Wednesday, October 13, 2004
There are no tears on SportsCenter!
By Dan Shanoff Special to Page 3
After taking a week off to get married -- to the
Couch Judge's own Couch Judge, let's say -- I'm back
and more ornery than ever. Not just because I missed
my chance to bounce overmatched Valerie last week, but
because this week's episode is sure to create
On the fly, some contestants couldn't handle the turbulance.
"On the Fly," where the seven remaining
finalists haven't seen the video beforehand. On top of
that, they are given the info for their second
highlight DURING their first highlight. On top of
THAT, their teleprompter will fail during the
mid-highlight segue. On top of THAT, they will get
breaking news at the end of the segment that they will
have to deliver cold. Oh yeah: And on top of THAT?
None of 'em know what's coming.
Our usual panel of judges -- Woody Paige, Kit Hoover,
Stephen A. Smith (SAS) and My Man, Al Jaffe -- will
critique them on improvisation, pacing, delivery and
creativity. I, however, will enjoy their stumbling and
First up: JASON A. Intro: The guy still strikes me as one of the
more arrogant, cheese-balls to ever hit the screen.
We'll see if the knucklehead can traverse the
Good: His energy is growing on me.
Bad: Went into the breaking news a little
Ugly: Wait a second... he did pretty well!
Judges: Woody was "impressed." Kit liked his
new hair ("less boy band"). SAS is falling for him: "I
kind of like you. I just do." Al noted he stumbled a
little, but got it back together.
Overall: It's going to be one boring episode if
we don't see some stumbling soon. Jason will survive
for another week.
Next: GRANT Intro: As cheesy as Jason A is, at least he
seems genuine. Grant, the obligatory actor, sounds
contrived, working WAY too hard to make himself sound
Good: When the prompter failed, he actually
sounded the least fake.
Bad: Why? Because when he's reading from the
prompter, it FEELS like he's reading from the
Ugly: He finished his second highlight on a
jocular note, which is unfortunate, because his
breaking news was... Ken Caminiti's death. Whoops.
Judges: Kit smacked him for the intro to the
breaking news (you and me, Kit!) SAS called his lead
"bland" and his closing "horrible." Al noted that
Grant didn't give the final score of his second
highlight before rushing into the breaking news. Woody
nicely summed it up: "There were highlights, but
Overall: Is it possible that Grant has replaced
Jason A as my least likeable contestant? He's done
nothing to stand out, but nothing to wreck his chances
either. There have been worse winning
The Dream Job version of David and Goliath?
Next: DAVID Intro: He's playing the "underdog" card, simply
because he's the "Wild Card" entry and didn't get here
the same way as the others. Leave the "I don't get no
respect" cliche for the athletes, man.
Good: Solid on the highlights, very solid on
the breaking news. As if he'd written the copy
Bad: When the prompter went down, he looked
down at his copy a little too much.
Ugly: When he gets nervous, he rushes through
his teleprompter reading like he was trying out for
Dream Job, sponsored by Ritalin.
Judges: SAS had no complaints (and considering
David called SAS his least favorite ESPN voice, that's
saying something. SAS will have his day, however, I
predict). Al had the Line of the Night: "Thought you
were auditioning for the Cliché Channel." Brilliant!
Woody said he liked the clichés, but nicked him for
looking down at his script too long when the prompter
went down. Kit complimented his fluidity during the
Overall: David may not win, but he's certainly
in the Top 4.
Next: BRIAN Intro: I think Brian might win Miss
Congeniality. His intro was a tear-jerker about how
his wife had to get a second job so he could selfishly
pursue his dreams. Oh, does he owe her.
Good: Still has the best voice of the
Bad: Unraveled when the teleprompter failed;
managed to mangle the Dolphins QB as "Fielder" (like
Cecil) not "Fiedler" (like Jay).
Ugly: When it was over, as he did his sign-off,
he literally looked like he was going to cry. Wonder
if anyone noticed?
Judges: Al drubbed it "shaky." Woody "would
like to say some nice things, but it's very
difficult." Kit said it "started rocky," then he "got
flustered," then it was "hard for you to recover."
Leave it to SAS to say it plain: "The worst part of it
all -- When you closed, you looked defeated. That's a
Overall: It sure is, Stephen A. Unless someone
completely goes in tank (Winston?), Brian's in a world
Jason H. proved to be cool under pressure.
Next: JASON H. Intro: For someone so bland, he sure smiles a
lot. Does "Jason" rhyme with "Vacant?" Almost.
Good: Fabulous transition when the teleprompter
failed; best of the night, by far.
Bad: The lead-in was poorly written; he's no
Ugly: Nothing really. I'll let the judges
Judges: Woody called it "another
professional-like job," but gave him the best advice
he'll ever get: "Think about how you're going to be
unique." Kit said he "came up big tonight" and liked
how he finished with a big smile. SAS brought him down
to earth: "You're beginning to bore me," but
complimented him with "You're never less than
thorough." Al couldn't find any issues (a great sign);
"you were just very solid."
Overall: Jason H. is another guy who has the
skills to be in the Top 4, but lacks the originality
to go further.
Next: WINSTON Intro: Here's a great expectations situation --
I expect Winston to not do well here; therefore,
anything better than blowing it puts him in the
Good: He finished with a smile.
Bad: Stumbled a bit when the prompter failed,
and didn't give the score of the second highlight.
Ugly: Seems to have a verbal tic when he's
improvising where he precedes everything with "Of
Judges: Kit said he started strong, then got
flustered. SAS called him out for not improvising well
enough. Al had the line of the panel for the guy:
"When the prompter went down, you went down." Woody
crushed him on factual errors; "You made mistakes that
had nothing to do with the curves they throw you."
Overall: Well, he didn't do as badly as Brian,
so he's got that going for himself.
Next: ANISH Intro: Another "expectations" thing -- Anish was
SO good his first week out, that everything since then
has been a let-down. He looked like a whiner in his
intro clip, complaining about that. Dude, step up!
Good: Still has a great voice and the best
Bad: Kept calling Oklahoma "Nebraska" (no
judges caught this but me).
Ugly: When the prompter went down, he looked
down at his script way too much. Not that it was bad,
it's just that other contestants were able to manage;
why not him?
Brian's voice may still land him somewhere.
Judges: Overwhelmingly positive. SAS said
"Welcome back." Al: "You sound so professional, so
real, just like a real SportsCenter anchor." Woody was
less good: "Fair, that's the best I can do," noting
his troubles when he went off the prompter. Kit said,
"I thought you were money."
Overall: Still has the most potential in the
group, if that potential doesn't crush him
America: Cuts Brian
Woody: Cuts Brian
Kit: Cuts Brian
SAS: Threatens Winston. Cuts Brian.
Al: Cuts Brian.
Clean sweep, dumping Brian. And it looks like he's
going to cry, which makes me a little sad for him, in
an uncynical way. No, really, I mean it. The only one
who's probably happy is his wife, who can now drop the
second job supporting him.
Rankings of the Remaining Contenders:
2. Jason H
3. Jason A.
Next week: Will the Winston Dream be over?