Monday, March 2, 2009

The Odd Couple Back On TV

There is just something about the Monday night show on SPEED that keeps viewers coming back. For more than a decade, the network has been presenting an irreverent hour of NASCAR conversation and highlights under several different titles.

In 2009, the only remaining element from the original Speedvision program is the now-bearded Michael Waltrip. On this Monday, Waltrip was in rare form. It may well be because he was being reunited with his alter ego, the buttoned-up and analytical Chad Knaus.

Show host Steve Byrnes had travel troubles returning from Las Vegas and received a good-natured ribbing from his substitute, SPEED veteran Ralph Sheheen. It was great that the network had a strong personality like Sheheen who could fill-in with little notice. The program did not miss a beat where the host role was concerned.

Knaus had missed the first several shows and it took him a good while to remember just how his relationship with Waltrip played-out on the air. Basically, if Knaus does not stand up for himself he may never be heard in the entire hour.

Waltrip reminded Knaus of that fact by interrupting his first comment with a ridiculous tangent punctuated by an unfocused finish. It was vintage Waltrip and he continued to roam free for most of the program.

SPEED pounded the music and natural sound under the highlights to the point where the talent could not be heard. Sheheen, Waltrip and Knaus were continually drowned out by the poor audio mix. SPEED continues to struggle with the new HD studios.

Halfway into the show, it was apparent that the audio problems were going to affect a large part of this hour. Luckily, Sheheen often led follow-up conversations that took place after the horrible "library music" had ended. On both SD and HD televisions, the Sprint Cup Series highlights of this race were ruined.

Luckily, the audio mix allowed the highlights of the Nationwide Series race to be heard by viewers. Waltrip and Knaus were both quick to point out the amazing happenings in this memorable race. Often, it appears that Knaus is amused by the antics of some of the Nationwide drivers on the track.

Sheheen made this show a pleasure to watch. His calm demeanor worked well with the amped-up Waltrip and the continually head-shaking Knaus. Sheheen worked viewers though all of the good features that this program offers on a regular basis. The outstanding editing of the NASCAR Media Group is always fun to watch.

Knaus was allowed to make several good points in the Atlanta preview, reminding viewers of why he is the top crew chief in the sport. Waltrip finally stepped aside and let the knowledge of Knaus take center stage. It was nice to have a crew chief and driver combination back on the show. Just like in the TV network announce booth for the races, this line-up works well.

As the program closed with viewer email, it was clear that Knaus had recaptured the dynamic and colorful relationship he has with Waltrip on this show. Simply by letting "Mikey be Mikey," Knaus can navigate right around his cohort and make all the points that he feels contribute to the program.

It has been well over a decade since the lanky and off-the-wall Waltrip brother first made a splash on a small cable TV network broadcasing to almost no one. Now, as a Sprint Cup team owner and well-known television personality, he sits in the new High Definition studios of a Fox-owned major cable TV network.

Like I said, there is just something about Monday nights on SPEED.

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Thanks again and happy posting.


Sophia said...

Great to have the Odd Couple back. Ralph Sheehan surprised me with how he fit in as host, as if he had always been on the show. (GREAT FILL IN GUY!) Hope Steve got home to his family by now.

The music made one ENTIRE segment unwatchable as I posted elsewhere here and the CC did not pick up the words either all the time (Inaudible came up a lot)

The GLOWING WHITE TEETH and EYES still an issue and I even toned down the color/contrast on my OLD FASHIONED TV.

Except from the ruined segment of OVERLY loud music I missed, I enjoyed the banter of the guys. SPEED should REALLY WORK to get Chad and Mikey on for most shows.


TexasRaceLady said...

My ears are still ringing from the horrible audio.

But, aside from that, it was a delightful show. Chad and Mikey are a hit.

Ralph Shaheen did a great job of refereeing. Kudos to him for stepping into a tough spot.

Tracy D said...

I couldn't believe how bad the audio was. But at least it's clear Mikey is growing a beard, not just lazy about shaving.

Makeup better on Mikey. Bad on Knaus. And I was watching in HD!

Ralph was great. Good for him. He's a natural with those guys.

Unknown said...

TexasRaceLady said it correctly, you need a referee or at least a kindergarten teacher for Mikey & Chad. Ralph Sheehan did a great job of keeping the giggles in check. I assume a speaker froze last nite and ruined the sound.(?)

After flying all nite, Chad & Mikey looked wild awake. Need to know that secret.

Anonymous said...

ive always disliked music over highlights. i dont get why they do it. tonight was a good example of how the music can completely ruin a program. but sheheen built it back up after the highlights and the show was entertaining as always.

and ive heard some complaints at how mikey talks about his team alot. i dont think he did tonight even after reutimanns best finish ever. besides the whole reutimanns b-day thing, it wasnt mentioned much. i didnt think he talked about mwr too much, unless that was just tonight, and every other show he mentions it too much? im not sure.

Anonymous said...

Ralphie did a great job :)

I wish they'd get the audio issues worked out.

I kept laughing when Ralphie teased Steve about the *real* reason he wasn't in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

At the front of the show I thought 'Ralph will be find', and he didn't disappoint. The rapport was just like normal. The audio--I even tried changing up my audio settings thinking it was me and it didn't help. Couldn't hear a thing on highlights. Had to agree with The J, Mikey was remarkably subdued about the 00. He was kinda rude (well...not sure what it was) with Chad & the 'rules' comments. But Chad was over it.

Sophia--I just am not seeing what you're seeing, even on my non-HD 27 inch TV. Nothing glowing, lol. Last week it was Aric, and his teeth really are that white (bleaching, probably).

But I wonder if Chad had a new stylist or transplants or something, cause he really did look like there was more hair. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

argh.......that should have said 'Ralph will be *fine*...' sigh.

Unknown said...

Can you maybe explain, how the audio screw up made it to air?

I mean the show is taped earlier in the day. You'd think thy would have the time to turn it down so you could, I don't know, HEAR THE GUESTS OVER IT?

Who ever is running the audio needs to be drug out in the street and beat with a volume knob :)

Ralph did a outstanding job, but still missed Steve!

Anonymous said...

"Can you maybe explain, how the audio screw up made it to air?"

I can do that for you. While the show is taped in advance, the show is produced almost as if it is live. Its done that way to have a quicker turn around on programs so they can get to air almost as soon as they are completed.
So, just like the cameras are switched as if the show was live and you can't really go back a change a bad camera cut; The audio is also mixed live. So, the problem here was the fact that the music on the highlights was louder then the in-studio can't go back and JUST take the highlight music down a notch. It was already mixed, no if's and's or buts about it. The best you could do, is bring the entire audio as a whole, up or down. But that wouldnt solve a thing in this case.

As for the complaints about whoever was mixing the audio, IMHO, I think the problem was something other then a bad audio person, it had to have been a technical issue.

Dot said...

I'm watching now. I hear what you mean about the music. Why don't they just eliminate it until they work the bugs out?

Lou said...

Good to see Chad back with MW. Just as I thought Ralph Sheheen did very well as a stand in(sit in) for Steve Byrnes. Thanks to the driver/crew chief on the program, it overcame the very bad audio/video highlight problem. From my point of view, I feel there was no excuse for that. Even though annon 1233hrs did give a good explaination for the problem. Professionals in their field are producing this program. And I expect no less from them. I am sure or atleast they are embarrased for the product they put out tonight.

I have watched this program for years since its inception, almost i think. And continue to do so. I hope they can work this out. Just like JD said "There is just something about the Monday night show on SPEED that keeps viewers coming back".

Anonymous said...

"Why don't they just eliminate it until they work the bugs out?"

You never know exactly the issue with these kinds of things but, if they couldn't bring the music down just a little bit, It would be hard to take it all the way out with out putting the brakes on the whole show. And with the time contrainsts they are under, I doubt they wanted to do that.
I bet no one at SPEED is happy about this, but these kinds of things happen when you build a new studio, its just a matter of working through these issues as quickly as possible.

Dot said...

Thank you Anon 2AM. You seem to be in the loop.

Isn't it funny that back in the garage/warehouse days the sound was fine? Technology, gotta love it.

Good show. Ralph was great.

Anne M said...

I could hardly wait to get home and watch Chad on TWIN tonight, and then I sat there in disbelief at the terrible sound mix. At least I know Chad and Michael were having fun because I could hear them laughing together in the background. A very disappointing episode.

What made it more aggravating is that it was an extreme example of what the show does too much of every week. They over-feed us blaring music, video segments, etc., as if we need distraction from the heart of the show: people we like who are sitting around, talking about the race and telling stories.

On the bright side, it seemed from the introductions that the show appreciates what they've got with Chad and Michael together, and I hope they'll be able to get them on as a team more often. (Soon!)

Also, I'm thrilled to have you back, JD. Thanks for reconsidering!

Anonymous said...

JD,thanks again for nailing Speed on the audio screw-up. C'mon guys,get it right.Placing music over the engine soundtrack is redundant.

Anonymous said...

I thought Ralph did an excellent job last night.He was actually much more focused than Byrnes who too easily gets side tracked. I remember Ralph well from his days of hosting Nascar Nation before he moved over to covering bikes. Personally,I'm really tired of Mikey's self promotion. Nascar Now on Mondays is far better.

Glenn said...

Ralph did a fine job. It did seem he went to Mikey more often. Chad didn't get to talk to much. To busy listening and laughing at Mikey.
I did like there was not the sillyness between Steve and Mikey.
They have got to work on the sound. I think the commentary is meant to be heard, but with the loud music I can't hear it.

Unknown said...

Thanks very much. I always assumed that the music was added in after the show was done. Glad to know that it was a case of nothing could be done, rather then a case of we don't care.

GinaV24 said...

I did watch this on Monday since I was "snowed in". I'm not a Mikey fan, but he and Chad are a good combination and I thought Ralph did a nice job as host. The stupid music was a big distraction. I really wish that Speed would wake up to the fact that good racing programming would get the fans interested again, but I'm sure that is a pipe dream.

Anonymous said...

When are these IDIOTS going to learn, if we wanted to hear music, we would turn on the Radio

Anonymous said...

Sheheen did a great job. We need
to see more of him in Nascar roles.
Someone at SPEED has a bad ear.
I've learned to change channels
when they start a commercial on
other programming. They want to
get your attention by blasting you.

Anonymous said...

I HATE music over highlights. ESPN is terrible about it. They will show a hightlight while and panel is discussing it and they still play music over top of it. Sometimes you can't even heard the discussion panel. GRRRR!!

Mary in Richmond

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Anonymous said...

Sorry, I can't watch M. Waltrip anymore. What am I missing that you people are seeing? He ruins any show with his goofy act.

Newracefan said...

Frustration with the audio aside (I was so crazed I had to email JD while watching the show) it was great to see Mikey and Chad back together again. Ralph did a good job but I still missed Steve. Now if Speed could just get a good makeup guy (Chad had a permanent scowl on his forehead from all the pancake) and a better audio mix it would be perfect.