VERSUS programming hits and misses

Posted by Iannucci | 2/24/2009 | 5 comments »
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This week VERSUS revealed - hold your breath - four one-hour specials to be aired ahead of the start of the IndyCar series season opener. Compared to the meager one-hour show that ESPN held last year, this is *checking calculator* four times the pre-season programming! Huzzah!

(Although in fairness to the four-letter network, that one hour was brilliantly hosted by Helio Castroneves, who if he doesn't get deported this year will most assuredly ending up replacing that Sugar Ray guy as host of "Access Entertainment" or whatever it's called.

Anyhow, here are the anticipated programs.

March 7, Danica: Five Years Running Includes highlights of Danica Patrick's career, including her win at Motegi that at least twelve of us actually saw.

March 14, IndyCar Series: Top 10 Closest Finishes Feature the top-10 closest finishes in IndyCar Series history, including the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway where the car that finished second was first to Victory Lane.

March 21, IndyCar Series: Crashes and Conflicts Showcases some of the most memorable incidents and conflicts between drivers and several of the most incredible crashes in recent IndyCar Series history. Expect to see Danica v Wheldon, Danica v Briscoe, Danica v Duno, Danica v Jacques Lazier, Danica v Safety Truck...

March 28, IndyCar Series World Tour 200 This sound a bit like a bunch of footage since it supposedly has "highlights from each racetrack on the IndyCar Series schedule, but also showcase highlights from the first street-course race in series history in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2005 and top photo finishes from the site of the '09 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway". In other words, everything on YouTube tagged "indycar".

Still, it's all a noble effort and a great start to the season, but I think if VERSUS is going to show a commitment to the series they need to help expose fans of their other sports to the personalities of the IRL - and by "expose" I don't mean bikini contests involving GoDaddy-sponsored drivers (although some may argue that would draw more many more viewers than any given race).

Off the top of my head, here are additional few ideas for VERSUS.

Dario Franchitti VERSUS the track - Given his vast array of experience racing various cars, Dario will show up and enter races featuring vintage cars, drifts, snowmobiles - you name it. The kicker is Dario has to be paid more than any other driver to actually enter the race, but that shouldn't be a problem in anything that doesn't involve the N-Word series.

Darren Manning VERSUS your kitchen - Since he doesn't have a ride, Chef Danger Mouse can spend lots of time going into various homes in the greater Indianapolis area, raiding their cupboards, and using the available contents to introduce Hoosiers to tasty British cuisine like "Bangers and Mash" or "Yorkshire Pudding". Imagine grandma's surprise when she gets a taste of "Spotted Dick".

Ryan Hunter-Reay VERSUS unemployment - Free agent driver Ryan shows how ride-buying is done by hosting a weekly telethon to raise money for a seat in the IndyCar series. If you liked watching that the dancing monkey, or that juggling mime, or the 8-year-old who melts your face, then operators are standing by to take your donations!

Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti VERSUS college - Each week Graham and Marco sit in on a different class at a local university and attempt to learn what other young men their age are doing. Imagine the fun and excitement as Graham debates Jungian vs Freudian while Marco dives into Linear Approximations. My personal favorite - ROTC week!

Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon VERSUS your closet It's like "What Not To Wear", except with Danica and Dan as hosts...meaning it's exactly the same show. If nothing else it's something for your wife/girlfriend/life partner who doesn't usually watch racing to enjoy.


  1. Anonymous // February 24, 2009 10:57 PM  

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing.
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  2. Anonymous // February 25, 2009 6:34 AM  

    I think this years "full bottle chuck phrase" should be anytime we hear: "the last time Dario saw this track it was in a car with fenders - I wonder how different it is for him"

  3. Anonymous // February 25, 2009 2:34 PM  

    A 1 hour show a just about Danican't? that is wrong in so many ways.

  4. Anonymous // February 25, 2009 7:00 PM  

    Guess I'll be watching 3 of the 4 shows......

  5. Anonymous // March 01, 2009 8:13 AM  

    Yes we get it you hate Danica. One of the reasons I don't come here often is the way you go out of your way to bash her. You sound like Robin Miller and the IRL. What did she do steal your Barbies as a little girl?