Bad luck, bad judgment: Wednesday night was CBS’s lamest by far because its top three events had all finished 24 hours earlier. It’s rare that newspapers scoop television anymore, but Wednesday’s papers told you that Picabo Street won the women’s super-G, Donna Weinbrecht didn’t medal in women’s moguls and Masahiko Harada had failed once again in the normal hill ski jumping more than half a day before CBS got them on the air.
Part of this was just bum luck. A bunch of events ended late Tuesday night. For the East Coast audience, CBS picked one of them, the men’s moguls, to air live and left the rest for Wednesday. Jonny Moseley’s dramatic victory in the moguls made it seem like a wise decision until Street won in a huge surprise.
CBS could have mitigated the disaster by putting on Street’s victory live, or on short delay, in the late-night segment. They could always recap the action again in prime time the next night and it would have boosted the late-night ratings. What, they think we like watching Al Trautwig and Michele Tafoya giggle at each other?
Good call: Even 24 hours later, Tim Ryan and Christin Cooper’s call of the super-G held up. They had the right mix of amazement and excitement, and when Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister came within .01 seconds of catching Street, it was still a goose-bump moment, even if you knew how it turned out.
So far, Ryan and Cooper are among the best of the announcing teams in Nagano, although Cooper’s gee-whizness might grow old after a few more races. Gary Thorne and Dan Jansen may be their equal over at speedskating, but CBS throws five commercials in between each skating run and they don’t have a chance to build any momentum.
Overdoing it, Part 1: The directors got a wee bit carried away following Street’s every move during the remainder of the super-G runs. The occasional reaction shots were OK, but we didn’t really need to see her talk to her coaches via walkie-talkie or hear every comment that tumbled forth.
Worse, after she won, CBS couldn’t leave her side even when she was talking to her parents on a cell phone. Riveting TV. And to think, they had 24 hours to come up with that plan. Oooh.
Ad watch: The commercials are beginning to dig ruts in our brains. Regular watchers who don’t sprint for the exits during every break will be seeing these things in their nightmares.
If they run the ad about the preteen romance of Angela and Bobby Templeton one more time, thousands are going to ralph simultaneously.
Overdoing it, Part 2: We should have seen this coming, which means someone should have stopped it. CBS is addicted to showing us figure skating practices. Yes, skating gets major ratings, but so do the Chicago Bulls, and we don’t watch their shootarounds.