Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dry-witted Criticism From North of the Border

One of my favorite moments as a TV critic came when I visited a friend who used to be the TV critic for the Boston Globe.

One night, I sat down with him to watch the local news and instinctively criticized it. The criticism included some catty comments about the veteran co-anchors, who at the time were husband and wife.

This shocked me. “Boy, he got the better of the deal,” I said.

Then I criticized just about everything about the newscast as my friend took mental notes.

He ended up writing a column about my criticism that didn’t please a female producer or director in Boston. The female called up a lawyer in Buffalo she knew and immediately asked: “Who is the a-hole TV critic in Buffalo?”

The lawyer’s deadpan response was: “That a-hole is my brother-in-law.”

Which brings me to a recent visit to Buffalo by a friend from Toronto who used to be a TV critic and grew up thinking all of Buffalo was on fire when Channel 7’s Irv Weinstein anchored the news.

The name of the critic is being withheld to save the a-hole comments. We watched the first 10 minutes of the news on Channel 2 and Channel 4 Tuesday.

Channel 2’s newscast included a Google earth shot of where one story happened.

“I loved the Google earth,” dryly noted my Toronto friend. “It is like they are saying, ‘yes, we have computers.’”

When anchor Maryalice Demler appeared, the Toronto critic was amused by her appearance.

“Anchors don’t look real people,” noted the critic. “They look like wives looked 15 years ago. She is wearing an orange shirt and has streaks in her hair. It isn’t her fault. That’s what they make you look like in TV news. They all look like robots.”

The critic was also amused by the people interviewed on the Channel 2 newscast, including a long-haired lawyer.

“This guy is his lawyer,” said the critic. “Holy crap! Seriously?”

The Congressman Brian Higgins appeared.

“That guy needs better hair,” noted the critic. “Does everyone in Buffalo need a haircut?”

I explained that Higgins is a very hard-working congressman.

After the coverage of a stabbing, a sex arrest and a few other less than big news stories, it was off to Channel 4 and anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker.

“These guys are like Greek gods,” noted the critic. “These guys are so much better. It is like we were watching a college station and graduated to a grown up station. Even the video looks better. Suddenly it is like watching real TV."

The critic then noted something else about the people being interviewed in stories.

“There are a lot of fat people in Buffalo,” the critic noted.

Hey, pizza and chicken wings tend to do that.

Then there was amusing video of Jacquie Walker in her stocking feet in an open convertible waving to the crowd at Canal Fest.
"She looks like Malibu Barbie," said the critic. "It is so Buffalo. I am a celebrity. I'm in the car but I don't want to get the seats dirty."

“In local news, people should look like family,” added the critic in approval. “It’s not like I’m standing up reading the news and looking so cool like they do on Channel 2… TV viewers don’t want anyone in local news to be cool.”

The critic also was impressed more by Channel 4’s presentation of a crime story than Channel 2’s. Then Channel 4’s Postles was standing up reading some news.

“But it’s in a more real way,” the critic noted. “Do you think Don Postles wants to be cool? No. Does the audience want him to be cool? No.”

Then the critic noted Postles’ complexion: “Do you not want your local newscaster to look orange and wise?”

With the quick critique over, the critic had one thing to add to hold off any a-hole remarks from blog readers: “Please tell people I really do love Buffalo.”


  1. That was awesome.

  2. Wow what a jerk!

  3. I also noticed Jacquie's white stocking feet and white suit and white purse in the convertible at the parade. Thought it was funny. But I'm like your critic friend. I watch news or read the paper and tend to notice the silly little things. Like when Ameila Segal does the weather, she wears her glasses. When she does straight news, she takes them off. And there was a picture of the Italian Fest in the paper last week and all I noticed was the (I'll be nice) full figured woman wearing a halter top and the rest of the full figured people around her. Thankfully, she was shot from behind!

  4. Have her watch Channel 7 and then talk.

  5. Great piece! It all pretty much hit the nail on the head.

  6. Sounds like somebody we had lunch with in Toronto a few months ago...

  7. Hilarious! More reviews from unknown Toronto critic please.