The Insider is still in post-election euphoria (perhaps because there will be no more mudslinging ads from New Jersey’s congressional race and no more self-aggrandizing attorney general ads from New York, perhaps not), so she is in no mood to autopsy election coverage. Still, there are a few points she wants to put on the record and so, this being her column, she shall.
No. 1: If Nov. 7 was any sort of acuity test, by the time the 2008 presidential election rolls around, The Insider will not be able to read any of the bottom-of-the-screen graphics. They already are too small and move too quickly to make much sense out of them. And when you have only one hour on the air election night, please don’t cram bits of “Pop-up Video”-style fast facts and trivia into already crowded graphics, because it neither improves their legibility nor entertains. In applications like this, less is more, and The Insider believed that long before she crossed the line into decrepitude.
No. 2: Please limit the number of annoying personalities allowed on your election set at one time. The Insider suggests that if CNN’s increasingly angry and unwatchable Lou Dobbs or conservative-witch-with-the-bouncing-Adam’s-apple Ann Coulter are on the set, no other grouches or vipers should even be allowed in the building, much less the studio.
In that vein, given that Keith Olbermann was unexpectedly, if mildly, amusing as Chris Matthews’ co-anchor Tuesday night, maybe MSNBC should haul Mr. O. out only every two years for elections.
No. 3: The Insider has long argued that ABC News dumped the wrong conservative from “This Week” when it dropped Bill Kristol, who bravely called the Senate for the Democrats after midnight on Fox News Channel.
No. 3 1/2: Shep Smith was Fox News Channel’s Tom.T.Riffic. He was adroit. He showed, without seeming to show off, that he had prepped thouroughly for the night. Prime time for Mr. Smith in 2008, please, because by then The Insider won’t be able to keep her eyes open past midnight.
No. 4: Otherwise known as last but not least, even if it is purely cosmetic: Katie Couric has never looked better on TV than she did the afternoon after election night, when she raced from the airport to the anchor chair in Washington just in time to wrap up the special report on the, ahem, resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of Defense. Even under less-than-optimal lights, Ms. Couric’s makeup was light and natural-looking (no heavy black eyeliner, no heavily drawn lips). Her hair was that of a real working woman who had little time or need for a lot of primping. The Insider didn’t understand the poofed sleeve caps (shades of “Seinfeld”!!!) on her blouse, but that’s picky. The point is that any number of women remarked on how great she looked. Maybe she could help break the TV mold by playing to her youthful good looks instead of hiding them under so much makeup.
And now for a couple of points on subjects completely different, the first one aimed at the folks who watch “Lost” and then whine about how it’s not answering enough of their questions. If ya don’t like it, ya don’t have to watch it! But all this public kvetching could ruin it for the 17 million or so of us who deeply appreciate it when TV takes us on a rich and real journey, and “Lost” does just that.
Finally, The Insider offers this recording alert: This is “impressionist week” on “Late Show With David Letterman.” If it’s half as funny as “Late Show’s” “ventriloquist week” in September, you don’t want to miss it, or have to wait for each night’s guests to show up on YouTube. (Google “Branson,” “ventriloquist” and “dog” and hold onto your girdle.) Rich Little leads off tonight; Kevin Pollak closes the week Friday. If you’ve never seen Frank Caliendo, who has has been a staple of Fox’s “Mad TV” or on Fox’s NFL pregame show, you are in for a particular treat Thursday night.