Monday, March 7, 2011

An Even MORE Modest Proposal for The Hardline -- PART 1: Does The Hardline Really Need Any More of My Modest Proposals?

I mean . . . they're doing pretty well without my deathless recommendations.

Confessors who have been with us for awhile will remember Your Plainsman's five-part series on The Hardline almost exactly one year ago, in late February 2010.  I'm too lazy to link to each article, but they're easy enough to find in the archives.  The series was titled "A Modest Proposal for the Hardline."

It took a rather long route to reach the conclusion that The Hardline should add Mike Bacsik to their mix.  OK, OK, not exactly a prescient suggestion, but along the way I reviewed what a lot of P1's who are Hardline fans think about the showgram's intermittent (and sometimes not so intermittent)  .  .  .  well, let's just call them "issues."  I won't review them all here, but chief among them were (1) irregular show prep, (2) Mike R's waning interest in the proceedings, and, along the same lines, (3) The OverCorby. 

(And I still think Bacsik would have been a good addition to The Hardline.)

I thought The Hardline picked up smartly in early-to-mid 2010.  It reverted to Mike-checks-out/OverCorby form in lateFall/Winter, to my ear.  Since the year-end drydock, however, the show seems to me to have been very sharp most of the time.  So, up and down -- par for the course, and I figure that this is actually probably part of the charm of the showgram, you never know what you're going to get.  Not really that big a deal.

Now, before we go on, I would like to look more closely at one core criticism that one hears with some regularity about The Hardline -- not just on this site and from the Confessor Nation, but throughout the cloud of Ticket journalism and comment that is gradually taking over the Internets.  That criticism is that Mike has lost interest, has checked out, etc.

A lot of people say it.  But is it true?

I have concluded that it is not, at least not in the general sense in which it usually expressed.  Bear with me for a couple of minutes

I began listening more closely to The Hardline.  Even during what I would characterize as its "down" periods, Mike was not "checked out" generally.  You want an example of a checked-out host, hearken back to the final months of Greg Hammer Williams.  There was a checked-out host.    I listened to the shows, but I also watched when the showgram was on the webcam, and I even nipped into a couple of remotes to observe Mike's comportment during a show.

I conclude that Mike's apparent apathy has two sources: 

(1) Sometimes a segment just doesn't grab him.  His attention wanders.  He gets distracted with the Internet or what's showing on what I assume is a studio TV or a set at a remote, or maybe just starts thinking about other stuff, and temporarily loses track of the discussion.  Corby and Danny will call him on it.  This happens only during portions of segments, and not very often, but the fact that it happens at all is so striking that it gives the impression -- the false impression, in my revised view -- that Mike isn't interested in the show as a whole

(2) Mike really likes Corby.   Likes him personally, likes him professionally, a lot.  Sounds silly and obvious, I know.  But it bears on what we're talking about here.  When Corby's off on a tear, Mike is listening to him.   He's not cowed into silence, he positively endorses Corby's contributions.  He approves of the OverCorby most of the time.  Were you listening on Monday (February 28) when Corby was going absolutely nuts on the Oscars?  I mean, the man was positively shrieking.  Mike intoned, sotto voce:  "That's what I've been waiting for out of him." 

I conclude, therefore, that I have been wrong about Mike.  I don't think his interest in the show has decreased.  I think it actually may have increased with the revved-up competition.  I think his interest in the odd segment flags intermittently and he gets caught, which gives an overimpression of apathy; and I think he is usually perfectly happy to have Corby talk as much as he does, which also comes through the speakers like, well, like checking out.  But in fact, he's listening to every word Corby says, and approving the magnitude of his contribution.

But even if I've been wrong about Mike's interest level overall, or the reasons for the way the show sounds sometimes, the fact remains -- and I think most Confessors would be with me on this -- the show is better when there is balance between the hosts, and that means Mike fully involved on mic.

So (1):  I apologize to Mike for prior suggestions that he exhibits occasional periods of uninterest.  I think I've had it wrong.  I think he's as engaged with The Hardline as he ever has been, at least since I"ve been listening.

But (2):  The answer to our headline question is:  Yeah.  There's a condition on the showgram that I think a lot of P1's would like to treat.  Couldn't hurt to sling another (very respectful) recommendation out there for the consideration of the CumuloTicket Overlords. 

Which I know they will afford it in the very most high-up and plush of their Overlord decision lounges.

I'll get to it in the next installment.  I promise to limit this series to two parts.

I think the Nation is going to like this one.


NOTE to faithful Confessors:  I don't consider this a finished article.   So I have disabled comments on this post.    After Part 2 you'll have an opportunity to weigh in with your usual perspicacity and enthusiasm on this topic of (judging from emails and comments) ongoing interest.

And, of course, emails are always welcome:

Thanks for your patience.  Part 2 will be up in a few.

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