Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First impressions, second impressions, whatever…

2nd captains 1

Click here to check out Second Captains live via RTE Player

I must say I have a degree of sympathy for Ger Gilroy.  I was a Newstalk listener when they first went on the air and by far my favourite programme in those early years was Off The Ball, filling as it did a massive demand for midweek sports broadcasting with an Irish slant.

Now after a time away from the show, he recently returned to it as his replacement Eoin McDevitt took it to the next level and beyond before a disagreement of sorts led to their defection to the Irish Times/RTE, and although Gilroy’s recent efforts still have relevance on the Irish sports landscape, compared to previous years we could refer to it as Off The Boil.

And last night McDevitt and his trusty compadres embarked on the next phase of their odyssey into new realms of entertainment for the sporting-mad public, with their first live show on RTE, right after the Austria/Ireland World Cup qualifier.

2nd captains 2It wasn’t perfect by any means, but come on, it was live TV and an extremely courageous undertaking by the lads, and the main triumvirate’s personalities do seem to compliment each other naturally for the goggle-box…Eoin the straight-laced presenter, Ciaran the quipping funnyman in the background, and Ken (pic), the ______________.  Give me a few more episodes and I’m sure I’ll do that blank justice. 

As a format many were on social media likening it to Top Gear live, though the fact that it was on RTE at a late hour reminded me more of the old Nighthawks, with a touch of Soccer AM thrown in for good measure, and despite the similarities to other shows the resulting hybrid was definitely something better.

The way I see it Irish TV needs these guys, especially now.  Because with Netflix and streaming becoming increasingly more popular, live presentations like this are going to be the only source of decent promotion-offering content for advertisers in the years to come, and they have both the brand and the ability to do it right.

Besides, on the night that was in it they provided the perfect foil for the traditional four-man RTE punditry axis of O’Herlihy-Giles-Brady-Dunphy…by now they are as much fossils as they are legends and it won’t be much longer before that scale tips the wrong way.

As for their podcasts during the week, again I have some concerns, though nothing that would actually make me stop having them accompany me on my iPod for my daily walks.  My biggest quibble is over their allocation of time to various sports.

Don’t get me wrong - although rugby is my pastime of choice I do appreciate that there is a much bigger demand for the roundy ball, but given that they now do four hour-long podcasts per week, to not only devote two of them entirely to football but also to let Early ramble on for ages in the other podcasts about what he plans to discuss when it’s his turn is slightly taking the piss!

I’d actually prefer if they devoted the four shows to all sports and tried to adjust the time allocation within each episode based on what was in the news that day…I wouldn’t even mind if the football remained at 50% it’s just that to actually name half your output as being about the so-called beautiful game is a bit much.

2nd captains 3However, even though it came just after a football match there was nothing overly-soccer about last night’s live show, with the Ronan O’Gara interview the clear highlight of the evening (even if he did knock BOD off top spot on the Wall of Fame or whatever that was).

It was here where McDevitt came into his own as he conducted what I would consider to be a “true” interview, honestly asking questions that fans would want to have answered while still making the guest appear relatively comfortable (despite the skinny jeans).

So overall, long may the show continue, though perhaps with more actual interviews for the hour of live time they have at their disposal and then all the japes and jiggery-pokery can continue after the broadcast to be put up on the web later?

Ah sure what do I know I’m only an aul blogger! For now anyway…once I can find a backer for HarpinOnRugby live then Eoin and the lads had better watch out ;-) JLP

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