Friday, September 28, 2012

Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin!

Last night I sat down to watch the first of the night's Mack Sennett comedies, Saturday Afternoon. (It wasn't quite as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be, but that's not the point here.) Instead of the regular 8:00 PM intro with everybody approaching the theater, TCM ran the weekend introduction that they use when Ben Mankiewicz is introducing the films. Now, Mankiewicz has been handling hosting duties this month, but TCM has been running the regular prime time intro. This time, however, after the intro, they went straight into the film. Well, they had the screen for the TV-G rating, but no introduction from Ben Mankiewicz.

Oh my goodness are the conspiracy theories active on the TCM message boards. One thing I don't like about TCM's boards is that there are some people who go on and on and on about whatever their particular pet peeve is. For some, it's movies made after a particular year (usually around 1970); for others it's the presence of Drew Barrymore co-hosting The Essentials; and then there's also certain classic films being shown too often. So you don't like some 1972 film. We get the point.

But the absence of Robert Osborne in general, and the way last night was handled, seems to have driven some posters nuts. The implication is that it's awful how TCM is trying to push out Robert Osborne, and how they're supposedly not being honest with us about it. Some people seem to have it in for Ben, and there are posters who seem to have the obnoxious nostalgia that everything was better in the past: they want to bring back AMC's old hosts, who are probably just about the same age as Robert Osborne. (Nick Clooney at 78 is about two years younger; I don't know Bob Dorian's age.) It's actually fun watching these posters have a meltdown, almost like Howard Beale.

Robert Osborne is human, so at some point he's going to have to die. I know it's terrible to put it so bluntly, but it's going to happen. I suppose TCM could digitize every word Osborne said, and stitch words together for intros, with a CGI Osborne hosting, using scripts cobbled together from old intros. No, I'm not really being serious here. It's going to be amazing to see what happens -- not on TCM itself, but with some of the fans -- when Osborne finally does hang it up and call it a career.

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