DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

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The Strike May be Ending - And HBO's "Inside the NFL" Definitely Is
February 8, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
What happens tomorrow, in separate East and West Coast meetings of active members of the Writers Guild of America, will determine whether the four-month-old strike will be ending very, very soon. My guess is based on a combination of conversations and an urgent Hollywood syzygy, with the Oscars, the upfronts and the May sweeps all dependent upon a swift resolution.

(Syzygy, by the way, is one of my favorite obscure words. It means a rare alignment of things or forces - like the celestial alignment that triggered events in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But I digress.)

So very soon, Hollywood most likely will be able to attempt to generate quality, worthwhile television again. Coincidentally, HBO has chosen this very week to say goodbye to one of the longest-running shows on television - and a program that has evolved into one of its most reliably entertaining series.

Inside the NFL began in 1977 - two years before the debut of ESPN's SportsCenter. On broadcast TV, only 60 Minutes, the venerable CBS newsmagazine that premiered in 1968, has clocked more years in prime time.

inside-the-nfl.jpg

At first, the show was low-budget and low-rent, but evolved eventually into a glossy showcase for both NFL Films and the NFL. The current team of co-analysts - Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Dan Marino and Cris Carter - work really well together, displaying the genuine camaraderie that many other network sports shows work so hard to fake.

On the final show, which is repeated tonight at 7 p.m. ET, this quartet also made room for former hosts Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti, and looked back at the 31 seasons of Inside the NFL - while, in the same hour, showing highlights and formerly unseen sideline pictures and sound from the truly super Super Bowl XLII.

"There was good work done here," Costas said of Inside the NFL, while his colleagues bemoaned the fact that HBO - allegedly because the show had become very expensive and time-intensive to produce - had decided to pull the plug and fire its correspondents.

"Who said that any of us got fired?" Costas said. "Just because somebody made a boneheaded decision to discontinue one of the best and longest-running shows ever..."

The rest of his words were drowned out by the cheers of his cohorts, who agreed with Costas. And so do I. If there's some way this group, or this show, can take their act over to, say, the NFL Network, that's be a lot preferable to just letting it end the season with a whimper and vanishing into the sunset.

eli-on-sidelines.jpg

The New England Patriots already did that.

Inside the NFL deserved better. Thanks to all involved for a fabulous 31-year run. If you don't resurface elsewhere, in some other form - or if HBO doesn't have an unexpected but justifiable change of heart - you'll be sorely missed.

 

 

2 Comments

 

Michael Dortch said:

And I was just about to re-up with HBO, too. Not now, even with shows like "The Wire." It's not just that "Inside the NFL" is going away, but the way it's been killed. NOT a smooth move, HBO!

Comment posted on February 8, 2008 7:08 PM


Greg Rudin said:

David - I couldn't agree more with your sentiment about Inside the NFL. So I created a campaign to bring the show back to HBO. I'd be interested to hear what you think about it https://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/bring-back-inside-the-nfl. Please let me know.
(You made a good case. Good luck... -- David B)

Comment posted on February 14, 2008 12:27 PM

 
 
 
 
 
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