Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SPEED's Monday Menu Misses The Mark

It's been a tradition for many fans during the NASCAR season. Tune in on Monday nights to see what SPEED had to offer. At one point, the network had a three hour block of NASCAR programming. Then, it shrank to just one. But, it was the right one.

The show that began as Inside Winston Cup Racing finally wound-up as This Week in NASCAR. After more than a decade of carving out a niche on Mondays, SPEED ended the series after the 2009 season. There was no goodbye, no highlight show and no happy ending. As with many changes in the television world it was awkward and left some hard feelings.

This Monday, SPEED unveiled the programming that would fill the 8PM hour. Several years ago, the network found that the NASCAR Media Group could use the footage from Friday and Saturday at the track to create an inexpensive thirty minute highlight show. SPEED called this Sunday morning program NASCAR in a Hurry.

The first half-hour of the new Monday night block is simply an extended version of NASCAR in a Hurry that includes Sunday footage. This new show even has the exact same title. With a single host at the track, the program is a rehash of the activities before, during and after the Sprint Cup Series race.

A tired Bob Dillner was the host. He was standing with the night sky behind him in Daytona. He lent his voice to introductions and what are called "bridges" that allow a highlights show to get from one piece to the next. The editors drew from SPEED shows like Victory Lane and Wind Tunnel as well as race footage and interviews.

The unfortunate part of this concept is that SPEED recently created Race Hub, a series that airs at 7:30PM Monday through Thursday. On this Monday, Race Hub aired much of the exact same footage and interviews featured on NASCAR in a Hurry.

Jamie McMurray was on Race Hub doing an live interview from Daytona USA and then magically went back in time to appear in the track's Victory Lane on NASCAR in a Hurry. While it may fit the budget, unfortunately this program wound-up making little sense in this timeslot.

The second half-hour featured the debut of Jimmy Spencer's new TV series called "What's the Deal." It might as well be called "The Rise and Fall of Mr. Excitement." Ray Dunlap drew the assignment of feeding topics to Spencer as the program's host.

The set of the series is supposed to resemble the Spencer family auto salvage business in Berwick, PA. "Welcome to the offices of Spencer Salvage," said Ray Dunlap. Unfortunately, he did not offer any more information. While some fans may know Spencer's personal history, the first episode of this show needed a much better introduction.

"You can call me all kinds of names, but I'm the fan's voice," said Spencer. He was called a curmudgeon by Dunlap, who said others described Spencer as a windbag, sourpuss or blowhard. We have seen Dunlap as a pit reporter and recently as a co-host on Race Hub. Unfortunately, it was clear from the start of this new program that he was lost.

Spencer does not know how to work on TV in this format. He does not speak in what are called "soundbites." TV likes things in small packages. Opinions make sense when they are kept to one topic at a time. Spencer is unstructured and relied on pro's like John Roberts and Steve Byrnes to keep him in check on his former programs.

Amazingly, this program also contained much of the exact same footage seen on both Race Hub and NASCAR in a Hurry. TV folks call it "B-roll" when they roll video over top of someone speaking. In this show, that was done far too frequently. The entire point of the series is to let Spencer speak directly to the fans.

It was clear from the start that Spencer and Dunlap were not in sync. Once Dunlap asked a question, Spencer went off on a rant. Some of the stream of consciousness offerings from Spencer were hilarious and some addressed serious subjects. The problem was, they were all lumped in together and Dunlap could not sort them out.

This program followed the tried and true formula of The NASCAR Media Group. Instead of featuring the new content being provided by those on the set, the programs are a whirl of racing footage, recorded interviews and slick production. It was precisely this problem that doomed This Week in NASCAR.

If Spencer is there to talk, let him talk. Just give him an experienced host whom he respects. Someone who can offer direction without criticism. Dunlap began to argue points with Spencer and the show was doomed. Let the fans give Spencer feedback.

This show desperately needs a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page and a link for fans to submit videos. Only by allowing Spencer to connect directly with the fans does the series stand a chance. It's a great opportunity for NMG and SPEED to step out of this rut of rehashing race highlights and open up to social media, fan videos and Facebook interaction.

Until Spencer is surrounded with the right TV and media tools he can sit in his junkyard and yell for thirty minutes every Monday night. The problem is, no one can yell back at him.

TDP welcomes your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Shirley Buttacavoli said...

Can not comment on this season's Monday night line up. I'm boycotting cancellation of TWIN. I know my one household not tuning into SPEED won't mean alot, but its the best I can do.

Nina said...

You really noticed a huge void tonight over on SPEED. Those familiar faces were not there. After the Daytona 500, it would have nice to hear from Chad considering the trouble that the 48 team had. It would've also been nice to hear from Mikey after his final start in the Daytona 500.

I can honestly say that at 8pm I changed the channel. I had no intention of watching another recap show and then listening to Jimmy spew his "advice".

SPEED ... you screwed up.

Matt said...

I loved Spencer's opinions, but this show should be an hour and not look like it was done in his basement. Have more interaction with the fans via email and twitter, and maybe Steve Byrnes as host. The show has potential, much like Race Hub, it just needs to find it.

Dannyboy said...

JD, you said it all. I can't add much to your insights except that as a Spencer fan going back to his guest spots on the old IWC show, this production is NOT using him correctly.

And oh, by the way: I saw at least one In A Hurry segment [Hermie Sadler explaining rules changes] on the FOX Daytona prerace show.

Please add my voice to those who KNOW that FOX/SPEED made a huge blunder ending TWIN, even if it was a bastardization of the old IWC/NINCR.

PammH said...

Gave it a chance simply because RD was on. Won't be back. Spencer hasn't been in a car in years-has NO clue what he's talking about. Just talks to hear himself blather on. Set was awful.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more
All of SPEED channels NASCAR shows have become "one trick pony"

BOOOOOOOOORING as watching ppthole repair

Anonymous said...

No interest in the show, when they took TWIN off I left Speed. Out of curiosity I did check to see who was on and when I saw Spencer that was it, not the same without Mikey.

Anonymous said...

I tried to watch the Jimmy Spencer show but it was unwatchable. I won't be tuning in again. I can't even offer any suggestions to make it better. It was NASCAR's version of "Wayne's World" only without the laughs to give it any redeeming value.

Anonymous said...

I DVR both shows last night and deleated "in a hurry" 5 min. in as I had seen it all over the weekend. Jimmy's show was like watching Wayne's world. I won't waste my time next week.

JohnP said...

I turned Speed off and moved to another channel at 8pm. Watched Race Hub till 8, then went and did other things. I've watched IWC & TWIN for a decade, but have NO intention to watch Jimmy Spencer. I've seen him enough in pre-race shows over the last several years to know he's not my kind of announcer.

Oh, for the first and only time I checked out Nascar Now over on ESPN last night at 5pm. Alan Bestwick was nowhere to be seen. It was stuffy, no fun and no more information than I already knew from watching the race itself and on the internet afterwards.

Speed, you messed up your Monday 8pm time slot by not continuing TWIN without Waltrip if he wanted to leave. Granted, not always the most informative show, but it was funny and relaxing entertainment. Nascar Now provided no new information, and was not funny or entertaining at all.

51 yr. fan said...

It didn't take but a few minutes
to get enough of the pompous Spencer. Give Ray the show and
let him show his skills. He is
one of the best in the studio and
on pit road. I like his matter of
fact presentations.

Donna DeBoer said...

I'm one of those who felt that the last incarnation of TWIN was useless except for race participant observations, and therefore done, and did not object its ending. Now I wish I had it back, even if it still meant having to deal with MW. I have to admit that, even though I don't like him, I would've been interested in Chad's take on the 500. MW would have- and probably will, over on SHO- toe the NASCAR company line telling fans what to think. But either of those opinions, plus Radioactive my fave part, would have been way better than the rehash offered by the Hurry show (that's what I was saying, "Hurry and get off the screen") and What's the Deal.

LMAO I'm laughing so hard almost can't even comment on this Deal show. I like both Ray and Jimmy, but this was worse than the NASCAR show I have on local public access- and I think their budget is bigger! I really could believe they were sitting in Spencer's company office, it was more fascinating to try and make out what was on the desk and around them both than to listen to any of Jimmy's opinions. Next time, that novelty will have worn off, and I don't think I'll be watching very often after because I pretty much know where Jimmy stands on most topics. If they are going to rehash what was just rehashed in the previous 1/2 hr, it will be a waste of my time.
I agree that show could probably be made more interesting if there was serious fan interaction via social media.

TexasRaceLady said...

Watched RaceHub. Lasted 5 minutes into NASCAR In Hurry -- I'd just seen all of this!

Sorry, Jimmy --- you turned me off about 3 minutes in.

Verification word -- hapsycar

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with JD, but agree that there's WAY too much repetition on Speed. They endlessly rerun the same clips,comments and interviews. You'll see many from Daytona repeated this coming weekend as 'highlights'(???). I watched Spencer and feel its only fair to give the show 3-4 weeks to define itself. Any show that plays it straight without a huge dose of Political Correctness gets my vote. DW's appearance on Wind Tunnel Sunday night was absolutely pathetic. What BS! Listening to Kenny Wallace on Victory Lane was almost as bad. I don't miss Twin. For me, Nascar Now was the gold standard on Mondays-thorough, professional analysis of the race. I never figured out what the objective of Twin was. If you watched the race, the Speed Report, Victory Lane, Wind Tunnel and Monday's Nascar Now, what void was Twin trying to fill? Waltrip going off on tangents and explaining why his team mates finished up front and he didn't didn't cut it with me. More than once, Biffle was shown video of an incident and he'd say "That's the first I've seen that". The viewers watching all the post-race shows were very familiar with what happened. Watching all the pre race shows is something I'm not planning to do this year.

Anonymous said...

I watched Spencer & Dunlap's new show ... I thought it was funny ... I'll watch it next week ...

I miss seeing Spencer on NRD and NVL ...

6am start time for NRD this past weekend was just way toooo honkin' early for the West Coast ... So, I only saw the last 15 minutes ... 7am start time for the East Coast races is gonna limit the number of times I watch the show ... BAD MOVE, NASCAR!

Laurie said...

Show was horrible. I think SPEED gave him the show as part of a severence package for dumping him off RaceDay and Victory Lane. Obviously it will fail big time and then they can really get rid of him.

Anonymous said...

I didn't bother watching SPEED at all Monday night. Victory Lane now marks the end of my Nascar week. Until they come to their senses and bring back TWIN with Mikey, Chad and Steve, I'll watch something else on Mondays. The only good thing about them giving Spencer his own show was that he was replaced by Kyle Petty on the weekend. A Spencer-free TV is fine with me. I love the truck races so at least my TV won't be totally void of Mikey, and the rest of the time, I'll be following everyone on Twitter. The close-knit Nascar community provides a good source of information and entertainment on Twitter, so SPEED can go ahead and program non-stop garbage during the week for all I care.

Anonymous said...

All of SPEED channels NASCAR shows have become "one trick pony"

Yeah...sorta'...Except now the trick has lost its magic and the pony is dead.


Chris from NY said...

Forget this. I found more interest in Wheel of Fortune last night. Give Kenny his own show. He's more likable than Jimmy.

West Coast Diane said...

Watched Race Hub. Didn't even DVR other shows.

You get so much info on the internet it will take something really interesting to make me tune in.

I liked TWIN because I want to hear perspectives of participants in the race be it drivers, crew chiefs, owners, etc.

I want inside information and not rehash of all the things I've already heard.

Not good news that the ratings for the race were lowest since 1991. Maybe they need to get Danica in Cup...LOL!

bknotts said...

I watched it all, but felt like I watched pretty much the same thing three times. These shows are WAY too repetitive.

That might work if they were on different nights, but one after another, it's absurd.

They are going to have to bring back TWIN, just to break it up a bit.

Also, I'd like to see just one person who has the guts to stand up to Danicamania on national television. Haven't seen one yet.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Spencer fan. When I see his face on TV, I either fast forward the TIVO past him, or in the case of the new show, just totally ignore it. When his show was first announced, I emailed SPEED. As I expected no response. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I fail to see the appeal of Spencer. Is he somehow so well connected at SPEED that their hands are tied and must include him in programming.

GinaV24 said...

spencer doesn't bring enough to the table for a show like this. I tolerated enough inane ranting on the Fox broadcast of the race on Sunday. I watched RaceHub via DVR, but I won't tune in for this show.

Arthur Alford said...

Speed once again finds a way to alienate their loyal audience. TWIN for all its faults was far more informative than this mess.

I guess this is Spenser's punishment for ticking off NASCAR one too many times. Being stuck in a show with a format that makes no sense, on a set that would embarrass a public-access show, with nobody to keep him in line or to really work off of.

Spenser needs a strong hand like John Roberts to keep him in the right direction, or a sidekick like Kenny Wallace to bounce off of. I like Ray Dunlop, but he does not fit the role.

I think JD has a great idea-give Spenser a Twitter or Facebook account or do like Wind Tunnel does and have a live chat going during the show to get fan input. Spenser's never been shy about being the fan's voice at times-this would really justify it.

sgfscott said...

I didn't watch Monday nights line-up on SPEED, for one...I'm burned out on race coverage from the 500, and second I'm not a fan nor do I enjoy listening to Jimmy Spencer talk about racing. Maybe it's just me, but who's he a champion has he won the 500?

NASCAR Sprint Cup actually Winston up Series statistics
First race 1989
First win 1994 Pepsi 400 (Daytona)
Last win 1994 DieHard 500
Last race 2006
2 Wins,80 Top tens,3 Poles

17 year career... please there are more qualified racers out there that can talk to me about racing.. But not Jimmy.. Sorry SPEED time to rethink your Monday night line up yet again.

Wickber said...

Word veri: spream

"Spencer makes me want to spream."

Lee said...

I've been watching TWIN, and the various forms of it, for years. I didn't intentionally fail to check in on the new programming on SPEED on Monday night, I just didn't do it. I'm going to miss TWIN.

Sophia said...

Watched 5 minutes of JS new show so I could comment. No thanks. Nothing personal but all these allegedly "more NASCAR content shows" read like rehashed video deja vu. Sigh.

The WHOLE POINT of TWIN (&INC) was to give us insight, and dare I say it Fun and conversation!

Not a bunch of video footage except for the rare moments when it mattered.

Give us back TWIN with Steve & the Odd Couple. or how about KS stopping by now and then? ANYTHING but these news shows that are simple loops repeating same old same old.

SPEED shot itself in the foot getting rid of TWIN.

Not that they care. But I will no longer watch anything on Monday nights.

Anonymous said...

Dropped Speed after they canceled TWIN. Never thought I would miss TWIN, but I do.

Anonymous said...

Put me down as another fan not happy with the end of TWIN. If TWIN is irrevocably dead there must be another TV vehicle for Mikey and Chad. Watched last half of Spencer's show this a.m. what I saw was interesting but with the Olympics this was a bad time to premier any show, should have waited.

Debby said...

I tried to watch Jimmy Spencer but could not take more than the first segment. Ray is not good in this either. Truly missed TWIN...

Anonymous said...

Mikey is the reason I became a fan of NASCAR in the '90s and Mikey is the is the reason I refuse to watch SPEED-TV Monday night!

Richard in N.C. said...

Enjoyed Race Hub - recorded, but haven't had a chance yet to watch the next 2 yet, but can't imagine they aren't better than a Unique Whips rerun. I was really diappointed that AB was not on NASCAR Now Monday, but I do appreciate he put in an enormous amount of time in Daytona which I enjoyed.

Glenn said...

I didn't even tune in. The names just sounded like a rehash of everything that had been reported.

Still not ready to jump to NASCAR Now, still got that bad taste.
Maybe that will change if the Saturday shows keep up the good pace.

Jasper said...

I tuned in, but I didn't "get it". To me it was just a show of JS's opinion, everyone has an opinion. He said he was sitting on his couch like the rest of us, he wasn't even at the track! I gave it a shot, and I won't be back.

Sorry SPEED you screwed up, bring back TWiN!!

Unknown said...

to the powers that be at speed,
you have screwed up big! bring back the boys from TWIN and give us the entertainment we want, not some silly show of clips or jimmy spencer proving how little talent for television he really has.

Anonymous said...

This show desperately needs a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page and a link for fans to submit videos

Talk about being addicted to "new media". All the tweets and friend connections in the world can't fix a broken TV show. They need to fix the TV show first, and then if that works, they can worry about tweeting to their fans. Until then, it isn't worth the effort. After all, nothing worse than a 90-character tweet being more interesting than your half-hour show.

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of Speed's management or their philosophy, but I think they are taking unfair criticism here. Speed did not make a decision to cancel TWIN just on a whim and substitute something unproven. As reported by TDP, Michael Waltrip said TWIN was cancelled because of low ratings. Speed cannot be expected to keep airing a show which has low viewership. This is a profit/loss decision to Speed, and you can't expect them to lose money just to keep you happy. The new show with Spencer is an attempt to establish a new show with a known asset.

I have lost favorite TV shows but never blamed the network. They don't cancel successful shows that make money. When I lose a favorite, I simply recognize that not enough people shared my taste.

If you want to blame somebody for causing the cancellation of TWIN, blame me and the thousands of others who stopped watching. I started watching in the old days of Bestwick, Benson, Schrader, and Waltrip. It suffered its first major loss when Bestwick and Benson were fired. It wasn't as good after that, but it still remained enjoyable as long as Schrader was there. When he was let go, it became the Michael Waltrip show regardless of who else was on the set with him. Nobody at Speed had the desire or the ability to put a leash on his ego.

I tried to continue to watch it but reached the point where I simply could not tolerate MW. It wasn't just that I didn't find him funny, I found him offensive. It made me angry to try to watch TWIN, and I simply quit watching TWIN and anything else where he appeared as a commentator.

Many of MW's fans are thin-skinned and don't want to hear any criticism of their boy. Negative comments on his TWIN act often brought responses of "... stop criticizing MW and don't watch him if you don't like him." Those folks got their wish - I and thousands of others stopped watching. Speed made the decision to stick with MW and his behavior. It was the viewers who left that ultimately killed TWIN.

MW has long been recognized as a polarizing TV personality. I have seen the view often expressed by his fans, and at least once in a column by John Daly, that "Love him or hate him, he brings in the viewers." In what universe does that logic apply? I use NASCAR programming for relaxation and enjoyment. I have enough aggravation in my life that I do not need to tune into MW to offend and anger me. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll leave MW entirely to the fans who appreciate him.

The TWIN fan base voted on MW with their remote controls. The ratings went down the tank, and Speed pulled the plug. The responsibility goes to the voters, not to Speed management.

Since TWIN/MW fans are such great humor fans, I would like to suggest that they look at the classic movie This Is Spinal Tap for some great parallels. It is the fictional account of an old British heavy metal band trying to regain their popularity on tour. The band had a long history of personnel changes, as did TWIN. The band became even more decadent and self-indulgent, and audiences began shrinking steadily. When questioned about the smaller audiences, they replied that they weren't becoming less popular, they were actually appealing to a more selective audience. At the end of the movie, Spinal Tap was considering a tour of Japan to find an audience. TWIN and MW have taken their act to Showtime in their own search for a more selective audience.

So if someone is still looking for somebody to take the heat for TWIN's cancellation, blame me. I can take it. Speed is just trying to turn a profit by finding programs that can win and hold reasonable ratings.

Jimmy Spencer isn't my cup of tea, but that isn't the question. The fans will decide with their remote controls whether or not enough viewers want to watch, just as we did with TWIN.

Vicky D said...

I think Spencer's show has potential and usually his rants drive me nuts but I think Ray was there to settle him down. Sometimes Jimmy goes off on tangents and forgets what he started talking about in the first place. I really like the set too, however I really missed TWIN Monday.

Vicky D said...

And I forgot on my previous post about Allen Bestwick on NN last night - he was ill and had to call in sick I believe Mike Massaro took over I recorded it but haven't seen it yet.

Marylee in Richmond said...

Awful, awful, awful. I want my old SPEED Monday night back (with the possible addition of Race Hub). Neither Race Hub nor Spencer provide what TWIN provided - 3 knowledgable racers/crew chiefs discussing the weekend in a relaxed, sometimes comical, often insightful way. Yes, Mikey can be too much, but rather that then the absolute nothing we have now.
Spencer was very disappointing. He would talk (pontificate), then sit back and try to look wise. I don't think he ever looked at Ray Dunlap. It was NOT a conversation.
You are absolutely correct that the same tape was used over and over, which is especially frustrating for anyone who saw any other SPEED coverage in the prior week.

donb said...

I'm still pissed they canceled TWIN, I watched but since I never liked Jimmy style, sort of I know best, the show didn't impress me.
Who was the IDIOT who canceled TWIN?

A.J. Farmer said...

I echo the comments of most here. I was floored when I found out TWIN was canceled. My wife and I could not wait for it to come on every Monday night. We made it 15 minutes into the Jimmy Spencer show and just couldn't stand it. It was just too abrasive. I deleted it from the DVR schedule last night.

We subscribed to Showtime to follow Mikey because he is always so entertaining, but even that show just was rough around the edges. We're going to give Showtime a few more weeks to smooth things out before deciding to keep the Showtime subscription or not. At this point I'm thinking it probably won't survive either.

Wish TWIN was still on. Silly TV execs...