by John Walters
There was a moment during ESPN’s premiere of its 3-hour a.m. gabfest, Get Up!, when the cast decided to discuss why only 14,644 fans attended the Major League debut of Los Angeles Angels ace Shohei “Sho-Time” Ohtani on Sunday.
Here are a few obvious answers that were not broached:
- It was Easter Sunday, 2. The game took place not at the Angels’ ballpark, but at the A’s. Oakland has finished second-to-last in MLB attendance each of the past two seasons, and 3) as one of the cast members, Booger McFarland noted, “He didn’t live up to the hype in spring training.”
(An aside: Booger was right; it may not have been the only reason, but Ohtani was not the second coming of Clint Hurdle this March)
As soon as those words left Booger’s lips, co-host Michelle Beadle screeched, “Are you serious?!?” And the look that appeared on the face of Booger, the most relatable of the four people on set, was like, “I was an All-SEC defensive lineman and I’ve overcome the nickname Booger. Do not take that tone with me.”
It was only the first show, so you must allow the wine to breathe some once uncorking it, but I don’t think Get Up! will work for much the same reason I didn’t think SC6 would work: we are all Booger and the decision-makers at ESPN still don’t realize that.
Chemistry matters on personality-driven TV shows. When it’s good (Regis & Kelly) the show is phenomenal, and when it’s poor (The Crossover, starring Michelle Beadle and Dave Briggs), it’s painful.
A few reasons why we believe the chemistry here is doomed. First of all, it’s mostly a 2-on-1 sitch. Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle, both of them Bill Simmons BFFs, emigrate from sunny SoCal where they worked on the same NBA show. Mike Greenberg, older and an established East Coaster, is instantly outside their circle. Greeny gets off on being well-informed and knowledgeable. Rose and Beadle, while both smart and informed, are more about bringing themselves into the picture.
(Honestly, yes Jalen, we know you played at Michigan. We know you love Michigan. We also know you won one less national title there than Rumeal Robinson. How many times did a convo about who was going to win tonight’s national championship game between Villanova and Michigan have to swerve toward your feelings?)
Here are three humans with big egos who already think of themselves as stars. The trick for producer Bill Wolff is to get them to think of themselves as part of a larger entity than themselves. I don’t think that’s possible and for me, at least, I don’t find Beadle or Jalen to be all that enlightening. I don’t need to hear what they have to say.
Greenberg had a long and wonderful, if somewhat too comfortable, marriage on-air back in Bristol with Mike Golic. It wasn’t our cup of coffee, but it fit him. And it had already made him wealthy. But he wanted more so he dumped Golic, his starter wife, for this sexy new model. He’s wealthier, he’s ensconced in Manhattan, but he’s never going to be as tight and candid with Beadle and Jalen as he was with Golic.
And at some point his irritation—and nothing accelerates a person’s irritation more than having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. each day—will show. Meanwhile, Booger’s probably wondering what he’s doing there. He was the jolly fat kid (and smart to boot) on ESPN’s college football studio shows last autumn and as a reward he gets to wake up five days a week before the sun and trudge down to a studio in NYC’s Financial District to play 4th banana? Did ESPN even use him in their promos? (answer: No)
In the promo, Greenberg asserts that they’ll be better in the second week than the first week, better in the second month than the first month, better in the second year than the first year. In general, I agree with that assertion.
But I don’t think Jalen and Michelle are apt to change their personalities that much. And so Greenberg is going to try to up his street rep (notice the bro hug in the promo), which will just be awkward to watch. And Beadle will continue to be snarky and crack wise and will continue to have no substance to most anything she says unless it’s about pets or feminism. And Jalen will soon wake up and think, “I’m rich, I’m single, I’m relatively young and I had a fun, fun life (and three children) back in southern California. And this ain’t no two-week stint. What the hell did I get myself into? And why am I waking up before sunrise?”
Again, it was only the first day. But I don’t see anyone on this set I can relate to, that is besides Booger, who was also put into the awkward situation of being asked how he thought Tiger Woods would do at the Masters later this week. Answer (or what should have been the answer): “I’m a former football player; how the hell should I know?”
And as often as I disagree with Clay Travis, he’s right about ESPN going too far to appease its SJW agenda: “Hey, America, we have a woman, a black dude (and sort of but not quite a second black guy, but both are ex-jocks) and a white guy (who’s Jewish, natch!) and so we are embracing diversity!” Who cares? Is your show good? Do I want to kibbutz and kvetch with these folks for even 15 minutes each morning?
The great part about Golic and Greenberg—and again, I rarely watched—is that they liked each other enough to disagree with one another. But as a viewer, you could tell there was affection behind even that. Golic could pick on Greeny for being a metrosexual while Greenberg could pick on Golic for being fat. And that wouldn’t work if they weren’t really fond of each other. Will we ever reach that point with this crew? I doubt it.
But I’ll tune in a month from now to see if I was wrong.
Also, and again it was the premiere, but this was a chance to ad-lib, what with a rare April snow storm in New York City, and take the show outside (or up on the roof) with some creativity and imagination. Maybe make a snow angel on the roof. Think like a kid for a moment. There was none of that.
Finally, the most appealing moment of Monday’s premier was “Oz the Mentalist,” who wowed the cast by displaying that he’d predicted the Final Four correctly. And while that’s wonderful, we can all wonder aloud why Oz isn’t working at CNBC or Bloomberg, where he might really be doing the world some good. We want to believe Oz’s psychic powers are legit, but there’s no way, in the age we live in, to fully believe anything we see/hear on TV.