"Sneak Previews" may be a cute commercial title, but "Dim View" would have been more appropriate for the new PBS movie review series which starts tonight at 8:30 on Channel 26.
Chicago' WTTW packaged this vacuous embarrasment, teaming two of that city's film reviewers, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and filling the half hour with so many donated clips from movies companies - there are 11 different clips on the first show - that the program amounts to nothing more than a free advertisement for the motion picture industry.
This is "criticism" of the sort that would have made shaw sob - strictly the Gene Shallow school of raging raves and wan pans - and the two performers leap into a viewer's lap with all the schoolboy eagerness of speedy sportscasters.
The range of profundity wavers between facile flacktalk and giddy gossip columnese. Siskel complains of Woody Allen's "Interiors" that "there's just so much unremitting pain" but allows as how it's "fairly memorable." Ebert cautious him against asking Allen "to fall back from the statement he's trying to make," though there is no attempt to suggest or discuss what that statement might be. All films are dealt with purely in terms of plot and characters.
Siskel takes a cake of sorts for showbizzy disingenuousness when he notes of "The Boys From Brazil" that it contains "some real hambone acting by Greg [sic] Peck." He drops g's as readily as he drops names - "lookin" "talkin." and "somethin." for example - and he describes Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" as "80 minutes of two jerks saying nothin but, Hey man."
It does not seem uncharitable to speculate that this may be preferable to 30 minutes of two critics saying nothin' whatoever.