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Welcome to the Dumb Show (03/09/04) --I live in a land of televisions. Surrounding my computer right now, I can turn my head in one direction to see one TV, while viewing three others out of the corner of my eye the opposite way. Exorbitant? You bet. Envy-inducing to guests? You know it. It should be pointed out that only one of these is actually mine (the rest are the roommate’s) but I’m not complaining about the arrangement. Especially on a busy sports night, it's a lifesaver.
While I enjoy living in the principality of Zenith, I really only need one TV, because I just have ESPN on all day anyway. I’m not an MTV watcher because most of what’s played on there isn’t to my tastes and I’m not much a sitcom/drama/whatever watcher either. So like many good Americans, I’ll end up watching Sportscenter four times in a day and everything else that they throw at us in the course of twenty-four hours.
It was only natural, then, that I would get sucked into the newest ESPN creation, Dream Job. Having, against my will, watched all three episodes to date, I must say that my life was a lot better off before having to watch these morons get run through the ESPN meat grinder to earn a one-year internship.
If you haven’t seen it, you are lucky. For you lucky ones, the gist of the show is that they make the contestants do typical anchor stuff and then a panel of four judges critiques their work. Then at the end of the show, the judges get one vote and America collaborates on a vote to send a person or persons off the show.
If you are not on the edge of your seat to watch a competition where people read Thrashers highlights, then you are the kind of person I would like to spend time with.
So this whole show boils down to the fact that we have no-talent, star-struck schmoes reading poorly written scripts for the right to be ripped apart by the judges. Which leads me to……..the judges. (See that? That was a bad segway. I would have been given fifteen demerits and giant moose head to wear to the next ESPN tribal council for that offense.)
Our celebrity panel consists of Tony Kornheiser, Cold Pizza’s Kit Hoover, Redskins’ linebacker LaVar Arrington, and ESPN honcho Al Jaffe. This panel, like the contestants themselves, leaves something to be desired. First of all, Tony Kornheiser used to be really funny when he was just a radio guy, but now that he has become the omnipresent ESPN Denny Hocking who fills every possible position there is, he has become this smug, self-righteous dolt who is too heavy on the belittling and too light on the humor that got him where he is in the first place. Next, my gripe with Kit Hoover is that her face isn’t on camera enough. Third, Arrington is a good linebacker, but the fact is he still attacked punters in college and honestly, what does he know about broadcasting? I wouldn’t bring in Maggie Haskins to critique his cover 3 drops, so why should he judge how well she interviews Curt Schilling? Finally, Al Jaffe is the no-nonsense boss that he is off-camera (I assume), but that doesn’t necessarily translate to exciting or at the very least, interesting television.
This panel’s choice of what to nitpick has been suspect at best as well. Kornheiser seems to pick things out just to make a scene sometimes, but at least that gives a little entertainment. Hoover is a carbon copy of Paula Abdul on American Idol where she tries to smooth things over with the contestants while the other judges rip them apart. Arrington nods off occasionally during the script reading and has to rely on the others to come up with stuff to critique. And Jaffe’s choices puzzle me sometimes. For example, this past Sunday one of the anchors kidded the other “on-air” about Stanford blowing their undefeated season. In the post-show rundown, Jaffe ripped him because, “Yeah, yeah, he went to Stanford. But he’s a professional and saying that makes him look biased when he should be objective” or something to that effect. At least Kornheiser had the stones to say what the rest of us were thinking, “Uh, Al, have you ever watched Stuart Scott do Sportscenter?" I swear he could find a way to slip a North Carolina reference into Formula One highlights.
Assuming Sellwin doesn’t win (the only way he won’t is if Tony and Al continue to have a fit about his hair), the winner is going to be a laughingstock, an absolute cartoonish figure on Sportscenter for the next year. After watching this person be lambasted by the judges and screw up on national TV for six weeks, how am I supposed to take them seriously? There will be a complete stigma attached to whoever wins the contest and I can’t see them lasting in the anchor chair for longer than their one-year contract.
In short, this was a terrible idea by ESPN. If you wanted a new anchor, go find a new anchor the way you have in the past. Not only is this bad TV, it is a bad way to choose who should be a respectable figure for the next year on their biggest program. Instead, these pawns get pushed around until only one is left and everyone leaves with strong feelings of bitterness in their stomach (I’m not talking about the contestants here, I’m talking about the viewers.)
I wish they would just cancel the show, but since that’s not going to happen, I have just one piece of advice for the remaining contestants: Less "ramma lamma ham dams" and more "boo-yahs." If it worked for Stu, it'll work for you. But make sure you stay objective.