TV shows that come -- and stay -- with "energy" usually succeed. But an early sprint is usually hard to maintain.
HBO's new "Joe Buck Live," which is replacing a similar effort helmed by Bob Costas, had the highly energized, foul-mouthed Howard Stern cohort and comedian, Artie Lange, among its roundtable of guests for its debut.Lange's segmen
t was the last on the Buck premiere episode, which included a high-profile, but low-key interview with Brett Favre concerning his return to the NFL, and another light piece on New York Mets' David Wright.
Lange's instructions from Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports, were to put more "energy" into things
-- especially if the show was dragging. He took this to heart, and, since it was HBO, with no restrictions vis a vis advertisers, which, of course, means no restriction on language -- proceeded to get scatological, homophobic, and crude.
Watching it, I recalled this marketing turn of phrase: "It's not TV. It's HBO."
Lange's efforts aren't unusual. Guests of daytime talk shows that target the lowest common denominators -- those of the trashier demographic -- have been told by producers for years to "go with their emotions." Wrestling, fights, and other stuff ensue -- all to grab an impromptu-looking, accident-in-progress appeal.
TV news producers -- even on straight-ahead cable news analysis segments -- will also talk about the "energy" needed, getting those guests with strong opinions, all to build drama and conflict.
Blame Lange? Please. This is what HBO desires and needs. He did his job for HBO; it would have been different on Conan O'Brien.
The question is what happens from here -- whether a Joe Buck-hosted sports show can find new frankness, intelligence, and cachet. Another HBO show, "Real time with Bill Maher," comes to mind.
By accident or design, HBO needs to live up to its rep. It's not regular TV. For $10.99 a month, it better not be