Last night was the premiere episode of Norm MacDonald’s new sports news show, “Sports Show with Norm MacDonald.” Intrigued, I decided to set the DVR and give it a shot.So if you missed Norm because your significant-other was making you watch “Parenthood,” here are my real-time thoughts during the 30-minute episode…
-0:01 – I love that DVR’s now record an extra couple of minutes before and after a show. In the case of this show, we get about 90 seconds of “Tosh.0,” which is about all anybody ever really needs. If Comedy Central could just make Tosh a 90-second show, I would watch it all the time. The downfall of the extra record time is getting sucked into the show after the one you record. That is always a big letdown, yet not enough that I will actually go through the trouble of recording that show in the future.
0:02 – And we’re off. My first impression, is “wow” has it been that long since Billy Madison, or is Norm just one of those guys with a face for standard-def TVs? He certainly looks older than I remember. I am also immediately reminded of how terrible Norm always was at reading queue cards on SNL.
Norm starts us off with a joke about Cameron Diaz, a movie, and suicides. I missed the punchline, either because it wasn’t funny, or because I am still amazed at how both MacDonald and Billy Crystal have the same old guy afro.
0:03 – Oh dear Tiger Blood. Please tell me this isn’t just going to be 22-minute sports version of “The Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live. That bit is great because it is 10 minutes, once a week. Do they expect us to sit through 22 minutes of this five nights a week? And after a 4-second bit on the Barry Bonds trial, capped by a testicle joke, and a 3-second bit on The Masters, I am now convinced that is exactly what this is.
0:04 – Norm hits us with a couple of more mediocre jokes. You know the kind. The jokes that you think are funny, but not funny enough to bother laughing. We are only four minutes in, and I am already hoping Adam Sandler will make a guest appearance. Because right now, whatever the opposite of “announcing your presence with authority” is, this is that.
And now we get our first video clip. It is a skier crossing paths with a polar bear. This has potential, and as Norm gives us a “wait, what?” line (which is apparently going to be a regular feature), I find myself wishing Tosh had narrated the clip.
0:05 – I am starting to think that I should have gotten drunk for this.
0:06 – Norm is looking a little more comfortable. Not sure if it is the better selection of jokes (“[Lamar Odom’s new reality show] is a clever combination of basketball and a bunch of sh*t”), or maybe the rust is coming off. But I did manage a few laughs.
0:08 – This is not a good sign. Apparently needing to fill a minute of space, they break out the Antonio Cromartie video clip from last season’s “Hard Knocks” in which Cromartie struggles to name his kids. And they played the entire clip. Topical.
0:11 – We have our first commercial break and Norm’s tease gives us hope that there is more to this show than old news capped with a witty one-liner.
0:15 – Norm opens the second segment telling us that he is going to have a makeup artist disguise him as a professional basketball player and Norm is going to go “undercover.” The picture being used as a model is Blake Griffin. And after a cut-away, Blake Griffin walks out of the dressing room with Norm’s voice dubbed over his words. Griffin plays some one-on-one against teammate DeAndre Jordan. The best part of the skit is that Griffin might actually be a decent actor. Jordan? Not so much.
0:18 – And we are quickly into the second commercial break.
0:21 – At the start of the third segment, Norm is now standing in front of a monitor (he was previously sitting behind a desk). He has a black suit on with checkered shirt that has the collar unbuttoned. And in doing so, he looks more like an old guy playing a slot machine than a sportscaster. A tie would do wonders. But maybe that is just because I think this show would be a kazillion thousand times better if they had modelled it after “The Daily Show” rather than “Weekend Update.”
0:22 – Now Norm is doing a bit in which he tells us what Jim Nantz’s call would have been at The Masters had different golfers won (“Ricky Fowler! Leo DiCaprio had sex with a cat and produced a champion!”). In the end, it seemed like a knock-off of David Letterman’s “Top 10” list.
0:24 – We are now into what looks like it will be a regular feature called “What the H” (I find myself intrigued by the lack of a question mark) in which Norm is going on a rant about Tiger Woods “laying down with ladies,” and concludes that Tiger is the most faithful human ever. Or something.
0:27 – Another commercial break and my thoughts are that it is getting better. Or maybe it is 4:00 am at the bar and Miss Universe is not about to walk through the door. Or in this case, “Modern Family” is not on tonight.
0:29 – The final segment is something called “Garbage Time” with a 90-second running clock. In that period, he tells eight jokes, of which two had nothing to do with sports. But that’s cool.
0:30 – Oh good. “The Daily Show”! *DVR recording stops* Dammit!
Let’s chalk the first episode up to growing pains, and a feeling out process. There is potential here. The “Weekend Update” feel is not terrible if it is minimized. The skit with Blake Griffin was funny, but a studio guest would have been better (maybe bring Griffin in for 5 minutes after the skit?). For now, the DVR will keep recording. And if it doesn’t get better, that’s OK. I can handle bad TV. I was one of the five people that stuck with “24” through the final season.