Monday, September 7, 2009

"TWIN" Puts On A Brand New Face

Panelist Greg Biffle normally spends a significant amount of time on This Week in NASCAR trying to finish a sentence. The enthusiastic and overbearing Michael Waltrip has struggled this season to manage the transition between working with Chad Knaus and Biffle.

On this Monday, Waltrip changed his tune. From the drop of the green flag by host Steve Byrnes, Waltrip was silent when he was supposed to be silent. The good news was that he still brought the positive parts of his unique personality that have served him well on Monday nights for over a decade on SPEED.

What Waltrip found, either on his own or through some encouragement, was that television works much better when everyone on the program is respected. Biffle has been one of the most patient men on NASCAR TV this season. Coming off an exciting program with Chad Knaus, Waltrip would find that Biffle was easy to domninate and that is normally exactly what happened.

Let's give some credit to Biffle, he is not a natural showman like Waltrip or a trained TV veteran like Byrnes. It has been a struggle for Biffle to get to the point where he is right now on TV and viewers have been able to watch him along the way. On this night, he was informative and interesting with his well-placed comments.

Without having to wrestle Waltrip, Byrnes hosted a fast-paced program and TWIN showed the potential it really has with this combination of host and panelists. Certainly, a third voice on the panel that had a slightly different perspective than a current driver or crew chief would be an improvement. But, what viewers got was good.

When Knaus is on the show, the combination of the analytical crew chief and the spontaneous Waltrip simply makes for good TV. The challenge for the NASCAR Media Group production team was to define what to do with Biffle. They finally seemed to have solved that problem.

Late in the show, Byrnes revealed that Jimmy Spencer will be sitting in for Waltrip next week with Chad Knaus on the panel. That should make things even more interesting. Waltrip is on the way to Italy after Richmond on a trip for SPEED.

TWIN was finally the enjoyable hour of NASCAR information and entertainment that many of us thought it could be.

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NorCalFan said...

I noticed right off the bat that MW was unusually quiet. I couldn't believe that Biffle was actually able to finish multiple sentences without being interrupted. I'm thinking MW was just off camera biting his tongue to prevent putting his two cents in. Anyway, it was a noticeable improvement to the show no matter how MW got the message.

Next week's show should be interesting with Spencer. He's always good for a rumor or two.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There has to be a reason it is Spencer with all the other drivers in town.

Wonder if this is an audition?


kbaskins said...

I don't usually watch TWIN because I find Mikey overbearing and rude. However, tonight was a study in how he can be fun and effective. I haven't been watching TWIN because I couldn't stand Mikey's antics any more. Tonight was a pleasant surprise. I may even tune in again in two weeks when he returns from his trip.

I'm not so sure about next week, though. I'm no more of a Jimmy Spencer fan than I am Michael Waltrip. The only worse substitution would be Kenny Wallace. My vote would have been Kenny Schrader or Kyle Petty. Johnny Benson would have been OK, but he's a lot like Chad Knaus, so the show wouldn't have been terribly dynamic.


Karen said...

Wonder if this is an audition?

JD, bite your tongue!!!

bevo said...

First time I've watched TWIN in a long time. Great to hear Biffle talk. Waltrip wasn't annoying, liked his throw-away line about the thickness of a penny when Biffle was talking about bump stops.

Can't say I share the glee about Spencer but at least it isn't Kenny Wallace.

bevo said...

Karen- Great minds think alike :)

I got sidetracked while writing my post and saw yours after I hit the publish button.

TexasRaceLady said...

A very enjoyable show. Greg is a thoughtful, well-spoken driver --- when Mikey gives him a chance. LOL

Next week could be "veerry interesting" with Spencer and Knaus.

toomuchcountry said...

Slow start IMO. TWIN showed 17 in the fence,48 and 18 sliding, and 2/43 wrecking 3x to open the show. We get it. Of all the highlights, they had to use the same examples 3x? And for the TWIN prep crew not to know what officially happened to the 99 18 hours after the end of the race? Byrnes and teammate Biff both had to guess - not good. But I do agree Biff's contributions were better tonight - they even threw the camera to him coming out of a video highlight. Pretty cool to boot.

Dot said...

@ Karen, took the words right out of my mouth.

Anonymous said...

I usually watch TWiN while doing something else - like balancing the checkbook. Nothing too strenuous. Just to tone down the Mikey overload. Tonight was very different & pleasantly so. Da Biff was very good to listen to, and he has gotten much more "comfy" being on air with a much calmer MW, and it was a good show with "flow" - not sure if thats a tech TV term but its the only way I can think of to describe it.

I really liked the hot laps bit towards the end, good questions were used.

About the Jimmy Spencer thing... oh please don't let him talk down at us fans. Its the only thing he does that drives me over the edge. Chads' gonna have night next week, wonder if the Danica will be mentioned. I would have preferred to have Johnny B or Kenny S. but this could be interesting. Really think some one is leaving?

Richard in N.C. said...

Greg B is one of the rotating guests on PRN's Monday night call-in radio show and it appears to me he has become more savvy in public. I believe crew chiefs do bring a perspective that drivers do not - strategy, etc. - and that both Monday shows are improved when there is at least 1 crew chief on the panel.

West Coast Diane said...

My husband watched the whole show with me...and that is saying something right there. I haven't watched for a while, but saw JD's comment about Mikey announcing something so I got sucked in :-)

Glad I did. Agree about the repition of the same highlights.

Greg was much better. Did notice he was a bit tense before Steve mentioned it. Can't imagine the pressure these guys are under to make the chase.

Also noticed Mikey pursing his lips at one point...pretty funny. Either they are reading this blog or they got tired of Mikey's antics.

Jimmy Spencer...Nooooooooooo!

Charlie said...

I enjoyed the show. Found it interesting and I even learned something.

I think Spencer will be good.

Anonymous said...

I watched the beginning of the show and it was more serious without Mikey talking over everyone. Unfortunately, Mikey poisoned the water and I can no longer watch or listen to him. Anytime I hear him, I hit the mute button. Twin certainly is searching for a niche in Nascar reporting. I'd love to see the ratings over the past five years.

Anonymous said...

Great show for a change. I noticed Waltrip was less spastic than normal and that made the show much better. I just figured he'd taken his Ritalin before the show but it would be nice if that was the new and improved Waltrip.

Deborah said...

Won't be watching next week with Spencer. Even if I don't like a driver or TV personality I usually try to give them a chance but I just can't stomach Spencer.

Anonymous said...

Well darn! Now I wish I hadn't cancelled the recording of TWIN. I just wasn't in the mood to stomach Mikey's shilling for the sponsors and constantly running his yap over everyone.

Jimmy Spencer??? Oh geez! I might as well cancel recording the series for good. I skip through him and Kenny "we're race car drivers" Wallace on Race Day, and didn't bother watching Victory Lane because of them.

Mary in Richmond, VA

50 yr. fan said...

I was ready to change the channel
when SB mentioned the closeness in
points and Mikey responded with
his Reutiman/Aarons ad response of
the 99's position. I didn't and was pleased at the flow of the show. I liked Biffle's input which
we've haven't previously been able
to enjoy. He could grow into a
Schrader if given a chance to grow.

I can't believe they think Spencer
can add anything to the program. His babble will downgrade the show.

Debby said...

Finally! MW let the show "speak"!! Greg, as I have said before, is informative and knowledgeable when he is allowed to show it. Good info as well as give & take from all three.

Jimmy Spencer??????????????? Did I hear that (or maybe have missed the show) that Kyle Petty was sitting in for Jimmy on RaceDay? Get Kyle to do TWIN w/Chad.

DL said...

TWIN good this week. MW, better. Biff looked nervous, as they were talking about the Chase finale, but did good otherwise. Not sure why Spencer is coming in. I spent years disliking JS the driver, but once he got the on air gig, he grew on me. It'll be interesting with him and Chad.

Kahnefan98 said...

Love Spencer don't get me wrong... but TWIN is not the place for him. I mean picture that.... you know Jimmys personality and TWIN just won't work with that. He's loud and energetic and TWIN is a laid back type thing. With occasional laughs.

Will be interesting to see this...

Will said...

Jimmy Spencer & Kenny Wallace are truly the terrible twosome. Spencer is just too annoying & Wallace always seems like a guy who forgot to take his medication that morning.

Love TWiN, but won't watch with Spencer on it.

peggyann said...

Spencer turns my stomach. He is one of the few drivers I ever booed, and I can't even remember what he had done!

Before I got HD, people said that the picture was so clear that you could see nose hairs on it. Well, I haven't seen Jimmy's nose hairs, but his other physical flaws only add to the dumb things that come out of his mouth. I won't be watching TWIN next week, will read about it here.

Snafam said...

First, you pump me up about Mikey actually letting Biff speak. Then you shoot me down about saying Spencer will be on next week. I have tuned out most of RaceDay because of him. While it is on, I usually only pay attention when drivers are being interviewed. Spencer just annoys me, or I would pay more attention to Raceday. Now, I don't need to watch TWIN either!

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Spencer on TWIN?? That would be the shows downfall. Mr Excitement would be looked at as being Mr Excrement, because he is full of himself and 'it'!
Someone needs to ask him about how many toupees he owns!

Bill said...

You know what that show honestly needs to try, a spotter. The guys know what every car on the track is doing about every second of the race.

I think it would bring an interesting point of view into the show.

Ive had my fill of Spencer for the year, but will give it a shot next week.

GinaV24 said...

OK, so good news, bad news. Someone told Mikey to "shut up", thank goodness. I only DVR this show any more because I cannot deal with the Mikey mess and then you tell me that Spencer will be on next week. Well, that seals the deal. I won't bother recording it. I have quit watching raceday because of Wallace and Spencer talking down to the fans. "Nascar knows best" is no longer an adequate answer for any host. that's a load of rubbish and I won't waste my time listening to it. We were at Atlanta and never even went near the raceday stage.

If someone can continue to make Mikey stick to being a little less of a shill and stupid, I might start watching the show live again - for now, I'll continue to DVR and fastfoward the show.

Dave in OKC said...

@ Bill -

Two words. Mike Calinoff!

Anonymous said...

I only caught up with Monday's NASCAR Now tonight. Nicole was terrible. Boris was great. And Ricky is starting to sound repetitive.

Anonymous said...

If most of you that say you saw the whole show this week, you must have heard Mikey say that he would be "tweeting live during the show! He did the same last week

Daly Planet Editor said...

And just like last week...almost nothing. Wonder what is up with all that?

Have a feeling we will be finding out more shortly. Mikey works the media (me included) like nobody else.