New '702.tv' phones in a hit-or-miss format


Get a life(style).

Such a motto might fit "702.tv," the new Tuesday/Thursday, magazine-style curiosity (10:30 p.m.) expanding to five nights this fall on KTUD-TV, Channel 25/Cox Cable Channel 14. (Full disclosure: The Greenspun Corp., which produces "702.tv" and co-owns KTUD, employed this columnist in various capacities from 1997-2006. The R-J and its sister publications also compete with Greenspun products. But this column addresses all local TV without bias.)

Visually, the slickly produced "702.tv" hits a glam-slam, but fouls out elsewhere on its info-taining lineup. Denise Spidle is the requisite glossy-saucy anchor, but with a refreshing down-to-earthiness. Co-hosts Emily Gimmel (of SOAPnet's "Southern Belles: Louisville"), Alex Adeyanju and Christine Killimayer seem generically genial. With little chance to casually interact, this bunch can't catch any conversational sparks off one another. Anchor chatter intrudes on straight newscasts, but needs a good goosing here.

Reportedly, inspirations are "The Daily Show," Travel Channel, Food Network and E! Recycling a remote-ful of influences seems counterintuitive in a niche media world that rewards breakout ideas, exacerbated by schizophrenic swings in tone. Varied as subjects are -- Hard Rock Hotel pool party to UFC champ to long DMV lines to cocktail recipes -- some stories feel factory-assembled without a reporter or voice-over to provide personality, reducing it to a string of quotes, and scored to bland, thumpy dance music.

Then they pole-vault over the wall to the other extreme: A reporter ridiculously dresses in sailor cap, ascot and aviator sunglasses for a story on "yacht rock" at Red Rock. (Spidle's tagline: "Tragically, Smooth Jazz 105.7 The Oasis has discontinued their sponsorship." Tragically? Really? Next they'll tell us that catastrophically, a bartender stopped mixing margaritas.)

Or a hoops-shooting contest between Adeyanju and Killimayer -- edited Keystone Cops-style -- pops up as a goofy midshow sketch.

Stunningly silly are reporter-in-the-computer chats between an in-studio Spidle and interactive editor John Katsilometes. Introduced with his face imprisoned in a wide computer screen atop a squat, spindly legged table, he resembles a high-tech Toulouse-Lautrec, as Spidle interviews talking furniture.

"702.tv" is giddy over its interactive inventiveness. Yes, we get that "dot" is in the title. But so is "tv." Katsilometes (an ex-colleague, and a friend) has a quick wit that barely registers in this format farce.

However, weather reports -- how surreal to type this sentence -- are actually entertaining, assigned to various Vegas acts, such as comics or the vocal group Human Nature harmonizing the temperatures.

Film critic Josh Bell, while not a standard-issue TV face, is engaging on-air. (Note to producers: Consider not lopping off the top of his head in close-ups. I've seen Bell off-camera and can verify that he has a complete head.)

Personalize the hosts, individualize the stories, minimize the gimmicks and "702.tv" might materialize as a viable area code in the Land of Las Vegas Cable.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

 

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