Media Blog

Reviewing Keith Olbermann 2.0

So, I bit the bullet and watched the first episode of Keith Olbermann’s relaunch of Countdown on Al Gore’s network, Current TV. The show is the same as it was on MSNBC, but worse.

The show was simply boring. At least when Olbermann was on MSNBC, I stayed engaged, even when I didn’t like what he was saying. But the new version feels like the offspring of NPR and MSNBC. My instinct was to change the channel back to MSNBC rather than to hear what Olbermann said next.

His inaugural firebrand guests didn’t help. Michael Moore and Markos Moulitsas brought no fire to the broadcast whatsoever.

Moore rambled from topic to topic, and at one point accidentally advocated military action against 20 dictators as bad as Qaddafi. And Moulitsas used a portion of his time, at Olbermann’s urging, to rant against Joe Scarborough, who allegedly had a hand in getting Moulitsas kicked off of MSNBC. Riveting TV.

As for the visuals, they looked cheap and included many technical bugs. For example, at one point, the channel stopped working. Just Current — every other channel from my cable provider was fine. And throughout, the volume of the broadcast constantly changed.

Even Salon, which wrote a gushing piece on Olbermann’s return, noted the poor quality of the broadcast:

The Current TV incarnation of “Countdown” was very close to the MSNBC ”Countdown,” with the same theme music and most of the same features and graphics. The “Worst Persons” segment hauled out the faux-horrific background music (Bach’s Toccata and Fugue), and was characteristically twist-the-knife snide — although here, as elsewhere, there were volume control issues that made it tough to understand the host. There were awkward pauses before taped segments unreeled, video clips with resolution so poor that they looked as if they’d been grabbed off YouTube, and at least one instance where the printed text of a quote was partly obscured by a chyron. I wouldn’t quite call it amateur hour, but it wasn’t smooth, either.

Well, it is amateur hour. We’ll see if it gets any better.

One other funny note — Olbermann tweeted a picture of his staff after the show. My, what a diverse bunch:

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