“All Bets Are Off” is terrible
Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 July 2007
I’ve always wanted to write a blog about media, so I’m going to indulge that desire right now.
Last season after Indians games was the phenomenally bad “Cleveland Rants”. A year ago yesterday I wrote a short post on Neil Bender, one of the co-hosts (the more tolerable of the two) of “Cleveland Rants”. You can read that post here. Or you can take my word that I didn’t like the show then and I was glad it was canceled.
This season following Indians games is the phenomenally bad “All Bets Are Off with Bruce Drennan”. Tonight an episode was on the television located right in front of me. Somehow I almost managed to sit through the entire ordeal.
Look, I know that sports is not some high-minded endeavor and that part of its appeal is that it relies upon a strong dose of physical astonishment. The math olympics just don’t offer the same rush, the same visceral stimulus. But does that mean that every local sports personality has to be a trite loudass with a derivative sense of humor? I’m not talking about writers so much as radio and television personalities.
Bruce Drennan is a good example of who I’m talking about.
At the end of this season the only justification for renewing “All Bets Are Off” will be that the show is incredibly cheap to produce. A flat screen monitor. A desk. Cheap graphics. Bruce Drennan. That’s all you need.
There will be no justification for its renewal based upon its other merits. Because it has none.
What’s a better alternative?
A successful show would be one where there is reasoned debate and opinion shared by thoughtful people. The people don’t even need to be famous: content is more important than a name. A name will get you through one season, if that. Be wary of any show that includes its host’s name. There is a reason why Drennan’s name is in the title: he’s the attraction, not the show’s actual content (and yes, these can be separated, in part because the show has no content).
For instance, “Pardon The Interruption” is successful not because Tony and Mike are well-established, nationally-known columnists. (1) People don’t watch it because they recognized the names of the hosts. The show is in its sixth season because Tony and Mike are smart and engaging. If they weren’t smart and engaging PTI would have been off the air as quickly as “Cleveland Rants”. (2)
And that’s the problem with “All Bets Are Off”. It’s a can of hot air. There is no substance.
I would gladly watch three smart but unknown fans discuss sports. Hell, it’s what I do with my friends and that’s consistently smarter and funnier than anything on the air right now. Not that my friends and I should be given our own show, but SportsTime Ohio could do worse. (3) In fact, I bet that a television show where the hosts were a random sample of the authors of the blogs linked to the right — that show would work. It would at least be watchable. Probably a lot more.
Too bad it won’t happen.
fn 1: Before the show debuted how many people under the age of 30 — and this is the show’s main audience — and who lived outside of the greater Washington, DC, area knew who Tony and Mike were? 15%? Young folks don’t read newspapers, even the Washington Post and in 2001 newspapers hadn’t fully embraced the internet. (#)
fn 2: I can’t explain the continued presence of “Around The Horn”, however. My theory isn’t that tight, apparently.
fn 3: See: Bruce Drennan.
#: Most still don’t.