of Sofia in The Color Purple, began her broadcasting career in earnest as host of A.M. Chicago two years ago. Her presence on the program propelled it from the cellar to numero uno. Subsequently, the show was rechristened with Winfrey's name and increased to an hour. Locally, with the inclusion of The Oprah Winfrey show to the KABC schedule, Tom Snyder has been taken off the air and KABC executives claim they're "developing future plans" for Snyder. 

In fact, in outlook and technique, Snyder and Winfrey are most dissimilar. Whereas Snyder can come across as haughty and arrogant, Winfrey appears playfully belligerent. There's a charming sass behind her strongly put opinions, a beguiling obstinacy that avoids bellicosity.

However, contrary to what the fusillade of hype might lead you to believe, The Oprah Winfrey show isn't the cure for cancer or the answer to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But in a world run amok with pompous talk show pitchmen, Oprah Winfrey is something different. — Miles Beller

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