Monday, December 29, 2014

Meet the Depressed?

As a long time viewer of Meet The Press, I've been watching closely the changes in the show since Chuck Todd took over in September. I'm not sure if the ratings have improved (the show had slid from 1st to 3rd under the previous host, David Gregory), but the show certainly has picked up its heart rate. Chuck's warmer personality and bubbling enthusiasm for politics are the biggest differences, but I also like the handheld camera, the quicker segments and the nerdscreen.

There is still work to be done, however. Somehow, there are still panel discussions that fall flat, as with a recent episode on comedy in politics. Even with Louis Black and other funny panelists, the topic came off as dry.
Subtly, but importantly, Chuck actually articulates the program's slogan at the close ("If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press") so viewers can hear it. I liked David Gregory, but honestly, he used to mumble the close EVERY TIME. By the time he got to "...Meet the Press" he was literally whispering. Chuck Todd also uses a variant on this phrase in the show open, which works well in bringing immediacy.
The show is better, and viewers will figure this out. My bet is that Meet The Press will claw back viewers quite successfully, only constrained by the weaknesses in NBC's lead in.
If you are interested in the inside baseball of the transition from David Gregory to Chuck Todd, btw, I recently read a great article on it: