With the possible exception of his SNL tome (and/or cameo on “The Larry Sanders Show”) Washington Post tv critic Tom Shales will never receive nearly as many accolades in this household as he deserves for Monday’s evisceration of ESPN Radio host-turned-wannabe Bob Barker, Mike Greenberg (above, left). (link courtesy Sports Media Watch)
Think of “Duel” not only as a laborious chore, not simply as an onerous ordeal, not merely as a tedious excuse for a high-tech game show, but as part of a conspiracy — the conspiracy by production companies, networks and the corporations that own them to reshape and refocus prime-time television. It looks as if the long, cold winter could last well into spring.
On the surface, “Duel” demands a general awareness of the world on the part of the players, but luck has a large role as well. At least Howie Mandel, “Deal Or No Deal’s” host, is able to keep up a sense of tension, however illusory, and inject occasional hilarity. By depressing contrast, Mike Greenberg, who hosts “Duel,” appears to have been born without a sense of humor (even though he is half of “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” a sports-chat show on ESPN), but with an obvious contempt for all game show contestants.
Among his witticisms: “Discretion is the better part of valor.” He so mercilessly drags out the proceedings, repeating contestants’ options ad nauseam, that a player named Denise at one point snaps, “Oh, just get on with it!” Thus the most honest and enjoyable moment of the show.
Repeatedly on tonight’s premiere, Greenberg sucks the energy out of the air and punctures whatever little balloons of interest might be floating around. The “Star Wars”-y set suggests an earthbound space ship; it includes a sliding cattle ramp by which contestants reach the round podium where the questions are meted out.
Forty-six years ago, FCC Chairman Newton Minow (the FCC had smart chairmen back then) famously called prime-time TV “a vast wasteland.” Whoa, boy. He should see it now.