I've been watching Pardon the Interruption, as usual, this last week, and I've been pleasantly surprised. I didn't catch most of last week's shows, but the last two featured Bob Ryan and Michael Smith. This week featured Tony Kornheiser and Michael Smith.
What was notable about last week, at least to me, was that Ryan and Smith went two whole shows (that I saw) without once raising their voices. When they disagreed, they kept an even tone and made their points. No shouting. No histrionics. No repeating the same phrase over and over in a sort of "Wabbit Season!/Duck Season!" attempt to cow the other. More pointedly, neither man seemed the least bit ashamed to agree with the other. When Ryan or Smith made a good point, the other didn't seem to reach for some screwball counterargument -- just for the sake of gainsaying the other person -- but rather built on the point and helped flesh it out. I was stunned. Two people latched onto a good idea and decided to make it better without screaming.
Then came this week. Smith raised his voice a few times, mainly it seemed to be heard when Kornheiser was shouting him down mid-point. Worse, Kornheiser seemed bent on spending 20 seconds (out of every small span of time on one topic) pointing out that Michael Smith was a "kid." I guess it would have been great TV if I'd found it especially funny, but a lot of it wasn't. If anything, it seemed to point up that Smith was the more mature of the pair, taking the pointless barb and waiting to actually, you know, talk about sports.
PTI has long been a show that I happily take time to watch, but Ryan and Smith gave me a breather that showed how much Kornheiser and Wilbon have started to yell the same tired jokes and baseless assertions at each other. I know ESPN seems to think that yelling=intensity and a good show, and maybe they've pushed Kornheiser and Wilbon toward this, but PTI's recent guest hosts have really shown a stark contrast.
Am I the only one who's enjoyed this? Is the yelling format an inevitability? I know Mark Coale is a big TK fan and probably knows a lot more about this than I do: are Wilbon and TK prodded by ESPN into yelling and catchphrasing at each other? PTI is still light years ahead of "Around the Horn," but it seems like it's slipping down to ATH's level, rather than ATH rising to meet it. Or am I just crazy?
I'm with you halfway... I too have enjoyed the guest hosts this week. I hate Ryan on ATH, but when he's on a format like PTI you realize how knowledgeable he is. I love Michael Smith; I think he's extremely intelligent, well spoken and really knows his stuff. So to see the two of them in the spotlight, so to speak, has been great stuff.
As for the changing dynamic between Wilbon and TK.... I do think it's inevitable. They've been doing the show for a long time and, I'd imagine, at some point you have to get bored of the same old dynamic. But they don't seem to stick to one dynamic for long... They usually seem to go through spurts where they always agree and then a spurt where they don't agree. Except, of course, Tony always wins Toss Up.
All that being said, PTI is still one of my favorite shows because of the hosts and because of the dynamic between them. Yelling or not, Wilbon and Kornheiser are unquestionably intelligent and it shows in what they say and how they speak. Plus, they don't seem to yell for the sake of yelling. I always see it as them being good friends who just know how to rile the other one up. You do not get this on other shows. Woody Paige could be a Rhodes Scholar for all I know, but I think of him as the idiot on ATH who yells a lot, seems senile and writes stupid things on the chalkboard behind him.
So, I don't think you're crazy... I think PTI does occasionally dip to ATH levels. But if I remember correctly, they seem to come out of it after they've each taken their summer vacations and both hosts are finally back around the end of August. Just wait it out... PTI always seems to self correct and remain the enjoyable show that it is.
At least you didn't see the week when Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith were guest-hosting. I wanted to kill myself.
"You can look the other way once, and it's no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that's all your doing; compromising, because that's the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren't, they weren't bad guys, they were just like you and me. Except they compromised... Once." -- Jack Bauer
I wouldn't be surprised that TK has raised his "schtick" level on the show, since constantly refers to himself as "a yodeler" nowadays and not a journalist.
I don't think TK or Wilbon would brook being "told" how to play on the show, especially since they have long term contracts now. And, as they often say, TK and Wilbon have been arguing to one level or another with each other for 25 years at the Post.
TK has talked all week about how it was to work with Smith, given their age difference. Smith is young enough to be one of Tony's kids and he apparently had a hard time "yelling at him." It was TK's idea to play it up on the air and told Smith to call him "grandpa" during the show.
I skimmed through today's show, with Smith and Big Sexy Jason Whitlock, and it just didn't do much for me. Two guys working together for the first time produces no chemistry. Since Smith and Ryan work at the Globe together, they have some degree of familiarity with each other.
Originally posted by odessastepsI skimmed through today's show, with Smith and Big Sexy Jason Whitlock, and it just didn't do much for me. Two guys working together for the first time produces no chemistry. Since Smith and Ryan work at the Globe together, they have some degree of familiarity with each other.
I'm admittedly biased because I really like Jason Whitlock and a friend of mine from college is now working in the same newsroom as him, but I'd say you missed the best PTI of Wilbon's vacation in today's show. There wasn't as much chemistry as there is with Wilbon and TK, but there was a whole lot of good and interesting discussion on today's show. It was, IMHO, infinitely better than the Smith/Ryan combo since the sight or sound of Bob Ryan produces an automatic pressing of the mute button and the realization that he'll be on for more than 30 seconds produces an automatic channel change no matter what the show. As an aside, the only person who produces a faster reaction is Skip Bayless since the mere sight or sound of him will result in the channel being changed. It was also better than the TK/Smith combo just because Whitlock didn't look nearly as uncomfortable as TK did in working with Michael Smith and so there was less of the forced bantering about Smith's age and more discussion about the topics.
Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. -- Erasmus
Definitely TK and Wilbon do rely a lot on shouting at one another rather than analysis of the day's events, but that's what I like about the show. If I want to get more thought provoking thoughts on a subject I'll go online and read an article or maybe watch the Sports Reporters. I watch PTI because the hosts are funny, have a great rapport with one another, and when it comes down to it, they do know what they're talking about, even if they make Allan Greenspan or Beano Cook jokes.
Originally posted by odessasteps yes, real vacation.
July and August is when all sportswriters go on vacation.
Except for the small-time ones. (grumble)
Maybe I should have said "columnists."
If you look at the Post, all the columns in the last week or so have been written by Sally or Boz. There was one token column from Wilbon, when the Larry Hughes story broke, since that's an out-of-season "news event."