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A Sunday with phony suspense in prime time

 By Alan Pergament

Call it Phony Sunday in prime time.

On CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” it sure looked like the Buffalo newlyweds, Max and Katie Bichler, were goners after they finished last in a challenge in Botswana, Africa.

I watched only the final 15 minutes of the series, which meant I missed Max almost fainting when he watched a Bushman put a scorpion in his own mouth. (Remember 15 minutes is my limit for any reality series). That was long enough to see the frustration of Max and Katie in failing to complete a challenge involving setting a trap over eggs.

My immediate thought was my sources had told me that Max and Katie were going to survive much longer, so this can’t be so.

Sure enough, when they arrived last, host Phil Keoghan advised them that they survived because it was a non-elimination challenge. In other words, all the suspense in the final 15 minutes was bogus. It didn’t matter where they finished, though finishing last will put them in a disadvantage in next week’s episode.

It was the second straight week that a team that finished last survived. The week before, a married couple, Chuck and Wynona, survived because another team had to quit because of a medical issue.

The show’s producers should be advised that it would be unwise to play that phony game again because three strikes and you are out.

Julianna Margulies
AfterRace,” “The Good Wife” played a phony game of its own. All week-long CBS ran promos that suggested that Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and Will Gardner (Josh Charles) were going to rekindle the romance they had while she was separated from her husband. All those sexy promos turned out to be flashbacks in an episode that was full of flashbacks dealing with an annoying client who was murdered. Viewers may have felt a little cheated, but that story line is getting very old.

Speaking of being cheated, HBO’s Sunday movie “Phil Spector,” written by David Mamet and starring Al Pacino as the famed music producer accused of murder and Helen Mirren as his exasperated defense attorney, started with a disclaimer as bizarre as Spector and had an abrupt, unsatisfying ending. Oh, well, it least it looked like Pacino had fun playing the wacky Spector.

No one can accuse basketball analyst Charles Barkley of being phony. He is a true original, known to say outrageous things. On Sunday, teammate Kenny Smith called Sir Charles on his pre-NCAA tournament pronouncement that suggested the Big Ten entries were over-rated. The conference could gloat Sunday that it had four of the Sweet 16, which was the most of any conference. The Big East landed three and the power conferences totaled 13. Barkley claimed Sunday that he said the Big Ten had four good teams, but overall was overrated. Here is what he exactly said a week earlier about the Big Ten: “You get a bunch of ugly girls together and pick a homecoming queen, that doesn’t mean she is a homecoming queen.”

While we’re on  NCAA tournament announcers, TBS analyst Dan Bonner wins the award as the most annoying analyst of the weekend for his Saturday night performance in Syracuse’s 66-60 victory over California. Bonner must have suggested at least half a dozen times that California was in better shape than the score indicated because it was within 10 points even though its two  stars hadn’t scored much. He assumed they would start scoring. It never occurred to him that they might not score much (they didn’t) in the entire game because Syracuse’s zone defense was concentrating on them. The only reason the game got close in the final minute was because Syracuse missed so many free throws.

The local newscasts of Channel 2 and Channel 7 sure benefit when CBS carries NCAA hoop on week nights. Last Thursday when Channel 4 was carrying basketball at 11 p.m., Channel 2 hit an unusually high, double-digit rating at 11 p.m. and Channel 7 had a solid second place finish with a rating
it very rarely gets at that hour. 

Finally, some good news. Dan Meyers, who was fired shortly before Christmas from his job as Channel 4’s promotions and marketing man after 25 years at the station, has been hired by Channel 2 to work in commercial production. He starts next week.

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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