The ‘Sandy’ Show

November 1, 2012

TV is still the king of disasters. Sure, you could get Superstorm Sandy updates from a computer or smartphone, but there’s nothing like sitting in front of a television set to really … soak it all in.

The coverage was by turns frightening and absurd: tragic deaths, waves demolishing beach boardwalks, a shirtless D.C. jogger wearing a horse’s head mask. Then there are the reporters standing waist-deep in rising water and saying things like, “You don’t even want to think about what could possibly be in this water.” My noble editor notes: “That type of thing makes me very worried!”

By comparison, my worries seem so shallow. With local affiliates pre-empting network shows, I wanted to know: Which stars danced best?

Perhaps the oddest Sandy moments came on late-night TV. Taping Monday shows in New York, both David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon had no audience and delivered jokes to a sea of empty red chairs. Letterman’s opening gambit: “Well, so much for the drought.” A Fallon quip: To follow Obama’s instruction to take Superstorm Sandy seriously, “give it a name other than Sandy.” I think even if there were a studio audience, no one would have laughed.

Marc Silver has been watching TV since the days when people wrapped aluminum foil around TV antennae to improve reception.
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