Thursday, 4 September 2003

ESPN's shameless self-plugging

I’m starting to wonder whether SportsCenter is a sports highlights show or merely a daily hour-long infomercial for their new drama series, Playmakers. Over the past two weeks, several segments have basically been undisguised promos for Playmakers and its “realism,” to the point that former (and now-deceased) Ole Miss defender Chuckie Mullins, paralyzed on the field like one of the characters in the series, was dragged out of the grave as evidence of the program’s “ripped from the headlines” approach to the game—despite its lengthy disclaimer that alleges that the program isn’t simply a Tim Green book with the ISBN number filed off.

If the drafting of SportsCenter into the self-promotion campaign wasn’t enough, both Bob “I wish I was as famous as Berman” Ley and Jeremy “Not my dad” Schapp’s “serious” newsmagazine Outside the Lines was dragged into the plug-fest, including a 30-second promo for the show read by Schapp in one of those “I wish I wasn’t here” voices.

Disney’s use of its airwaves during “news” programming to promote its other properties (starting with ABC, and now increasingly on ESPN) is becoming egregious to the point of resembling the behavior of affiliates desparate for “tie-in” stories on the late news. My advice would be to quit while they still have some news credibility left.

Wednesday, 10 September 2003

In brief

Things that doesn’t merit posts of their own:

  1. Despite my previous complaints about ESPN’s hype machine, I’m finding that Playmakers is actually a pretty good show, despite its obvious handicaps: a completely unsympathetic lead character, a few less-than-stellar performances, and production that at times screams “low budget.” On the plus side, the writing is good, the main storylines are plausible, and there are interesting characters. It ain’t Any Given Sunday or North Dallas Forty by any stretch of the imagination, but as a weekly diversion it isn’t bad.
  2. Yes, the SEC predictions sucked. And, yes, I’ll have more tomorrow, in time for this weekend. A big shout-out to Tommy West and the gang at my undergraduate alma mater for playing their guts out against the Rebels.
  3. In retrospect, I was a bit harsh in my latest Berkeley post. When I get a chance in the coming days, I plan to revisit it.
  4. When thinking of Israel and the Palestinians, one thing that always springs to mind is that old Robert Frost poem: good fences make good neighbors (hardly an original thought, though). My advice, cruel as it may seem, is to put up the security fence, let the Palestinians fight among themselves until they run out of things to kill each other with, and then deal with whoever emerges at the end. The benefit here is that the Israelis don’t have to take the blame for killing Arafat, since he wouldn’t last five minutes in a Palestinian civil war.

Next in this space: I have something to say about Colonel Reb. And it won’t be pretty.