The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

THE OPENING CREDITS: IP TV Linkage baby”¦

** I was a busy guy this week, writing a column explaining the disappointment that is The Contender and continuing to work with The Amazing Race 6‘s Jonathan Baker on a weekly column about The Race‘s seventh season. Check them out!

** Kudos to Dan Hevia who scored his second interview with a member of the current cast of 24. This time it was the lovely Reiko Aylesworth who sat down with him to record an interview that can only be heard on this site! Rock on!

** Nick Warnock is a warrior. He continues to contribute his recaps of The Apprentice. Seems like NOTHING gets in his way. Thanks Nick!

** Jake is back recapping Episode 4 and Episode 5 of the latest season of Survivor. I bet he’ll have a lot to say about this wacky season so far. Has a tribe ever gotten slaughtered this much? Jake says this is the show’s best season ever!

** Here’s Mark Polishuk’s column from last week”¦Lots of Survivor and he’s amazed he got some reader feedback. Mark”¦don’t be so surprised”¦Gosh darn it, people like you.

** Cheri isn’t as high on Rob and Amber on The Amazing Race as Jonathan Baker is. But she has a lot to say nonetheless.

** While we’re at it, don’t miss her American Idol recaps. She’s a busy lady herself. Those can be found”¦right”¦about”¦here.

** Interesting perspective from Sarah Quigley on Rob and Amber. She feels close to them”¦almost as if they came into town, she would have them over for dinner.

** Laura Whitehouse talked about The Simple Life and the upcoming season of The Bachelor. When is ABC going to understand that no one watches that show anymore?

** Mathan talks about loads of stuff, TV related. But mostly, he reminisces about Oz and the ten things he learned about it.

Two things about his list:

1. The Law & Order connection to Oz is nothing short of fascinating. The actors most prominently featured on the shows include Chris Meloni (Keller), Dean Winters (O’Reily), Kirk Acevedo (Alvarez), B.D. Wong (Mukada), Kathryn Erbe (Shirley Bellinger) and J.K. Simmons (Schillinger),. But going beyond those actors, I’ve counted more than 25 actors who have been on one of the Law & Order series AND Oz for at least one episode (including the ones I mentioned). I feel like everyone in prison has gotten out and is now running our legal system.

2. I wouldn’t read too much into the St. Eligius/St. Elsewhere connection. Good catch on the nurse that killed Morales (and didn’t she let Martinez die too?) but I think that was just Tom Fontana paying tribute to the show he used to write for back in the old days, not necessarily a sign that this was all a dream too. Here’s a fun little trivia bit. How did the hospital get its nickname “St. Elsewhere?” The answer is probably a bit obvious”¦

** Gloomchen doesn’t watch much TV, but she drops everything when The Shield comes on. And now she’s recapping episodes for us. Rock on!

** Scott Keith writes an extended review about the Season 9 DVD set of Friends. It can be fun to reminisce!

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Mr. Coogan’s 3 questions (Sorry it’s not the full five”¦I’m in a rush here”¦)

1.A Tilt question: Was the ending of the first season more disappointing than exciting or liberating? – As quickly as it started, the first season of ESPN’s second original drama, Tilt ended this past week with Eddie Towne (Eddie Cibrian) winning the “World Poker Championship” at the “Colorado Casino.” His pocket 6’s held up to The Matado’s (Madsen) King-Ace suited when Eddie got a third six on the flop and he won the $5 million first prize.

During the handshake at the end, Eddie mumbled something about him being glad he was there on the worst day of the Matado’s life. Well, turns out the Matador wins even when he loses. Even though he lost, he had his daughter and a flunkee bet over a million dollars on Towne essentially guaranteeing that even if he did lose (which he obviously thought was a distinct possibility), he was going to make as much money as possible on his loss. Considering he probably doubled his money betting on Eddie and won $3.5 million for second prize in the tournament, he probably ended up doing better than Eddie, not worse.

The lesson? Madsen’s smarter than you are”¦

Eddie took his money, gave Miami (Kristin Lehman), who finished 5th and Clark (Todd Williams), who narrowly missed getting to the final table, 1/3 of his winnings each before he ran off to Monaco to keep playing cards. Adorable.

Meanwhile, the Matador got arrested for all the junk he pulled in the past but likely will get acquitted on any charges since the key witness hung himself, likely thinking he was going to die anyway no matter what he did.

So, in the end was it really vindicating watching the Matador lose and get arrested?

Well, considering everything he pulled, I’m going to say no and we’re going to have to wait for Season 2, which is generally the idea of a good television show. Pack it full of conflict and keep them coming back, not only week after week, but season after season as well.

ESPN hasn’t said one way or another if Tilt is coming back for a second season or not, but the way the storylines played out, there is certainly room for more stories to be told about this stable of characters and perhaps even introduce some more along the way. But I will say this. If they plan on letting these seasons unfold strictly around the “World Poker Championships,” the show will get pretty boring pretty quickly.

My answer: More disappointing, but the events set up pretty well for a Season 2. DON’T make the wrong move here ESPN”¦Tilt has earned a chance to live on”¦

* * * * * *

2.A Sportscenter question: I’m challenging an institution”¦Is Sportscenter really the ideal sports show? – Don’t get me wrong. Sportscenter is always there for you. It’s on for six or seven hours each morning, a couple of hours each evening and a couple of more hours late night. It provides the latest news, scores and even some level of analysis.

But frankly, I’m getting tired of Sportscenter. Maybe it’s me getting old, but this idea of “We need to cram as much about crap into a 60-minute episode because people who watch television have the attention span as a gnat.” All the major games get a 30-second highlight package. All the major news is discussed with the experts for nice, tidy two or three minute packages and then the show moves on. Do we all have ADD now? We can’t pay attention to anything?

I often hear that much of the fun of sports is fans getting in these long, dramatic arguments about some of the most important issues of various sports and/or the “industry” in general. Is the DH good for baseball? Are the New England Patriots a dynasty? Is Shaq the most important player in the NBA? Or is it LeBron? Do you like the way the NCAA college basketball tournament is set up? Does NCAA Division 1-A college football need a playoff system?
If sports fans everywhere have the wherewithal to get into long, spirited debates with their friends and acquaintances about these topics, doesn’t it mean that they can handle a sports television show that doesn’t change the subject every 45-60 seconds?

The argument in favor of the ADD format is pretty clear. If producers keep the pace lighting fast, it reduces that people click off during segments of the program they aren’t interested in. If viewers click off too long, they’ll miss the highlights of their team or an expert sound bite on an issue they are interested in learning about.

Sure, that makes sense. But while they try to appease everyone, I would argue they end up appeasing close to no one except the psychotic sports fan who can find something interesting about every sports event whether it’s Minnesota Timberwolves basketball, Louisville college football, a NASCAR event or the ongoing steroid scandal in Major League Baseball. What’s the use there? There’s a good chance I’m not going to be interested in at least part of the show anyway. Why not focus on fewer topics?

My ideal sports show is probably on the radio more than it is on television. Of course, finding the right radio show is important because some often take the television format and cram as much as possible in just a few minutes time and some act like morning show DJs instead of trying to establish credibility as real journalists or something in the same area code as real anyway. But sports radio shows (some shows on ESPN and Fox Sports radio, much of the programming on WFAN in New York and WEEI in Boston for example) really break down the meaty issues of sports. Why did the manager leave that pitcher in for so long? Why did he take that shot? Why did he throw that pass? They often break issues down to their core much better than their television counterparts.

I’m not sure the reason why. Maybe it’s an issue of radio being more background noise than television. But studies have been done to show that people feel that way about television as well. Whatever it may be, I find listening to sports radio much more enjoyable than watching sports shows on television. There’s more meat to it and even though they may lose some listeners when they ramble on about a specific topic too long, at least they stick to their guns instead of appeasing to this unnecessary ADD program producing.

So”¦

My answer: No. I’d rather turn on the radio to get my sports fix.

* * * * * *

3.An NCAA college basketball tournament coverage question: Which is better? Ridiculously boring basketball all day or one really good game for just a couple of hours? To the average basketball fan or sports fan in general, this week is like Utopia. Basketball starts at 12:15 in the afternoon (in the east) and with the exception of a local news break for a couple of hours in the afternoon, goes for about 12 hours straight. CBS dumps all programming for all the fun and games. No soap operas, no talk shows, no time filling game shows or entertainment news magazines, no formulaic crime drams, just basketball. Women generally hate themselves but to men who love conflict in the form of college athletics, Thanksgiving and Christmas can go to hell, THIS is most wonderful time of the year.

As I ran some errands yesterday, I took part in all the fun as well. If I was in the house, games were on. If I left the house, I either had the games on or ESPN Radio breaking down the steroid hearings and the games for me.

The only problem with this scenario (besides the fact I’m a jobless grad student with no money): the games were TERRIBLE. With the exception of a couple of mild upsets and a couple of games that were decided late, the games were about as exciting as a phone book”¦without the coupons. Sure, the Chattanooga’s and the Farleigh Dickinson’s of the world kept things close with the much better teams they played in the first round. But in the end? “¦Yawn”¦Wake Forest and Illinois won by more than ten points, pulling away late.

It got boring. It’s not fun to watch games that aren’t exciting or where the favorite wins just about every game.

This leads me to ask the question: You have a choice between one good, exciting game maybe even one that features a big upset (imagine if Farleigh Dickinson actually beat Illinois???) or watching basketball all day just because anything’s better than soap operas and talk shows?

I don’t know”¦as much as I love being able to turn on the TV at half past noon on a Friday and watch a basketball game that might feature the eventual national champion, bad TV is bad TV. And a boring game where the favorite wins pretty convincingly and doesn’t feature any individual player setting any records or wowing the crowd is bad TV.

My answer: So, if you ask me, instead of bad basketball for 10-12 hours, I’m taking good basketball for two hours instead. After all, I’ve got episodes of Alias, Deadwood and Carnivale to watch!

— Coogan