High and Bye Noon


After less than two years on air and one highly ominous programming change—when your show’s title is derived from its air time and then executives move it to another time slot, that’s not good— ESPN is canceling High Noon. The show’s stars, Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre (“Pablomani”), will remain with the program until it goes off the air until the end of March.

Chemistry is a delicate thing. I have no doubt that Bomani and Pablo would outscore Kornheiser and Wilbon on almost any standardized test with the possible exception of topics being “Best Golf Course in America” or “Greatest Athletes of the 1960s.” But I never felt the show, and I communicated this to someone involved with the program who solicited my opinion (as opposed to all of the unsolicited opinions I give), because I always felt it was just two very intelligent, very woke guys doing their best to impress one another. And agreeing far too often.

That’s the magic of Tony and Mike. They’re a high school discussion. And they bicker and banter. Bomani and Pablo were a 400-level course or a grad school discussion. And rarely, at least when I watched, did they call one another out on what was just said. More often they agreed or just listened until it was their turn to talk and make a point. They both make terrific points and see the world from a different space than the PTI gang. And that’s important. But the show wasn’t leavened enough with humor because while both are clever and insightful, the humor, at least to this non-millennial, wasn’t so appealing.

Mike and Tony tease one another about each other’s shortcomings. That’s what friends do: rip you to your face and stand up for you when you’re not around. That teasing only happens if both parties trust one another, and that trust is built only with time. Mike and Tony had worked together for decades at The Washington Post before PTI taped a single show.

It’s tough, and maybe not altogether fair, to compare HN to PTI, especially after only two years. After all, Highly Questionable is still on the air and I find the tastes of those who like the show, well, do you know what the words eponymous means? But someone at ESPN has seen numbers that tell them that HQ has more viewers and promise than HN. Okay.

I wish Pablo and Bo the best. I hope this allows Bo to move back down South if he wants. And I know they both made some good money doing this program. It’s not all bad. The show just never caught fire. Erudite is a tough sell when you’re talking to sports fans.

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