Hurricane Hype swept into town from the West Coast this Super Bowl XXII week (via satellite), with half of Washington's news anchors co-anchoring the news from San Diego. Outdoors. At a marina. We should be thankful, I guess. Super Bowl XVI was at the Pontiac Silverdome, which means in another year we could be watching Paul Berry or Glenn Brenner doing reports wearing parkas and ear muffs while ice skating on the Detroit River.
There was WRC-TV-4's Jim Vance and George Michael, casually dressed, sitting all week in front of picturesque Mission Bay. (You half-expected to see Bob Ryan in a rowboat behind them, holding up a weather map.) There was WTTG-TV-5's Steve Buckhantz aboard a boat in dock, interviewing George Rogers. There was WUSA-TV-9's Sonny Jurgensen, with sunglasses and cigar, looking more like the Skipper of the S.S. Minnow on "Gilligan's Island" than a Hall of Fame football player.
One of the biggest stories of the week was the weather. That's all they talked about. They kept telling us that they understood it was cold in Washington (a fact many of us already knew since we happen to be here) and that it was warm in San Diego (a fact many of us already knew since they happened to be broadcasting in bathing suits).
Was it all in fun? Of course it was all in fun.
Do we have complaints? Of course we have complaints.
My major complaint -- and the TV folks will tell you this is a typical complaint from a typical newspaper dolt who doesn't like having too much fun -- was this: Why is it necessary to cover a Super Bowl by rooting for the Redskins at every turn? Some folks out there don't like the Redskins; some who do would prefer a less hokey, homerish approach. It's insulting to keep insisting that we all know the Redskins are going to win; you can wear civic pride without being too uncivil.
The week that was included a naked Mike Buchanan on camera at a nudist beach (shielded only by a Redskins pennant); a Redskins fan telling Channel 7, "My springer spaniel does a high five anytime Doug Williams does anything good," and a view of 1-day-old Jacqueline Kent Cooke wearing a Redskins jumpsuit.
Here's a look at how the four news stations fared:
If Denver has The Three Amigos, WRC has The Three Annoyances -- Pat Collins, Steve Doocy and Arch Campbell. Collins' San Diego reports were so bad, they didn't bounce off satellite dishes, they broke them. Joe Krebs' two reports from Doug Williams' hometown, though, were excellent. Michael had a fine parade of guests, but he and Vance spent too much time bantering with each other. And Michael's Tuesday interview with Dexter Manley was another exercise in poor taste.
Channel 5, as expected, was by far the most restrained and most reasonable; its 10 o'clock newscasts actually resembled real newscasts and offered non-Redskins sports highlights. WTTG made history by gathering Michael, Brenner and WJLA-TV-7's Frank Herzog for "Redskins Playbook" with Buckhantz. As we watched a shot of the group sitting together, Brenner offered, "I'm thinking -- one grenade could make four weekend sportscasters very, very happy."
News anchor Renee Poussaint, with solidly written pieces and solid interview questions, proved that she could be the best TV sports reporter in town. Berry was there, too, although we haven't yet figured out why. Buffalo Bills Coach Marv Levy joined Herzog nightly with interesting analysis of the teams' strengths and weaknesses. Curtis Jordan was Curtis Jordan -- sometimes funny, sometimes phony.
It was a largely solid cast -- Brenner being funny and Jurgensen tanning by the water, Ken Mease offering solid reports from the Broncos camp, Buchanan being offbeat, newscaster Bob Althage making a workmanlike appearance doing sports back in the Washington studio one night. But the real star was defensive end Charles Mann, proving again he is the most eloquent, elegant Redskin. His nightly spots were terrific, and when WUSA gave him a camera for "A Day in the Life of Charles Mann," he broke new ground by filming himself while brushing his teeth (and talking at the same time).
The highlight of the week was the incidental juxtaposition of two Media Day reports. First, Brenner asked Mann what the dumbest question was he heard all day. Mann said there were two of them -- he was asked that, if he could be any tree he wanted to be, what tree would it be, and he was asked what his favorite color was. Just minutes later, on Channel 4, Pat Collins filed his Media Day report. And we saw him ask Manley what tree he would be if he could be any tree, and we saw him ask Mann what his favorite color was.