the chew hosts abc So what is The Chew? On premiere day, ABC still doesnt seem to know

The lead up to the launch of ABC’s new daytime talker, “The Chew,” hasn’t been a particularly smooth one. In addition to the fact that soap fans have been rabidly opposed to the “All My Children” replacement, ads, promotions and TV appearances by the hosts have done little to explain what it is.

So when the Sept. 26 premiere arrived, we thought we might have a better idea. But we don’t.

After an introduction of hosts Mario Batali, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, Michael Symon and Daphne Oz and their proposed contributions to the group — Kelly likes shrinking entrees into appetizers because that’s “fabulous” — the motley crew dissolved into an hour of talking over each other and preparing random dishes with no linear thread.

And because its always a good idea to take your biggest name out of the mix, Batali actually made his contribution via satellite from a golf course near the Statue of Liberty. (It might actually be part of his contract that he never has to witness this debacle first hand.)

It is, if we haven’t made this clear already, a complete mess. Not that the many ways in which “The Chew” doesn’t work are really even a matter of opinion. The haphazard production would leave even the most attentive viewer wondering what exactly they were tuning into.

Loosely modeling this and the yet-to-premiere “The Revolution” after “The View,” ABC is clearly hoping to recreate the 15-seasons-and-counting talk show’s impressive connection with audiences. But its chemistry isn’t easily duplicated, especially with no discernible format and such a niche topic.

Not that food doesn’t work on daytime. In addition to the hours and hours airing on various lifestyles cable networks, Rachael Ray has found a home for food in syndicated talk. But Rachael Ray has a clear pitch (30-minute meals), celebrity guests and, whether she’s your cup of tea or not, a personality that lends itself to a live audience. There is no such personality in the entire “Chew” roster.

Near the end of “The Chew’s” first, endurance-testing broadcast, one host described it as a party. Well, if it is a party, it’s being thrown by five Mad Hatters — none of them particularly aware of the occasion or how to entertain their guests.

Did you watch “The Chew?” Let us know what you think in the comments.

Posted by:Mikey O'Connell