Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NBC’s Today Show: My Love Hate Relationship

I admit that at 7:00 in the morning, I turn on The Today Show. It is partly out of habit, partly out of boredom, and partly for an update on the national news. For the most part, I like the show and the hosts. They seem to have great chemistry and appear to enjoy working with each other.

But, there are a lot of things that annoy me about The Today Show. Maybe it’s because I do watch it so often that it seems that they’ve gotten complacent and seem to be going through the motions. It’s almost as if they could have robotic hosts doing the job just as well.

Here are a few examples of what’s wrong with The Today Show:

1. The constant “good mornings.” I’ve never counted how many times they say good morning to each other but it seems like it never stops. For example, Matt Lauer says “good morning” to Meredith, Meredith says “good morning” to Matt, they move to the news desk and say “good morning” to Ann Curry, she says “good morning to you,” then move to Al Roker where the "good mornings" abound. This continues with every guest or reporter that they introduce. By the time the first 20 minutes is over, it seems like one can hear “good morning” a hundred times.

2. While I generally like Meredith Vieira, she doesn’t seem to be a skilled interviewer nor does she have a good sense of her cues as to how much time she has remaining. There have been times she has to cut a person being interviewed very short, because she apparently lost track of time and spent too much time just asking the question that no time was left for an answer. She also sometimes talks right over the person’s answer.

3. Does the show really need a laugh track? I’m talking about The Today Show laugher, the guy who is behind the camera and is compelled to interject his loud “heh-heh-heh” anytime someone on the show does something funny. Newsflash to this guy: the show does not exist to entertain YOU. We know what is funny and when to laugh. Please be quiet!

4. Some of the people they bring on to interview are bad choices. There is nothing worse than bringing on some person who has just faced some horrible tragedy, and then ask a loaded question like “How did that make you feel when your house and all your belongings were completely obliterated by the tornado, in addition to you losing your spouse and your dog?” Or worse yet, they ask a question of someone who can only give a yes or no answer, or the flip side, someone who gives an overly lengthy answer. While that may be the downside of live TV, it may indicate that it’s time to pre-record some of these interviews to either filter out the junk or at least help the possibly inexperienced person not come off like an idiot.

5. Can anyone think of another word for “yes” that isn’t “absolutely?” It’s the same problem as the repetitive good mornings – using the word “absolutely” instead of just saying “yes.” Sadly, this happens the most with their repeat guests like the every annoying and ubiquitous Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

6. As the show goes on, they must think that the IQ level of the viewer drops, because the show digresses further and further into more shallow topics. By the fourth hour – which by the way I’ve only watched a few times for short periods, they get into things like makeovers and fashion. It’s boring.

7. The show sometimes is just a showcase for their own network – or their “sister” networks’ – shows. It is like I am watching an endless NBC infomercial, with them pushing their "stars" from other shows and networks. Example: how many times must we have CNBC’s Erin Burnett shoved down our throats?

8. Let’s not forget the repeated “This is Today on NBC” tag line, which alerts the affiliates a break is coming. Now really, in this technological day and age, do they really need a verbal cue?

I could probably continue to rant on what I don’t like about the Today Show, but since I’m listening to them now as I write this, I find it’s only making me doubly annoyed.

By the way, one may wonder why I still watch it if it annoys me so much. Truth is, I find myself watching it less and less. For days where there is big news brewing, I may leave it on until 8:15-8:30 before I just turn off the television. After all, I think NBC does have some of the best news coverage in the business and the Today Show can pull from that pool. But, if there isn’t much going on and their guest line up looks bleak I will probably turn it off much sooner.

Still, the Today Show is better than the other networks morning shows. I’m just not sure if that’s still a compliment.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like you I sometimes watch out of habit. The Today Show has deteriorated and now is not much more than a self congratulatory shadow of its former self. Not to mention the regular burlesque routines of Messrs Lauer, Roker and Viera. Let's get back to the format of 20 years ago, with NEWS and OPINIONS