Once upon a time, daytime television wasn't half bad. OK, maybe it wasn't one-third bad. You could find some decent--and even believable--storylines on soap operas like Ryan's Hope. Merv, Mike and Dinah hosted respectable talk shows and game shows were pretty entertaining (watch some old clips of Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares).
Daytime television was a cash cow for the networks, generating huge revenue with programs that didn't make viewers cringe. Fast-forward a few decades and daytime is a mess. Soaps are barely hanging on (All My Children and One Life to Live were recently pink-slipped), there's really only one successful game show anymore (The Price is Right) and talk shows are an embarrassment. Even the early morning so-called news programs like Good Morning America, Today and whatever they call that thing on CBS have more in common with Entertainment Weekly than Time magazine.
But just as it's always darkest before the dawn, a couple of A-listers are about to step into the daylight. CNN's Anderson Cooper begins a daytime talk program this fall. His street cred is solid, and while Cooper went the opposite route, he is not unlike a young Dick Cavett, who started out in daytime before his iconic ABC late-night program. (If you're not familiar with Cavett, The Dick Cavett Show, which ran from 1969-1975, is now available on DVD.) And Katie Couric, perhaps the biggest talent ever launched from the Today Show, has given up the CBS anchor chair to return to daytime. Her talk show begins in 2012. Respectability may still have a place during the day.