Sunday, September 28, 2008

New "At the Movies": See It or Skip It?

It's the end of an era... now both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert have left the balcony.

When I tuned into the new At the Movies, I must admit I was horrified. What had been done to this show? Leather chairs? A lame "critics round-up." And our hosts, E!'s Ben Lyons and TCM's Ben Mankiewicz, were completely ill at ease. My grade for the first broadcast would be an F, to be brutally honest. It looked like a college TV movie review show.

Then I saw the second one and... well... it wasn't that bad. The format hasn't been totally destroyed, after all. The clips are shown, the arguments are made, and the binary system of "skip it" or "see it" remains (albeit with a middle-ground "rent it," a holdover from the last days of the Ebert [i.e. Phillips]/Roeper version). I still hated the critics round up: that's what metacritic and rotten tomatoes is for-- I may never accept this section (hopefully they drop it). With the second show however, I was mainly surprised that I liked E!'s Ben better than TCM's Ben. This is based on my usual dislike of the easy "thumbs-up"-- and even in two shows Mankiewicz seems prone to the movie-love. Although it's hard to watch the inexperienced gain experience, I think, before long, a little of the old Siskel & Ebert magic will be seen in the Lyons & Mankiewicz balcony.

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