If NBC stays on track (holds features), World Championships will be great

Phil Jackman

August 23, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

NBC's 16 hours of coverage of the World Championships (track and field) kicks off this weekend with 3-5 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. shows tomorrow and Sunday. As competitions go, the WC's are better than the Olympics and the net has three-quarters of a good team in Tokyo working with Bob Costas, Tom Hammond and Dwight Stones holding up Todd Christensen.

Midweek middle of the night (12:30-2:30 a.m.) shows are listed Tuesday and Friday and, hopefully, the net will provide wall-to-wall action as opposed to intrusive features since that's what folks staying up will be clamoring for. Two shows Labor Day weekend will total seven hours.

* Strange that CBS would sort of undercut its hour-upon-hour coverage of the U.S. Open tennis championships the next two weeks with an exhibition between potential semifinalists Gabriela Sabatini and Jennifer Capriati Sunday (2 p.m.). On the other hand, anything has to beat one of those awful preview shows wherein all the commentators make their picks (as though anyone cares).

The network begins its weeknight 11:30-midnight updates Monday, won't even do a show Sept. 1 when King NFL is crowned (amazing) and will have Pat Summerall and Tony Trabert back in the booth together for the 20th year. Trabert serves as a sort of wake-up call for Summerall between working golf with Ken Venturi and football with John Madden.

USA Network is the cable carrier and it starts its nightly 3 1/2 -hour gabfests Monday.

* Pssst, the Orioles aren't the backup on the Game of the Month on CBS tomorrow (Yankees at Toronto takes over), so their scrum with the Twins reverts back to its usual starting time: 7:35 p.m. Pass it on.

* At the very least, Jon Miller should have his (poetic) license suspended for a week for even mentioning Satchel Paige and Oil Can Boyd in the same breath as he did the other evening.

* With 33 home games on Home Team Sports and 21 road games on Channel 20, the Washington Capitals won't be leaving much to the imagination this season. It could be a plus or a minus. Yes, indeed, Jeff Rimer will be back and so will Craig Laughlin talking about the "O-fense."

* Believe it or not, the Washington Redskins rack up better TV ratings for their exhibition games than the Colts used to in the regular season. Imagine getting a 40 share of the audience on a Saturday evening with the home team playing a semi-pro outfit ** like the Patriots. Can we really trust the government with these people? Another big test comes tomorrow when Washington plays the awful Jets (7 p.m., Channel 5).

* Interesting (if slightly premature) news release from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: "Coming soon is an examination of auto racing, soccer, windsurfing, basketball, gymnastics, tennis, boxing, diving, baseball, mountain climbing, golf, running, football, rowing and figure skating -- all on PBS, better known for nature shows and British dramas." And when does this dynamite five-part series start (pant-pant)? Relax, sometime in 1993.

* Glib and garrulous Riddick Bowe discusses his boxing career on Prince George's County Cable Ch. 15 Tuesday at 5:45, 8:45 and 10:45 p.m. The promising heavyweight is closing in on a multi-fight deal with Showtime/TVKO.

* Speaking of glib, the era of Buddy Ryan as a studio analyst kicks off Sunday (11:30 a.m.) on CNN. The ex-Eagles coach promises to be his usual subdued self, secure in the knowledge, "They can fire me but they can't harness me."

* Just three more days until SummerSlam on pay-per-view, gang, so lay in those provisions and get

ready to toss the rice as Randy Savage and the Lovely Elizabeth tie the knot.

* A goodie pro football exhibition tomorrow (if there is any such thing) pits the Bills against the Bears on CBS at 9 p.m. Guess how many sideline shots there will be of Mike Ditka: 20, 40, 60, all of the preceding.

* Jim Palmer has to be heard to be believed some nights. So does Ken Levine, but that's another story. Jiminy Pancakes started railing against infielders and outfielders protecting the lines with a lead in the late innings to cut off extra-base hits to the corners and Brooks Robinson was last seen wandering off into the night mumbling "They've been doing it for 130 years" to himself.

* Home Team Sports has the final of the Virginia Slims of Washington tourney tomorrow at 1 p.m., will pick up the hour-long "Around the NFL" show featuring Bill Parcells and Mike Francesa Sundays (11:30 a.m.), will feature (?) 16 "Coach's Corner" segments this fall (as good a reason as any to drop the service), and has been working for more than a year on its final Orioles telecast from Memorial Stadium Sept. 28, which assures it will be a gem suitable for taping.

* Monday is the day around-the-clock sports comes to Asia and the carrier, Prime Network, is boasting it will carry 1,000 events each year. Question is, which will go over bigger among the locals in Katmandu, jet skiing, exercise shows or Dick Vitale explaining the situation zone?

* They're threatening to telecast city council meetings in Ocean City on local cable, but gadfly producer Tom Davis says he's got nothing to do with it. He's too busy grinding out the "Braase, Donovan and Fans" show, which landed a great spot this fall, Sundays at noon on Channel 13 starting Sept. 1.

* Brent Musburger, on his recent tour of duty covering the Pan American Games on ABC: "To say I'm glad to be back is putting it mildly. People who knock me for knocking Cuba haven't spent three weeks in Havana."

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