When I heard The Onion was releasing both a news-show parody and sports highlight show parody in full-length TV show form, I was…not terribly enthused. Not because I don’t like The Onion, mind you: I love The Onion. And that was a big part of the problem: The Onion is brilliant. The quick-hit “Onion News Network” and “Onion Sports Network” videos on their site (NSFW link, if you’re somehow not familiar with The Onion by now) are fantastic, and if these shows didn’t live up to the brand’s usual quality (like The Onion Movie supposedly didn’t), it would just be kind of depressing.
Well, Onion SportsDome (the sports highlight show parody) debuted last night on Comedy Central. Happily, I can say it did not suck. Neutral-ly, my impressions of the first show were: “that was decent.” There were some funny gags, but it takes more than that to make a 30-minute show work, and it remains to be seen if the creative team here can pull it off week in, week out.
The show began with riffs on the Heat’s Big Three (of course) and head injuries in football. The segments had their moments (like the image of a shark tank installed inside the scorer’s table, for one), but both felt like they would have worked better in small doses. Another note on the program’s format: the SportsCenter parody/ridiculous sports machismo parody is a logical way to go, but both also seem in danger of getting old pretty quickly. We’ll see how much the show plays around with the format, and attitude.
Additionally, the “story” about the Milwaukee Brewers being repossessed and valued at $45 (complete with dilapidated Miller Park photoshops) was another nice gag, but the issue with that (as well as the shark tank bit) is that The Onion already does great visual gags like that on its site. Essentially, it’s what they’re already doing, only you’re looking at it on a TV screen instead of a computer screen (and for the record, you can see a lot of the show on your computer screen, too).
Other highlights included one of the anchors claiming he coined the phrase “no bones about it,” and longer segments about the city of St. Louis giving Albert Pujols a literal key to the city that gives him unlimited access to any building in the city whenever he wants, as well as immunity from laws, and a “disabled” fighter barred from UFC because of his “lightweight prosthetic tungsten alloy hands” (probably the best segment). Still akin to what you’d see in a typical “Onion Sports Network” video, but amusing all the same.
Oh, and holy crap, there’s Isiah Whitlock (Clay Davis!) in a “commercial” for an Onion Sports Network “show” in which a basdeball team solves crimes in its spare time. Again: Clay Davis! In a role that doesn’t require him to stretch out the word “shit” for 18 hours, but…Clay Davis!
Anyway, the show closed with a couple strange bits, including an ad for a The Bachelor-style reality show involving Hedo Turkoglu, and a sneak preview of a musical supposedly written by Alex Rodriguez. While neither was especially funny, I appreciate the weirdness all the same.
This was not a bad debut for Onion SportsDome – there was really quite a bit to enjoy here, and since ridiculous things always happen in sports, the potential for a funny show is certainly there. My only fear is that the potential has already been realized via the video segments that were already appearing on The Onion’s site, and that stretching it into a half-hour show every week might only serve to water down what was already an outstanding, hilarious product.
Video of the Pujols segment below.