The biggest source of suck for regional sports networks like the ever-metastasizing Comcast SportsNet franchise is that after the games end, there’s a lot of airtime to fill. There’s only so much pre- and post-game analysis the audience can metabolize before they get the runs. Ditto the newspaper-sponsored round tables where goateed talking heads play devil’s advocate and rehash yesterday’s analysis. What you’re left with is LOTS of paid programming, the occasional CFL grudge match between Hamilton and Calgary and “original” programming like the trainwreck I forced myself to watch last night: CSN’s Monday Night Live.
The premise: the likeable, credible Michael Barkann (the Wolf Blitzer of Comcast SportsNet) hosts a weekly gabfest with athletes and assorted local sports personalities, which airs live from Chickie’s & Pete’s down near the sports complex. You can see where this is headed. There’s a house band with a horn section called The Quake Unleashed that will probably be playing your next office party. Lots of aerial shots of the girls in the steno pool ordering crab fries and daiquiris while Dante Stalworth tells Barkann and co-host Vaughn Hebron he’s not strapping it back on until his hammy’s 100 percent. (Funniest aerial last night: Hebron chatting up four hotties that looked like they just got off the 12-6 shift at Cheerleaders, then an uncomfortably quick cut away).
More after the jump…
After a really awkward cold opening, Barkann and MC Fred Bibbo (a security guard at the Wachovia Center by day, Larry Bud Melman-esque foil for Barkann at night) traded unfunny banter before the requisite hottie field reporter, Corinne Cavuto (who looked ready to bolt down to the Dolphin for the 9-close shift after the show) chimed in about missing the Eagles game because she was in Florida for the weekend. I’m sure a sugar daddy wasn’t involved.
The production’s a mess: feedback, poor lighting, poorer sound, the band keeps playing even when they come back to Barkann (who trades in his usual natty threads for an everyman jeans and pullover look, a decision I’m certain was put to a focus group) from break. I think the A/V club from Central runs the show.
It’s unintentional hilarity, Philly-style, at it’s finest. This clip of Eagles’ wide receiver Reggie Brown doing his best Rick James speaks volumes. Airs again tonight at 7.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: PBR is our regular sports column, wherein our man in the Jersey ‘Burbs calls Philly sports and sports-media as he sees ’em. His name is Patrick Berkery and he plays drums for the Pernice Brothers and, get this, he actually gives a shit about sports. Weird, huh? Born & raised on a steady diet of Birds, Phils, Flyers and boiled potatoes. Phillies season ticket holder since 1978. Longs for the days of Jim Barniak & Spectrum Wrestling on Prism. Thinks all sportswriters dress funny and should stay off TV. Except Phil Sheridan. His feelings on the Philadelphia Eagles are not unlike his stance on Belle & Sebastian and the Grateful Dead: Loves the music, hates most of the fans. Frankly, we could care less. We used to be big-time jocks, but then we discovered girls and pot and rock n’ roll, and suddenly the idea of strapping on forty pounds of gladiator gear in August and rolling around in the grass with other sweaty men and then giving them a smack on the ass afterwards just seemed a little, well, gay. But we realize this is a minority opinion. Hence this column.