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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