Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NBC's Grade for the Winter Classic: F. Minus. Minus.

I've been meaning to write about the Winter Classic for days now, specifically to write about how much it sucked. No, I don't mean the result (although, for me, that did suck) or the effort of the Penguins (although that, too, largely sucked), and while it genuinely sucks to lose to the Capitals, what's been bugging me was the absolutely historic levels of suck of NBC's production of the game, an effort so tragic it was given a 10 in suck from the Russian judge, and was also deemed a bigger failure by TMZ than Britney Spears' 48 hour marriage to Jason Alexander.

I'm fairly certain a bunch of kids from CAPA would have done a better job producing the game.

I've seen better filmed high school football games on local yokel stations in East Jabeebers, Pa.

NBC. No Broadcasting Competence.

Just this week, I was talking to one of my best friends who happens to be a fan of metal. And by metal, I mean seriously metallic metal, like Norwegian death metal. While I imagine that having somebody drill through my shin with a high speed drill and a mortar bit would be only slightly less pleasant than listening to more than than 10 seconds of Norwegian death metal, the metal thing is his thing and I have to admit I kinda love him for it. Knowing this about him, I foolishly sent him a link to a Kid Cudi video. He responded that it was perhaps the very worst music he had ever heard in his life. This from the man who listens to music that makes small woodland creatures commit suicide by flinging themselves into the mouths of raptors.

Why does he like it music that makes my eardrums ache just to think about? Beats me. Why do I like the soul revival? I have not a clue. But should he start listening to different music because I like it? Should I start collecting Carpathian Forest records because he does? Am I a closed-minded person because I don't like metal? Is he a bad person because he doesn't like rap? It's all subjective. Neither one of us is wrong. We just shouldn't take any long road trips together, or there will be blood.

All of which is my roundabout way of saying I have no desire to listen to Doc Emrick ever call a hockey game, under any circumstance. Ever. Emrick is the equivalent of black metal/death metal to my ears.

I have no doubt that Emrick has forgotten more about hockey than I'll ever know. He's spent his entire life around the game. His love for the sport is obvious. In short, I think he's a pretty good guy, a fan of hockey and his heart is in the right place, but ...

The sound of his voice, the fact that he ratchets his delivery up to slapshot levels for a simple dump and chase, that he's so excitable listening to him is the equivalent of reading an email written IN ALL CAPS! LOL! LOL! His delivery has all the subtlety of a carload of squealing teenagers hopped up on Red Bull.

That said, Emrick is a competent announcer and the New Year's Day broadcast was one of the worst I've ever heard. I'm going to lay that at the feet of the NBC production team. I'm sure the last pre-production meeting went something like this:

"Now, Doc, you know, it's raining and we're OUTSIDE. Out! Side!"

"I know we're outside. It's the Winter Classic. By definition, it's held outside."

"Right, right. But, Doc, I don't think you understand. It's outside, see. And there's weather. It's kinda warm. And its supposed to rain. And we're outside for that! So, you know, I want you to hit that."

"How much? I mean, how often do you want me to mention it?"

"Every single time you open your mouth."

"You're kidding?"

"No. Dead serious. Talk about the weather the whole time. Okay guys, let's go. Good show tonight! Good show!"

Then there was the actual filming. I realize there are limitations in terms of filming at Heinz Field, versus the Consol Center or even the old barn, but on at least 15 occasions, the cameras lost track of the action altogether. They also deployed some weird, swooping fish eye lens from time to time. And they kept returning to an overhead shot that was so far from the ice, I think the camera was placed on Mars. Did anybody involved ever work a hockey game before? Even another sporting event? It looked like they just pulled the crew who usually films "The Biggest Loser," paid them in Power Bars and smoothies and set them to work.

To think, this is the game that the NHL thinks can hook new fans. Maybe it would hook fans of overwrought, self-indulgent indie film, but not anybody who has any interest in actually, you know, watching a sporting event.

The Pens play the Lightning tonight. Mercifully, the game is on FSN Pittsburgh. Sweet relief.

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