Fox's kids started well, but routine's creeping in


TV Repairman:

Isn't it weird that the new kids on the block, the imaginative and innovative Fox Network, follow the old routine of having an hour-long pre-game show on at noon, three hours ahead of a late-game start at 4 p.m. like the Cardinals vs. the Cowboys Sunday? Why don't Terry, Jimmy, Howie and James just keep gabbing and cutting up until game time arrives?

Sometimes you get the idea Fox isn't attempting to appeal to the younger crowd (18-34) with its stuff, but to the youngest crowd (the people who wear Osh Kosh). The first couple of football openings were good because of uniqueness; now, they're embarrassing.

* In its weekly missives detailing what's going on on the "Inside the NFL" show on Thursdays, HBO lists it as a "Special Note" when Jimmy Johnson is going to be in the studio for his segment, "instead of via satellite." What some guys won't do for a healthy six-figure retainer.

* Those nasty devils over at Channel 11 are at it again. CBS' "Eye on Sports" tomorrow (4:30 p.m.) gets zapped for the ever-popular "Rescue 911."

Meanwhile, instead of going with the network (ABC) tomorrow, Channel 13 is dialing into the Clemson-Georgia game at noon. 'JZ will join the net at 3:30 for the Illinois-Ohio State meeting. Have a nice day.

* The public address announcer for the Wilde Lake at Oakland Mills football game is fully the equal of Robin Williams in "Good Morning, Vietnam" with a microphone in his hands. Forget what Wild-e-cats fans say, fella, keep up the good work.

* Yes indeed, folks, we already have our first nomination for worst analyst on a pro football telecast: Jerry Glanville. During an exciting finish to the Patriots-Packers last Sunday, about all the ex-coach offered in the way of expertise was a "Here we go" scream. He sort of reminds you of Oscar Robertson's "Wow" as a pro hoops commentator.

* Marketing suggestion for the NFL to improve ratings, income, etc.: When a couple of beefy guys square off, don't stop them. Send them to the parking lot where, under loose supervision, they resume hostilities while assigning a camera to the action and charging onlookers a nominal fee.

* Words of wisdom from CBS spokesman Rick Gentile: "Boxing is the most underexposed major sport on TV." Hey, guys from the networks should know, they're the guys who gave up on the sport years ago.

Forget what's at stake -- something called the WBF world cruiserweight title -- CBS kicks off a series of six fights Saturday (4:30 p.m.) with Kenny Keene taking on Terry Ray. Between them, these guys are 55-1.

* CBS is very happy with its Harlequin movies -- "I Married a Centerfold" is this week's offering Sunday at 4 p.m. -- battling the football audiences of NBC and Fox. . . . Major League Soccer is so confident of landing some sort of TV deal with ESPN in time for the start of operations next April, it's about ready to give a date when an announcement will be made: "Sometime soon."

* All those years we watched folks jog the "Fifth Avenue Mile" to lousy times on the telly and, now, when no less than a dozen men break four minutes behind Jason Pyrah nipping Marcus O'Sullivan by a long whisker in 3:52.3 we get zip. Nobody promised a rose garden did they?

* The gent who's running the 24-hour Golf Channel, which is expected to debut in late January, Mike Whelan, already is saying, "We've got some networks worried." Not with a 'world' of only 5 million households you ain't, Mike. Sweeping by NBC and ABC shouldn't be that much of a problem, but CBS and ESPN are a different ballgame. Next up, the Field Hockey Channel.

* ESPN2 has added a couple of games to its Saturday afternoon football menu, including Alcorn State and Steve McNair taking on Texas Southern Saturday at 1 p.m. By the way, whatever happened to United Artists Cable's claim that it was going to add the Deuce to its cast of characters?

* To the physician who's convinced all Michigan games should be on nationally and internationally: The Wolves meet Michigan State on ESPN tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.

* A meeting between Preakness winner Tabasco Cat and Derby winner Go For Gin headlines the Breeders' Cup Preview on NBC tomorrow (4:30 p.m.). Good bangtailer Sunday, too, ESPN doing the Oaktree Invitational from Santa Anita at 4 p.m.

* The newspaper headline "Goodenow brings fiery temperament table" had to be written tongue in cheek. Any time the head of the hockey players association appears on the tube to explain his side of the story, he appears to be no more than three seconds from a very sound sleep.

* San Diego State beat Navy, 56-14, and lost to Air Force last Saturday, 38-36. The Mids meet the Flyboys in Colorado Springs this week and could save a lot of dough by calling it in. But they won last year, remember.

* ESPN is already doing land office business this year with a fine lineup of Saturday evening football games, and tomorrow it has the Florida State-Miami scrum from the Orange Bowl. It's the one to have if you're having only one (game).

* All you Washington Redskins fans in Essex, Carney, Fullerton, Highlandtown, and Rosedale will have to wait until 8 o'clock Sunday night to see your darlins play the Eagles on TNT. It's on Channel 20, too.

* Some well-meaning radio talk show host in San Francisco, after the 49ers had been drilled by the Eagles (40-8) the day before, couldn't wait to conduct a poll asking if coach George Seifert should be replaced by Fox-HBO commentator and ex-coach Jimmy Johnson. About 85 percent of late-night listeners said indubitably. Elton John would have scored 100 percent.

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