Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Olbermann and Patrick's TV Reunion

Given that most sports bloggers came of age as fans during the Olbermann-Patrick era of the 11 p.m. SportsCenter -- making them one of the most influential guides to sports at the most influential time of our fan development -- it's no wonder their return (on NBC's Football Night In America show) is greeted as a big deal.

Count me among the intrigued. My question is this: Do they still have it?

"It" not just being their chemistry -- which I'm sure is still world-class -- but the wit (dare I say: snark) that made the Big Show THE show that made ESPN what it is.

We have come a long way in sports media since Keith and Dan ruled, mostly exclusively. Their brand of snark is now a commodity -- not on TV, mind you, where imitators still try (and fail) to re-create the Big Show's original awesomeness.

But certainly in blogs, that snark -- no doubt influenced by KO and DP -- abounds. As good as KO and DP might be, I will take MJD's live-blog (or whatever Drew Magary is planning for NFL coverage on Sundays this fall) for pure humor value combined with some insight.

Here is one thing they have going for them: NBC's Sunday night highlight show remains one of the last places where many fans are seeing highlights for the first time. Part of what makes weekday news shows (particularly at 6 p.m.) so weak is that by the time you see them, you have already fully digested everything in their rundown, thanks to your "workday" online.

On Sundays, however, you've spent the day following your team (real and fantasy); FNIA is the "first pass" on TV at digesting everything at once (more than the banal 2 clips per game that the Fox and CBS post-game shows might provide), and Keith and Dan get to offer it up. Their take is fresh; by Monday mid-day, it would be trite. Advantage: NBC.

Here is my suggestion to NBC and FNIA: Hand the keys to Keith and Dan and make the show about the highlights -- and their narration. Minimize the chirping from the essentially valueless "analysts" like Barber and Bettis.

If anything, ramp the "info" segments from King -- and, if they want to really do something different that adds value, layer in a "Best of the Blogs" segment that gives a real-time snapshot of how bloggers are reacting to the day in the NFL. (Hey, let Costas host THAT segment.)

Olbermann and Patrick were the original sports-tv tag-team and, still, the best. Times have changed, but their gravitational pull remains so strong that I think we're all ready to take things back to the early 90s -- when sports undoubtedly felt more fun for many of us...and KO and DP ruled.

-- D.S.


JT said...

I remember the Big Show when it was two guys having fun with sports. Unfortunately, the increased popularity also translated into increased self-awareness for the two.

As Dan and Keith's snark transformed into smug douchiness, their schtick wore thin. Olbermann's stints on Patrick's radio show were as unbearable as Berman's home run derby commentary.

All three of them were hilarious and relevant in 1993, but I was a drunk college student back then and they were just talking heads that actually seemed to be having a good time. It all just seems contrived these days.

Can we have just one football show that doesn't contain mindless jackassery, catchphrases, and Around the Horn style arguing for no reason?

Brendan Smith said...

Football Night in America is dare I day "En Fuego!"

I really hope they let Dan and Keith take over that show and it's not just a gimmick to lure people in for 30 seconds, then have 25 min of Barber and Bettis patting each other on the back for what great careers they had.

cmr said...

Hopefully, it will look like a SportsCenter, where the two do highlights. Throw in a Dan and Peter King insider segment on a side set, Costas and company railing on some team after a highlight, and it could work.

Mt. Moses said...

Up until Dan split from ESPN, they did an hour together on the radio every day. 2-3 PM every day, Dan and Keith. They've been separated for less than a year. They are very much the same people together.

derby said...

in the 'old days' they were good; funny catch-phrases and the ability to mesh pop culture and sports. i have fond memories.

now, olberman is an insufferable jerk-off. i like patrick even though his radio show gets tedious... i have no desire to watch either as a team or individually. but olberman, he's a joke... besides, NBC's studio show is worthless.