Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From Primetime to Daytime: Cheap Seats (2004)

Proving they were perfectly willing to poke fun at themselves, ESPN Classic unveiled a snarky series in the vein of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 back in 2004. Cheap Seats lasted just 2 years, ending in 2006, but certainly deserved to last a little longer, given the volume of material in the shared ESPN/ABC library.

Twin brothers Jason & Randy Sklar served as hosts for the series. In case you wonder, Jason's the one with the glasses. The story goes that the series was meant for a fictional ESPN anchor, Ron Parker (Michael Showalter, ex-The State), who, as you'll see in the following video, is taken out when a cabinet falls on him mere minutes into the series premiere. Soon after, you have long-time ESPN anchor Dan Patrick (now with NBC) doing a voice over narrative to explain the scenario.

These days, the Sklars have returned to the airwaves, this time in a series of spots for Time Warner Cable, replacing Mike O'Malley (ex-Yes, Dear) as celebrity endorsers for the cable giant. Meanwhile, let's look back at the first episode of Cheap Seats, which deals solely with Mid-South Wrestling, circa 1980. The card apparently had previously aired on The Golden Age of Wrestling, which aired periodically on Saturdays at the time, as did Cheap.

Well, they are more coherent in commentary than Beavis & Butt-Head could've ever hoped to be. For what it's worth, the MST3K crew actually guested on the show. That might be worth looking into. After the first 10 episodes, Cheap was slashed in half, down to a more manageable half-hour, and this episode was later re-edited into the shorter format as a two-part episode.

Rating: B.

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