Sunday, December 16, 2007

Don't Ever Watch NBC's "Football Night In America"

It's their pregame show for "Sunday Night Football." It features Bob Costas, Peter King, and Keith Olberman reviewing highlights of all the afternoon's NFL action. And it's absolutely atrocious. Costas is Costas- I like him a lot during the Olympics, but could do without him pretty much any other time. He makes for a capable frontman but gives off a very strong "bored" vibe. That's a bad thing. If I'm handing out grades, which I am, he gets a C-. King is King- he's actually a lot more tolerable on screen than in print. On "Football Night in America," he spends less time than usual cooing about Brett Favre and Tom Brady and more time just giving analysis, which is obviously a step in the right direction. Still, he doesn't mesh with Costas or Olberman at all. Whenever they defer to him it sounds like his voice is being piped in from a different sound stage and neither of the other guys ever engages him in dialogue. I'll give him a C, but that's only because today he managed to go a whole half hour without calling Brady or Favre "adorable."

Olberman, however, is the real reason I'm making this post. (Grade: F) I guess you could say he's lost a step. In my wistful mind, he'll always be paired alongside Dan Patrick and offering quippy one-liners while calling highlights on Sportscenter as he did five nights a week until 1997. He was fantastic back then. Now? He's completely intolerable. They hired him to do exactly what he used to do; narrate highlights while adding a couple funny one liners here and there. Today, there were two key problems with his attempts to do so. 1) He couldn't keep up with the highlights, and didn't seem to know what was going on in many of them. 2) He was completely and totally unfunny. Here's one example that stuck with me because of how bad it was. During the New Orleans/Arizona game, at one point Kurt Warner fumbled while standing in the pocket. Saints LB Scott Shanle recovered and returned the ball. Olberman:

And the ball is picked up by Shanle! It's a "Shanle Production!" *pause* If anyone gets that reference, I'll buy them something.

If your references are self-admittedly obscure, you suck at your job as a highlight narrator. This one is so obscure I couldn't even decipher it with the help of Google. There's a writer/director somewhere out there named John Patrick Shanley, who is credited on imdb.com as having a hand in 12 Hollywood productions since 1987 (less than half of which I had heard of). That's my only guess as to who Keith was talking about. If it's correct, that's the lamest shit ever. Olberman and this Shanley guy have to be close friends or something. If it's not correct, then congratulations are in order for Keith. He made a completely and totally indecipherable reference, on national television no less. America appreciates his efforts. And of course, that's just one example. There were many others that were much easier to understand and still fucking stupid. What happened, Keith? Where have you gone? Has becoming a smarmy political commentator robbed you of your ability to tell me what's happening during a football game without sounding like a jackass?

I know, I know- it's not like there are a lot of options when it comes to highlight shows like this one. If you spent Sunday afternoon anywhere but on your couch or in a sports bar, you need to get caught up somewhere as soon as you get home from wherever. All I'm saying is, don't do it on NBC. If you feel like you can't put up 30 minutes of Chris Berman on ESPN's "The Blitz," just go to ESPNews. Those anchors are the JV guys- they're not yet full enough of themselves to try and upstage the highlights with awful jokes. They're just there to calmly say what happened. I speak only for myself, but that's all I'm ever looking for anyways.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You obviously missed the post-game show, "NBC's Keith Olbermann Will Now Explain the Joke in America."

Yeah. Olbermann isn't really interested in sports anymore. It's patently obvious; the obscure references are just so he doesn't go crazy with boredom and start ranting about Fallujah or light King's tie on fire.

Tonus said...

Yeah, I think Olbermann takes himself way too seriously now. I want to enjoy his highlight recaps, but I wind up disappointed. He gets to rant at politicians now, so calling sports highlights is like slumming, I dunno.

He and Dan Patrick put SportsCenter on the map for a lot of us. Seeing him try to outdo Dennis Miller on vague pop-culture references and failing that badly... argh.

Andrew said...

Just a heads up - John Patrick Shanley is first and foremost a playwright, and one of the most critically acclaimed and best known of his generation.

He's also won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Moonstruck. Oh, and there was that thing called the Pulitzer Prize that he won in 2005 for Doubt.

Understand that maybe the reference doesn't work that well on a football highlight show - but I'd guess there are more than a fair share of educated Americans who know who Shanley is.

John Foley said...

And he made Joe Versus the Volcano! We all owe him a debt for that.
Olbermann is still a prat though.

Andrew said...

OH totally. I don't disagree with what Larry is saying otherwise. It's so sad to know what he used to be and what he is now... and Peter King is a nightmare to both watch AND listen to. Nevermind reading his Monday Morning Brady column.

larry b said...

Huh. I guess I'm just an uncultured swine. Never heard of Shanley, although I guess (maybe?) I should have. Never heard of "Moonstruck" either. Although I should get points for guessing right... right?

jones said...

"Moonstruck" was responsible for Cher getting an Oscar. It was a cute film, and sort of overrated. But it gave Cher an Oscar, so that makes it sort of evil.

Also I'm not totally convinced that Olbermann was talking about that Shanley. There was probably a commercial for soap or BB guns or chocolate milk or something in 1968 involved.

Bubba said...

Well Goll-ee, I asked my drinkin' buddy Gomer about this here Shanley guy, and Gomer's purty darn edge-you-kated because he finished junior high, ya know, and he says that he never hurd of this guy. Just goes to show that even if you watch all of Cher's movies over at the drive in, ya know, that sometimes you just don't quite remember who wrote the durn thing.

Andrew said...

Wow Bubba. That was about as funny as a Woody Paige monologue. Well played! I'll be sure never to be perceived as condescending by a wit as powerful as yours again.

Bubba said...

Hey, I was just funnin' ya. And that was right nice of you to compare me to good old Woody from backwoods Tennessee. We all like him a lot here, except for Gomer, who I already mentioned had more schoolin than the rest of us. Gomer says that he stopped reading Woody in 7th grade, but we all know that Woody's biggest fans are in that silent majority that only made it to 5th grade.

So no hard feelings, I hope?

larry b said...

Oh no! Comment fight! Everybody play nice. And thanks for reading/checking back to see if someone responded to your comments. I'm working on a post going up later tonight which I'm pretty excited about. Don't miss it.

dan-bob said...

Is that a teaser?