Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Biffle And Knaus Handle Monday TV Duties


Michael Waltrip has been a fixture on the Monday night shows on SPEED for over a decade. This season, the Monday series is called This Week In NASCAR and hosted by Steve Byrnes.

On this Monday, Byrnes welcomed Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle as panelists. These two combined to try and fill a void on the program. Michael Waltrip had taken a day off.

TWIN has a very different vibe than the other Monday show called NASCAR Now over on ESPN2. Although they are both one hour review and preview shows, over on ESPN2 host Allen Bestwick has a panel of three that constantly rotates. Each week, Bestwick has to take a different crew and mix these fresh ingredients to make a new show.

Byrnes has only three personalities to handle. Waltrip is a regular, while Knaus and Biffle rotate on the panel. The results have been a slow progression from disjointed to enjoyable where this new series is concerned.

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be have decided to insert a "Chaser profile" into the final twelve shows and the results have been less than stellar. Byrnes led Biffle and Knaus through a brief review of the Kansas Sprint Cup race, but then were forced to step aside for this edited feature that took up two complete segments of the program.

Ironically, the profile was on Biffle. There he was, right there on the studio set, talking about a profile of himself. These profiles have made absolutely no sense in this TV series and take a lot of time out of each show.

Eventually, the gang got to the highlights and the fun began. Knaus and Biffle together don't have the same spark without Waltrip, but the conversation was informative and entertaining. Byrnes has proven to be an effective TV leader since this series began.

Hearing and seeing Knaus as he reacted to the Carl Edwards move on the last lap was fun. Biffle said he admired Edwards, but rarely has seen a car hit the wall and win the race in the NASCAR ranks. Both guys had a good time with that moment.

In previewing Talladega, Knaus offered his normal analytical approach. Biffle said that the race was either exciting or completely boring. That is why having drivers and crew chiefs on a show works so well. Two very different perspectives on the same situation.

The only thing better for this program as the season winds-down would be SPEED taking a cue from the past. Keeping Biffle and Knaus as panelists and adding Waltrip as the "wild card" into the mix each week would result in exactly what viewers would like to see. Over the years, three voices on this panel have always resulted in more fun and more information.

Good old Humpy Wheeler showed-up to update viewers on the Talladega curse. It was a bit morbid to hear Wheeler talk about the deaths at Talladega over the years. The famous story of driver Bobby Isaac hearing a voice from God and quitting mid-race was an interesting way to end the segment. If TWIN could get Wheeler a bit more focused, he could really lend a nice hand to this program with his veteran perspective.

Waltrip will return next week, and it was clear from the low-key nature of this program that his presence adds a spark that this series needs. Love him or hate him, Waltrip knows how to work the TV cameras and his return on the Monday after the Talladega race should be memorable.

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37 comments:

Jo said...

The show was very interesting - almost like a different show w/o Mikey. I liked Biff & Chad interaction tonight & it was a good show. I wish Mikey had been there with the 2 of them.I really liked the sound bite replay of Carl explaining the video game move.

I had heard about the burial ground curse but thought friends were just trying to scare me LOL.

Next week the "driver story" is about Jr. - JD why are these in there? Is this some kind of producer thing I'm missing or is it supposed to have significance?
It just seems like its stuck in each week to take up time. Its just an "odd wad".

Anonymous said...

I like Humpy, but these segments seem like charity -- he really doesn't say much that a casual fan would say. And he really lays down the cliche with a heavy hand.

As for Biffle and Knaus, the show might have lacked a bit of the fun that defines TWIN, but I really liked the vibe -- these are two guys who are really wonky about the details of racing, and I found the show to be very informative.

Biffle and Knaus and Waltrip together as a threesome would absolutely slaughter NASCAR Now for information and entertainment. I've liked most every two-person combo they've had, but three would really make it sing. Good show this week.

Anonymous said...

What's really weird is that there are 12 chasers, yet they started this feature with only 10 weeks left. That means that they are going to have to double up for two weeks to get them all in -- and maybe more than two weeks, unless they want to be profiling someone on the last week when that person might not even be in the hunt any longer.

Daly Planet Editor said...

jo,

Search me. These guys are all well-known and airing these features as The Chase progresses makes less-and-less sense as each race goes by.

Rather see the boys talk about them and see the feature stuff put into other NASCAR programs on SPEED.

JD

speedangel said...

Anon 9:32:
I was thinking the same thing. Are they just going to skip two chasers, or double up closer to Homestead?

As for the show, different vibe but still a good show. I agree all 3 of them together would be interesting to see. Maybe they'll do it at the end of the season.

TexasRaceLady said...

Add me to the list of "why are the Chaser segments being shown?"

I really enjoyed the show. Chad and Greg have good vibes together. Adding Mikey would have just raised the hilarity level.

Humpy's segment creeped me out. I knew the Bobby Isaac story and the burial ground story, but it was still a bit weird listening to Humpy.

TexasRaceLady said...

Just wanted to add ---

With each passing week I'm really becoming a Chad Knaus fan. Once he let go of the "button-downed" personality, he is a truly funny, witty, and knowledgeable man.

Anonymous said...

J.D..

In your post you said "Keeping Biffle and Waltrip as panelists and adding Waltrip as the "wild card" into the mix each week would result in exactly what viewers would like to see."

Did you not mean Bif and Knaus ?

Thanks,
J.T. in L.A.

Sophia said...

only caught the first part of the show but wanted to second many positive comments..but I could do without the canned CHASE driver feature. It KILLS the momentum.

Makes me wonder if this show rotates producers or something.

I also agree this show needs THREE panelists each week. Mikey was sorely missed but a three some that's CONSISTENT would indeed blow PSPN's 'rotating roulette table; ouf of the water.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I really enjoyed tonight's TWIN because we did not have to listen to Michael Waltrip. Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle respected each other and did not interrupt or talk over the other panelist. For us this was the best TWIN this season. I hope Waltrip is not available more often.

AMS fan said...

Reading the article I'm confused,

"The only thing better for this program as the season winds-down would be SPEED taking a cue from the past. Keeping Biffle and Waltrip as panelists and adding Waltrip as the "wild card" into the mix each week would result in exactly what viewers would like to see. Over the years, three voices on this panel have always resulted in more fun and more information."

What are you saying JD?

I haven't got to watch all the show yet but Gregg and Chad seemed to get along very well. The parts I saw were very entertaining.

Tracy said...

I caught Biffle's "suicide watch" comment about how they'd have to handle him if he were in Kyle B's position. And then Humpy's discourse on the bad news that's part of Talladega's lore... A wee bit weird.

I liked the show, on the whole. As everyone else said, the profile seems like filler.

Deborah said...

I recorded tonight's TWiN but probably won't watch knowing that Michael wasn't on, particularly after hearing that there was no "spark" without him. As much as I like both Chad and Biff, it's just another race review show to me without Michael.

Newracefan said...

Was worried that the show would be too stiff without the "wildcard" but the Biff and Chad did Mikey proud. There must have be a joke we weren't in on as they started laughing at the beginning of a segment, hopefully it's on Nascar.com. I like the idea of all 3 together but I'm not sure if it would throw the chemistry off since it's doing so well. I also don't get the chase guys bit, the numbers don't work and it's only because the other show fell through. That's not TWIN's fault so it shouldn't be their problem to fix. I'm sure we won't see a change there isn't enough of a season left but hopefully it won't happen next year.

Newracefan said...

Forgot to mention the Humpy bit hasn't been as much fun since the first one. Like the concept but needs some tweeking.

Daly Planet Editor said...

ams fan,

This is the first season that this Monday program on SPEED has been cut-down to two panelists.

The entire idea in the past was "two guys with Mikey." It worked pretty well.

We are trying to nudge SPEED into bringing a third panelist on for every show and dropping some of the recorded stuff.

They have made many great decisions this season where this show is concerned, adding a third panelist for next season IMHO would be another.

No issues with Chad and Greg at all.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

JT in LA,

Thanks for the heads-up on the typo. My editor is not on-duty tonight.

JD

darbar said...

I know this isn't the same show as JD's post, but I really need to ask this question to see if the problem was widespread or if it was my Tivo box. Did any of you have a problem with the audio on Trackside? It was as if there was another person talking louder than the guys on stage and you couldn't hear any of them. It almost sounded like someone at the track was making announcements louder than the panelists were talking. Either that or it was someone in the production truck that I was hearing. Did anyone else have that problem with the audio???

Daly Planet Editor said...

hey dar,

Drop me an email on that one and we will take care of it that way.

editor@thedalyplanet.tv OK?

I kind of want to keep this thread on the TWIN topic. Thanks.

JD

Dot said...

I recorded TWIN and will watch it tomorrow.

I just wanted to say that I have faith in the producers of TWIN in that they will take our comments to heart. Next season they will have three plus Steve on the panel. I hope it's Mikey, Greg and Chad. Imagine the three of them together. I also think SPEED will bring back some kind of Race to the Chase show. This is a good example of a five pound bag....by having it on TWIN.

As others have already written, another revamping of TWIN will blow NN out of the water. BTW, NN wasn't all that great. I can't put my finger on just why. I wish now that I would've watched TWIN on tape instead.

NorCalFan said...

I enjoyed the show even without Mikey. Biffle and Knaus have developed a good working chemistry on camera that seems to come from the respect and understanding they have for the role each of them play in the sport. Plus I really like it when they talk technical--I soak it up like a sponge.

I can understand why SPEED chose to use the MRN audio with the video showing the last lap duel between the Johnson and Edwards. There was so much excitement in their voices that it puts ESPN to shame.

I didn't mind that Nascar Now was postponed--being on the west coast I always have to DVR it anyway. I've gotten to the point in the season where I watch TWIN and will FF through NN if I have time. Funny, earlier in the season it was the other way around.

Anonymous said...

I like Mikey,but I didn't miss him last night. He dominates the show. When he's 'on',he's great. When he rambles off topic,he's a waste of time. Biffle was better than usual last night and the three worked well together. The "Chase Contenders" was a distraction and waste of time as far as I was concerned. I think Mikey and Kyle Petty suffer from over exposure

Anonymous said...

JD--

Do we know if Mikey's absence had anything to do with the passing of Dick Bahre?

Also, have you seen the show that airs right after TWIN, whose title escapes me, but involves drivers in a long-ball golf driving contest?

Lisa Hogan said...

I think that the Chase driver videos were produced for "The Chase in on" and when that show didn't happen this season, they were inserted into TWIN. My opinion is that they would have worked better inserted into Raceday.

These misplaced videos are just a stumble in what has been a great restructure of TWIN.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:15AM,

It did not. This was planned well in advance.

The golf show is another example of why I am so upset with SPEED.

To ignore The Chase, the Trucks and any creative shows like NASCAR Confidential but greenlight a long-drive golf show because it has NASCAR drivers is just plain wrong.

SPEED wants programs it can own, and the NASCAR Media Group shows do not fit that bill.

JD

Anonymous said...

SPEED wants programs it can own, and the NASCAR Media Group shows do not fit that bill.

Is this a recent development?

Seems as if someone ought to be able to broker a deal to allow SPEEED to shoot its own shows at the track (or wherever)--after all, it isn't as if NASCAR porhibits cameras other than its own at the track. Lots of news media shoot video on race day, for example.

Ziggy said...

Being a long time viewer of IWC/INC/TWIN I was very aprehensive about tuning in once I learned that Mikey was taking a night off. I pictured boring conversations with a heap of technical information, but Sunday's race made for interesting insight from both driver(s)& crew chief(s). Imagine the outcome if it was a 268 lap race.

The feature segment was just plain dumb when you addin the fact that they came back to The Biff to provide additional commentary on his own feature. (You'd think the producers could've picked another driver.) BTW, move this to later in the show.

Z

Anonymous said...

I may have missed it, but did they say anything about the NW race?

Otherwise, I thought it was a pretty good show.

Anonymous said...

Could the reason for the chase segments be as simple as cutting down the time it takes for participants to record the show. With both Biffle and Knauss heavily involved in the chase maybe they are trying to lessen the effect this show has on their other obligations. This is basically filler to pad the show to an hour.

Anonymous said...

Add my voice to those calling for fewer pre-recorded segmants. They are pure fluff fillers and take away from what the show is great at. Indeed, this is the only sports panel show that does what it does.

I am always disappointed when Mikey isn't there, but Chad & Biff did a great job. Even had a few guffaw moments like Chad quipping to Biff:

"If you hear a voice in your ear (at Talladega) telling you to get out of the car,...it's ME!"

Shades of IWC!!! Go Chad ;-)

Dannyboy said...

The post above:

"Add my voice..."

Was me. Something happened to my 'puter and I couldn't add my name.

Dan

Anonymous said...

The profile segments bore me.

Did I miss something or did they totally skip the Nwide race highlights?

I missed Mikey, but Chad and Greg did a great job.

I've stopped Tivoing NN every night. Will just watch the Monday night show. The rest of the week is just repetition.

Mary

Daly Planet Editor said...

The biggest problem in TV is time. Adding those goofy Chase profiles has taken up a lot of time that both the Trucks and Nationwide Series could use.

In one show, they did the email questions right after the Sprint Cup review and it was great. Getting this program more interactive than the same level it was ten years ago is still a challenge.

JD

Anonymous said...

I actually watched the show and it was good since that dimwit Waltrip was away. I hope for more shows like this. Biffle and Knaus are very good and keep my interest witout the stupid attempts at humor by MW.

Anonymous said...

I have also come to like KNAUS as the Texas Lady has.As for Waltrip I have got so I can't stand him.AS to grouping him with Biff@Knaus they wouldn't get to say much. Waltrip talks over everyone and promotes himself his team and all Toyotas.When Waltrip is an announcer on the truck races I have to cut the sound off to enjoy the race.To each his own but I can't stand Waltrip.

Anne M said...

As usual, I agree with your assessment, JD. I would really like to watch a whole hour of guys sitting around talking about yesterday's race with no pre-recorded segments at all. But INC is gone, and I do enjoy TWIN -- particularly the addition of Chad.

So why did they fix the nutty preview/review issue and then immediately shoot themselves in the foot with these interminable profile segments? The pre-recorded stuff sucks the energy right out of the show and makes me hit the FF button. If they can't drop these, maybe they could cut the length in half.

I liked seeing the two quieter panelists together. Nobody can compete with Michael for sheer hilarity, and I adore the Waltrip/Knaus shows, but Biffle and Knaus got a chance to show off their own styles of humor ... and to finish their sentences, for once!

JD, is it a budget issue that has led TWIN to stick with two panelists? I'd like to see them at least TRY Waltrip/Knaus/Biffle (or Waltrip/Knaus/Schrader?) a few times. That one all-star ep was a disaster, but it was hardly a fair trial.

One more panelist and one less profile for me, please.

JD said...

Mike Waltrip has one of those polarizing personalities; most folks either love him or hate him.

Personally, he has worn out his welcome with me. I could stand him with Schrader, but not in this environment. Byrnes defers to Waltrip entirely too much and the show becomes 'Waltrip World'.

TiVo is the only thing that allows me to glean the essentials without Waltrip burnout.

A different JD