Monday, October 13, 2008

TWIN Responds To The Fans Once Again


It certainly must be interesting to be the Producer of This Week In NASCAR on SPEED. This Monday night show gets a lot of scrutiny for many reasons. In one form or another, it has been on SPEED for over a decade with Michael Waltrip as the last remaining original member of the "expert panel."

This Monday, Waltrip was joined by Greg Biffle and host Steve Byrnes to walk viewers through an hour of reviewing and previewing the NASCAR races. When this TV series began back in February, SPEED had the brilliant idea of putting the preview of the next race first and holding the highlights and discussion of the Sunday race until the second half of each show.

Needless to say, this did not fly with the fans for a lot of reasons. Spending thirty minutes talking about a race that was five days away was tough to take. By the time the "expert panel" came around to the weekend race, the wind was out of the sails on this program.

SPEED finally relented and moved the Sprint Cup race review to the top of the show. The results were immediate. The hot topics were being discussed right away. The dynamic between the panelists improved and this lively conversation seemed to lead perfectly into a preview of the next race. Problem solved.

After the name change from Inside NEXTEL Cup to This Week In NASCAR, the program also included highlights of the support races from the weekend. Nationwide and Truck Series highlights gave these two series a well-deserved moment in the sun.

By the time The Chase officially started, TWIN was going at full-speed and the shows were well received. Then, something interesting happened. Suddenly, SPEED decided that the very same viewers who had watched this series all season long needed to be introduced to the drivers in The Chase.

So, TWIN changed the program format again. After a brief discussion with the two panelists and before any highlights, Byrnes introduced a two-segment-long edited feature on one of The Chase drivers. The result was that both the Nationwide and Truck Series highlights were booted-off the program permanently because the show was now out of time.

Was TWIN chasing the elusive casual fan who did not know who Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle or Tony Stewart was? Were they trying to show-off the production skills of The NASCAR Media Group who gets to follow the drivers around for the weekend? The bottom line question is, who made that decision?

Since the beginning of this new issue, TDP readers have been expressing how much they are confused by this magazine-style feature. This week TWIN responded by changing the program format yet again. This time, the Sprint Cup review and highlights came first and the big Chase feature came second.

Brynes led a focused Biffle and a laid-back Waltrip through the Charlotte highlights and both drivers made good points during this segment. Biffle was especially effective as he saw some incidents for the first time on video and reflected on what he saw first-hand during the race.

For the first time in a long time, Biffle sounded like a driver seeking a championship. TWIN has experienced panelists who won races, but having the Sprint Cup champ on the show would be a huge bonus.

It was unfortunate that the big Chase profile featured the same NASCAR personality who was on the E:60 program on ESPN earlier this year. This time, no Chaser was front-and-center despite the feature being called a Chase profile.

Humpy Wheeler was interesting as always and there is no doubt that he must have his own weekly program in 2009. That NASCAR resource is going to waste without a platform to communicate with the fans and whatever TV network steps-up and makes Wheeler a deal is going to get a goldmine.

This week's fan email questions were outstanding, but the year is 2008 and TWIN needs to get videos from the fans and let them ask their own questions. If TWIN can post bonus segments on NASCAR.com after every show, they certainly can change the decade-old mailbag over to an Internet video format. That would also allow those questions and answers to live-on as a reference on the NASCAR.com website.

The Nationwide Series put on a good show at Charlotte and next week the Craftsman Trucks will race at Martinsville. It is a shame that neither event was reviewed or previewed even briefly on this program. It takes away from the purpose of this TV series as a whole.

TWIN is coming down the home-stretch of the first season and has proven to be a winning franchise for SPEED once again. Perhaps, the production staff will find a way to strike a compromise between these big Chase features and some Nationwide and Truck Series highlights.

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23 comments:

Newracefan said...

I couldn't figure out why this week seemed better even with the chase driver "sort of" piece, if they have to do it (still can't figure out how they are going to fit 12 into 10 but I digress) in between highlights and upcoming race it better.

Ziggy said...

JD this show has to rate as one of the best of season due to the fact that it followed a format that made sense. (would have been the best if they added some NNWS or NCTS highlights). NOW all we need is that "3rd expert panelist".

Daly Planet Editor said...

zig,

If they had added a third for The Chase and not gotten locked-into these highlights it would have been outstanding.

If I was the guy responsible for the Truck Series on SPEED, I would have someone by the collar on this one.

JD

Dot said...

I like TWIN, but they really need that third guy. Since it's taped in Charlotte, I can't see why they couldn't get somebody. They could have a different one each week, whoever would be available. Even someone from NW or trucks. Someone with TV presense.

TWIN needs to realize that we have already been forced fed the Chase crap all weekend and we don't need to see more. Replace the Chase driver segment with NW & CTS coverage. Humpy's segments are good, but he needs his own show. I liked the one he did.

Did Mikey say something about a yard/garage sale? Maybe that's why the golf shoes. Those didn't sell.

I do want to mention one thing that bothers me. Why do they refer to it as Monday morning quarterbacking? All the race talking heads say that. (Steve said it tonight). Why not use the term Monday morning crew chiefing? That seems more appropriate as he was more likely than not who made the calls.

Sophia said...

I enjoyed the show tonight but wonder if the folks "Behind the scenes" knew that tape piece ran on e.360

with the economy the way it is, I wonder if it's budget concerns that does not allow a third panelist.

Frankly I think if there were less video interruptions, I would be happy hearing more Mikey, Biffle and steve...or Chad in for Biffle. it did seem to help to only have the one segment about the lady engineer...I like discussions on the RACE and the scanner....and the email questions work for me. I don't NEED to see somebody asking questions with a camera or webcam. Might be fun if they could do a couple more email questions per show. :)

I realize the guys we love to watch on this show do not have power over what is brought to us, but I do wonder how much the suits try to manage this show.

Sooner or later somebody will have to know its the FEEl of listening to friends talk that is THE APPEAL of this show...sheesh.

Nothing against Humpy but some of his bits seem esoteric...no, that's not the right word...a little quirky..is this how he talks or is somebody writing his bits? Just curious on that one...not a mean statement.

But I Do wish he had his own show but NOT if it takes away from TWIN's guys

Dannyboy said...

JD,

I want to thank you for your tireless efforts to let the "powers that be" know we are watching and what we think about what we are seeing.

I won't beat the not-quite-dead horse of too many pre-produced video segments and not enough of the personalities any more than to say, "Enough, already!"

It was really cool to have Biffle and Mike explaining how it's hard to see what's going on on the double-kink front stretch at Lowe's.

I have had that same experience on the simulator, and for the real drivers to observe the same phenomenon and for them to feel puzzled by it sort of validated my own problems with that particular section of track. It's where I'm most likely to get into trouble, too.

The taped segments reduce those magic moments by far too much, which is why I'm steadfast in my opposition.

And let's hear it for Steve Byrnes, who had a tough act to follow taking over the show from the always professional Dave Despain and Allen Bestwick. He has begun interacting on a more familiar basis with the panelists and contributes his own chemistry to the mix.

-Danny

3KillerBs said...

Putting mailbag questions on video would be a bad idea. What purpose would it serve to limit the pool of potential questions to people with a quality video setup who know how to use it well?

What purpose would it serve to put badly-lit, ill-made video with low-grade sound onto the show to occupy double the amount of time it takes to read a neatly-edited email?

People asking questions by video is a silly gimmick that more often detracts from a show then adds to it.

Deborah said...

I completely agree with Danny that the taped segments take away from what makes this show so good - the conversation between the panelists. It might be different if more of these were pieces that were produced specifically for TWiN or the content was unique, but virtually everything has been aired or done before aside from the segments with Humpy. I continue to fast-forward through virtually every taped segment.

Otherwise the show was good. Sometimes even though I like Biffle in general, I don't like him as much on this show as Chad, but I thought he did well last night. Michael was Michael which is why I've been watching Monday nights on Speed for so many years.

Anonymous said...

I read all about the show here, then decide whether I want to watch my TIVO or not. LOL

Daly Planet Editor said...

3killerbs,

How do you know what it would get until you try? Saying no before making the option available makes no sense. I don't know if you watch a lot of TV, but viewer videos are everywhere from the cable news networks to the entertainment shows. Computer cam costs about $49.

JD

Anonymous said...

Why the heck did TWIN promote the Chase profile as being about Jimmie Johnson when it obviosuly wasn't?

The other drivers' profiles have been about the drivers, not a member of their crew.

It was pretty insulting that when they got to Jimmie, the story was about someone else.

Anonymous said...

Did Mikey say something about a yard/garage sale?

Yes, he had one last week--even promoted it on SPEED during the rain delay coverage.

Lisa Hogan said...

Just my opinion:
TWIN already has too much "video" inserted (Chase)into the program. Adding viewer video just takes more time away from what I want to watch and that is the panel talking.

I don't enjoy viewer video on any other programs either. I usually reach for the remote.

majorshouse said...

I too would love to get rid of the chase stuff and highlight the NW and Truck series too. I think adding a thrid panelist is a great idea and it is obvious that Speed is listening to more of what the viewers are watching instead of what the other four letter network has been giving us.

DonB said...

If they would stop wasting air time running a clip before the break, of the same clip they are going to show after the break, maybe they could same enough time to talk about the truck and nationwide race.
I really enjoy this show, and think the idea of a third crew member on a rotating basis would be a good addition.

Sophia said...

I have also seen the ask your question on Video on many shows i channel surf ACROSS (Larry King, Oprah or whatever) I hate it.

it looks amateurish and when I see the neatly dressed guys on TWIN, I don't want to see a guy in a muscle shirt hunched over his computer with bad posture in need of a bad haircut. or who has BAD SOUND on "Skype" (yikes)

I personally want to hear more VOICES of Steve and the gang on the show, less video, and sorry to say it, less Humpy. He takes the place of the Despain clips and as much as I like DD, his clips seemed forced on the boys as well.

I know I am repeating myself but the entire APPEAL of the show is a QUIET STUDIO (no druken screaming fans, waving signs, talking on cell phones on screen, distracting the camera view or the noise factor where you can't hear the guys ala Trackside or Race Day.. will not watch when it's too noisy)

Just have Steve read the email in an edited way as somebody else mentioned. some folks asking questions on webcams do NOT know how to get to the point.

It would be totally COOL if they could DUMP all video except the key moments of the racing...but I guess the SPEED SUITS want to be more like ESPU. Sad.

It's about the "conversations".

We ENJOY the guys ON OUR CAMERAS talking to us at home.

P.S. If somebody feels COMPELLED to add email on webcams, do it on RACEDAY..they have gunked the heck out of that show but it's two hours. We barely get what 20 minutes of our TWIN guys on our tv. I want them, not more distraction.

Just my two cents.

ok, a buck and a half.

Daly Planet Editor said...

So, NASCAR fans are rednecks in T-shirts who can't submit interesting questions because they look bad?

I think the Producer of this and other programs will be able to sort-out the submissions and choose non-dirtbag questions.

I actually understand that some NASCAR fans are women...what a concept.

JD

Sophia said...

Sorry JD, didn't meant that to sound stereotypical or insulting...just I have seen some folks using Skype can where I could hardly understand their video..and some folks use webcams in front of a messy closet with doors open or kitchen cabinets (women :) )

and well, like some others, I would just as soon see the guys on TWIN do the reading.

Didn't mean to insult anybody but sometimes as we see in the outside shows or rowdy fans and EVEN some promos by ESPN and others!!...if the shoe fits . .

Anonymous said...

Didn't mean to insult anybody but sometimes as we see in the outside shows or rowdy fans

Yes, those shows would be much nicer if the fans all dressed in jackets and slack and stood reverently (and silently) while Spencer and Herman spoke in serious tones about the coming race.

Geez, you ever been to a race in person? They're loud, rowdy events full of excited fans.

You want quiet, start following golf.

Vicky D said...

I think the Humpy piece should be on a different show. I also think they need that third expert panelist, but Biffle and Byrnes are getting much better on the show. Miss the NW & truck highlights too but I watch it every week and enjoy it very much. I do miss the garbage truck pickup.

Tracy said...

Okay, I waited, stewing all the while, to say something about the re-run of the mini profile of Ms. Colon. WTH were they thinking, inserting it in TWIN? Just so Mikey would say he has two female engineers on staff? And Why for the Love of Katie, don't they use "Women" instead of "female" all the time? It's men, not males!

No Nationwide race review. No more truck race review. ???!!! But a rehash of an old piece that's already aired????

Come on guys, you can do better than this. And please, please, give Humpy his own show where he talks with prior and current racers. I LOVED the one with Buddy Baker and Kurt Busch, and I'm not even close to being a KB fan.

TWIN needs to do what TWIN does best - talk about racing and what happened last race.

Anonymous said...

They need a third panelist back. It could be a rotating driver from Trucks or N-wide. How bout bringing in a young up and comer. It would give them a little exposure etc. If not that, bring back Schrader, he was very insightful. True he may not be driving as much anymore, but he and Mikey played well off of each other. I agree about the "chase profile" or whatever its called. I work when it is on, so it is on DVR. I skip past that segment. Like someone else posted earlier, we are force fed the chasers all week, give us a break, especially since they are canned features that haveplayed on other shows. Go OLD SKOOL.... Sprint recap, N-Wide recap, Truck recap and then a looking ahead segment for the next race. Been dedicated to this show for years, and it is not as good as the Allen Bestwick days. Back then it had that cobbled together shot in a garage feel. Just racers talking about racing. Trach truck dumping trash, Mikey crawling in on the floor because he was late and they were taping, that was when the show was its best. They are trying to put too much polish on it.

Anne M said...

While I think the Chaser video segments are ridiculous, I have to say I enjoyed this segment. I hadn't seen it when it previously aired, and I found Ms. Colon very interesting. Even though the 48 is my favorite team, I didn't mind not seeing yet another profile of JJ. Having said that, this needed to be shown on Raceday or somewhere else more appropriate rather than taking up precious panel time.

I also want to say that, although Biffle nights are less fun than Knaus nights, Biffle has really switched on since the Chase began. He has so much more energy and is really holding his own with Mikey. I'm enjoying him a lot!