Jackie MacMullan ruined my Friday afternoon.
MacMullan, for those of you who don’t know how to “pahk the cah in the yahd,” is a sports columnist for The Boston Globe, and as far as I can tell, a very successful one. But she’s no Michael Wilbon. So when she replaced Wilbon on the television set of “Pardon the Interruption,” otherwise known as the best show on television, I was understandably upset. Maybe I shouldn’t have screamed at her through the TV set and frightened my roommates, but that’s beside the point.
The point? If you mess with “Pardon the Interruption,” you mess with my entire day.
How did a television program become the focus of my life?
“Pardon the Interruption,” or PTI as it’s known to the faithful, is no ordinary TV show. It’s a little slice of sports heaven. Featuring Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, both columnists for The Washington Post, the show provides opinions on the day’s top sports news, with a little bit of rivalry and jest thrown in for good measure. Thanks to their 20 years of past history with one another, Tony and Mike operate like a well-oiled machine, bouncing joking insults and well-informed sports opinions off one another while discussing topics in the form of one-and-a-half-minute segments. It’s a wonderfully witty and endlessly entertaining half hour of brutally honest sports commentary.
The show does have competitors, both on ESPN and other sports networks, but nothing comes close to PTI. To use a Kornheiser-ism:
Here’s the list of entertaining sports talk shows on TV:
That’s it! That’s the list!
But Tony and Mike do more than simply succeed where other programs fail; they do it with cardboard cutouts and occasional cross-dressing. Granted, with any other pairing these antics might come off forced and trite, but Kornheiser and Wilbon’s undeniable chemistry makes the corniest gags hilarious. Wilbon, who like Kornheiser is bald, constantly pokes fun at his partner’s obsession with well-coiffed hair, while Tony strikes back by playing up Mike’s status as a ladies’ man. Wilbon is constantly frustrated by the futility of sports teams from his hometown of Chicago, while Kornheiser bears allegiance to his New York roots. Though their primary topics of conversation are sports-related, the two also dabble in entertainment news on the show, mixing in hot topics like Michael Jackson and “Man vs. Beast” in recent weeks.
The show is a minor miracle of TV brilliance, unless, as happened Friday, a guest host shows up. With Wilbon down in Atlanta for the NBA’s All-Star weekend, MacMullan was tapped to replace him on the set. Though Wilbon was brought in alongside Kobe Bryant during the interview segment, the show limped along on one leg without him. As a result, my Friday, and thus my entire weekend, was ruined.
But in the end, there is little to worry about, for today at 5:30 I’ll be once again transported into sports nirvana with a few simple words:
“Pardon the Interruption, but I’m Mike Wilbon.”