On my Twitter feed Monday I saw a bunch of tweets about a fantastic goal that was scored by Pajtim Kasami during the Fulham at Crystal Palace soccer match. I looked forward to seeing it since I have the English Premier League Review Show set on my DVR. I don’t care if you like soccer or not. If you don’t like the athleticism displayed in the video clip, do me a favor and cease watching sports. After watching the goal last night, I knew I needed to write a post that I’ve wanted to write about this show.
The first order of business is the fact that you never, ever see the announcers. I’d be fine with seeing them as they came in and out of segments but it’s really not necessary. I want to see highlights of the sports that I enjoy. Not Bob Ley. Or Kenny Mayne. Or even a super short skirted Hannah Storm. The EPL Review show delivers by having a voice over guy do the work. He is recognizable and does well transitioning from game to game.
The main point of this article though is the dismal state of highlights show in the US. I used to watch CNN for the highlights at :28 & :58 on the hour. Then I moved on to Sportscenter for a long time. For the last several years, I’ve been looking at recaps online because Sportscenter decided that interviews and behind the scenes pieces were more important. I had some hope that when NBC re-branded Versus into NBCSports that I’d have some luck. I did for about three months when they aired “The ‘Lights” but it hasn’t aired since the Stanley Cup Finals. “The ‘Lights” did employ the unseen host which made me mourn it’s possibly temporary demise. I had some hope earlier this year when Fox Sports 1 was launched. My thought process as always “Let’s give Fox Sports Live” a chance. Unfortunately, they didn’t even give me three months of pleasure.
The EPL Review Show fills the void that is left by the sports world in the US. I don’t feel like getting into who’s the blame for this phenomenon, whether it’s the mother ship ESPN (chicken) or the people who clicked out of what I enjoy (egg). So the show doesn’t have a host and shockingly enough, shows highlights for the 46-52 minutes of programming that are left after commercials. I love it. They show highlights of every game in the league that week but they’re smart enough to air less highlights if the game was a snoozfest even if one of the teams is a marquee name like Manchester United. If two teams like Fulham and Crystal Palace, near the bottom (Fulham) or at the bottom (Palace) of the table, end up having a highlight worthy match, they get 10 minutes of match highlights like they did on last night’s show.
I know people might refer me to Red Zone for the NFL as a comparative show but I don’t like just seeing the scoring. These highlights show slick plays that may have resulted in a shanked kick that should have been a goal. Or a good move at midfield that may not have had an impact on the score line at all. I like to think of it in a similar vein as what the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Gregg Easterbrook calls “Hidden Plays” which are “Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives”. Well, some of those plays do make the highlight reels in the EPL Review Show because they dedicate the proper amount of time to the game they are covering, not the people in the game they are covering.
I can praise this show all I want, but I get an odd feeling that TV executives at NBC, ESPN or Fox aren’t going to be listening to my carping. That’s okay because I’m a glass half full guy. What I’ll do is sit down every week and enjoy highlights from the most fantastic soccer league in the world. I’ll also get to see a second highlight goal from Steve Sidwell in Fulham, not long after Kasami’s goal of the year candidate. – Kevin