It's Your Turn, NBC
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 5:55 PM
Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 9:50 AM
OK, NBC, it's all yours. You got the whole kit and kaboodle, or is it the whole enchilada? However you want to say it, the Triple Crown is yours to improve, maintain, or ruin. In the spring, whenever you say "NBC," keep telling yourself it stands for "Not Breeders' Cup." If you show the Triple Crown through the same lens as you show the Breeders' Cup, you won't want to read the reviews the next day.
This is not meant as a critique of your Breeders' Cup telecasts--I actually liked your camera-on-a-rope trick last year. It shows you're trying. You just have to realize that, unlike the Breeders' Cup, which moves along with the rapidity of machine gun fire, you are now given a blank canvas to create whatever glorious images you like at your own leisure.
Assuming you are willing to open your minds to absorb the creative ideas of others, we implore you to watch TVG's 90-minute coverage of the Dubai World Cup card, in which they received the world feed and simulcast it on FOX Sports World. With 90% of the images coming from Dubai TV, the folks at TVG put together several well-made features of their own to fill in the spaces, and combined it with insightful, straight-from-the-gut commentary. When it was over, viewers had been entertained and informed in such a manner, it made them want to invite Chris Harrison, Todd Schrupp, and Frank Lyons over for dinner.
Lyons was not afraid to speak from the heart regarding his affection and admiration for the New Zealand super mare Sunline.
"I'm so excited, and really nervous to see her run," he said. "You can knock me for saying this, but she's comparable to Ruffian and Personal Ensign. It's a privilege to watch her run. I wish her the best of luck and my heart is with her."
That gave Lyons more credibility, as it showed he had passion for the sport and the horses, as well as the ability to inform and analyze. Schrupp came right back and said he was "a little bit concerned about her style of pressing the pace," which is tough to do in grass races at Nad al Sheba. His remarks proved to be prophetic, as Sunline ran her heart out, but just failed to hang on. That's what racing commentary is supposed to be all about.
As for the images from Dubai TV, they were so indelible, capturing the excitement, humor, and raw passion of the sport; they'd make worthy contents for a time capsule. And it didn't require a rocket scientist to figure out why. They simply had their cameras in the right place. And where is the right place? It is down on the track after the race, so it can get right in the face of Jim and Tonic's groom, as he waited for his horse to return after winning the Dubai Duty Free, tears pouring from his eyes. As he went to greet his horse, still weeping uncontrollably, the camera followed right behind, giving the viewer some rarely seen ground-level images. It showed jockey Gerald Mosse give a pat on the head to the groom, who then planted a kiss on Jim and Tonic's neck. Incredible stuff.
The right place was also in the starting gate to record one of the Dubai Duty Free starters refusing to break. The camera quickly zoomed in to capture the frustrated jockey pushing and scrubbing to no avail, as his horse never moved. TVG's Harrison jumped right in: "Hey, dude, we've stalled."
The cameras also ventured into the jocks' room before the World Cup, showing Jerry Bailey with his game face on. The camera was positioned on the floor, looking up at Bailey, who was squatting, clutching his whip between his hands, while a pensive Frankie Dettori stood right behind him, leaning against a table. That picture was worth a thousand words.
These images, in addition to TVG's entertaining features, informative graphics (showing diagrams and bios), and an opening segment that captured the exotic flavor of Dubai, made for a swift-moving 90 minutes. TVG also was smart enough to zip right through the odds, which ABC spent too much time showing.
OK, NBC, the Triple Crown is in your hands. There are no excuses.
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