Monday, March 17, 2008
SPEED Still Working Out The TWIN Details
Host Steve Byrnes welcomed Michael Waltrip and Greg Biffle to the Monday This Week In NASCAR on SPEED.
Looking to combine the key aspects of the old Inside NEXTEL Cup with some additional high-tech uses of footage and features, this new program is very different. The production staff has decided to begin this program with a preview of the next Sprint Cup race. To many viewers, this simply does not make a lot of sense.
A good case in point is this week where the next race is Martinsville. SPEED opened the show and spent more than twenty minutes talking about a race that does not take place for two more weeks. With all the current issues in the news, beginning the show with a preview rather than a review is certainly an interesting choice.
This week, the studio set was brighter and some tinkering continued with the background. A large table continues to be front-and-center in the studio, and it seems to be wrapped like a birthday package. As with any new show, the changes inside the studio will no doubt continue as the show develops.
Biffle and Waltrip cooperated to offer some good thoughts on Martinsville. The problem was that they had to do it for over twenty minutes. TV viewers who were looking for a follow-up on the stories of the weekend had to sit and wait until the extensive Martinsville preview was over. That was a bit tough.
Once allowed to look back at the Bristol Cup race, both Waltrip and Biffle proved to be on their respective games. Their review of the Bristol highlights was outstanding, and Waltrip was energetic and focused. His cooperation with Biffle made this segment a pleasure to watch. It was a shame that it did not lead the show.
Waltrip and Biffle both paid compliments to Ken Schrader, who had a great run going at Bristol until being caught-up in a wreck. This topic begs the question on the minds of many NASCAR fans. Where is Schrader? A staple on this show for years, Schrader has been a no-show for many weeks now without explanation from SPEED. As The Daly Planet mentioned in several columns, this new program needs Schrader to provide his veteran perspective and sense of humor.
One big change in this new re-vamped and re-titled show is the dependence on lots more video of all types throughout the program. In addition to review and preview functions, SPEED also presents a look at the network's favorite moments of the race weekend. It was a shame they did not use a bit more of Juan Montoya on Trackside. Some of those moments are destined to become classics.
The NASCAR Media Group dug deep into the archives to bring out a classic interview with Dale Jarrett from decades ago. This was a unique twist among all the DJ send-offs and provided a nice lift for the show. Mixed with modern era footage of Jarrett's accomplishments, the result was a strong and effective feature.
Byrnes has been working hard to find his footing as the host of this show, and his toned-down but enthusiastic approach this week worked much better. Byrnes has the same ability to poke fun at himself that other good NASCAR TV announcers posses, and purposefully showing a much younger version of himself interviewing Jarrett in shorts was a fun touch.
There is no doubt that SPEED and The NASCAR Media Group will continue to tinker with this program series. Monday's program contained several positive changes, and the surprising performances by both Waltrip and Biffle added to the good vibe.
Hopefully, SPEED will consider adding a third panelist in the future and continue to evaluate the show elements that are not working. It should be interesting to see what SPEED unveils in two weeks.
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